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No Shame Films presents
Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (Il Tuo vizio è una stanza chiusa e solo io ne ho la chiave) (1972)

"I've re-opened that hole in the cellar; there's room for her too."
- Oliviero Ruvigny (Luigi Pistilli)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: October 04, 2005

Stars: Edwige Fenech, Anita Strindberg, Ivan Rassimov
Other Stars: Angela La Vorgna, Enrica Bonaccorti, Daniela Giordano, Franco Nebbia, Riccardo Salvino
Director: Sergio Martino

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, gore, nudity, sexuality, extreme cruelty to animals)
Run Time: 01h:36m:27s
Release Date: September 27, 2005
UPC: 882853000198
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- BA+B B-

DVD Review

Even within the subgenre of the gialli, lurid Italian psychosexual thrillers, there are some overlooked gems. One such is this picture from director Sergio Martino, very loosely based on a Poe story, that has gone unappreciated while similar works from Argento or Bava have been acknowledged as masterpieces. NoShame Films does fine justice to this unheralded mix of Gothic horror and the mainstream giallo.

At the wake for the mother of writer Oliviero Ruvigny (Luigi Pastilli), we learn that he is both fixated on his departed mom and abusive towards his wife Irene (Anita Strindberg). But he's also fond of mom's black cat, Satan, which Irene loathes. When Oliviero's mistress Fausta (Daniela Giordano) turns up with her throat slashed on an evening when he was to meet her, he immediately becomes the prime suspect. Soon a string of murders follows as Oliviero descends into madness, and things don't get much better when his niece Floriana (Edwige Fenech) comes to visit and seduces both Oliviero and Irene. Sexual jealousies are in the forefront as the murders continue, and Floriana may have her own agenda. And who is the mysterious Walter (Ivan Rassimov) in the hideously-fitting wig?

This picture lacks many of the archetypical features of the gialli, including the obligatory black gloves. But in its sexual depravity and heavy-duty gore, it stands up with the best of them. There's plenty of tension, and the storyline, while convoluted, works well enough and contains some twists that come as a complete surprise. However, animal (especially cat) lovers will want to stay far, far away from this film, which they will find well nigh unwatchable over the last 20 minutes or so.

It's hard to dislike a picture that has such gorgeous and talented leading ladies in it. Strindberg, with her impossibly high cheekbones, demonstrates her acting range quite nicely, although she overdoes it a bit in the finale. Sex goddess Edwige Fenech is in fine form as well, coming across as sly, devious and dripping with sensuous mystery. One can hardly blame the Ruvignys for succumbing to her charms, incestuous or not. The physical contrast of Strindberg's angularity and Fenech's softer lines emphasizes the competition between the two women quite nicely. Pistilli was better known as a supporting character actor, but he acquits himself well enough in a difficult lead role. One of the more enjoyable portrayals is Franco Nebbia's as the police inspector, who anticipates Columbo and other indirect detectives. That's not the only aspect that's anticipatory of other films: in a trope borrowed by The Shining, Oliviero types incessantly, with the text eventually revealed to be nothing more than repeated maniacal ravings. The title is borrowed from a line in Martino's earlier film with Fenech and Rassimov, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh; it doesn't make a lot of sense here, but it makes for an unforgettable moniker nonetheless.

Martino moves the film along at a nice brisk pace, and it holds the interest quite well. The gore segments are well distributed to satisfy those who mostly are looking for that aspect, and there are some surprising turns throughout, and not just in the ending. The last ten minutes are fairly riveting, with the suspense factor well ratcheted up based on our familiarity with the characters as they've developed. Bruno Nicolai contributes an excellent tension-ridden score that helps a good deal. On the negative side, two sequences involving hippies in a commune tend to be rather dull and don't add appreciably to the film; none of them are well-developed enough to qualify as suspects or even red herrings. But that's the only serious flaw in this above-average thriller.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: As is the case with all of the NoShame discs I've reviewed so far, the picture is almost flawless. There's beautiful detail and texture throughout, with lovely color and deep black levels. It virtually looks high-definition, without significant artifacting, ringing or added enhancement. A lot of the major studios could take lessons from this tiny outfit on how to present video. When you add in the fact this is a film that's three decades old and not particularly well regarded, the astonishment level just increases.

Image Transfer Grade: A+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoItalian, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Alas, the disc producers had less to work with on the audio end. Both the English and Italian tracks have moderate noise and crackle, with a few occasional pops on the optical soundtrack for good measure. The music is a bit shrill most of the time as well, and of course there's no significant low bass. It's adequate, but not much more than that, though one wonders whether such material ever could sound much better, so the grade isn't too harsh.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, The Case of the Scorpion's Tail, The Big Alligator River, Gambling City
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Flexbox
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:46m:17s

Extra Extras:
  1. Poster and still gallery
Extras Review: An 8-page booklet provides a thoughtful essay by Robert Harlan Smith, as well as select filmographies and bios for Martino, Strindberg, and Fenech. A gallery includes two posters, two lobby cards, and a little over a dozen rather blurry stills that are rather disappointing. Fenech, Martino, and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi make appearances in Unveiling the Vice, a 23m:05s documentary that feels a little thin on content, not to mention repetitive. But it's certainly a joy to see the long-retired Fenech today, looking as lovely as ever. Finally, there are trailers for four other Martino films, but oddly enough, no trailer for the main feature.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

An overlooked thriller gets its due in this lovely edition from NoShame, with another spectacular transfer.


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