Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 13th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1972
Director: Sergio Martino
Writers: Adriano Bolzoni, Ernesto Gastaldi, Sauro Scavolini
Cast: Edwige Fenech, Anita Strindberg, Luigi Pistilli, Ivan Rassimov
DVD released: September 27th, 2005
Approximate running time: 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono Italian
DVD Release: No Shame
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: Oliviero (Luigi Pistilli) is a writer who has a sadomasochistic relation masochist with his wife Irina (Anita Strindberg). Oliviero is having an affair with a woman at a local book store. He agrees to meet the woman at secluded place so they won’t be seen and when he doesn’t show up after a night of heavy drinking he finds out the woman had been murdered. A killer is on the loose and kills victim after victim to keep their secret at any cost. After Irina’s niece Floriana (Edwige Fenech), shows up things start to heat as she seduces her uncle and she then moves on to her sleeping with her aunt as she tries to pit them against each other with the help of her boyfriend Dario (Ivan Rassimov).
In the early 1970′s Sergio Martino directed several Gialli that were extremely successful like Torso, The Case of The Scorpions Tale, Next!, and All The Colors of The Dark. Serigo Martino for Gently Before Shes Dies would freely adapt a script from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat. Edwige Fenech would star in Gently Before She Dies she had previously worked with Sergio Martino in two other Giallo’s Next!, and All The Colors of The Dark.
This time around Edwige Fenech is the protagonist instead of the victim as she is all too often cast as in other Gialli, still in this film as in most of her films she is more then happy to disrobe. I really enjoyed watching Edwige Fenech playing against type casting as she dug in her claws for what is one of her most devilish roles. The camera loves her and through out the film she is introduced into scenes in a grand fashion whether she is wearing knee high boots at the train station or lay half dresses writing in bed.
Anita Strindberg performance as the cheated wife who goes over the edge is sincere as she lays her emotions out for all to see and it is one of her best performances. In this role Anita rally lays it on the line as her character is far removed from the glamorous characters she usually plays. There are a few moments like when she takes out her aggression on the cat that has been pestering her that are dangerously over the top. Luigi Pistilli gives one of his most fearless performances of his career. His character is sadistic and he totally lacks any kind of sympathy.
Sergio Martino always the master craftsman he has an excellent cast to work which allows him to be bolder in his choices as he mixes bizarre camera angles with precise editing. There is some really cool compositions in the film most notably the murder scenes which are shot from the killer point of view as he chases and finishes off his victims. Like most giallo’s there are a few red herrings and one of the most important ones pertaining to the plot comes completely out of left field. The screenplay is the films weakest link it fails to bring something fresh and new to the Poe’s story. The vastly underrated composer Bruno Nicolai composes one of his most versatile score’s for Gentle before She Dies. The score has a chamber like music feel to it that perfectly fits the Poe elements of the film.
No Shame presents Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This high definition transfer has been sourced from the restored original camera negative and it is available for the first time ever on DVD in its original aspect ratio and uncut. For this release No Shame finally makes the switch from interlaced to progressive scan and now all the hard work that they put into their transfers can be seen to its fullest capability. Colors and flesh tones look natural and are nicely saturated through out. Black levels are rich and deep as the amount of detail present in every frame in exceptional. There are no problems with compression, artifacts and edge enhancement is no existent. Overall No Shame’s release blows away all the grey market release’s of Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key and it is also about 4 ½ minutes longer then any other version that has been released on home video.
This DVD comes with two audio options the films original Italian language track and an English dubbed track both are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Both audio sources sound clean and are in great shape except for a few minor instance of hiss or background noise. The music and effects sound evenly mixed as they never distort the other. It is interesting listening to this film in Italian after watching previously in English and I wish more companies offered multiple audio options like No Shame. English subtitles have been included that are easy to follow and understand.
Extras for this release include a collection of trailers for Sergio Martino film like The Case of The Scorpions Tale, Gambling City, The Strange vice of Mrs. Wardh and The Big Alligator River. All four of these titles are currently available on DVD in region 1 from No Shame. Other extras include a collectable booklet that includes bios for Sergio Martino, Edwige Fenech, Anita Strindberg as well as a piece that Richard Harland Smith about the film Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key. There is also a poster and still gallery that plays’ music from the film in the background. Rounding out the extras is a twenty three minute documentary “Unveiling the Vice” which includes interviews with Edwige Fenech, Sergio Martino and Ernesto Gastaldi. Overall another insightful documentary from No Shame that is sure to please fans of this film. No Shame’s Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key DVD is another gem that not only comes with an amazing audio/video presentation it is available at a extremely reasonably price. No Shame continue to surprise with the titles which they choose to release and I eagerly await to see what lost cult film they rescue next. Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key cleverly mixes the works of Edgar Allen Poe with the visceral style that we have come to associate with the giallo genre, highly recommended.