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May 12, 2012

Movie Review: Murder Obsession (Blu-ray, 1981)

Raro Video is quickly asserting itself as one of the top genre DVD/Blu-ray labels around. If you’ve seen their releases Fellini’s Clowns and Fernando Di Leo’s crime masterpieces and have taken a glance at their current slate of upcoming titles – Night of the Devils, Waves of Lust and Madness, as a Euro-cult fan you should be excited. Murder Obsession was an obscure Riccardo Freda film that surprised the hell out of me at how much trashy fun it was. Now, we have a Blu-ray release of Murder Obsession in High-Definition, packed with even more extras.
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.

Soon after the couple's arrival, 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.

The big thing folks who bought the previous release are whether they should upgrade. Raro has gone the extra distance to add more interviews: composer and Goblin legend Claudio Simmoneti, Sergio Stivaletti (ported from the original release) and Freda scholar/director Gabriele Albenis are all on hand for background on the film and Freda’s influence. Chris Alexander’s fine liners are back as well as the deleted scene featuring a drowning Laura Gemser. The best extra is the inclusion of an alternate English version of the film (running five minutes shorter than the Italian version). I was surprised to see how good it looked conisdering it's an extra. It’s as vibrant and rich in texture as the featured version in this 1080p incarnation.

For me, Murder Obsession is a big sleeper. I really knew nothing of it until recently. Thanks to Raro, I’m glad I’ve gotten a chance to see it. This is a no-brainer upgrade to Blu-ray. Highly Recommended!

                                 Blu-ray screencaps courtesy of RockShockPop

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