Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Murder Obsession (1981)

A perfect companion with Riccardo Freda’s earlier movie Tragic Ceremony, Murder Obsession is actually better than what I’ve heard over the years – but it’s far from some forgotten masterpiece. After an awkward start, the movie picks up pace and makes the simple plot more complex and delivers some nice set-pieces and a few unexpected twists and turns.

Stefano Patrizi plays Michael Stanford, famous horror-actor with a terrible childhood-trauma: he killed his abusive father with a knife! After going a bit to far during a scene in his latest movie, he decides to visit his mother at her mansion. They haven’t seen each other for many years, which could be because of the murder – or the weird incestous feeling over their past relationship. Michael brings a few friends with him over the weekend, and soon they’re getting killed one by one…

Murder Obsession is one of those movies where it’s easy to point out the bad things. The acting is most of the time very bad – or at least uninspired. Stefano Patrizi walks around with a blank face and the others seem uninterested in what they’re doing. Anita Strindberg and Laura Gemser are the only ones with some charisma, but they are far from their best. The pacing is also very uneven, and some of the editing is sloppy – which is probably because of lack of footage to work with. Just watch the dialogue-scene in the car in the beginning, which is two angles – almost the same angles – which they are cutting back and forth between.

As with Tragic Ceremony there is also some big mistakes that they probably just didn’t bother to remove, like the head of a camera man (or maybe focus puller) showing up very clearly in a mirror, a very fake knife and a couple of other things. That really don’t bother me, but it’s sign of “we just don’t care”.

BUT after half the movie it’s getting better, and darker. The characters suddenly becomes more interesting – but still very shallow – the story is getting darker. We get a long dream sequence which is both very cheesy and very cool (complete with rubber-bats and a big ugly rubber-spider). The movie actually becomes more gothic the longer it goes, with darkly lit corridors and stairs, scary basements and occultism. The script becomes more fun to, with a couple of nice twists and some interesting character developments. Another interesting detail is the small homages Freda makes to other famous horror movies of the time. I don’t think it’s rip-offs, but it feels like small winks to Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Suspira, which works better than expected.

And the gore. Yes, the infamous gore. Two scenes, very bloody and graphic – but also very primitive and silly. Thousands miles from the gory quality of Rambaldi’s effects in Tragic Ceremony. But still, it’s gore and blood and it always makes a movie like this even better.

I’m happy I finally got a chance to buy and see Murder Obsession, but if you’re picky about your eurocult, stay closer to safe cards like Deep Red or something by Bava. This is for us that gone further…

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