Saturday, April 14, 2012

Murder Obsession (1981)

I sometimes wonder if evil is inherent in every one of us. Some say that evil does not exist at all, and what we call evil is merely the absence or lack of good. But what is it that compels one to want to do harm to another with a complete disregard for the viewpoint of the victim? Anger, jealously, or possibly just a primal instinct to inflict pain? The wicked and malevolent being that could potentially lurk deep down inside of us is brought to the forefront in MURDER OBSESSION.  

Riccardo Freda’s last directorial feature may be flawed, but it is one beautiful looking movie where familiar and highly significant genre actors such as BLACK SUNDAY’s John Richardson, BLACK EMANUELLE’s Laura Gemser, and giallo favorite Anita Strindberg (her last starring role) come together in a dark and mysterious series of murders, ceremonies, and somnambulant wanderings in a secluded villa. With its modern Gothic setting and indulgently directed sequences, MURDER OBSESSION feels like an exceptional finale from the man who brought the world the pioneering Italian horror effort I VAMPIRI and the unsurpassed and hypnotically psychedelic bloodbath in TRAGIC CEREMONY. The film effectively establishes the right mood by forcing a throwback to candlelight on account of the mansion’s electrical wiring malfunctioning, and along with the rich and vibrant colors as well as the lead character’s hairstyle and mustachio; the overall feeling is like a ‘60s Gothic in an ‘80s movie. Two of my favorite things… 

While playing the role of a killer during the filming of a movie, the lead character, Michael (Stefano Patrizi), is introduced as a movie star and a shady person when he takes the method-acting technique a little too far by nearly strangling his co-star, Beryl (Gemser). Although he might not be the most appealing or likable, the unease brought on by the character of Michael makes for an interesting lead that may or may not have a dormant impulse for murder. This creates one of surprisingly few red herrings in a murder mystery plot with pretty vicious death scenes where everyone dies except for the killer and one other final character, resulting in one of those fun horrific endings that is like Oh my god!  How could you!?  No….  Nooooooooooo!!!!  Roll end credits.