Blu-ray Review | Raro Video USA
MURDER OBSESSION (1981) begins with what appears to be an attack against a woman (Indonesian actress Laura Gemser of the EMANUELLE series) by a man (Stefano Patrizi of 1977’s THE CASSANDRA CROSSING and LION OF THE DESERT, also from 1981) that turns out to be a scene in a film they are shooting. The sequence is stopped by the film’s crew, to the point that someone remarks that they thought Michael was actually trying to kill the actress, Beryl. Even though we are made privy to this, there is something off about him. He suffers bouts of flashbacks, and in this particular case he starts to look through images that remind him of himself as a child. What is this obsession with childhood?
We quickly learn that Michael murdered his own father when he was young. To deal with this sudden resurgence of memories, he takes his girlfriend Debora (Silvio Dionsi) to visit his mother (Anita Strindberg) and while en route he remembers being at the opera watching his father conduct music. He recalls the murder and the shock nearly causes him to collide with another car. At his mother’s house, a bizarre butler named Oliver (John Richardson of Sergio Martino’s creepy TORSO from 1973) leads them inside. Michael introduces Debora to his mother as his secretary, infuriating Debora, but this leads to them making love in a ridiculous scene wherein they seem to simply be mashing their bodies together.
Michael’s co-workers from the film shoot (the director Hans and two women, one of whom is Beryl) pay a visit and strange things begin to happen. Hans fires off his still camera, but Oliver refuses to be photographed and subsequently has a bizarre episode. Beryl is drowned by a masked stranger, and Debora has a strange dream (or is it?) of being chained up and approached by a huge, fake-looking tarantula! There are several red herrings thrown in for good measure (the usual black gloves worn by the killer) prior to the finale which consists of the requisite explanation as to the killer’s identity. There is even a sequence wherein Debora runs through a forest at night during a rainstorm – care to guess where the inspiration might have come from? There is also a ludicrous line spoken by the director wherein he says that he wears black gloves when handling a hair drying to avoid being electrocuted!
While the film is interesting, it cannot hold a candle to the best giallo work of Mario Bava or Dario Argento whose films possess highly stylized cinematic sequences. MURDER OBSESSION lacks the visual flair and panache that the aforementioned directors built their careers on, but it is an interesting entry in the Italian horror film genre.
Mrs. Strindberg appeared in many films of this nature during the 1970’s. She worked with Lucio Fulci on A LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN and Sergio Martino in THE CASE OF THE SCORPION’S TAIL, both in 1971; with Aldo Lado in WHO SAW HER DIE? in 1972 and with Sergio Martino again in 1972’s YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED ROOM AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY. Her appearance as Michael’s mother was her last film role prior to retirement. The same goes for the director, Riccardo Freda, who passed away 18 years after this film was completed.
The extras on this disc are plentiful:
· There is an 11-page booklet that accompanies the blu-ray containing an article on the film. It is illustrated with photos, the emphasis of which is on female nudity. There is a biography on the director, also.
· The blu-ray contains the original cut of the film which runs 97 minutes, and there is an alternate cut dubbed in English which runs 91 minutes.
· There is an interview with make-up effects artist Sergio Stivaletti (runs about ten minutes) and he talks about working on this film very early on in his career.
· Claudio Simonetti of Goblin talks about film scoring for about 22 minutes.
· Director Gabriele Albanesi talks for nearly nine minute about the film.
As for the picture, it is crystal clear and up to the expected standards one expects of blu-ray. The sound is also very good, what you would expect from a film of this era.
Selected and Reviewed by Jonathan Stryker
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