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.


Screamers 1979-81 ***

Some explanation is required for Screamers, a US version of an Italian fantasy called Island of the Fish Men. The original film is a handsomely mounted piece by Sergio Martino, who pulled in an impressive cast including Barbara Bach, Richard Johnson and Joseph Cotton for an Island of Dr Moreau-type action adventure. The lack of exploitation elements here (no sex, little blood) seem to have inspired Roger Corman to buy the film, chop thirty minutes out and add in a specially-shot prologue which has more of a splatter/slasher movie vibe as a group of sailors led by Cameron Mitchell and Mel Ferrer are picked off by a much more homicidal branch of the fish-men team. The gore effects by Chris Walas are very 80’s, and both sections of the film are well-done, even if there’s not much connection in terms of story of theme. With exploding volcanoes, armies of fish-men and a diving-bell trip to Atlantis, this is much more of a Saturday matinee adventure than an adult horror, and the vigour of Martino’s story-telling is something to behold.