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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. Things get complicated when his young, beautiful, and self-confident niece, Floriana, pays an unexpected visit. A silver-haired stranger observes. More women die, and thoughts of harming Irina give Oliviero new inspiration. What's Floriana's game and who's the observant stranger? Watching all is a black cat named Satan. Written by
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Consistently entertaining and occasionally disturbing
Boasting one of the most outlandish titles of the giallo genre, Sergio Martino's Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key is yet another loose adaptation of one of Edgar Allen Poe's most famous titles, The Black Cat. Like most Poe adaptations, the film shares little with its source material, apart from the presence of the titular black cat, here named Satan. While it is chocked full of narrative stumbles and frustrating red herrings, Martino's refusal to bend to the genre rules of the giallo makes Your Vice an extremely interesting entry into the genre, avoiding being bogged down with drawn-out set pieces and mind-bending visuals, and instead focusing on the psychological - and physical - interplay between its two leads.
Bored writer Oliviero (Luigi Pistilli) spends the majority of his time throwing drug and alcohol-fuelled parties for the local hippies, and enjoys mentally and physically abusing his long- suffering wife Irina (Anita Strindberg) in front of them. When a young student is brutally murdered on the night she had arranged to meet Oliviero, the wife-beating pig naturally becomes the prime suspect and withdraws into a state of deep paranoia at his labyrinthine mansion. When their maid also shows up dead, Oliviero and Irina hide the body just before the arrival of his niece Floriana (Edwige Fenech). Floriana is a confident and wise young woman, and hatches a plan with Irina to deal with her abusive husband. But not all is as it seems, and just who is the handsome grey-haired man lurking behind every corner?
Far from your average giallo, Your Vice... doesn't subvert the genre but frequently surprises. The plot and ludicrous climax, like most gialli, seem not be taken from the yellow-covered pulp fiction they are normally adapted from, but something akin to an episode of Scooby- Doo. While that may seem like a criticism, it really isn't - it's the type of insanity that makes these movies so much fun to watch. Bolstered by a fantastic score by Bruno Nicolai and lavish cinematography by Giancarlo Ferrando, they are nonetheless overshadowed by Fenech, surely one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the screen. Floriana is a no-nonsense, well-travelled lady, and just when you think you have her worked out, the film throws in a surprising, if in no way believable, twist. It may not be remembered as Martino's best entry into the genre (1973's Torso is certainly up there), but Your Vice... throws in enough twists and turns to keep it consistently entertaining and occasionally disturbing.
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