Naked Violence (aka I ragazzi del massacro) was Fernando Di Leo’s first crime film, released at the end of 1969. It’s less well known than his later, more heralded releases, and while it’s certainly not as good as Calibre 9 or Manhunt it’s still a powerful and effective work. A bunch of delinquents rape and murder their teacher during a lesson and Inspector Lamberti (Pier Paolo Capponi) is assigned to investigate. The question isn’t whether they did it – that’s in no doubt – but why they did it. And the more Lamberti digs around the more he comes to believe there may be more to the case than just a bunch of drink-fuelled kids going on a crazed rampage.
This starts off a something like a sociological investigation into the causes of delinquency before opening out into more of a traditional giallo / mystery. The plot, based on a novel by Scabernenco, is fast moving and engrossing, although it does get slightly cheesy towards the end and in seeking to impose a typical thriller structure on the story does lose some focus. But in some ways it’s a more effective portrayal of an Italian underclass than many of the more lauded new-wave films of the preceding decade. It’s notable that the kids are initially portrayed as leering grotesques before gradually gaining a kind of humanity (well, some of them at least), and Di Leo shoots it all with his usual brisk and sometimes expressionistic style. There are some really nasty scenes in it, and it should also be mentioned that there are decent performances from the young, inexperienced cast. If nothing else, it shows that the kinds of issues that send the Daily Mail into a state of apoplexy were alive and well over forty years ago, back in the good old days. Definitely worth a look.