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Murder Syndrome (1981)

Murder Obsession (original title)
Not Rated | | Horror | 24 February 1981 (Italy)
Michael is a successful actor, but he has a scandal in his past: at a tender age he knifed his father to death. He and his girlfriend Deborah go to his mother's for the weekend, and are ... See full summary »


(as Robert Hampton)


(screenplay), (story) | 4 more credits »

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Complete credited cast:
Stefano Patrizi ...
Michael Stanford / William Stanford
Martine Brochard ...
Shirley Dyson
Henri Garcin ...
Hans Schwartz
Beryl Fisher
Anita Strindberg ...
Glenda Stanford
Deborah Jordan
Fabrizio Moroni


Michael is a successful actor, but he has a scandal in his past: at a tender age he knifed his father to death. He and his girlfriend Deborah go to his mother's for the weekend, and are joined by the director and others from a recent film project, who are given a rather cool reception by the superstitious housekeeper Oliver. Soon rude things begin happening to some of the guests, and Michael fears a repeat of his nightmare past is in progress. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

24 February 1981 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Fear  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Obvious rubber dummy of Hans just before been hit by the ax. See more »

Crazy Credits

The closing credits appear on a still photography of the black magic book used for the black mass. See more »


Featured in Zombiethon (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

Come again?
22 April 2008 | by (the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls) – See all my reviews

Sometimes you just realize straight away when an opening sequence is too good to be true. In case of "Murder Obsession", the film takes off with THE Laura Gemser ("Black Emanuelle") opening the balcony curtain and standing face to face with a sinister bloke who promptly tears her nightgown to shreds and attempts to strangle her. Such excitement in the first minute simply can't be real and, oh yeah, it rapidly turns out to be a typical "Film-in-Film" situation. Still, even in spite of the transparent red herring, "Murder Obsession" raises some fairly high expectations, as the plot develops itself as a mixture between Giallo (Italian slasher), Gothic horror and occult movie. We've got prototypic Giallo-murders committed by an individual wearing black gloves, a Victorian mansion setting and multiple nightmare/hallucination sequences hinting at the involvement of black magic rites. And, quite frankly, "Murder Obsession" is entertaining and undemanding horror fodder, at least for as long as the events don't require any form of explanation. Riccardo Freda blends together so many crazy ideas and far-fetched twists that, by the time the denouement is due, he has no clue what to do with them all. Especially near the last 20 minutes of the movie, the script doesn't make a lick of sense, but what do you expect when dealing with childhood traumas, psychic powers, Oedipus complexes, oppressed homicidal tendencies, adultery, black masses and good old-fashioned perverted killers. "Murder Obsession" features not one, not two, but at least three climaxes and they're all equally implausible. Implausible and, moreover, unimaginably ridiculous. Professional actor Michael Stanford is lured back to his parental house, where his ill mother and the uncanny butler lived all alone since Michael's father died under mysterious circumstances. Mother Glenda, who actually more resembles to a slightly older and hot sister, later also welcomes a trio of Michael's film crew colleagues and soon after the eeriness kicks in. Michael's girlfriend has nightmares, the luscious actress nearly drowns in her bathtub and the cocky director notices that the curious butler doesn't like his picture taken. Glenda then reveals that Michael killed his father at young age, and maybe his homecoming brought back his desire to kill? The murders are quite graphical, but the make-up/special effects are incredibly tacky and the total opposite of shocking. This was the first job of Italian effects-wizard Sergio Stivaletti, but he definitely still had a lot to learn at that time. When one character has the head smashed in with an axe, the stand-in dummy clearly doesn't even remotely resemble the original character. Anita Strindberg and Laura Gemser are fabulous eye-candy and, as usual, not too prudish to take their clothes off, but their characters are empty-headed and their dialogs are pathetic. Strindberg even retired from film-making after this movie, perhaps because she felt insulted for having to depict a grandmother at the age of 36. Riccardo Freda always was one of Italy's most uneven and unreliable horror directors and, to me personally, he ranks really low on the list of that nation's filmmakers. I'm a huge fan of "I, Vampire", but apparently Mario Bava directed most of that film and the other Freda movies I watched ("The Ghost", "Tragic Ceremony") left me rather cold.

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