Monday, 16 July 2012

Murder Obsession (1981)

Featuring the fattest stupidest plastic monster spider since NUDE FOR SATAN, Riccardo Freda’s final film could be kindly described as ‘for completists only’. By that I mean for completists of Freda’s work or anyone who has to watch every giallo ever made, especially the ones that really make no sense, have ludicrous dream sequences shoehorned in to fill up (and spice up) the running time, and have denouements that include ridiculously garbled and convoluted explanations that are a desperate last attempt to justify all that satanism, nudity and giant spider fun.
      As I hope is often the case with these reviews, I hope by now you’ll know if you want to see this one or not, but if you’re still undecided, here’s what the film’s about. Not especially charismatic, good-looking or talented movie star Michael (Stefano Patrizi) travels back to his isolated crumbling family home with his girlfriend Deborah (Silvia Dionisio). His mother Shirley (Martine Brochard) is obviously a couple of cans short of a six pack as he tells her that Deborah is actually his secretary so she doesn’t get jealous before - hooray! - we get a sub Profondo Rosso-style flashback in which an effeminate little boy with blonde curls appears to have stabbed Michael’s father to death. After this incident little Michael spent quite a while in the local Instition for Giallo Flashback Affected Children, and he still suffers from blackouts (aha!). 
      Michael’s film-making friends turn up with “I am a Victim Stab Me” written all over them. One of these is Laura Gemser of the BLACK EMANUELLE series and others so before she gets stabbed she of course has to surrender to the requirements of early 1980s exploitation cinema and take her clothes off a few times.
      There’s more than an hour of the running time to get through before anyone gets murdered, hence the previously mentioned daft dream sequence. Silvia substitutes the smart black and red suit she’s wearing when she arrives for a variety of wispy and increasingly see-through dresses that eventually become so insubstantial that you can’t see them at all. During the dream she gets chased, bled on, has her dress ripped off, gets threatened by the Italian equivalent of a giant ‘Stop Boris’ (UK kids of the 1980s are probably the only ones who’ll get that one), gets threatened even more by drooling rotting-faced nuns and gets her dress ripped off again. 
      The murders mount up and the suspect list dwindles. Is it John Richardson, the weird butler a million miles away from Hammer epics like SHE and ONE MILLION YEARS BC? Is it Michael’s demented mother? Or is Michael really the killer after all? 
      As is often the case with the films of Riccardo Freda MURDER OBSESSION doesn’t make an awful lot of sense, but there are some great visuals (several reminiscent of TRAGIC CEREMONY, also reviewed on here), a lot of daftness and Boris The Massive Robot Spider in one of his few film roles, which in itself will be worth the price of admission to some.

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