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Cherry Pop

Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key
(Edwige Fenech, Anita Strindberg, Luigi Pistilli, Ivan Rassimov, Franco Nebbia, et al / Blu ray / NR / 2015 / MVD)

Overview: Oliviero is a burned-out writer, living at his estate near Venice, his dead mother dominating his imagination. He is also a degenerate: sleeps with his maid and his ex-student, hosts Bacchanalia for local hippies, and humiliates his wife Irina in front of strangers. She lives in terror. When a young woman is murdered, police suspect Oliviero.

Blu ray Verdict: Newly re-mastered in HD and from the original negative, fans can enjoy the double-dose of terror that is Edgar Allan Poe's Black Cats Italian-style! In Martino's classic giallo "Your Vice is a Locked Room" and "Only I Have the Key", teacher Oliviero (Luigi Pistilli, A Bay of Blood) finds himself under suspicion for murder when one of his students and mistress is found brutally murdered. As more bodies start to pile up, the arrival of Oliviero's attractive niece (Edwige Fenech, Five Dolls for an August Moon, All the Colours of the Dark) brings with it complications of its own.

Although released as a double bill box-set, let's concentrate (for now) simply on "Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key." Even by gialli standards, this movie is pretty off-the-wall! That said though, it is also, strangely enough, probably the most faithful adaption of the Edgar Allen Poe story "The Black Cat" that I have ever seen. There is a bit of a gender role reversal where it is the wife who is tormented by the black cat (named "Satan") which is the cherished pet of her cruel, alcoholic husband.

The mother-obsessed husband takes out his writer's block on his long-suffering spouse and may be responsible for a string of serial killings. Thrown into the mix is a black maid who seems to only be in the movie so the sleazy characters can make a lot of racist, offensive comments about her - oh yeah, and also so she can get naked.

And speaking of getting naked, Edwige Fenech also shows up as the husband's sexy, conniving niece and demonstrates once again her extreme aversion to wearing clothes. In between nude scenes, however, Fenech really seems to be doing some acting this time, and she plays against type here as a villain rather than a victim. She seduces both her uncle AND her aunt, and pretty much everyone else in the movie (with the possible exception of "Satan" the cat).

Not that this is a good movie. It has an idiotic subplot where Fenech has an affair with a goofy-looking motorcross racer for no apparent reason other than to pad the running length with some racing footage that would do a lot better in a sports video than in a giallo. The movie also isn't nearly as well directed as some of Sergio Martino's other gialli like "Torso" or "All the Colors of Darkness" (also with Fenech). And Martino-regular Ivan Rassimov is tragically wasted in a perfunctory role. Still even a bad Martino-Fenech giallo is not without its charms. And if you're an Edgar Allen Poe fan, you'll especially enjoy this one; trust me! This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

* Reversible sleeves featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
* Limited Edition 80-page perfect-bound book featuring new writing on the films, Poe's original story and more, illustrated with archive stills and posters
* Stephen Thrower, author of Beyond Terror - The Films of Lucio Fulci, on The Black Cat
* Brand new interview with director Sergio Martino
* Dolls of Flesh and Blood: The Gialli of Sergio Martino - a visual essay by Michael Mackenzie exploring Sergio Martino's unique contributions to the giallo gen
* Newly translated subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
* High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
* Original Italian and English soundtracks in mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
* Brand new 2k restorations of the films from the original camera negatives