Il profumo della signora in nero (1974) Poster

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Strangely hypnotic and very worthwhile
jangu16 May 2001
Upon first viewing, I did not know what to make of this movie. It is certainly interesting, but non-linear and difficult to understand. "What is going on?" I thought. A second viewing made it clear to me: this really is a near-masterpiece of giallo/thriller-cinema! From the haunting melody during the titles until the totally surprising and shocking ending, you will be mesmerized, confounded and thrilled. Mimsy Farmer walks around in semi-interested fashion for most of the time, but that is very much in tune with the whole story. A highly effective performance. The other castmembers are adequate, nothing more. Beautifully and imaginatively directed by Barilli who holds you attention even during scenes that could easily have been boring in their complete uneventfulness. And most scenes are accompanied by one of the most effective scores in a giallo ever heard. Properly marketed and aimed at the right audience, this film could be a future cultfavorite. A must-see for the adventurous moviegoer!
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A forgotten absurdity...
chaosrampant18 November 2007
The Perfume of the Lady in Black aka Il Profumo della signora in nero.

Admittedly a very hard to find forgotten Italian film, this may very well rank among the weirdest movies Europe has produced. I went into this one expecting a giallo, but instead of black gloved killers and endless red herrings I got psychological horror in the vein of Roman Polanski's Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby. Although it does have affinities with the giallo genre. A psychologically scarred heroine with a tormented childhood, very good photography with bright colours, smooth camera-work and subtle frames that most of the time work on two levels.

The story revolves around Silvia (played by non other than Mimsi Farmer), an industrial scientist, with a troubled childhood who gradually loses her grip and starts having visions of a little girl, relives traumatizing events of the past in broad daylight, and soon begins to off those close to her. The gore factor is downplayed, the murders are few and far between but they are effective. The movie kind of drags at first, and there are several sequences that seem uneventful and do nothing to push the plot forward, while those other sequences that do help the plot evolve are most of the time baffling. It's like pieces of a puzzle that don't fit together. All the end does is show you, they belong to the same puzzle (if that makes any sense). The borders between reality and fantasy blur in a David Lynch-esquire way. It wouldn't surprise me if Lynch drew inspiration from this forgotten piece of Italian celluloid for his Mullholand Dr. All in all, I'd say that if you can keep your attention focused for the duration and pick up on the little hints and details that appear frequently, you'll find this a rewarding experience.

Up until the ending this was a 5/10 for me, but the ending alone kicked it up another notch. Satisfying but not a handed down solution to the puzzle, again in a Lynch-esquire way. It's open for interpretation instead of spelling everything out for the viewer. That's a quality I love in films.
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Fascinating-not an easy film
mtlfilmstudio23 November 2005
The Perfume of the Lady in Black (Francesco Barilli 1974) is a beautiful and fascinating film. Like a previous reviewer, it took me 2 projections before I could fully grasp what Barilli had wanted to do and mostly accomplished with this film.

The problem comes from the fact that this if often advertised as a Dario Argento-like Giallo, and it's anything but that. While it's easy to see the visual and atmospheric influence this film had on Argento, The Perfume is much closer to an Antonioni film than it is to other Italian scare flicks. Watch it with this approach in mind and you will be literally hypnotized.

Kudos to the main actress who delivers a great performance in a role that had no precise definition on paper!
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Sadly, it's not ALL about style & beauty…
Coventry13 November 2006
I'll be the last person on this earth to deny that "The Perfume of the Lady in Black" isn't a breathtakingly beautiful and stylish viewing experience. Quite the contrary, I agree that Francesco Barilli's film is a masterwork of subtly built up suspense and it's also one of the best films ever forcing you to empathize with the leading character. This film contains numerous astonishing camera shots, genuinely creepy musical tunes and hugely impressive decors, but this material greatness makes it all the more difficult to forgive that there's not a lot of coherence or plausibility in the story and that Barelli leaves far too many questions unanswered at the end of the movie. "Perfume etc.." is similar to and clearly inspired by the earliest work of Roman Polanski; most notably "Repulsion" and "Rosemary's Baby". Exactly like in those two cinematic milestones, the plot introduces a seemingly weak and vulnerable female protagonist that suffers from nightmarish hallucinations and haunting memories of her childhood. She, Silvia Hachermann – played by Mimsy Farmer, soon isolates herself from the outside world and notices how her social surrounding, including her boyfriend and friendly neighbors, turn against her. Does these events relate to the voodoo-talk she had with some friends? Or the mysterious circumstances regarding her mother's premature death? Or maybe it's all happening in Silvia's mind alone. Perhaps I was expecting too much of an old-fashioned Italian giallo whereas this film is clearly an occult/psychological thriller, but the slow development of the plot and the absence of a perceptible kind of malice honestly bothered me just a tad bit. After a full hour into the movie, still nothing grueling has occurred and Silvia's inevitably disastrous fate can't be guessed until the very last seconds. The climax comes as a total shock, for sure, but not exactly a satisfying one since absolutely nothing in the development of the plot hinted at such a macabre switch in tones. Nonetheless, "The Perfume of the Lady in Black" is a curious gem of Italian horror cinema, with an overload of talent in front as well as behind the cameras' lenses. It's a demanding film that requires the full attention of all your senses and even then it's likely to confuse you several times. Recommended to well-trained fans of Italian cinema.
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Nightmares Of Rare Beauty
Witchfinder General 6669 December 2008
"Il Profumo Della Signora In Nero" aka. "The Perfume Of The Lady In Black" (1974) is a film that enjoys a certain cult-status among my fellow fans of Italian Horror, and I was therefore curious to see it for quite some time. When I finally saw it recently, the film was not quite what I expected, but not in a negative sense, as it certainly didn't disappoint me. Having deliberately read no reviews before watching it, I was probably most surprised by the film since I had been mislead to believe that "The Perfume Of The Lady In Black" is a typical Giallo, whereas it is much rather an occult psychological Horror film. The fact that this beautifully filmed cult-gem is often named a Giallo is probably the stunning visual style, which reminds of many early 70s Gialli, such as some of the films by Sergio Martino, or Dario Argento's earlier work. The early films of Roman Polanski (especially "Repulsion" clearly served as an influence to this film. If there is one Giallo that "The Perfume Of The Lady In Black" is comparable to, it is probably Sergio Martino's "Tutti I Colori Del Buio" ("All The Colors Of The Dark", 1972), but the similarity also lies in the nightmarish atmosphere of upcoming insanity rather than in the Giallo-esquire elements (such as the typical depiction of murders, the mystery about the killer's identity etc.). One will not find a black-gloved killer butchering dozens of beauty-queens in "The Perfume Of The Lady In Black".

What one will find, however, is cinematic beauty, genuine creepiness, a nightmarish atmosphere and utter insanity in equal doses in this bizarre, sometimes confusing, sometimes spine-chilling gem. The beautiful Mimsy Farmer stars as Silvya Hachermann, a chemist tormented by nightmarish visions related to her own childhood... I don't want do give too much of the storyline away, since it is unforeseeable and often bizarre, but I am sure it will appeal to most of my fellow Italian Horror fans. If the film has one weakness, it is that it is sometimes a bit too confusing, and does not always make perfect sense, but then, the film's obscure, sometimes surreal nature mostly makes up for this. Mimsy Farmer is once again wonderful in her role. Farmer is known to Italian Horror fans for her roles in films like "Macchie Solari" (aka. "Autospsy", 1975), Dario Argento's "Four Flies On Grea Velvet" (1971) and this one. Beautiful as she is, Farmer also has a great talent to play women on the cusp of mental instability, and she once again delivers an outstanding performance here. The other performances are all very good, especially memorable are Mario Scaccia as a friendly elderly neighbor, and Orazio Orlando as a truly sleazy scumbag. "Beautiful" is a word often used to describe this film, and for understandable reasons (at least as far as the visual style goes). This must be one of the most visually striking Italian Horror films of the early/mid 70s, and this is saying something as the combination of this genre, country and period bears countless films that are visually astounding. The photography is as impressive as the settings, and the many occult elements only make the film more effective. The score by Nicola Piovani is also great and contributes a lot to the film's creepy atmosphere. "The Perfume Of The Lady In Black" is a chilling and nightmarish film with an ascending atmosphere of insanity and a brilliant leading performance by Mimsy Farmer. Beautiful and terrifying in equal measures, this stylish and obscure cult-gem is highly recommended to all my fellow fans of Italian Horror.
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Utter madness
Ben Larson24 December 2011
Like Barbara Bach, Mimsy Farmer went to Italy and fell in love. She did, however, have a long career in the US, starting with Gidget Goes Hawaiian to a few biker movies. She remained in Italy making films until her divorce, and then moved to France where she continued acting.

This is more a psychological horror film that a true giallo. It was a tale of a woman going mad over unresolved traumas from her childhood. Or, maybe it was a tale of a woman being driven mad for nefarious purposes. It was not totally clear, but there were little clues throughout.

Whatever the case, the ending was a total surprise and nothing led you to expect it.
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Worthy of a cult following.
Scott LeBrun17 February 2012
"Beautiful" and "stylish" are naturally two words that automatically come to mind when describing this odd, dreamy, haunting movie. It's definitely not the typical "giallo", as it's not so much about being a murder mystery as it is being a character profile and a "Repulsion" style story of one young woman's mental decline. Lovely Mimsy Farmer is the woman in question, Silvia Hacherman, a chemist with an unhappy past who begins to see things that she can't make sense of. She doesn't know if she can even trust the people who are part of her life, from her would-be boyfriend Roberto (Maurizio Bonuglia) to another friend, Andy (Jho Jhenkins) to her subtly creepy neighbour Mr. Rossetti (Mario Scaccia). Just who is the strange Woman in Black that Silvia sees in her mirror? Or the equally off putting little girl (Lara Wendel) who insists on being part of her life? Right from the start, "The Perfume of the Lady in Black" promises to be an interesting trip, accompanied by a wonderful music score composed by Nicola Piovani. The look of the movie always helps, also, in insuring that one wants to keep watching even though there are parts of the story that drag. Those viewers expecting more traditional thrills will have to wait until the very end for some juicy bits of gore (that actually seem out of place amidst the low key nature of the rest of the movie). Co- writer / director Francesco Barilli (who wrote the movie with Massimo D'Avak, whose credits include "Who Saw Her Die?" and "The Man from the Deep River") keeps us, along with his main character, off balance with his deft balancing of real and fantastical elements. By the time that his movie is over, it may well have provoked more questions than provided answers, but I agree with others that by this very nature this becomes a highly intriguing if not entirely successful psychological thriller, made at a time when that phrase hadn't yet been introduced into the lexicon. It certainly leaves the viewer to think about what they've seen afterwards. It's good material that is worth a look for adventurous fans of Italian cinema. Seven out of 10.
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Absolutely awesome Italian occult horror film.
HumanoidOfFlesh8 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"The Perfume of the Lady in Black" by Francesco Barilli is an extremely stylish and beautifully shot occult horror film that is often regarded as one of the most underrated Italian horror movies ever made.This film influenced the works of Dario Argento-there are themes and set-pieces that would re-appear,virtually unchanged,in Argento's "Deep Red","Suspiria" and "Inferno".The cinematography is simply astounding and the score by Nicola Piovani is genuinely creepy.Mimsy Farmer plays an industrial scientist named Silvia who is troubled by strange hallucinations.These images that seem so real point to a tragic event from her childhood:the suicide of her mother."The Perfume of the Lady in Black" is obviously inspired by both "Don't Look Now" and "Rosemary's Baby",but there are some lashings of grisly violence(the evisceration/cannibalism scene is particularly nasty and gruesome).Overall,this Italian baffling psycho-shocker is a suitably unsettling exercise in psychological horror with incredibly beautiful Mimsy Farmer.A must-see for anyone interested in Italian horror.10 out of 10.
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Okay, I have to balance the reviews here...
askmonroville14 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
For those who have seen more than one giallo on their watch, please save yourself the time. If you must know what the hub-bub is truly about, I will release spoilers later in the review.

To get right to the underlying reason for watching these kinds of films, Mimsy gets naked twice: once briefly in a fairly rapid love making scene (where the camera likes to pan away) and at the very end with the "surprise" twistish ending. The murders don't really happen until the 1:20 mark, and there is no real gore to speak of until the very end, so be prepared for a very LONG wait for anything to happen.

By the way, did I mention that this film is very dull? When I see words like "hypnotic" and "dreamlike" popping up when describing any film, they seem to be code for "drawn out" or "putting me to sleep".

The plot goes something like this:

Mimsy Farmer is a technician at a factory (either producing chemicals or beer, I couldn't tell which), who has frequent nightmares about her childhood and her mother (particularly how she died). In the course of this, she has a meeting with her boyfriend and some friends of his, some of whom appear to be dignitaries from Africa who converse about the dawning of science over witchcraft. As the story progresses, Mimsy's mental health starts to deteriorate as she begins to see a little girl who looks strangely like herself at the same age, as well as her mother in mirrors and the like. By the end of it, she is dressing like her mother and has gone quite mad, killing her boyfriend, the elderly scholar who resided beside her and her mother's former lover. It is revealed that Mimsy interrupted her mother having intercourse with the "lover" (or payee, if you know what I mean) and killed her own mother by pushing her out a window...thus, over time, the guilt (and maybe a little bit of shamanistic help from the aforementioned African dignitaries) pushed her over the edge quite literally.

Yet, while one could consider this to be a proper ending for the main character, it is further revealed that the 3 people she killed are indeed still alive (which I am guessing the entire sequence was "in her head"), and they proceed to take her body to an underground tunnel, where everyone given any screen time in the movie participates in a cannibalistic ritual, with her boyfriend gutting her and the rest lining up to pull out a piece to eat.

Now I can respect the visual aspect of the last shot, which (other than the Mimsy nudity) is the only saving grace of the film. Otherwise (as a friend put it tonight after finishing the film), "that's a pretty convoluted way to get your dinner".

All in all, I was just too bored in the end to care about either twist, as I could see the "Mimsy dying the same way her mother did" ending the moment the method was revealed, and the cannibal ritual stuff was never dealt with very well to the degree that it felt tacked onto the main story.
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Beautiful cult gem
The_Void9 February 2006
When it comes to rare cult gems, The Perfume of the Lady in Black is a finely cut diamond! Many rare Italian films have received wide releases recently, meaning that it's a tragedy that this film hasn't. While this film isn't the best to come from Italy, it's certainly well worth seeing for fans of the Italian thriller, and its cult value is immense! The film is often mistaken for a Giallo; but this seems to be more because of the fact that it's from the Giallo homeland than any affiliation with the sub-genre. The Perfume of the Lady in Black is more of a psychological thriller, although it does benefit from a colour scheme typical of Italy's most famous cult films. The plot follows the story of Silvia Hacherman. We see her in a photograph over the title sequence, and it quickly becomes apparent that all is not right with her and her family. The film starts years later; Silvia is grown up and her parents are dead. However, their memory is not, and the beautiful young woman finds herself haunted by their memory.

Carrying on with the diamond idea...this film is absolutely stunning to look at! The vibrant colour scheme (which mainly consists of yellow) ensures this and every scene is beautifully photographed by director Francesco Barilli. Barilli directs the film with care, and every vista is dripping with a double meaning bubbling below the surface. Mimsy Farmer (who has worked with Italian legends Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci) takes the lead role, and only adds to the aesthetic value. This beautiful actress is a delight to look at, and her image always suits the film. The plot is character based, and the plot points are few. Because of this, several points will be lost on the casual viewer, and The Perfume of the Lady in Black is a film that needs to be viewed carefully in order for it to be fully appreciated. The film benefits from a foreboding atmosphere, which is perfectly backed up by the music score; and the way that it climaxes in bloody and brutal fashion brilliantly offsets the pace of what has gone before. The Perfume of the Lady in Black is not an easy film to track down; but if you get the chance to see it, I definitely recommend taking it!
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Excellent Unsung Giallo
gavin69428 May 2014
Sylvia (Mimsy Farmer), an industrial scientist, is troubled by strange hallucinations related to the tragic suicide of her mother.

After the success of "Rosemary's Baby" (1968), the Italian horror world began to embrace Satanic and occult stories. This is one of them. Director Francesco Barilli took a cue from early Argento and made a giallo with some dark undertones. He previously wrote a script for Umberto Lenzi, but had not directed a feature himself.

The cast may not be well-known outside of Italy, but have appeared in Lenzi, Argento and D'Amato films. One even appeared in the notorious "Salo", and a few starred alongside Daria Nicolodi in a picture. So there is plenty of connection here.

This film is beautifully shot with excellent color and better than average acting. It deserves more recognition than it gets. Wikipedia and IMDb are relatively silent on the film's creation, and even Italian horror historian Luca Palmerini has little more than a sentence to say about it in his book...
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Mimsy Farmer, In Danger Again
Flixer195730 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
**May Contain Spoilers**

The oddly-named and strangely attractive Mimsy Farmer is at it again, in another of the imperiled/troubled/and possibly insane roles that she had down to a science back in the 1970s. (You can also catch this act in AUTOPSY, THE BLACK CAT, and FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET, among others.) This time she's an initially happy career-woman whose life goes down the tubes when awful images from her childhood begin plaguing her and people close to her turn up dead. Is she going crazy on her own, or is it some sort of Satanic conspiracy? It'll take you awhile to find out, and gorehounds will have to wait an hour to see even a trace of the bright red stuff; but there's enough foreboding atmosphere, strange locations and bizarre characters to hold interest until then. (If all else fails, you can amuse yourself by trying to figure out who has the bigger Lauren-Hutton-style gap between the front teeth, Mimsy or supporting player Daniela Barnes.) Gore highlights in the final reels include two vicious cleaver murders, severed body parts in a cat's dinner dish and a brief but powerful gut-wrenching finale that will stick in your cranium for days afterward.
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Superb and shocking Giallo
Prof-Hieronymos-Grost7 November 2005
Mimsy Farmer is an industrial chemist haunted by tragic flashbacks form her childhood concerning the deaths of her parents….Is she going mad?...or is she the victim of a voodoo curse?…we are never quite sure until the vividly gruesome and savage climax. Magnificent cinematography and a memorable score make this a real gem of the Giallo genre.Barilli really shows his undoubted talent for capturing the wonderful Italian architecture and keeping us interested in the storyline too. This is not your bog standard slasher though, as nothing really happens until that brutal climax…(That I didn't see coming BTW).however this is a pensive and deliberately paced thriller that will live long in your memory.HIGHlY RECOMMENDED 8.5/10
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A successful mix of visual elegance and visceral horror
Red-Barracuda6 April 2015
The Perfume of the Lady in Black is a distinctive Italian thriller from the less obvious end of the giallo spectrum. It brought me to mind of other more psychologically focused gialli such as Footprints on the Moon (1975) with its dreamlike feel and mentally fragile female protagonist who finds herself in the midst of mysterious events that connect with something strange in her past. It also has similarities to the apartment-based horror/thrillers of Roman Polanski. Its story centres on a woman who starts to experience strange hallucinations that include visions of a mysterious black-clad woman who applies perfume and a ghostly little girl.

Director Francesco Barilli helms this one and, on the strength of this film, he is a director who definitely didn't get a chance to make enough movies. This is a very odd giallo which mixes unusual elements together such as Alice in Wonderland and the African occult. It's presented in a visual style that is often breathtakingly beautiful; one scene involving a medium particularly stands out, where the use of colour and mirrors is quite wonderful. On the whole, it's a very classy production that begins like it means to go on with a fantastic extended opening crane shot that takes us from a child's toy boat in a fountain way up to the high balconies where a couple of the key characters are introduced. This visual elegance in some ways can throw the viewer off-guard however as there are some proper visceral shocks to come in this one, as anybody who has seen it can attest. The lead actress is Mimsy Farmer who also starred in Dario Argento's earlier classic-style giallo Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971). On the basis of that movie I wasn't too impressed with her, seeing as she over-acted excessively; which is why I was so pleasantly surprised with her work here, where she is in practically every scene and does pretty convincing work in a role that requires a decent amount of range.

This is certainly a high quality giallo, although it will no doubt not have universal appeal to all seasoned fans of the sub-genre given it travels down a less hysterical path to its conclusion. It does venture into some very unusual territory for these kinds of films, however, and certainly is a very fine example of the genre.
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The Perfume of the Lady in Black
Scarecrow-8824 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Slow moving, methodically paced psycho-thriller, with elaborately bizarre touches (the inclusion of a little girl, Alice in Wonderland, and a body organ feast, not to mention one old kook has an affinity for hippos), has a scientist, Silvia (Mimsy Farmer, Autopsy/Four Flies on Grey Velvet), slowly succumbing to madness as past demons, involving a mother's supposed suicide and her lover's attempted pedophilia, fail to leave her, and it doesn't help that her friends/colleagues seem to participate in sinister activities she's unaware of. The little girl is an obvious manifestation of Silvia, a reminder of a difficult childhood, not to mention, her mother reappears in vivid form. Director Francesco Barilli has a camera that wants to capture everything, following Silvia as her mental instability grows, and there's never a sense that the world revolving around the lead character is ever quite normal. African witchcraft is discussed towards the beginning, and there's a "reading" of Silvia that unveils parts of her past, so her social circle are certainly openly into the occult which might somehow explain the surreal ending. Farmer, almost from the very beginning, conveys a fragile mind holding on for dear life. Not a giallo, as the title might suggest, with really no violence or bloodletting until a couple of cleaver murders in the last twenty minutes (and these might or might not be real, the real possibility Silvia imagined them, including a brick to a familiar's head when he attempts to rape her). Farmer is a stunner and she bares all in the final scene which has to be seen to be believed. May be a bit too dull for some (it was for me), the lagging pace (to reiterate, the director is in no hurry and scenes following Silvia have a tendency to drag on) will probably test some viewers. I can't say I personally found it satisfying but understand why "The Perfume of the Lady in Black" has a cult following. What I think this film does best is illustrate how a person can become consumed by unexorcised demons. The director gets a lot of mileage out of the apartment complex where Silvia lives, especially downward shots of the stairwell, definitely breathtaking. This could feature Farmer's best work as an actress.
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bizarre, disturbing yet brilliant!
nippy-45 October 1999
This really is a bizarre horror/Giallo but I like it! Ultra-stylish and with a great score this film is well directed and has great cinematography IMO. However the plot is totally incoherent. At first this really annoyed me but then I began to see the film in another light and it was the ambiguous nature of the film which I began to love. The viewer is never surposed to know whether the world around the female star is going crazy and something supernatural is taking place or whether the female star is just going mad and we are seeing it from her perspective. The film spirals into a delirium and shocks beyond belief with the finally that is complete 'madness'. It refuses to draw conclusions and the viewer is left having experienced a transition from reality to abstract obscurity not knowing why or how. The way that the film is constructed as a string of bizarre images with no consistent narrative coherence reminds me of Fulci's excellent THE BEYOND (1981) and Argento's INFERNO (1981). The films score is similar to that in ROSEMARYS BABY (1968) as is the tone of the whole movie. Sorry if that sounded a bit pretentious!
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A true hidden gem
matheusmarchetti15 March 2010
How come this film isn't ranked among the finest European horror movies of all time? Francesco Barilli's "Perfume of the Lady in Black" is one hell of a stylish, elegant and altogether disturbing piece of Italian cinema, that is just as good if not better than the works of Dario Argento. And no, it is NOT a giallo, that is, unless you count Polanski's "The Tenant" a giallo. In the vein of Val Lewton's films of the 40's, "Perfume of the Lady in Black" is a psychological chiller which follows Mismy Farmer, giving a truly outstanding and intense performance, as a young woman who is either a victim of a voodoo cult, or a victim of her own distorted mind. Barilli not only manages to make it visually striking, but also creates an intelligent and creative script that delights itself making questions without always answering them. Unlike most Italian horror films of this period (with the exception of Avati's "The House with Laughing Windows" and Argento's "Deep Red"), this one aged very well, as there are hardly any unintentionally cheesy moments in it, and it's also genuinely frightening. Also, it relies mostly on atmosphere and slow build up than beautiful woman getting offed, even though the ending is particularly gruesome and unbelievably violent (considering there's hardly a drop of blood throughout), being somewhat nausea inducing, as it is sick, depraved and as downbeat as it can get. Nicola Piovani's haunting music score perfectly fits with the film's twisted poetic beauty. Overall, a definite horror classic, that, as I've said before, needs to be talked about more often. 10/10!
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Pale, dull and straightforward imitation of "Rosemary's Baby"
alex-ks5 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Pale, dull and straightforward imitation of "Rosemary's Baby" (mystical part of the plot and conclusion). But even stranger - 1976's "Le Locataire" idea of insanity and illusions have a lot in common with this italian flic. But Polansky's movie stay strong, while this movie ruins apart after 30 min or so. And the ending is weakest spot. It's too much predictable (if you saw "Rosemary's Baby" before): in "Rosemary" there was satanic cult, and "Il profumo della signora in nero" has sacrifice/prey themes in it's core. So finale is obvious, when you start to realise WHICH movie inspired authors of this oldie italian flic.
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Just what you're looking for
sllaw_hguorht9 August 2017
This movie is just what you're looking for. If, what you're looking for is long, drawn out shots of a (bra-less) woman in a nightgown wandering around her apartment, not doing nearly enough radical self-love for someone who is almost certainly being indoctrinated into a satanic cult.

That isn't really a spoiler, as it's pretty clearly the direction of the movie within the first ten minutes. And to be sure, this movie does deal in clichés. What does set it apart are the long, drawn out musical cues while our heroine stares ominously at walls and/or doorknobs, and the startling-ness of robotically acted scenes with actors who more act as vessels of personified terror than humans with personalities.

Each scene in this movie is like an expressionist painting, pulling you into it's mood. It does this so well that I don't really care what the plot is.

This movie has boobs in it.
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so beautifully shot
christopher-underwood6 August 2017
I really enjoyed this and revelled in the wonderful way it was so beautifully shot. With regard to Mimsy farmer, my feeling are somewhat ambivalent. She is far better in this than she was in Argento's Four Flies, but there is still something. She is at once fragile and child like but also sexy and ruthless. By no means a natural beauty, she does make herself attractive and not with her clothes, her costumes here seem particularly unattractive, but she wears them well. As for the tale, it is rather gentle and varied for the most part with the gory violence reserved for the final section. Comparisons have been made with work of Roman Polanski and certainly Repulsion comes to mind with the main protagonist either mad or being driven mad. Then there is Rosemary's Baby and yes, that wonderful apartment block in Rome reminds one of that in the earlier film and those strange looking co-tenants, not to mention the elements of witchcraft and worse.
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Mysterious film about madness
sunznc17 October 2012
Interesting spooky drama about a young woman driven to madness by her own guilt or by demons around her. But why? It appears she may have killed someone close to her at some point but we're not really sure.

The film is shot in Rome and has a very interesting look to it. I kept thinking of an Argento film (Susperia?) with hints of Rosemary's Baby, The Sentinel and Carnival of Souls. There are several interesting male characters around the woman and they seem to know something about her that she herself doesn't know.

It is mysterious without becoming too scary. The settings are very nice and there is just enough mystery to keep one interested. The ending is shocking and unsettling though and may turn some people off.

All in all I found this enjoyable and would keep it in my collection.
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Cult gem ( not a very original comment title !)
smartalec-j24 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Contains spoilers.

Barilli, main character in Before the Revolution (B Bertolucci , 1964) , basically directed just another film after this one, plus one episode in a 1991 film ("La Domenica Specialmente") He is more of a painter ( you could not have missed the painting on the wall of Silvia's room in this Italian cult gem: Il Profumo Della Signora In Nero). Apart from highlighting the odd references 1. this film seems inspired by Polansky's "Rosemary Baby" 2. this film seems to have inspired Polansky's "Le Locataire" 3. Mimsy Farmer seems a name inspired by Mia Farrow (even if it can't be as Mia is only 18 days older than Mimsy!) and that I think that this film is quoted in Society( B Yuzna, 1989). I would say the last scene CAN be taking place in the real world. "Other" scene settings seemed strangely odd, because they ARE dreams. Note how the wall paper of the 'seance' is the same as the wrapping of a box with Silvia's friend's ashes. The latter is a DREAM. Which points to the last odd reference: Mulholland Dr : I think one can work out which scene is a dream and which not (as in David Linch's film). And there might be this thing where in the end Silvia (while dreaming ?) COMMITS SUICIDE. And the other thing that all the characters come back in the final sequence. Because it's the "real world"!!!! NO HAY BANDA What I could not explain though: why does Silvia keep dreaming of the Italian flag ?
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A very potent and supremely disturbing shocker
Woodyanders15 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The lovely, slender, gap-toothed blonde beauty Mimsy ("More," "Autopsy") Famer gives a splendid, shattering, heart-breaking performance as Sylvia, a shy, passive and very reserved lass who suddenly starts to lose her marbles. Sylvia experiences troubling childhood flashbacks entailing a time she caught her mother doing just what you think with some other guy (she killed her mom and cut the dude up with a knife), sees and talks to an impish, ghostly manifestation of herself as a little girl, sees mommy's reflection in a mirror, and gruesomely offs several folks living in the apartment building she resides in (one woman is boiled alive in her bath tub, a kindly old man gets hacked up with a hatchet, Sylvia later plants said hatchet in her useless boyfriend's back, and so on). Is Sylvia really going murderously around the bend? Or is something more sinister and mysterious afoot here?

As one might surmise from the above synopsis, "The Perfume of A Lady in Black" sure ain't your average, straight-down-the-line safe, conventional and predictable humdrum terror-tinged mystery thriller; instead it's an extremely surreal, disorienting, surprise-laden inside out edge-of-your-seat "Repulsion"-style psychological mind-twister flick that in its own deceptively bent and low-key way proves to be one exceptionally powerful and disturbing scarefest. Francesco Barilli's steady, subdued direction potently evokes a pungent, nerve-rattling sense of genuine menace from every objects and places (a mirror, a vase, a gorgeously verdant open field, a music box), upsetting the viewer's equilibrium by showing how the serenity of plain old everyday life can be easily disrupted and completed ripped asunder. Nicola Piovani's eerie, elegant, atmospheric score and Mario Masini's beautifully graceful cinematography (the fluid, stately tracking shots are simply breathtaking) significantly contribute to the film's spooky, strange, nothing-is-what-it-appears-to-be enigmatic and ultra-paranoid mood. The jolting and unexpected stinger of a brutal ending packs one hell of a ferocious punch. Offbeat, oblique and often unsettling, this first-rate shocker gets my highest possible recommendation.
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A Thriller with Everything Except Thrills
bababear14 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
THE PERFUME OF THE LADY IN BLACK is very much worth watching. But it takes a lot of patience because it doesn't follow the template we expect for a film like this; I kept watching because it was wonderfully photographed, had a tremendous musical score, and I kept expecting to get really involved with the main character.

Unfortunately, my involvement wavered because most of the action took place inside her head (as best I can figure) and as the story progresses she gets crazier and crazier. For that reason Silvia gets relegated to the role of The Unreliable Narrator. And when a film's makers get too involved in questions of What is real? and What is illusion? my mind goes to the question of What time does whatever is playing in Auditorium 2 start and can I sneak it?

Silvia, played by Mimsy Farmer, is a work obsessed career girl employed in some sort of chemical lab. The exact nature of her work is never explained, but she's one of those women who never wants to take a day off. Whatever she does obviously pays well: she has an apartment in Rome with a living room big enough to play polo in.

Mimsy Farmer is a blonde American actress of the Hope Lange- Vera Miles school who projects practicality and good sense. She made a second career for herself in Italian films like this after parts on this side of the Atlantic dried up. She kept my interest going even when the plot faltered.

Silvia has a Dark Secret in her past, and her life gradually begins to unravel. The atmosphere becomes more menacing, but not a lot happens. It's past the one hour mark before the first irrelevant supporting character gets killed off.

Finally there's a climactic scene where Silvia is confronted by the phantoms of the past and events seem to come to a resolution.

Then (don't worry- I'm not going to give anything away here) director Francesco Barilli seems to crank up a whole new movie in the last few minutes so different in tone (both in theme and execution) that it seems totally unrelated to everything we've seen and heard, even though it does feature the same actors we've been watching.

Imagine if THE KING'S SPEECH had ended with Dr. Logue and King George VI wearing fishnet stockings and dancing "The Time Warp" on the steps of Buckingham Palace. This movie goes off the rails even worse than that.

And that's why the ending of THE PERFUME OF THE LADY IN BLACK dropped its rating from an eight to a three.

You can see for yourself if you're a Netflix subscriber- it's available streaming now.
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Crappy story, nothing makes sense, decent sets music and cinematography, that's it.
qmtv18 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Crappy story, nothing makes sense, decent sets music and cinematography, that's it.

OK, my vote is 3, but a 1 given to balance the incredible praise for this garbage movie.

The set design, and cinematography, and music was professional and good. Not great. The acting was decent, but not great at all. The story sucked. So this woman is having some psychological issues because of her mom, mom's lover, her suicide or her killing her mom. What's up with the African voodoo/witchcraft nonsense. And the neighbor, boyfriend, her chemical job. And that freaking cannibal club at the end, coming out of nowhere. I paid attention. Nothing lead to that. They might as well thrown in Christopher Lee as Dracula, or Darth Vader and send her to the moon. Please, I liked the cinematography and the sets, the acting and dialogue was OK enough to watch, but the story and ending is just garbage. Any atmosphere created here, and it's not much is completely thrown away. If they just showed the last scene with the cannibals alone for an hour and half that would have made a better movie.

Go see "Footprints on the Moon" for a great psychological thriller. That is a movie with great acting, atmosphere, mystery, music, cinematography, and story.

Perfume of Black dress whatever title, is garbage.
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