(Hell of a Gal explores the films of the ever luscious Euro Vixen Helga Liné.)
The radiant Helga Liné has over 130 credits on her resume. If all of the alternative titles of Rings of Fear, a mid career giallo, were counted among those credentials, she would have quite a number more. Known, alternatively, as Red Rings of Fear (or Enigma Rosso), Trauma and Virgin Terror, this final entry in an unofficial Italian film series known as the Schoolgirl Trilogy, also found Liné portraying a totally sympathetic character, something that she was rarely given a chance to do.
As Mrs. Russo, the anguished mother of the film’s first victim, Liné is given just a couple scenes here, but she provides plenty of understated sorrow and maternal strife in them. She also shares a nice connection with fellow Euro superstars Fabio Testi (What Have They Done to Solange, Four of the Apocalypse), as the detective investigating the case, and Nicoletta Elmi (Deep Red, Demons), who plays her youngest, incredibly inquisitive daughter. In fact, her best moments come as she, thoughtfully and quietly, answers Testi’s Di Salvo as he questions her after the funeral of her eldest child. Nicely, she gives these moments a disconnected quality, as well, nodding to her character’s expected melancholy.
The rest of the picture focuses on the unusual friendship that develops between Testi and Elmi as they try to discover what happened to her sister. Bolstered by such genre regulars as Ivan Desny, (Franco favorite) Jack Taylor and Christine Kauffman (Murders in the Rue Morgue), whose kleptomaniac character simply decides to leave Di Salvo halfway through the film, this slow burner is redeemed by an ending with several twists. Director Alberto Negrin also provides some interesting moments like the one where the off-kilter Di Salvo physically threatens Taylor’s smarmy shop owner on a roller coaster.
Granted, the world probably didn’t need another sleazy film about underage prostitutes being done in by sweaty superiors, but the sight of the exquisite Liné, for even a very short period of time, is always a good reason to let some greasy celluloid settle like red dust around your sagging viewing chair.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan