Murder Obsession


Murder Obsession

"There's nothing to be afraid of now. A stringe bond exists
between the two of us. Nothing seperates us."

Actor Michael Stanford (Stefano Patrizi) has been haunted his whole life by the guilt of murdering his father - an event he repressed since childhood and only barely remembers. So when Michael invites his girlfriend Debra (Silvia Dionisio) and some cast and crew members of his latest movie for a relaxing visit to his childhood home, seeing his mother Glenda (Anita Strinberg) stirs up dark memories. And things get even worse when the weekend guests start turning up dead. Could Michael be blacking out and murdering people in a fugue state? Or was it Oliver (John Riehaudson), the creepy butler? Was Debra really kidnapped and forced to participate in a Satanic ritual or whas that a dream? And did Michael really kill his father all those years ago?

Murder Obsession (which sometimes goes by the title Fear) takes us through a lot of anticlimactic false starts before it starts rolling. And when it does, it becomes clear that the plot is a collage of ideas from other, better movies. The attempted murder of Beryl (Laura Gemser) in a bathtub echoes that of Mizar Harrington in The Case of the Bloody Iris; a woman is attacked by bats like in Lizard in Woman's Skin; the was-it-or-wasn't-it-a dream sequence Satanic ritual is reminiscent of Rosemary's Baby; Debra runs through a forrest at night in the rain in the style of Susperia; We get flashbacks from three different points of view on Michael's father's death in a hamfisted attempt to make this a giallo Rashomon. And, of course, the dark candle-lit mansion, murky dungeons, and shoehorned-in elements of black magic, psychic powers, and magic talismans come from the world of gothic horror.
  • The ghostly footprints appearing on the dusty staircase (a la Paranormal Activity) is a cool effect.
  • Neither Glenda's nor Oliver's explanation for Michael's father's death makes any sense. But Oliver's makes slightly more sense.
  • The ending of the movie is left a little ambiguous. The killer is revealed, one character is mortally wounded (I've counted it as a death in the body count, above), and another character screams right before we cut to credits (I didn't count that one as a death).
  • This movie has gone by six different English titles over the years and not a single one of them (except maybe Satan's Altar) relates to the movie.
What the Hell am I Watching?

What's the inverse of an Oedipal complex? Because that's something that happens in this movie. Glenda's reunion with Michael is slightly unsettling and it just gets weirder from there.

Fashion Moment

Movie star Beryl is looking fantastic in this richly-embroidered white silk kimono.

Also, the movie brazenly re-creates one of the greatest works of Western art: Michaelangelo's Pieta.

Death Falls Lightly

Death Falls Lightly

"Where am I? Where are we?"

Georgio Darica (Stello Candelli) returns home from a shady business trip to discover that his wife has been murdered. With no alibi, and insisting that he is not the murderer, he turns to his lawyer, Savara (Tom Felleghy) for help and hides out with his girlfriend, Liz (Patrizia Viotti) in an abandoned hotel while things cool down. Their boredom soon turns to cabin fever, but when the hotel's owner (Antonio Anelli) shows up and asks Georgio to help him bury his murdered wife's body, things get crazy. Are the people Georgio encounters real or are they ghosts haunting the abandoned hotel? Is he alive or dead? And if he didn't murder his wife, who did? 

Death Falls Lightly is a weird little movie. It starts out like a normal giallo with a great premise, but soon slows to a crawl when Georgio and Liz are sequestered in the hotel. Then, halfway through, the Hotel Owner and his family show up and things go bananas. It turns into a totally different movie, reminiscent of Lucio Fulci's The Beyond, or Umberto Lenzi's Spasmo, where we, along with the main character, get so disoriented that we're not sure if anything we're seeing is real. Maybe we're witnessing a manic fever dream, or the characters are dead, in some nightmarish afterlife. In this case, though, everything is eventually tied up and the movie ends exactly as you think it might.

  • The most recognizable face in the crowd is  Tom Felleghy as the lawyer, whom you might recognize from The Case of the Scorpion's Tail and Cat O'Nine Tails.
  • The music in this movie is better than most, featuring a rock song from an unknown band, reminiscent of Deep Purple.
  • Editor Otello Colangeli is a giallo veteran, having worked with Antonio Margheriti on the great film Naked You Die.
What the Hell Am I Watching?

Pretty much the whole second half of the movie, up to the last eight minutes will make you question the filmmakers' sanity. Ominous characters who talk in riddles appear and disappear, get murdered, and come back to life. Strange noises fill the hotel. A monkey appears out of the darkness, swinging on a nearby bar. Someone commits ritual suicide on a Satanic altar. Georgio gets beat up by an invisible attacker. It's 40 minutes of crazy randomness.

I don't want to give too much away, but things are explained and lose ends tied up by the end of the movie and one thing is made perfectly clear: the police are inept to the degree that they're willing to risk several lives in the hopes of securing one murder confession.

Fashion Moment

Liz changes clothes no fewer than four times in the first 24 hours in the hotel, but the most eye-catching ensemble is the off-the-shoulder robe worn by Adele (Veronika Korosek) during her Satanic ritual.

If this brings to mind Manos: The Hands of Fate, then you and I should totally hang out.


Cross Current

Cross Current

"You are careless, leaving a gun around in anyone's reach."

Recovering from a speed boat crash and risky surgery, Marco Breda (Philippe Leroy) returns to his villa to recuperate, joined by his wife, Monica (Elga Andersen) and their friends Burt (Ivan Rassimov) and Terry (Rosanna Yanni).  Marco is under strict doctor's orders to avoid stress, but he is haunted by gaps in his memory and questions about his life before the accident. When a former gardener turns up dead, the police ask questions that he can't answer and before long, more people close to Marco are murdered. Did Marco black out and commit murders he can't remember? Or is someone trying to drive him crazy? Soon, Marco resumes his affair with Terry, putting himself in even more danger. Who is behind these murders and how is Marco involved?

Cross Current is an interesting take on the classic film Diabolique, re-imagined for the post-Argento age. The fun of the film is as much in figuring out the conspiracy as finding the identity of the killer. Besides an Argento-esque eye for production design and costumes, there's also a sly reference to Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca with the Breda's scowly maid. 
  • This is director Tonio Ricci's second movie and his first giallo, but he had good sense to fill out his cast with giallo veterans like Rassimov, Franco Fantasia, and Franco Ressel. 
  • The original Italian title is Un Omicidio Perfetto a Termine di Legge, which loosely translates as A Perfectly Legal Murder.
  • Check out Liana Del Balzo as the gardener's mother. She would go on to play a small but pivotal role in Dario Argento's Deep Red.
  • If you think the editing of this film was a little, shall we say, "poorly realized," consider that it was dome by Armedo Giomini, who was also responsible for Slaughter Hotel.  It all makes sense now.
What the Hell Am I Watching? 

The movie opens with an extended dialogue-free speed boat race, but we're given no context about how things are done and what's going on. What's at stake? Who's winning? Why is there no sense of urgency?

There's a fantastic death scene where a victim wearing all white stumbles across the length of a white room in slow motion, smearing blood on absolutely everything in her path.

Fashion Moment

The Bredas' house and furnishings have a tastefully georgous ultra-modern style and the clothes were okay. But the thing that caught my eye were the 1970's era racing helmets with the cool Speed Racer-style bubble visors.

Weekend Murders

Weekend Murders

"Aren't they just too revolting, these family reunions?"

Henry Carter, 2nd Earl of Vale has died at his lavish country estate in Suffolk, England and his relatives have all gathered for the reading of his will. A few token odds and ends are allotted, but the vast majority of the Earl's wealth goes to his niece, Barbara (Anna Moffo), who cared for him in his old age. The rest of the greedy family is naturally upset but things get serious when the butler, Peter (Ballard Berkley), turns up dead and a sniper's bullet barely misses Barbara's head. Inspector Grey (Lance Percival) is called in from Scotland Yard and, assisted by bumbling local constable Aloisius Thorpe (Gastone Moschin), sets out to solve the case. But over the course of the next few days, more people turn up dead and family secrets are revealed. Could the murderer be George (Chris Chittell), the prankster with a morbid sense of humor or his shrewish mother, Aunt Gladys (Marisa Fabbri)? Maybe it was Anthony Carter (Peter Baldwin) whose wife, Isabelle (Ida Galli, credited as Eveline Stewart) is having an affair?  Grey and Thorpe must find the killer fast!

Weekend Murders features elaborate pranks, physical comedy, and a wacky score by Francesco De Masi that parodies Tchaikovsky. There's no blood, only brief nudity and sexy scenes, and, really, it's closer in tone to cozy English whodunnits or the 1985 comedy Clue than to more conventional gialli. But it's still a fun little movie, especially after the halfway point, when Sargent Thorpe stops being annoying and becomes a competent detective. The final reveal – in a scene where the suspects are gathered and the murderer is pointed out – turns out to be delightfully ingenious.

  • The movie starts with the discovery of the third body and then flashes back to the previous Wednesday to fill in the story.
  • The title "sort of" makes sense because the murders take place over more than a weekend. 
  • The musical references to Tchaikovsky, punctuated by gunshots, make more sense with the original Italian title, Concerto Per Pistola Solista or Concerto For Solo Pistol.
  • Even though we never meet him and he dies of natural causes before the movie starts, I'm including Henry Carter's death in the body count above.
  • The ending of the movie is ambiguous, but I'm going to be optimistic and count it as a "fake murder."
  • You may remember Marisa Fabbri as the maid in Dario Argento's Four Flies On Gray Velvet. You may also remember Beryl Cunningham as the stripper in So Sweet... So Dead.
  •  English actor Lance Percival performed the voices of Paul and Ringo in the animated TV series The Beatles well as in the 1968 film Yellow Submarine.
 What the Hell Am I Watching?

Uppity Aunt Gladys nearly has a stroke when he meets her nephew's new wife – African-American Pauline Collins (Beryl Cunningham).

There's a crazy scene with a rape gone bad... but it's not what you think. George, wearing a mask, breaks into the maid's room to rape her, but she just laughs and says that he should have just asked. At this point, George has guilt-induced visions of his overbearing mother and flees screaming from the room.

Later – less than 24 hours after her husband is gunned down by the killer – George approaches Pauline and clumsily puts the moves on her. "Why not?" she says, as the two disappear into her room.

Fashion Moment

We're dealing with moneyed English elite here, so the clothes are impeccable... but super-boring.  It's Pauline, already an outsider in her new family, who stands out further with some flashy, trendy fashion choices.

She wears a colorful sweater, miniskirt, and thigh-high patent leather boots to the reading of Henry's will.

At dinner, she goes for this dramatic Seven Year Itch-inspired gown and blonde wig.

Mourning the death of her husband, she sports this striking white fringe coat, reminiscent of angels' wings.