YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED DOOR AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY
Directed by Sergio Martino
Produced by Luciano Martino
Written by Adriano Bolzoni, Ernesto Gastaldi & Sauro Scavolini
Director of Photography Giancarlo Ferrando
Music by Bruno Nicolai
Cast: Edwige Fenech, Anita Strindberg, Luigi Pistilli, Ivan Rassimov, Franco Nebbia, Riccardo Salvino & Angela La Vorgna
1972/92 Minutes/Color/2.0 Dolby Digital
2.35:1/English/Italy/NTSC Region 0
Review from the Shoarma Digital DVD
Sergio Martino's films have always had a certain charm and identity to them which euro horror fans have enjoyed and revered for years. Even some of the cheesier films like THE GREAT ALLIGATOR are still a fun ride, despite their campiness, hokey effects, and obvious shortcomings. Somehow though, Martino always seems to manage to keep things interesting no matter what material he is working with. To this black-gloved reviewer's delight, he is also a master of the always engaging genre known as the giallo. Martino keeps the pace brisk, red herrings plentiful, camera work stylish, and keeps you on the edge of your seat. So no matter how safe and secure you think you are: YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED DOOR AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY.
Oliviero Rouvigny (Pistilli), you would think he has it all. He lives in a beautiful Italian villa with his gorgeous wife Irina (Strindberg). He is a fairly famous writer and an academic too. However, he has been suffering from a severe case of writer's block ever since the untimely passing of his mother. It seems the only way he can take out his frustration is by hitting the bottle and occasionally his wife. He spares her few moments of mental and physical anguish and he even goes so far as humiliating her in public for his own pleasure. Not to mention the fact that he cheats on her with the housemaid and even some of his former literature students. If that isn't bad enough for Irina, even Oliviero's cat, aptly named Satan, seems to have it in for her and also her prized pigeons. For some strange reason though, she just seems to put up with it.
Soon enough, a young woman has her throat graphically slashed with a hooked blade at night at a lumberyard. As it turns out, the woman was a bookstore employee and former student of Oliviero's who was supposed to be meeting him there for an "appointment" that same night. Naturally, Oliviero is the prime suspect so the police question him. He maintains that he was home that night and surprisingly, Irina confirms his story. A short time later, the housemaid is killed right in the villa in very similar fashion as the student while trying on one of Oliviero's mother's dresses. Irina immediately suspects Oliviero but he again "persuades" her to cover for him. He decides to bury the body in the cellar in hopes that no one will ever know and have Irina clean the dress... instead of just burying the maid in it or burning it. Later the next day, the dress is brought back from the dry cleaners by a mysterious man (Rassimov). Oliviero can't believe that Irina would be stupid enough to send a bloody dress to the dry cleaners so you might expect, he takes out his anger on her.
Now to make things more confusing, Oliviero's sexually voracious niece Floriana (Fenech) has arrived to stay with them for a while. As soon as she arrives it is very obvious that Oliviero takes more than a passing "interest" in her. She wastes no time seducing anyone and everyone, including Olviero and even Irinia, that comes into contact with her. Floriana plays on Irina's crazed state (from all the murders) and general hatred and mistrust of Oliviero and tries to convince her that he wants to kill her. At the same time she works her magic on Olviero to try to convince him to kill Irina. But what reason could she have? A few nights later a hooker is killed in the same fashion as the student and the maid. The madness continues...
Any more information I could give about the plot would be too much, and what type of trench coat sporting, fedora wearing, black-gloved maniac would I be if I did that?
The first thing that needs to be mentioned is that the main premise of the story is based on Poe's THE BLACK CAT. However, I purposefully left out most references to it as they might spoil the film. That being said, Martino really delivers the goods on just about every level with this film. First off, everyone in the cast is just about perfect in their roles. Pistilli is great as the alcoholic, abusive husband; he's a real bastard. Strindberg plays the "helpless woman" role to great effect too; you really feel for her. Then there's the darling of the giallo, Edwige Fenech. What would a euro horror film be without her running around in various states of undress and seducing people? She is as gorgeous as ever and the love scene with her and Strindberg may be worth the price of admission alone to some! Ivan Rassimov's screen time is very limited but his "mysterious guy who shows up for what seems to be no reason at an unexplained time" performance is par for the course.
While the actors are great, its Martino's direction that really makes this film stand above many others. To put it very simply, it is fantastic. The camera creeps and crawls all around the large, complex villa and surrounding estate giving the feeling that someone or something is always watching the goings-on. Martino seems to know just when the time is right to introduce a new character into the story or just pull the rug out from under your feet. There are more than few interesting shots too like a shot through the center of a spare tire in a car trunk that only whet the appetite for what's to come. It should go without saying too that Bruno Nicolai's musical contribution is another big plus in this already scrumptious stew. His classically influenced score lends and almost aristocratic feel to the film and keeps things rolling along nice and smoothly.
YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED DOOR AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY slashes its way to DVD courtesy Shoarma Digital. The film is presented in a non-anamorphic 2.35:1 format, with chapter stops and is, to my knowledge, uncut. That's about where the good points end though. The DVD is quite obviously sourced from video as the image has that soft, almost "fuzzy", well-rented VHS look to it. The colors are slightly dull all around and the blacks are never quite black, instead having a more purple hue to them. It is not unwatchable by any means but some of the darker scenes are difficult to make out, even after adjusting the contrast/brightness. There are one or two small instances of "video noise" and maybe a splice or small cigarette burn but nothing too distracting. The overall picture is at least tolerable but the film really demands a better treatment.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is nothing to write home about either. The musical score sounds clear enough, but the dialog track can be muffled and hard to understand. I found myself turning up the volume more than a few times just to hear what was being said. This could just be due to a bad dubbing job but again, I'm going to chalk it up to the video source. If you are buying this DVD for the extras, you are going to be disappointed too as they only amount to small Edwige Fenech photo gallery (most of which you can probably find through a simple internet search) and a trailer, 2.35:1 non-anamorphic, for THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS. The packaging is your standard black single disc case with a full color cover, description on the back, and some screen grabs.
Basically this DVD is nothing more than a glorified bootleg. If you are a fan of Sergio Martino or gialli in general, for right now this is the only DVD incarnation of the film available so it's at least an option. The film really does deserve the royal treatment though so here's to hoping one of the major genre labels will get a hold of it!
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Review by The Black Gloved Killer. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©