This is the striking original Enrico De Seta
artwork commissioned for the due-foglia
poster for Il fantasma di Soho
, the Italian release of THE PHANTOM OF SOHO, a.k.a. the German krimi Das Phantom von Soho
(1964). Though I don't find the sketchy execution of the work quite as ideal as much of De Seta's other poster art, I still find it to be an uncommonly haunting image and wonder from where it came in the artist's fevered imagination. It doesn't capture the atmosphere of Franz-Josef Gottlieb's highly visual, black-and-white film, nor its masked menace, a skull-faced killer wearing what appear to be glittery oven mitts, but the model is clearly based on cast member Helga Sommerfeld
, who plays an employee at the Club Zanzibar.
What this image does recall, curiously enough, is the exhilarating horror of a film made almost 15 years later: the first murder in Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA (1977), when the disembodied demonic arms emerge from darkness to repeatedly plunge a long knife into the chest of ballet student Pat Hingle (Eva Axén). It would not be unreasonable to suspect that Argento, as a young man devoted to the Edgar Wallace/Bryan Edgar Wallace krimis
, would have made a point of seeing this picture and spend some time in the lobby admiring and absorbing this image, enabling him to subconsciously exceed its brilliance onscreen more than a decade later.
You can get a rough idea of how De Seta's artwork was adapted to poster form in this photo, originally posted by Daniel N on the AVI Maniacs
boards. I bet it sold tickets and, it goes without saying, it would never get past the severe limitations that control film advertising today.