Friday, December 16, 2011

Murder Obsession (1981, Riccardo Freda)

Murder Obsession (Follia omicida), just released by Raro Video, is a hard film to categorize.  Sure it's a horror film mostly, but it also has supernatural/occult elements as well as a hint of giallo mixed in for an added kick.  This eclecticism shouldn't be surprising though considering the various genres director Riccardo Freda dabbled in - everything from horror (The Horrible Dr. Hichcock) to spaghetti westerns (Death Doesn't Count the Dollars) to sword and sandals (several Maciste films).  Two things that attracted me to this film, besides the genres presented, were Stefano Patrizi, who I have enjoyed watching in several polizioteschi films and Anita Strindberg, the beautiful star of many fine giallo films.
Murder Obsession stars Patrizi as the horror film star Michael Stanford who, along with his girlfriend Deborah (Silvia Dionisio) decides to visit his estranged mother.  Along for the trip are some of the cast and the director of their current film.  Michael's mother (Strindberg) is overjoyed to see her son for she has been very lonely since Michael's father was killed.  We soon learn that it was Michael who killed his father when he was a child and after spending many years in a psych ward is now starting to have strange visions and blackouts.  Soon, each of the guests start dying one by one and Michael is the main suspect.
Murder Obsession was a weeeeeeird film.  The mixture of different genres worked well for the most part, though the one major supernatural scene had some flaws.  Granted it was supposed to be dream-like, I'm not sure fake giant spiders and bats on strings can constitute dream-like.  The real chicken having his head cut off though was definitely cringe-worthy and effective.  I have two other minor gripes with the film, the first being a couple of the major deaths in the film (one by chainsaw, one an axe to the head) were pretty poorly done.  The second, which is just me being picky is the film's title, not only does it not really pertain to the film but it just sounds awful.  Other than that, I actually enjoyed the film.  As I mentioned previously, I liked the cast a lot.  Even Laura Gemser who I've only previously seen as eye candy in Joe D'Amato's sleazefests held her own.  The film also had a decent story with a lot of suspense and I really couldn't guess the ending until the big reveal - and even then it kept you on the edge until the final disturbing frames.  Raro's DVD is quite satisfactory and other than a little bit of grain, the picture is very good.  The film is presented in English with a few scenes that abruptly switch over to Italian (with English subtitles), which was a little distracting but didn't really detract from the film.  Lastly, this DVD comes with a 10 minute interview with makeup FX man Sergio Stivaletti who worked on the film.  Though not without its flaws, Murder Obsession is a fun watch with more than enough gore, atmosphere and plot twists to please most horror fans.
RATING:  7/10

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