For fans of Italian Horror, the name Riccardi Freda holds meaning. Not only did he mentor the late, great Mario Bava, but he also did some fine work within the genre of the fantastic. Horror films like "Tragic Ceremony" (which starred Camille Keaton), "The Ghost" (which starred Barbara Steele) and "Lus tof a Vampire" (which was completed by Bava) are films that tend to get name checked when it comes to important titles in genre (well, the last two at least, though "Ceremony" itself is a fine film.) Not name checked often, but still entertaining is his last movie, 1981's "Murder Obsession."
Michael Stanford (Stefano Patrizi) is having some problems. He recently almost killed an actress (Laura Gemser), and returning with his girlfriend Deborah (Silvia Dionisio) to visit his mother (Anita Strindberg) only brings back horrible memories about the death of his father. When more company follows, the guests start to have strange dreams involving things like very large spiders and occult rituals. Oh, and there's a black gloved killer on the loose.
"Murder Obsession" is an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink style movie. Throwing in all kinds of sub-genres (Giallo, Gothic, Supernatural) and cliches (fog drenched landscapes, eroticism, black gloved killers) into a story that ultimately doesn't make much sense, and has a few flaws to boot (the cheap looking gore kinda sticks out.) That out of the way, this is also pretty fun for the most part. Even before the killing starts to take place, Freda throws in all kinds of demented images (Debbie being felt up by a clearly fake large spider) and offbeat plot twists and turns to make sure you never lose your interest. This is a movie that, even if you don't like it, you'll never find yourself bored by the events taking place.
Plus, the things that do work really stick out. Even is the effects aren't always up to muster, the kills are bloody enough to make you take notice. The score by Franco Mannino is mostly effective, with its blend of classical flourishes and electronic effects perfectly complimenting the events at hand. I even really liked the plot twist at the end, as it actually makes sense considering the events that have taken place, and the strange relationship Michael has with his mother (even though you know who the killer is before the film is halfway over.)
Will "Murder Obsession" be considered a classic in the genre of Italian Horror? Probably not. Those who have a thing for out of the ordinary fare should definitely get a kick out of this movie. It might not be Freda's best movie, but it's a hell of a way to go out.