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Like many a label specialising in exploitation films, along with some forgotten gems Raro Video has disinterred more than the odd cinematic corpse from its deserved resting place in obscurity, and Murder Obsession seems to be one of the latter. A rather flat Italian old dark house giallo set in a very unconvincing Surrey, England (where everyone drives left-hand drive cars), complete with Italian villa and mysterious servant in the shape of the eternally dubbed former Hammer leading man and one-time James Bond-wannabe John Richardson, it’s the final film from the father of Italian gothic horror, Riccardo Freda, and it’s not an especially memorable one. (He wasn’t the only one to take his final bow with this one: leading ladies Silvia Dionisio and Anita Strindberg both called it a day after making it as well).
Having murdered his conductor father in childhood in a particularly amateurishly staged flashback, Stefano Patrizi’s now earning his living playing murderers in movies, nearly killing co-star Laura Gemser before the credits have even started to the accompaniment of Franco Mannio’s laughably OTT score that sounds like a pastiche of silent movie melodrama piano accompaniments. Deciding to drop in unexpectedly on his ailing mother (Anita Strindberg) in the aforementioned villa, he naturally invites his co-workers without letting her know. Just as naturally it’s not long before a black-gloved killer is working his or her way through the supporting cast and his girlfriend is dreaming of being chased by putrefying corpses while her clothes fall off (a common affliction among the female cast members) and being raped by a giant spider in a black mass.
Is Patrizi having a relapse into his old homicidal ways?Read more ›
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Murder Obsession is an odd confection of a movie. It includes various famous Italian exploitation favourites (John Richardson, Laura Gemser, etc.) in a tale of a young actor's return to his family mansion to film location shots and inflict his movie friends upon his ever-so-slightly bonkers mother. Convinced by his mum that he was responsible for his famous conductor dad's death, various skeletons tumble out of closets as well as real bodies (with some gory but very dodgy effects by Sergio Stivaletti). The film veers into true delirium towards the climax (almost invoking the spirit of Argento's 'Suspiria') but apart from the killings, the film's pace is painfully slow. A too so-so epitaph to an Italian horror great.
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The basic story..Michael (Stefano Patrizi), an actor, returns to his childhood home to visit his mother for the first time in many years. Also there to scout for film locations arrives his friends who all stay at the villa too. Soon after strange things occur and the film crew start to get picked off one by one... Although this is not a classic Giallo I still like it and director Ricardo Freda certainly throws everything into it from the standard black glove killer to the occult. It's fairly slow to begin with and you could get through about 4 beers waiting for the murders begin. But during this time you get a cool, stylish and Gothic dream sequence of a black mass. Also amusing in this scene is a badly fake giant spider! But there are some great atmospheric scenes and in general the film is nicely shot. There are a couple of gore moments including death by chainsaw and also the most fake looking decapitation I've ever seen (you have to see it to believe it!). But another big plus is that there are twists and turns that continue right to the very end. This region 0 release from Raro USA is nice and transfer good enough. Extras include interviews and a nice booklet.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Murder Obsession4 Jun. 2012
Carlos E. Velasquez
- Published on Amazon.com
"For centuries, theologians, philosophers, and poets have delved into the universe in search of proof of the existence of the devil. It would have sufficed to look into the depths of their own souls." This is some fascinating statement, don't you think? But, I suspect it is not taken from the classic "Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Rather, these are the words of Hieronimus A. Steinback, during the XVII Century, and they are precisely the ones used to open the enormously engrossing "Murder Obsession," an erotic, murder thriller that will keep you glued to your seat until the final credits.
Once we read the aforementioned quote, the film goes to a dramatic scene, in which a killer proceeds to strangle his lady victim. The scene is intense, as the assassin tries really hard to kill the woman. For our surprise, we suddenly hear, "Cut!", and realize that is was only a movie. However, Michael's (the actor, played by Stefano Patrizi) behavior worries his coworkers. Michael then decides to take a break from filming, and plans a trip to visit Glenda, his mother (Anita Strindberg), who lives at the countryside. He takes Deborah, his girlfriend (Silvia Dionisio); Hans Schwartz (Henri Garcin), the director; Shirley (Martine Brochard), the director's assistant; and Beryl (Laura Gemser - yes, "Black Emmanuelle's" Laura Gemser). Once there, they not only meet Michael's mother, but also Oliver (John Richardson), the scary butler. Right from the start, too, we discover that Michael's relationship with his mother is quite strange, yet strong - with an incestuous feel to it --, and that Michael killed his father when he was a child. And, you guessed right, the killings begin again, and it is your job to figure out who is doing it.
"Murder Obsession" (also called "Murder Syndrome), which Italian name is "Follia Omicida," was director Riccardo Freda's last film. It is said that is was Freda who made the first horror Italian thriller ("I Vampiri" - The Devil's Commandment, 1956), so "Murder Obsession" was quite the movie to close his long career. The film is colorful, with many twists and turns, and with plenty nudity, especially from, yes, your guessed again, Miss Gemser. Good stuff, believe me. I wonder what she is doing these days. By the way, while researching Hieronimus A. Steinback, I found out that his quote has also been used in other films. The Blu-ray edition includes a documented booklet about the film and the director, deleted scenes, interviews with some Italian composers and directors, and more. (Italy, 1981, color, 97 min plus additional materials)
Reviewed on June 3, 2012 by Eric Gonzales for RaroVideo.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Murder Obsession20 Jan. 2012
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This is not one of the best Giallos of the period. The production is low budget and the effects are crude, but if you are an Italian completest like I am, it is a must for your collection. it is beautifully shot and the transfer is crisp and clean. The lead actor is also a hottie for the 70s-80s So thats a plus.... Its a good movie for a rainy dark night.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
For Whatever Reason, I Loved It1 Jan. 2014
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"Murder Obsession" (AKA: "Follia Omicida," "Murder Syndrone", etc.) was directed by Riccardo Freda and is attributed as his last directorial effort, although he lived nearly another twenty years and gave his ideas to further films (He died in 1999). He was born in 1909 making him about seventy when he directed "Murder Obsession" (1980) and previously he directed some well known horror films in the sixties starring Barbara Steele like "The Terrible Dr. Hitchcock" and "The Spectre" (AKA: "The Ghost") and numerous sword and sandal epics, etc. and in 1957 is credited with directing Italy's first horror film, "I Vampiri." "Murder Obsession" (especially the Blu-ray edition) is very beautiful at times with exquisite cinematography by Cristiano Pogany and equally extraordinary music by Franco Mannino which beautifully complements the images Freda envisions with the help of screenwriter Antonio Cesare Corti. There are times when one wonders if Freda really is the maestro who can pull off making a success of the picture as elements of the picture like dream sequences feature many props, set pieces and familiar but off-putting gothic touches like the devoted but suspicious and eerie butler (played by John Richardson, who not even twenty years before had the leading roles in such pictures like Hammer's "She" opposite Ursula Andress (1965), or the setting of an eerie mansion and the giant rubber spiders and fake webs just out of a Roger Corman Poe quickie from the early sixties. Also in the very able cast are Anita Strindberg (so good in Sergio Martino's giallo "Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key"), Stefano Patrizi, Silvia Dionisio and Laura Gemser among others. Riccardo Freda also brought a lot of style to his pictures and beauty of the live flowers in many scenes, the playing of the classical music and the composition of images to depict great art and the fact that Freda and his co-workers bring all of these elements into near mastery. The very fine Blu-ray from Raro Video has the Italian version with removable subtitles and also a shorter English language version, cut scene footage, interviews including with S. Stivaletti and Claudio Simonetti and a booklet containing critical analysis. Having directed a number of video productions, I know how hard it is to keep a film from sinking with a low budget, this film ends up brilliantly on the final page, eliciting true terror in the viewer.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
No italian version, no subtitles14 July 2013
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The two stars are rather a rating of the DVD than the film itself. I bought this DVD because "Italian audio" and "New and improved English subtitles" are mentioned as DVD features on the backcover. But the DVD only contains the english dubbed version with no subtitles. The english subtitles are only in some italian inserted scenes.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Mama Knows Best18 Sept. 2012
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Raro Video has given Euro Horror fans an important release Directed by an icon of Italian cinema, Riccardo Freda. The film is known under so many titles that you need a scorecard: The Raro release is 'MURDER OBSESSION' aka 'FOLLIA OMICIDA'-1981 and the other titles in case you have already viewed them are 'DELIRIA', L'OSSESSIONE CHE UCCIDE', 'UNCONSCIOUS' , 'SATAN'S ALTAR', 'THE WAILING', 'FEAR', and 'MURDER SYNDROME'. Coming back from a sabbatical off an interesting failure from 9 years previous 'TRAGIC CEREMONY', this film blends all of Freda's visual styles from his early works with his then assistant Mario Bava and actress Barbara Steele fusing them into what I think is his best film. Working from a script co- written by Fabio Piccioni and Antonio Cesare Corti , he surpasses the usual slice and dice murder format and creates a compelling nightmare culminating into a down beat ending which will take you by surprise no matter how many thrillers you've seen. It has a first rate cast including genre stalwarts John Richardson who worked with Bava and Director Sergio Martino, Black Emmanuelle herself Laura Gemser, and the beautiful underrated Anita Strindberg who also worked with Director Martino and turns in one of her best performances as the mother of our main character played by Stefano Patrizi. Utilizing hallucinogenic flashbacks and dream sequences enhanced by the beautiful camera work of Cristiano Pogany and musical motifs blending Franz Lizst and Johann Sebastian Bach with an original score by Franco Mannino , the film emerges as part Giallo/ part supernatural but never crossing the line in overwhelming the audience. Raro Video releases it in a gorgeous 1.85 transfer in English and although there is a Blu-Ray release, it looks just as good. It also has added scenes which they discovered but unfortunately are in Italian with English subtitles. Extras include a booklet with notes on the film and a bio/filmography on Freda and a great 15 minute interview with Director /Special Effects man Sergio Stivaletti who explains how he got started with Director Dario Argento and worked with Angelo Mattei in creating the effects for this film under Freda's utter annoyance with him. Recommended for fans of Italian Horror, it emerges as Freda's most accomplished work and shows the importance of this great artist in the annals of cinema. Sadly, it would be his last film until working behind the scenes in 1987 as a second unit director for Bertrand Tavernier's 'LA PASSION BEATRICE'. He died in 1999 leaving behind a legacy of messages showing the many distortions which encompass the human mind.