Crazy Desires of a Murderer

Crazy Desires of a Murderer

"Truth is certainly better than deception."
After a trip abroad, Ileana (Isabelle Marchall) returns home to Italy with her friends to the family castle and her ailing father, the Baron di Chablais (Roberto Zattini). During a fun evening of dancing and charades, it becomes clear that Ileana's friends share a complex history of relationships, debts and varying levels of mistrust. But when party girl Elsa (Patrizia Gori) turns up dead with her eyeballs gouged out, everyone is a suspect and it's up to the Inspector (Corado Gaipa) to sort the truth from the lies. Could the killer be Pier-Luigi, who is being hounded by the mafia or Berta, the sour-faced maid? Or perhaps it's Ileana's secret half brother Leandro, driven insane by a childhood trauma, who hides in the castle's catacombs embalming animals?  The inspector must use all of his wits to find the killer!

Much like A White Dress for Marialé, Maniac Mansion, Five Dolls for an August Moon and Nine Guests for a Crime, Crazy Desires of a Murderer finds its roots in old-fashioned locked room Gothic murder mysteries. This one takes a few breaks for grownup scenes - it comes to us from the writer of the Emanuelle series of erotica movies, after all - and features a Colombo-like detective whose trademark is a cane and limp. The film is well-paced and repeatedly throws suspicion from one character to another, so just when you think you have the killer's identity figured out, you may start to doubt yourself.
  • The fourth murder listed above is actually a flashback that occurs before the main action of the movie starts.
  • Leandro's room in the catacombs is filled with taxidermied animals, but the only animal death I listed above is the rabbit he was shown taking apart near the beginning of the movie.
  • The title does make sense, but it's really generic. Just about any giallo movie could have been called Crazy Desires of a Murderer. But the original Italian title is one of the worst in the genre, as it gives away way too much of the plot.
  • There's a big emphasis on eyes in this movie. Lots of dramatic close-ups of eyes, shots of peeping toms spying and, of course, the killer gouges out eyeballs. I'd like to think it's all in homage to Lucio Fulci, who has a similar obsession with eyes in his movies.
What the Hell am I Watching?

At the beginning of the movie, Pier-Luigi is kidnapped, driven to a remote barn and then politely asks the mafia enforcers to give him two more days to come up with the money he owes. And after all that trouble, they let him go. I imagine it must have been an awkward drive back to his car in the city.

There's a scene where the house guests play sexy charades. Basically, they just undress and grope each other while the other guests shout movie titles, until they stumble across the one that's correct. It's a weird scene.

Fashion Moment

For a bunch of rich kids, this group has terrible fashion sense. Bobby wears this tight yellow turtleneck throughout the film, making me suspicious of him the whole time. Pier-Luigi sports this loud and distracting purple plaid jacket and an Eric Estrada hairdo. And you can't see it in this shot, but the Inspector's tie is always about four inches too short, accentuating his paunch.

Obsession: A Taste for Fear

Obsession: a Taste for Fear

"Are knives standard in the bondage game?"

Diane (Virginia Hay) is a high-powered high-tech bisexual photographer who gets what she wants in the bedroom as well as in the studio. But when her model and lover, Tegan (Tegan Morrison) turns up dead, she has to stay a step ahead of Lieutenant Arnold (Dario Parisini) to protect her ex-husband, Georges (Gérard Darmon), who is the main suspect.  Soon, other people close to Diane are killed in the same way - bound in ropes and then stabbed, like a kinky encounter gone wrong. Can Diane find the real killer before Lieutenant Arnold closes in on Georges? And who will be the next to die in this wicked game of cat and mouse?

Obsession: a Taste for Fear definitely falls under the category of "sexy" giallo, with more gratuitous nudity and steamy scenes that any two other gialli combined. This movie is writer/director Piccio Raffianini's only credit - he never made another film before or since - but he seems to know his stuff, turning in a script with all the rhythms of a classic giallo and camera work throughout that pays homage to Dario Argento's Susperia, flooding each frame with deeply saturated color.

  • You may know Australian actress Virginia Hay from her role in The Road Warrior, as a Bond girl in The Living Daylights, or as sexy blue alien Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan on TV's Farscape.
  • The original Italian title, Pathos: Segreta Inquietudine translates roughly as Passion: Secret Anxiety. It's also sometimes called Pathos: Un Sapore di Paura, which literally translates as A Taste for Fear.
  • The score by Gabrielle Ducros is a glorious late-80's fever dream of 808 beats, synthesized new-age panflutes and Lethal Weapon-style sax solos.
  • There's a sly little homage to Michaelangelo Antonioni's1966 film Blow-Up, which was a touchstone for Argento's early films. Just like David Hemming's character in the mod classic, Diane gets frustrated during a photo shoot and tells her models to close their eyes and hold their poses, as she walks out of the building with no plans to return.

What the Hell am I Watching?

Near the very beginning of the movie, Georges takes Diane to a nightclub right out of a Stefon sketch from Saturday Night Live. This club has everything: little people ballroom dancers, a female bodybuilder, mirrors covered with cocaine, and a live band that plays New Jack Swing covers of George Gershwin songs.

Twice during the movie, scene transitions are made with a star-wipe, the cheapest and stupidest looking edit ever devised and one that has no place in a professionally-made film.

During the investigation, Lt. Arnold gets out of his car and is nearly run over by a speeding van. He draws his gun and fires what appears to be a laser blast. Where did that come from? Police have laser guns now? Are we in the future?

The movie never makes it clear what kind of photographer Diane is, exactly. She's not a fashion photographer, because her models almost never wear clothes. I suppose what she does could be considered high-end artistic erotica, but for what market? Calendars? Framed art prints?

Fashion Moment

When the characters do eventually get dressed, it's not often in something notable - or visible with all the high-contrast lighting effects.  But there seems to be a motif throughout the movie of crazy fashion eyewear. Here's Tegan, sporting some retro checkered shades.

Kim wears these strange sunglasses with matte lenses

Diane keeps it classic with black Ray Bans

And here's Georges in his Dwayne Wayne flip-ups (which he wears like an eye patch at one point).

Let's also have a look at the beautiful cinematography. It's a lot darker than Argento's use of color, but has the same disorienting, ultra-saturated effect.