(director/writer: Elio Petri; screenwriter: Luciano Vincenzoni; cinematographer: Luigi Kuveiller; editor: Ruggero Mastroianni; music: Ennio Morricone; cast: Franco Nero (Leonardo Ferri), Vanessa Redgrave (Flavia), Georges Geret (Attilio), Gabriella Grimaldi (Wanda), Madeleine Damien (Wanda’s Mother), Rita Calderoni (Egle), John Francis Lane (Asylum Attendant), Renato Menegotto (Egle’s Friend), David Maunsell (Medium); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Alberto Grimaldi; TCM; 1969-France/Italy-in English and dubbed in English)


“Its startling images were chillingly effective.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A Special Jury Prize Berlin 1969 winning creepy experimental gothic horror film that’s artistically directed by Italian filmmaker Elio Petri (“The Tenth Victim”/”Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion”/”We Still Kill the Old Way“), who cowrites the screenplay with Luciano Vincenzoni.

Successful but hyper abstract painter Leonardo Ferri (Franco Nero), bothered by nightmares, wants to escape Milan city life and gets his married lover (who engage in kinky and sadistic ritualized sex acts) and sales agent, Flavia (Vanessa Redgrave), to find him a quiet place in the country outside of Venice. Leonardo is attracted to an abandoned country villa and rents it. Once residing there, the artist is plagued by strange disturbances that damage his new paintings and learns it might be the work of the ghost of an 18-year-old beautiful countess nymphomaniac, Wanda (Gabriella Grimaldi), the daughter of the former owner of the villa, who died there during a WW IIU.S. bombing attack in 1944.

The artist becomes obsessed with the vision of the girl, and becomes attracted to her. In his desire to know her better, Leonardo questions the villagers; then he questions the creepy caretaker (Georges Geret), a love-stricken chap who said his lover Wanda died in his arms; and the artist also has the local medium try and contact her from the beyond in a seance held in the villa with the locals who knew her. By this time the artist is bonkers and in his madness thinks he killed Flavia and stuffed her body in the refrigerator to gain favor with the ghost. It soon becomes questionable if he killed Flavia (it was all in his mind), but he acts so nutty he’s carted off to the insane asylum where he still creates pop-art that’s greater than ever.

How well you like this freaky tale, with an unsettling tone, depends on how much you fall in love with the stunning kaleidoscope cinematography of Luigi Kuveiller and the director’s bizarre logic he brings to the creative process as something that borders on the edge of sanity. For me it was a bit too pretentious, though its startling images were chillingly effective.

REVIEWED ON 11/4/2010 GRADE: B-  https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”