Friday, October 05, 2012
31 DAYS OF FRIGHT: Riccardo Freda's Got a MURDER OBSESSION
A version of this review originally appeared in Weng's Chop #0, now available from Amazon.
To wit, flicks like FACELESS (1987), DELIRIUM (1987) and BLOODY MOON (1981) have all become favorites that would have blown my mind had I seen them at the time they originally snuck onto these shores. Thanks to Raro Video you can add MURDER OBSESSION, Riccardo Freda's mind-boggling genre mash-up to that list.
Unleashed on an unsuspecting public in 1981, MURDER OBSESSION (aka Follia Omicida) stars Stefano Patrizi as Michael, a film actor who harbors a dark secret involving the death of his father, a famous maestro frequently referred to as "The Maestro". After finishing his latest film – and nearly killing co-star Beryl (Laura Gemser) while in a homicidal trance – Michael and galpal Deborah (Silvia Dionision) retreat to his family estate for some rest and relaxation. After an uncomfortable night spent with Michael's supposedly-ill mother Glenda (Anita Strindberg) and Oliver The Creepy Butler (John Richardson), they're joined by director and shutterbug Hans (Henri Garcin), his assistant Shirley (Martine Brochard) and Beryl, the near-strangling victim from the opening.
Any expectations that Freda has simply set the stage for a paint-by-numbers giallo entry are quickly dispatched as the flick zigs and zags between murder mystery, haunted house flick, lingering incest and nightmare fantasy highlighted by Deborah's recounting of an over-the-top bared-titty dream sequence that is easily worth the price of admission. Played excruciatingly straight, MURDER OBSESSION will have you watching with slack-jawed amazement right up to its blasphemous ending.
The only other Freda work I'd previously seen was his late 60s thriller DOUBLE FACE starring Klaus Kinski and Margaret Lee. I recall being duly unimpressed by that flick when I saw it twenty years ago, but MURDER OBSESSION has me itching to break out my copy of LIZ ET HELEN, the film's longer and supposedly sexier cut. Sadly, MURDER OBSESSION would turn out to be the director's swan song, as it was for the still hot Strindberg who would supposedly settle down with an American millionaire and leave the film world behind.
The Raro Video standard DVD release features a sharp-looking transfer with occasionally muddled audio that one hopes has been corrected on the flick's Blu-Ray release. Two Italian-language scenes with English subtitles have been inserted back into the flick, though only one really adds anything to the story. Other extras include a full-color booklet and an interview with director Sergio Stivaletti who assisted with the flick's oft-crude special effects.
Though the end drags out a bit longer than necessary, MURDER OBSESSION is a top-notch example of everything that makes off-the-wall Eurotrash – or unique cinema of any heritage – such a worthwhile and rewarding treat. Pair it with John Philip Law's crazoid BLOOD DELIRIUM for an 80s double bill that will leave you babbling for days.
MURDER OBSESSION is available from Amazon.
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