There's Always Room For Giallo

Welcome folks to the second day of October. There's only 29 days left to get those costumes together, so while you're musing on if you want to go as a zombie, a ninja, or a pirate, you might let your mind wander over what your favorite Halloween movies. Yes, this post is starting with a gentle plug for The Halloween Top 13 that starts right here on October 19th. (You can see all the details in the sidebar.) I don't just want to share what I love for Halloween, I want to know what you love. Send the Bug your top 5 Halloween films and be part of the celebration right here at the Lair. You might say you don't have time because you're still agonizing over your costume, but the ever lovin' Lightning Bug is here to help. The solution is simple. Go as a Zombie Ninja Pirate. You can thank me later because now it's time for the show.
Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) starring Edwige Fenech, Anita Stindberg, and Luigi Pistilli. Directed by Sergio Martino.

When last we saw director Sergio Martino, it was 1979 and he was directing the cannibal flick The Mountain of the Cannibal God. Thankfully this film does not contain anyone shoving monkeys into snakes mouths. Instead this is one of Sergio Martino's giallo films and we get psychological terror, beautiful women, and murder most foul. Giallo, for anyone who doesn't know (and until i was schooled about it on Cinema Diabolica, I didn't ), is an Italian word meaning "yellow". During the era of pulp novels, the Italian books came with a yellow cover and the term became synonymous with crime thrillers. When the stories came to the screen, giallo's began add in layers of madness, sex, and elements of slasher movies.

Vice is a near perfect example of this. Oliviero (Pistilli) is a writer suffering from a three year writers block which just happened to coincide with his marriage to the lovely red haired Irina. She has suffered these three years as Oliviero has descended into alcoholism, a series of affairs, and a heck of a mother issues. Oliviero makes plans to meet a lovely bookstore clerk for a tryst, but she gets murdered by a black gloved killer. Naturally, the police show up the next day at Oliviero's villa to ask him some questions. The inspector is satisfied when Irina alibis her husband and states, "Murder has a way of involving people for no apparent reason." Murder seems to have it's own reasons when later that night their maid is killed and Irina is beyond mere suspicion that her husband is the killer. He denies it, but says that if they were to call the police they would think the same. So they take the maid's lifeless body to the cellar where they wall it up behind a cask of wine.

To complicate matters, Oliviero's niece, Floriana
(the lovely Miss Fenech) comes for a visit
They pick her up from the train station while a mysterious white haired man watches them. Naturally, seeing as Oliviero is a massive perv, he wants to seduce his niece, but she rebuffs him. When a new hooker in town gets killed in a similar fashion to Oliviero's mistress, it turns out to be the manager of the bookstore, and Oliverio thinks he's off the hook. Floriana has other ideas as she begins to play the spouses against each other by seducing each in turn. (Fenech & Stindberg star in one of the vaguest lesbian sex scenes of all time.) Things only get worse when Oliviero's beloved cat Satan kills some of Irina's doves and she gouges the cats eye out. The husband and wife both seem to be spiraling into a vortex of paranoia and madness which will leave you guessing up to the end what everyone wants and what they will do to get it. The ending is a series of well placed twists and reveals that leaves the viewer reeling and ultimately satisfied.

Sergio Martino was a master behind the camera, and the dense atmospheric quality and beautiful shots enhance every part of this tale. The music by Bruno Nicolai, who would go on to do the score for Caligula in 1979, is stirring and only adds to the eerie feeling of the remote Italian villa. The acting is strong, and the thrills were well placed. However, I do have a faults with the film. After reflecting on it for a day, I'm just not sure that the resolution holds water. I'd really have to give it a second or perhaps third viewing to be sure. The good news is that this is a film that I could easily watch several times over as there is much to admire about it. Also, no matter how much I love the lyrical title, it has little to do with the film itself. It is actually a nod to another of Martino's films The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh. However, don't let that detract from your enjoyment of this fabulous piece of cinema. After all there is always room for giallo, especially with whipped cream....and Edwige Fenech.
Bug Rating
No trailer I'm afraid, but here's a clip of the lovely Miss Fenech from the film.


  1. Nice blog!
    I like the idea of Halloween 13, although I don't even know what my favorite Halloween films are.

    That's such a tough question, I'll have to think about it.

  2. Give it some thought ryne and get back at me. I got my fist top 5 list in today and would love to see more peoples.

    Thanks for coming to read and leaving a comment. I really love your work over at The Moon is a Dead World.

  3. Thanks for your comment Adolfo. I only recently discovered Giallo, and thsi was a heck fo a great film to see.

    La Luciernaga... I like it, now i know my lucha libre name.

    There will be more Giallos coming up soon and a further exploration into all the wild movies of Martino.


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