Before turning his attention to extremely gory zombie films like Paura nella Citta dei Morti-Viventi in the 1980s, Lucio Fulci directed some pretty good thrillers, such as this effective giallo set in Italy's rural southern provinces. The portrayal of the superstitious villagers is the major strength of this film, building a creepy atmosphere where religion and magic co-exist, and where every mystery leads to another riddle. Sergio d'Offizi's photography is moody and dense, turning sunny postcard landscapes into threatening spaces which offer no escape. Riz Ortolani's haunting score will surprise many viewers accustomed to his ungodly faux-disco work of later films, and the script (by Fulci, Roberto Gianviti, and Gianfranco Clerici) is absorbing and solid. One of Fulci's more successful outings, this one even took home some well-deserved awards at various filmfests. Fulci's next thriller, Una Lucertola con la Pelle di Donna, abandoned much of this one's individuality for Argento-inspired visual tricks, and he returned to the theme of preserving innocence through murder in his shocking Lo Squartatore di New York a decade later.