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From 1970 to 1973, Sergio Martino directed fife Gialli. The best known of
the bunch certainly is "I Corpi Presentano Tracce di Violenza Carnale",
better known as "Torso". "La Code dello Scorpione" aka "The Case of the
Scorpion's Tail" is also quite well known among fans. "Lo Strano Vizio della
Signora Wardh" aka "Blade of the Ripper" is less known, as is the
psychedelic "Tutti i Colori del Buio" aka "They're Coming to Get You" and
"Day of the Maniac".
But the least known and also rarest of the bunch is "Il Tuo Vizio...", known also under its English titles "Gently Before She Dies", "Excite Me" and "Eye of the Black Cat". It's really a shame that this fine effort hasn't reached a broad audience of Giallo admirers yet. Because it's a masterly and highly original Giallo, whose plot mixes the two types of Giallo (a mysterious killer murders one victim after the other in order to keep his or her secret / a troubled couple from which one half - mostly together with his or her lover - wants to get rid of the other permanently, which spawns intrigues, distrust and, of course, murder) with elements of Edgar Allan Poe's probably most filmed story, the thoroughly Gothic "The Black Cat".
The result is astonishing: It works perfectly. Even towards the climax, which is more Poe-oriented, Martino manages to startle the audience with extremely surprising, for the genre typical, twists. And the twists work very well. The first half is more Giallo-oriented and delivers some gory murder scenes and the unevitable tickling sexy moments.
The cast is also excellent, consisting of a group of Giallo regulars. Anita Strindberg and Edwige Fenech (the latter in an unusual genre role for her) lead the female cast, Luigi Pistilli (giving an outrageously daring performance) and Ivan Rassimov lead the male. They all fit perfectly into their roles. Not to forget Bruno Nicolai's score, which probably marks his most versatile sound track ever.
All in all a wonderful genre outing, a unique thriller using all well-known "rules" of the Giallo and yet giving them fresh turns and twists. An easy 10 out of 10, highly recommended.
Sergio Martino's effort "Your Vice is a closeted room and only I don't have
the key" is a crossover between the giallo genre, horror and sexy
as they were many during the 70's in Italy. It's (very)freely adapted from
Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat while keeping a giallo narrative structure
for an hour and so...then move back to the Poe territory.
Il tuo Vizio... has quite daring visuals for one hour, Martino's usual
trademark in his early 70's works : wild camera angles, edgy editing. Then
it suddendly cools down as the story sticks around with the Black Cat
The screenplay developped a maniac on the loose killing young girls (again) in a very nasty way (gore galore!) while Anita Strindberg fights with drunken & debauched husband Luigi Pistilli. he's a no good writer who writes all night...only one sentence over and over. Then comes sexy Edwige Fenech who stands for Strinberg's cause...before sleeping with her husband and the delivery man. Lesbian scenes, straight scenes, stuntss,sex scenes, murders scenes, sex again then murders...this is a very well known territory that brings up finally some good surprises in the end.
This is definitely Anita Strindberg's best work to date. She is absolutely fantastic as the cheated wife who goes over the edge, showing every human emotion with a professionalism rarely seen on the screen. Too bad her career went dry after 1975, she was a real winner here with great acting capabilities. Miss Fenech got a THEOREM-like character but still very eager to drop every clothes she got. She gets a very bitchy part here which is very unsual in her career as she went along either with victims characters or sexy ones. Oh, and there's still weird Ivan Rassimov as the mysterious stranger (as usual) snooping around Strindberg's house : he was already in Martino's previous TUTTI I COLORI DEL BUIO.
Apart from the screenplay's weaknesses and incapacity of bringing something fresh and new to the Poe's story, this Martino flick is quite memorable and fun to watch.But as it tries to link several genres, it really doesn't know where to go and who to please and finally ends up as a curisoity from the 70's. Nevertheless a gem strictly for genre addicts.
Superwonderscope says :7.
Luigi Pistilli plays Oliviero Rouvigny,a writer who humiliates his wife Irena and any other female that crosses his path.One of Oliviero's mistresses is viciously murdered while waiting to meet him and so the investigating inspector considers the ex-writer a prime suspect.As the killings continue Mr. Rouvigny's guilt becomes nearly unquestionable, however the truth is not that simple."Gently Before She Dies" is obviously influenced by the writings of Edgar Allan Poe.The film is very tense and suspenseful and there is enough gore,nudity and sleaze to satisfy fans of Italian gialli.The soundtrack by Bruno Nicolai is prefect and the acting is great with Luigi Pistilli,Edwige Fenech,Ivan Rassimov and Anita Strindberg to boost.This wonderful giallo is not easy to find,but if you are a fan of Italian horror you can't miss it.
Even by gialli standards this movie is pretty off-the-wall, but it is
also, strangely enough, probably the most faithful adaption of the
Edgar Allen Poe story "The Black Cat" that I have ever seen. There is a
bit of a gender role reversal where it is the wife who is tormented by
the black cat (named "Satan") which is the cherished pet of her cruel,
alcoholic husband. The mother-obsessed husband takes out his writer's
block on his long-suffering spouse and may be responsible for a string
of serial killings. Thrown into the mix is a black maid who seems to
only be in the movie so the sleazy characters can make a lot of racist,
offensive comments about her--oh yeah, and also so she can get naked.
And speaking of getting naked, Edwige Fenech also shows up as the
husband's sexy, conniving niece and demonstrates once again her extreme
aversion to wearing clothes. In between nude scenes, however, Fenech
really seems to be doing some acting this time, and she plays against
type here as a villain rather than a victim. She seduces both her uncle
AND her aunt, and pretty much everyone else in the movie (with the
possible exception of "Satan" the cat).
Not that this is a good movie. It has an idiotic subplot where Fenech has an affair with a goofy-looking motorcross racer for no apparent reason other than to pad the running length with some racing footage that would do a lot better in a sports video than in a giallo. The movie also isn't nearly as well directed as some of Sergio Martino's other gialli like "Torso" or "All the Colors of Darkness" (also with Fenech). And Martino-regular Ivan Rassimov is tragically wasted in a perfunctory role. Still even a bad Martino-Fenech giallo is not without its charms. And if you're an Edgar Allen Poe fan, you'll especially enjoy this one.
Boasting one of the most outlandish titles of the giallo genre, Sergio
Martino's Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key is yet
another loose adaptation of one of Edgar Allen Poe's most famous
titles, The Black Cat. Like most Poe adaptations, the film shares
little with its source material, apart from the presence of the titular
black cat, here named Satan. While it is chocked full of narrative
stumbles and frustrating red herrings, Martino's refusal to bend to the
genre rules of the giallo makes Your Vice an extremely interesting
entry into the genre, avoiding being bogged down with drawn-out set
pieces and mind-bending visuals, and instead focusing on the
psychological - and physical - interplay between its two leads.
Bored writer Oliviero (Luigi Pistilli) spends the majority of his time throwing drug and alcohol-fuelled parties for the local hippies, and enjoys mentally and physically abusing his long- suffering wife Irina (Anita Strindberg) in front of them. When a young student is brutally murdered on the night she had arranged to meet Oliviero, the wife-beating pig naturally becomes the prime suspect and withdraws into a state of deep paranoia at his labyrinthine mansion. When their maid also shows up dead, Oliviero and Irina hide the body just before the arrival of his niece Floriana (Edwige Fenech). Floriana is a confident and wise young woman, and hatches a plan with Irina to deal with her abusive husband. But not all is as it seems, and just who is the handsome grey-haired man lurking behind every corner?
Far from your average giallo, Your Vice... doesn't subvert the genre but frequently surprises. The plot and ludicrous climax, like most gialli, seem not be taken from the yellow-covered pulp fiction they are normally adapted from, but something akin to an episode of Scooby- Doo. While that may seem like a criticism, it really isn't - it's the type of insanity that makes these movies so much fun to watch. Bolstered by a fantastic score by Bruno Nicolai and lavish cinematography by Giancarlo Ferrando, they are nonetheless overshadowed by Fenech, surely one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the screen. Floriana is a no-nonsense, well-travelled lady, and just when you think you have her worked out, the film throws in a surprising, if in no way believable, twist. It may not be remembered as Martino's best entry into the genre (1973's Torso is certainly up there), but Your Vice... throws in enough twists and turns to keep it consistently entertaining and occasionally disturbing.
Possessing what could be the second-best title in film history (after 1963's "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies," of course), "Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key" (1972) reunites director Sergio Martino and stars Edwige Fenech and Ivan Rassimov, who had previously collaborated on such wonderful films as "The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh" (1970) and "All the Colors of the Dark" (1972). (Indeed, this film's title was copped from a line of dialogue in "Mrs. Wardh"). This time around, though, the story mainly concerns a decadent writer, Oliviero, well played by Luigi Pistilli, who spends most of his days drinking booze and abusing his wife (giallo regular Anita Strindberg) both physically and emotionally. While a wave of murders sweeps through their small town, Oliviero's niece pays a visit, and so we finally get to see our Edwige, a full 1/2 hour into the picture. Gorgeous as always, Edwige here sports a short-haired bob for a change but looks smashing still. Anyway, truth to tell, I had no idea where this picture was going for at least the first hour. The film concludes very neatly, though, with some nifty surprises, and always keeps the viewer intrigued by combining a truly decadent atmosphere with bits of Poe's "The Black Cat," echoes of Clouzot's "Diabolique" (1955), some jolting murders, soft-core lesbianism and, typical for gialli, some red herrings. The fine folks at No Shame have come up with yet another great-looking DVD package, containing recent interviews with both Martino and Fenech. Edwige's interview suggests that the woman has made some kind of unholy pact with the devil himself; no woman could possibly look as beautiful, at 57, as she does today. Just remarkable!
Oliviero (Luigi Pistilli) is an alcoholic, sadistic and despicable
has-been writer, whom has recently lost his mother, regularly abuses
and humiliates his wife Irina (Anita Strindberg) and engages in illicit
relationships at any given opportunity. When one of his mistresses is
found brutally murdered the suspicions of both the police and his wife
fall on Oliviero whose problems are confounded by the arrival of
Floriana (Edwige Fenech), his young and beautiful niece with an unclear
Following on from the success of his earlier gialli with the name being a reference to 'The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh (1971)', director Sergio Martino presents this sleazy, violent and thoroughly nasty film which experiments with new ideas and style while remaining true to the elements of his previous work that yielded such positive results. The story is awash with complexity and subtext, lacking the famed ambiguity of some similar films yet with a unique and pronounced outlandishness that serves to augment the resplendent qualities by providing distraction from the more orthodox traits of the story. Perhaps unusually for the genre, characterisation is fundamental as each character becomes progressively defined and both their motivations and psychological status come to be analysed and as such this aspect is as integral to the film as any other. Themes such as misogynism, sadomasochism, the treatment of sex as a weapon, voyeurism and most notably a trenchant concentration on the Oedipus-complex add substance and depth to the characters and story in an area of cinema often criticised for not having such and even the motivations of an ominous cat fittingly named Satan become important as the events unfurl. The narrative moves at a slow, deliberate pace, perpetually ripening, twisting and turning, leading us to believe one thing before proving the untruth and even changing genres to a point. All of this builds up to a rapid chain of events towards the end that seek to overturn everything we already know and this leads to a mostly satisfying, if somewhat predictable, climax.
'Vice' is also a stylistic treat. Martino collaborates with cinematographer, Giancarlo Ferrando and composer Bruno Nicolai and the three ensure that the visual and audible elements of the film are near perfect. The beauty of the film is predominantly founded upon the malevolent aspects of the storyline. The chronic use of darkness and shadow help to create a mesmerising yet distinctly intimidating and alarming atmosphere invoking uncomfortable feelings of trepidation while the tension and suspense is allowed to build to boiling point. Violence is filmed in such a way that the loathsome nature of the act is harnessed with erratic camera-work and quick splices of cruelty, while the bloody aftermaths are displayed to full, gruesome effect. Sex is treated ostensibly and despite a poetic presentation there is often an unquestionably vile and repugnant aura to the act which becomes more discernible as events progress. One particular stylistic flourish sees a quick insertion of the menacing cat's eyes during scenes, becoming more frequent to the end and perhaps used symbolically to represent the mental breakdowns of the characters and the relationship breakdown between Oliviero and Irina. Furthermore, these quick flashes of menace coupled with several darkened sequences involving the snarling and vicious cat add a disorienting effect and engender yet more discomfort from the viewer. The subtle use of the soundtrack, which mostly comprises soft, unostentatiously elegant music blends with the visuals in a pleasing manner and helps to control the ambiance unobtrusively.
The somewhat predictable conclusion is perhaps the most glaring shortcoming. Those who have seen Martino's earlier gialli may regard one particular aspect of the end as indicative of being formulaic while those who recognise the principal influence for the story will be less surprised at the eventual outcome. These are minor complaints but worthy of note. Vice could also be criticised for being a character-driven film that leaves several key questions unanswered. One could theorise as to why this is but perhaps the most likely explanation is that Martino wished for there to remain an element of mystery. Whether this is welcome or unwelcome will no doubt depend on the subjectivity of the audience. Criticisms aside, 'Vice' is fine film-making and certainly ranks amongst the genres elite as Sergio Martino once again excels.
Before I first saw Sergio Martino's masterpiece "Il Tuo vizio è una
stanza chiusa e solo io ne ho la chiave" (aka. "Your Vice Is a Locked
Room and Only I Have the Key") of 1972 my expectations were already
high. I already was a great fan of director Martino, whose other
Gialli, "The Strange Vice Of Mrs Wardh", "Torso", "The Scorpion's Tail"
and "All Colors Of The Dark" were entirely fantastic films, and since
this film is a Giallo (loosely) based on the writings of the almighty
Edgar Alan Poe, I was sure it would be excellent. Even so, this
brilliant gem surpassed my greatest hopes. Not only is "Your Vice Is A
Locked Room And Only I Have The Key" a film with an awesome title, and
by far Martino's greatest film. This instant personal favorite is an
absolutely ingenious and astonishing masterpiece that easily ranks
among the finest Gialli ever brought to screen. The beauty of "The
Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh", the compelling plot of "The Scorpion's
Tail", the genuine nastiness of "Torso" or the delightful insanity of
"All Colors Of The Night"... - "Your Vice Is A Locked Room..." combines
all the great elements of Martino's other films and even improves on
them. This film is brilliant in all aspects and an absolute must-see
that no lover of Italian Genre-cinema or Horror-fan in general could
possibly afford to miss.
Oliviero Rouvigni (played by the great Luigi Pistilli), a burned-out and alcoholic writer, lives in a rural mansion with his beautiful wife Irina (Anita Strindberg), whom he likes to maltreat and publicly humiliate in front of his eccentric friends. After one of their decadent parties, a girl gets brutally butchered in the small nearby town...
I would love to further discuss the compelling plot of this ingenious film, but the film is simply too precious a gem for any Horror fan to spoil even a tiny bit of it. The film has one of the most excellent ensemble casts ever in a Giallo. Luigi Pistilli, doubtlessly one of the greatest character actors in Italian genre-cinema delivers one of his most brilliant performances as the drunken and rude writer. Equally great is Anita Strindberg as his intimidated and submissive wife. None other than the ravishing genre-goddess Edwige Fenech shines in the role of Oliviero's sexy niece Floriana. Fenech is probably the most important siren of 70s Eurocult, and she is once again stunningly beautiful, irresistibly seductive and just plain brilliant in this film, in my opinion the greatest she has ever been part of. Furtermore, the cast includes the always-sinister Ivan Rassimov in a supporting role. All of the aforementioned actors also worked with director Martino on other occasions, and this collaboration gets the best out of all of them. "Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key" is a film that should appeal to all fans of Italian cult-cinema, be it lovers of the more artistic, or the sleazier kind of films (I tend to like the combination of both best). The film is full of delightful sleaze. The sadomasochistic relationship between Oliviero and Irina is perverted and demented, the female cast members all have a tendency to get naked, and the gruesome murders are genuinely nasty and gory. The film also has a delightfully creepy atmosphere, and is brilliantly photographed. The settings are beautiful and often eerie alike, the mesmerizing score by Bruno Nicolai is sublime and the performances are among the best ever in Italian Horror cinema. The story is fascinating from the first minute and the film is stunningly suspenseful from the beginning to the end. One of the finest examples of Giallo, this film is full of clever, unpredictable twists, and the suspense does not stop for a second. In short: "Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key" is a masterpiece in all regards, an absolute priority for every Horror fan and lover of Cult-cinema to see, and, without exaggeration, one of the most essential and brilliant Gialli ever made! 10/10!
Uniquely bizarre and experimental giallo from the masterful hand of Sergio Martino, who delivered 4 other giallo-classics in only 3 years time ("The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh", "Case of the Scorpion's Tail", "All the Colors of the Dark" and "Torso"). This gem is perhaps the least overwhelming one of the bunch, but it definitely is the most dared film and probably also the most intelligent one, since Martino mixed the passionate-murder plot with Edgar Allen Poe's legendary story "The Black Cat". The result is a stylish, old-fashioned giallo with clever twists and genuine suspense. Oliviero Rouvigny is a hateful, unsuccessful writer who enjoys humiliating his wife Irena in public and to openly cheat on her with multiple mistresses. When one of these girls is found brutally murdered, Oliviery becomes the prime suspect. When another girl turns up dead, even inside Oliviery's mansion, it gets really difficult to believe in his innocence. The fragile relationship between Oliviery and Irene is brought down even further when attractive niece Floriana comes to visit. She plays the married couple off against each other by seducing them both. Despite a couple of graphically illustrated murders, "Your Vice is a Locked Room etc..." mostly depends on the uncanny atmosphere and the disturbing sub themes. Oliviery suffers from a mild Oedipus complex whereas Irena has a severe phobia for her hubbie's black cat. The acting performances are fantastic, notably because this type of cinema isn't exactly known for its splendid acting. Edwige Fenech stars in an unusual role as shrew, but she's terrific and looks ultimately sexy. Fenech is somewhat a giallo-regular and worked with some of the most eminent directors in the field, like Mario Bava ("5 Dolls for an August Moon"), Andrea Bianchi ("Strip Nude for your Killer") and twice more with Sergio Martino ("All the Colors of the Dark", "The Strange Case of Mrs. Wardh"). Luigi Pistilli ("Bay of Blood", "Iguana with the Tongue of Fire") is particularly impressive in the ungrateful role of sadistic macho Oliviery and Anita Strindberg ("Who Saw Her Die?", "Lizard in Woman's Skin") is equally convincing as his tormented wife. The camera-work is enchanting, with a some truly imaginative angles, and the musical guidance (by Bruno Nicolai) sends extra chills down your spine. Highly recommended!
In fusing the short story by Edgar Allan Poe with giallo this ends up a
little lost and unsure of direction I think. 'The Black Cat' is a
horrifying tale, on a side-note Norwegian cartoonist Steffen Kverneland
made a wonderful adaptation of, and mixing it with two subplots is only
partly successful really. Nice try though.
Whats good about this is the two female leads, Edwige Fenech is the most sexy woman outside Russ Meyers films and she does a good job here. Anita Strindberg who plays the agonized wife on the other hand, truly excels in the role playing well on all the strings her role requires. The way she is treated by her husband got me real angry so I guess he did a good role as well if not unsympatethic.
Oh and the score by Bruno Nicolai ain't bad either.
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