La macchina ammazzacattivi (The Machine to Kill Bad People, 1952)

An American family and an Italian friend drive down the street and seem to hit an old man who suddenly appears in the road. When they get out to see if the man is okay, he is not there. The daughter, looking at a nearby wall on which is scribbled Viva San Andrea , explains that it must have been the saint since the saint’s feast day will be celebrated in the village.

During the festival, which is being photographed by Celestino Esposito, the same old man can be seen several times in zoom-in shots of the crowd. He shows up again later that night at Celestino’s photography shop asking for a place to stay for the night. The two begin to talk about the day’s events and how Celestino believe that Saint Andrew, the patron saint of the town, seems to have forgotten about town. The old man suggests that he knows how Celestino can help. The old man uses the police officer with whom Celestino had an argument as an example. By taking a photograph of a photograph of the police officer, Celestino has the ability to freeze him in the same pose, killing him. After a moment, the old man disappears. With the ability to fight the evil and selfish forces within people, Celestino believes this gift was given to him by the old man, Saint Andrew.

The next day at a town council meeting, the mayor announces that the town has received eleven million lire for the town's use. Everybody present makes suggestions each of which would result in benefiting themselves. Finally, one of the town’s rich women, Donna Amalia, waltzes into the meeting and threatens to recall all of the loans she made to the town if it does not erect a monument to her late husband’s memory.

After the meeting, Donna Amalia approaches Celestino to make an enlargement of one of her husbands photographs in which she is present. Forgetting about his new photographic power of killing people, Donna Amalia is frozen but is not killed as the image was partially covered. When Donna Amalia’s relatives discover that she has left all of her wealth to the poorest people in town they try to hide her will. Upon seeing this Celestino tries to correct the situation by threatening to go to the authorities if the will is not returned to its proper place. Instead of listening to his threats, poor little Celestino is beaten up to be scared into silence. Horrified at these selfish acts, Celestino begins to freeze the selfish relatives. Celestino’s friend, the town doctor, finally figures out the connection between Celestino’s camera and all of the strange deaths in town and pleads with him to stop. However, the two struggle and the doctor is knocked unconscious. Fearing that he has murdered his friend Celestino decides to freeze himself and the old man who started the whole ordeal. Suddenly, the old man, this time in the form of the devil, arrives in a puff of smoke destroying his image as a saint. Celestino directs the devil to make the sign of the cross and all of the people who had been frozen return to life.

Film Credits