Italian actress Alida Valli has passed away at the age of 84. She was perhaps best known to American film buffs for her work on Alfred Hitchcock’s THE PARADINE CASE and Carol Reed’s THE THIRD MAN, but she appeared in at least two great horror films: EYES WITHOUT A FACE (195 and SUSPIRIA (1977).
In the former, she plays the faithful assistant to a surgeon who is trying to graft a new face onto his disfigured daughter. Valli gets one of the great death scenes in the history of horror cinema, when the daughter finally gets fed up with the insanity and plunges a scalpel into Valli’s neck! What gives the scene its kick is not just the sudden shock of violence but the sense of betrayal in Valli’s eyes, as a tear roles down her cheek and she murders, “Why?” just before expiring.
In Dario Argento’s SUSPIRIA, Valli gave a somewhat campier performance as the domineering headmistress at a girls’ school for dance that turns out to be a front for a coven of witches.
Valli’s career lasted for over sixty years. She also worked with art house European directors like Luchino Visconti and Michelangelo Antonioni.