Murder Obsession (1981, aka Murder Syndrome, aka Satan’s Altar, aka The Wailing, aka Fear, aka Follia Omicida)
Directed by Riccardo Freda, written by Antonio Cesare Corti, Riccardo Freda, Fabio Piccioni.
Review By Goat Scrote
It’s got mystery and death and sleaze but it may be slightly dishonest to call this movie a “thriller” since it’s really pretty boring. On the bright side there’s more than the usual amount of soft-core Euro-sex and a whole lot of exposed breasts. The special effects are about on the same level as a school play so that was kind of funny. Paper mache is a ludicrously ineffective yet shrewdly economical way to do gore effects, so I'm guessing budget was a big factor here. And scares? Don’t be silly, I’m pretty sure this is more about the boobies than the blood.
|OUCH! Watch out for titty splinters|
The version I saw seems to have been patched together from mismatched prints, with most of it dubbed in English and other portions reverting to the original dialogue. Even without subtitles it’s an easy plot to follow for sophisticated professional reviewers like us, but it might be a little daunting for the general public. Let’s see… A bunch of victims-to-be stay at an isolated location and start getting killed off one by one. Hmm, not so daunting.
Is it the crazy film star with a history of homicide, or is something even more sinister and twisted going on? What the hell, throw in some sleazy sex and black magic sandwiched between the mammaries and we got us a flicker-show here.
The movie starts off with a fellow dressed like a gay leather bar clone from the 70s (Stefano Patrizi) attacking a beautiful woman (Laura Gemser, of the “Emanuelle” series). He tears off her clothes while he strangles her. It turns out to be a movie set and the guy just got a little carried away with his method acting. I bet Pacino and Hoffman have almost killed people bunches of times on-set.
Michael, the crazed actor, goes on a trip to go see his mother Glenda (Anita Strindberg) and brings his girl, Debbie (Silvia Dionisio) out to his Ma’s big estate out in the middle of nowhere. The creepy caretaker Oliver (John Richardson) shows them to their rooms in the dark mansion. Mother comes to Michael’s room and kisses him just a little too passionately. Mom acts like a jealous girlfriend when she meets Debbie.
|She's calculating the measurements for the Troll 2 costumes in her head|
Later a group of Michael’s moviemaking friends show up for the weekend to provide a roster of shallow disposable victims. Overnight there’s an invisible ghostly intruder. Lots of gothic ghost-story images appear but the supernatural elements are just sort of a vague mish-mash throughout the movie. I’d call it “surreal” but a more precise description in this case is “doesn’t make too much goddamned sense”.
|that purple bedspread just screams surrealistic GIALLO!|
Debbie is nearly drowned during her bath by a gloved assailant. The soundtrack turns into the worst John Cage impression ever, like someone beating the bujeezus out of a piano keyboard with a baseball bat. I am really bored, but there’s another hour to go, but things are about to get slightly better for a while.
Debbie has a dream of being stalked by monsters while her breasts flop around under her flimsy robe. Fake bats and bleeding paper mache skulls show up. Her whole “scary dream” is definitely the best part of the movie. Debbie ends up in some weird ritual bondage situation where (surprise) she’s stripped to the waist by gooey-faced monsters dressed like monks. They slaughter a chicken and make her drink its blood as part of a black magic ritual. A giant spider-puppet appears and starts feeling her up rather lewdly. Yeah, I’d say that’s a good place to wake yourself up, Debbie.
|NO! Debbie stay asleep it's just getting good!|
Later Michael reveals to his friends that when he was a child he murdered his father to protect his mother from being beaten. There’s been an attempted homicide and Michael is acting pretty weird but everybody seems pretty cool with that. Beryl, the actress whom he tried to kill during filming lets Michael feel her up and they have sex out in the forest. Meanwhile the photographer of the group takes pictures from the bushes.
|The real truth about Bosley hair transplants|
When Michael wakes up after the sex picnic, his co-star has been slashed to death with a pocket knife. The peeping photographer is dispatched with a hatchet before he can call the police, Later one of the other friends decides to develop the film in the abandoned camera to see if there are any clues. Fortunately, the mansion has a fully-equipped darkroom in the attic. Unfortunately, there is a killer in the house who absolutely doesn’t want those photos revealed.
|Pervy the magical rape spider|
Michael believes that he is killing people without knowing it, but his mother insists that Oliver is actually responsible. There are shocking revelations about Michael and his family. Several different versions of the backstory are told before the end. Oliver the groundskeeper commits suicide. Thankfully he has the presence of mind to leave behind a tape recording which finally fills in the truth.
|My parents forced me into this movie|
The upshot is that mom is super-evil and way into black magic. She killed her husband then immediately started warping her son’s mind to believe he was responsible. Poor Oliver became her ensorcelled nookie slave. Mom thinks her husband’s soul has transmigrated into the son’s body, and she tries to get it on with Michael. He flees downstairs to the black-magic S&M dungeon from Debbie’s dream, but mom follows and stabs him. Debbie shows up in the basement, and finds son splayed across mother’s lap, bleeding and crying out for help. It’s a feel-good ending, really. Motherhood triumphs over all obstacles!