Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have The Key 1972 ****


Also known as Gently Before She Dies, or Eye of the Black Cat aka Excite Me!, Sergio Martino’s giallo is an original and untypical affair that lifts elements from Edgar Allan Poe’s story The Black Cat, but also has a unique angle of its own. A Cat Called Satan would be an accurate title, since a moggy with that name as a pivotal role here; genre favourites Edwige Fenech and Luigi Pistilli star here; he’s Oliviero, an author who hasn’t written a word for years and makes money by selling off the antique furniture in his country pile with his wife Irina (Anita Strinberg) who he likes to humiliate at their regular orgies. After one of his students his murdered, and then his maid, Oliviero becomes an obvious suspect, but is he gas-lighting his wife or vice versa? His niece Floriana (Fenech) picks an odd time for a social visit, and it proves the catalyst for all manner of sexual and violent behaviour, with Satan included in the domino effect of killings, mutilations and seductions. Cream seems to be a theme, and choice cream-related dialogue includes ‘Hey, hot potato, got any cream in your tricycle? ‘ and ‘Satan’s favourite meal is snake-eyes and cream!’; this is a wonderfully lurid, pervy and overheated melodrama that’s constantly surprising. The magic of streaming is that films like this used to be incredibly hard to find and see, often in poor condition. That a potentially huge audience can see this, at the cost of a couple of free subscriptions, promises that such outré fare might just make a mainstream impact again, for the first time since it was made. Viewed on the Arrow Video Channel.

The Masque of the Red Death 1964 ****


A rare combination; Roger Corman, producer king of the B movie exploitation film teams up for a directorial outing with cinematographer Nicolas Roeg, whose artistic gift led on to Don’t Look Now and The Man Who fell To Earth. The result, based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe, is something of a triumph, taking the hammy medieval fun of the AIP pictures and elevating it to high art. Using some of the sets for Becket (1964), Corman’s lavish film depicts Prospero (Vincent Price), who discovers that the red death is ravaging the countryside, and holds a spectacular ball within the walls of his castle so that the rich can party while the poor rot outside. He choses Francesca (Jane Asher) as a plaything for the evening, but his plan attracts the attention of rebellious villagers. Corman and Roeg get everything right; the red-suited figure of death moving through the party, the series of multi-coloured rooms the characters pass through, all are rendered is a fabulously vivid and beautiful fashion. Poe’s story has a bleak and caustic world-view, and beneath the pretty pictures, The Masque of the Red Death nails the banality of evil in colourful style. On Amazon Instant.