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December 27, 2011

Movie Review: Murder Obsession (1981)

Since Raro Video's USA hub has started releasing various Italian cult and art house fare throughout the past year, the Italian based DVD company has seen a steady stream of solid releases. The crime films of Fernando Di Leo, Federico Fellini’s Clowns and even obscure gems such as The Overcoat are now available for the home video market for region one genre fans. Why not mix in bizarre euro-trash/ giallo like Ricardo Freda's wild thriller Murder Obsession to this mixture of titles?

Buy Murder Obsession on DVD

Ricardo Freda use to work a lot with the late-great Mario Bava (Bay Of Blood, Blood and Black Lace, Black Sunday) - and it certainly shows even right after the opening credits. Freda's Murder Obsession has an odd mix of gore, gratuitous flesh, uber creepy incest and awful hair that makes this slice of sleaze a total surprise at how entertaining it truly is.

Michael (played by the incredibly wooden, Stefano Patrizi) is a successful actor with a dark secret in his past that involves his parents. For one, he has a strong Oedipus complex which he shares with his surprisingly sexy mother, Shirley (Martine Brochard) and he's also murdered his pappy. It's been years since Michael murdered his dad but even then he still experiences nightmares about the incident. Although Michael gets the jollys for his mum from time, he's found a girlfriend named Deborah (Silvia Dionisio) to share his life with. The couple decides to visit Michael's mom at her creepy old mansion where all of Michael's memories come full circle. The cast and crew from his most recent movie join them at the mansion and gory chainsaw deaths, mucho Laura Gemser nudity and hilariously phony giant spider dream-sequences ensue. I think this spider might have been the mother of the shitty tarantulas from The Beyond. Now that's entertainment!

Picky giallo fans looking for something in the vein of classic Bava, Argento or even Sergio Martino outings might not be completely at home with the cheesiness of Murder Obsession (the acting is on par with Lucio Fulci's New York Ripper) but I loved it and those who can enjoy the ridiculousness will certainly be pleased.  Initially I came in with lower expectations having known anything about the film and ended up having a grand time with it for what it was - a dumb, bloody, pastaland horror flick. Watch for some early FX work by the talented Sergio Stivaleti. I emphasize "early" as some of the FX are not near what he's created over the past twenty-years. The axe to the head below may give you a good indication as to Stivaleti's skill level back in the early 80s.

Raro has put together what appears to be the most complete version of Murder Obsession. Some scenes have been inserted ever so seamlessly in the film in its original Italian language (with English subtitles). The majority of the film though is dubbed in English. Some liners are included with the disc --as per usual with Raro titles-- and an enjoyable interview with Stivaletti where he discusses the film as being one of his first forays in the business.

If Italian trash is your thing, look no further than to the joys that Murder Obsession holds. Recommended.

       Screencaps Courtesy of Rock! Shock! Pop!

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