"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?
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.