Murder Obsession is a 1981 Italian film directed by Riccardo Freda.
|Directed by||Riccardo Freda|
|Music by||Franco Mannino|
|Edited by||Riccardo Freda|
A successful actor named Michael (Stefano Patrizi) has a dark past where, at a young age, he stabbed his father to death. Along with his girlfriend Deborah (Silvia Dionisio), he visits mother (Anita Strindberg) for the weekend and are joined by the director and other people involved in a film. Soon, the guests begin to get picked off and Michael fears his past will come back to kill him.
In the early 1970s, Fabio Piccioni wrote a short story titled Il grido del Captricorno, which he later apdatpted into an adult comic book in the Oltretomba series. Living across from the office of Salvatore Argento, Piccioni approached Argento and sold him the rights to Il grido del capricorno for 500,000 Italian lire. Some elements of Il grido del capricorno would later appear in Dario Argento's films The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Deep Red. Piccioni reused elements of his story again years later in a contemporary setting, with a script made with Antonio Cesare Corti and Riccardo Freda that would become Murder Obsession. Some sources credit the film's original title as L'ossessione che uccide whereas the script located at the BiFi (Bibliothèque du film) in Paris is titled Deliria and is credited to Corti and Piccioni and dated from 1976. The Deliria script is generally identical to the script used in Murder Obsession with only a few characters named changed.
According to Riccardo Freda's daughter Jacqueline Freda, her father took on the script to re-enter the film market and to find room and potential financing for a project based on Francesco Baracca. Murder Obsession was an Italian and French co-production, with the Italian producer Enzo Boetani and his company Dinoysio Cinematografica. Boetani had known Freda for years but never had a chance to complete a production together, working on one unknown project and another titled Superhuman, which Boetani described as a superhero and professional wrestling styled film. Freda brought the script to Boetani and suggested the Italian and French co-production, with the French producer being his friend Simon Mizrahi.
Filming went on for three weeks in April 1980, predominantly in Palace Borghese in Artena and at Parco della Mola in Oriolo Romano. Actress Laura Gemser recalled her negative experience making the film, who described filming as a "nightmare" specifically mentioning a scene where Anita Strindberg used a real knife to pretend to stab her. Martine Brochard also did not have fond memories of filming, noting a scene where there is glass specifically cut to fit over her head and a camera with a chainsaw attached to it that got very close to the actress. Both Brochard and Stefano Patrizi spoke negatively about working with the director, with Brochard noting he treated the French actors badly and Patrizi who had little recollection of the film other than vaguely recalling that Freda was a "harsh man, of a few words and not very affable" Riccardo Freda did uncredited work on the film as the editor.
Murder Obsession was submitted to Italian film censors on October 15, 1980 and was passed on October 31 but was only released in Italy on February 24, 1981. Italian film historian Roberto Curti described it as having "mediocre business" which Boetani blamed on the distributor, who did not pay back the expected sum which lead to the production losing over 50 percent of the production costs. Freda dismissed the film, referring to it as "shit".
The film has been released on home video in the United States as Murder Obsession, Fear and The Wailing. The film was released as Fear on VHS by Wizard Video. The film was released on Blu-ray and DVD by Raro Video.
From retrospective reviews, Louis Paul in his book Italian Horror Film Directors declared Murder Obsession to be "Freda's best film, although it doesn't make much sense" noting that Freda "confounds the viewer with hallucinations, red herrings galore and a decidedly downbeat ending" and concluding that the film "loves to play with the limitations of the genre and seeks to exceed the demands of its audiences at the same time."
- Curti, Roberto (2017). Riccardo Freda: The Life and Works of a Born Filmmaker. McFarland. ISBN 978-1476628387.
- Paul, Louis (2005). Italian Horror Film Directors. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-8749-3.
- Stine, Scott Aaron (2015). The Gorehound's Guide to Splatter Films of the 1980s. McFarland. ISBN 978-1476611327.