Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 19th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1972 (Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key), Italy, 1981 (The Black Cat)
Directors: Sergio Martino (Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key), Lucio Fulci (The Black Cat)
Writers: Adriano Bolzoni, Ernesto Gastaldi, Sauro Scavolini (Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key), Biagio Proietti, Lucio Fulci (The Black Cat)
Cast: Edwige Fenech, Anita Strindberg, Luigi Pistilli, Ivan Rassimov (Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key), Patrick Magee, Mimsy Farmer, David Warbeck, Al Cliver, Dagmar Lassander, Bruno Corazzari, Geoffrey Copleston, Daniela Doria (The Black Cat)
BluRay released: October 19th, 2015 (UK) / October 27th, 2015 (USA)
Approximate running times: 96 Minutes (Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key), 91 Minutes (The Black Cat)
Aspect Ratios: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key), 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (The Black Cat)
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono Italian (Both Films)
Subtitles: English SDH, English (Italian Language)
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A,B / Region 1,2 NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £17.99 (UK)
Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key: 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, The Strange vice of Mrs. Wardh and All The Colors of The Dark. Serigo Martino for Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key would freely adapt a script from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat. Edwige Fenech would star in Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key, she had previously worked with Sergio Martino in two other Giallo’s The Strange vice of Mrs. Wardh 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.
And the vastly underrated composer Bruno Nicolai composes one of his most versatile score’s for Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key. The score has a chamber like music feel to it that perfectly fits the Poe elements of the film. Ultimately 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.
The Black Cat: A physic uses telepathy to communicate with a black cat that kills his enemies.
The Black Cat was directed by Lucio Fulci. A diverse filmmaker who adapted like a chameleon with whatever genre was in vogue in Italy at the time. The plot bears many striking resemblances that are undeniably taken from Edgar Allen Poe’s short story. The new additions to the story of the menacing Back Cat are in line with the gore soaked nightmares that Lucio Fulci was directing at the time. Lucio Fulci’s adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s short story adds a new twist to the already diabolical tale. The film’s lead character Professor Robert Miles whose uses a cat as his murder weapon via telepathy. One thing that quickly garbs while watching this film is how grounded the story is when compared to Lucio Fulci’s more fantasy driven horror films like City of the Living Dead, The Beyond and The House by the Cemetery.
Visually cinematographer Sergio Salvati does an amazing job creating a Gothic atmosphere that is reminiscent of the Hammer horror films and Roger Corman Edgar Allen Poe film’s of the 1960’s. The films strongest visually asset is the POV camera shots which represent what the Black Cat is looking at. The film features a remarkable score from the ever reliable Pino Donaggio whose notable scores include Don’t Look Now, A Whisper in the Dark, Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Phantom of Death andDario Argento’s Trauma.
The Black Cat features a strong cast which includes many familiar faces like Mimsy Farmer (Four Flies on Grey Velvet, Autopsy), David Warbeck (A Fistful of Dynamite, The Beyond), Al Cliver (Zombie, Cannibals) and Dagmar Lassander (The Frightened Woman, Hatchet for the Honeymoon). Patrick Magee is cast in the film leading role as the villainess Professor Robert Miles. Patrick Magee is an accomplished character actor who most memorable performances include Alfredo in The Masque of the Red Death, The Chevalier in Barry Lyndon and the writer whose wife dies after being assaulted by Alex and his Droog’s in a Clockwork Orange. Ultimately The Black Cat is an entertaining and inventive take of one of Edgar Allen Poe’s most famous tales of terror.
Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This transfer has been sourced from a brand new 2k restoration from the film’s original camera negative. And this is yet another solid transfer from Arrow Video that vastly improves upon all previous releases for this film. It should be noted that when you choose the English version of the film that it opens with the title Gently before She Dies.
The Black Cat comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This transfer has been sourced from a brand new 2k restoration from the film’s original camera negative. And the end result is another stunning transfer from Arrow Video that greatly improves upon all previous releases for this film.
Each film comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Italian. All audio mixes are in great shape as they exhibit good range and when it comes to the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack these moments are well represented. Also dialog always comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. With the only differences in these audio mixes being one’s preference in regards to English or Italian. Personally I prefer the Italian language track for Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key, while the English language track works better for The Black Cat. Also includes with this release are two subtitle options, English SDH and English for the Italian language tracks.
Extras for Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key include, reversible covert art , two video essays, the first visual essay by Michael Mackenzie is titled ‘Dolls of Flesh and Blood’ who explores Sergio Martino’s contributions to the Giallo (29 minutes 4 seconds) and the visual essay by Justin Harries is titled ‘The Strange Vices of Ms. Fenech’ (29 minutes 42 seconds) who provides a career overview for Edwige Fenech. Content wise both essays is filled with insight and plenty of background information about their subjects.
Other extras include a retrospective documentary titled ‘Unveiling the Vice’ (23 minutes in Italian with English subtitles) which includes interviews with Edwige Fenech, Sergio Martino and Ernesto Gastaldi and an interview with filmmaker Eli Roth (9 minutes 17 seconds) who discusses his admiration of Sergio Martino’s Giallo and more specifically he discusses Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key. Also the extra titled ‘Unveiling the Vice’ has been ported over from No Shame’s OOP DVD release for Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key.
Rounding out the extras for Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key, is a brand new interview with Sergio Martino tilted ‘Through the Keyhole’ (34 minutes 42 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles). Topics discussed in this extra include, how he came up with the title for Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key, the three things that inspired this film include Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat, a real life crime that revolved around a husband in need of an alibi hires a hitman to murder his wife while he was out of town and Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques, he reminisces about Fenech, Strindberg and Pistilli, the score for the film, critical reaction to the giallo genre and his overall thoughts about Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key.
Extras for The Black Cat include, reversible cover art, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 1 second, in Italian with English subtitles), ‘Frightened Dagmar’ a career spanning interview with actress Dagmar Lassander (20 minutes 12 seconds, in German with English subtitles), a featurette that visits locations featured in the film titled ‘In the Paw-Prints of The Black Cat’ (8 minutes 28 seconds), a featurette titled ‘From Poe into Fulci: The Spirit of Perverseness’ (25 minutes 37 seconds), an archive interview with actor David Warbeck (70 minutes 20 seconds) and an audio commentary with Fangoria editor Chris Alexander.
Topics discussed in the extra titled ‘From Poe into Fulci: The Spirit of Perverseness’ include, how The Black Cat lacks the trademark gore that is present I all of Fulci’s from during this part of his career, how Fulci would often borrow moments from famous American Horror films, he also discusses a few things that are never fully explained or resolved, the cast and their performances, Pino Donaggio’s score, the look of the film and The Black Cat’s legacy has been affected by poor home video releases.
Topics covered in the audio commentary with Chris Alexander include, The Black Cat and other film’s also directed by Lucio Fulci, the cast, their performances and other things they have appeared in and Pino Donaggio’s score.
Also included with this limited edition release is an eight page booklet with cast & crew info for Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key, two essays, the first essay tiled ‘Ernesto Gastaldi’s Perversions of Poe’ written by Christopher Alexander and the second essay titled ‘The Production of Your Vice is a Locked Room’ written by Andreas Ehrenreich. Content related to Fulci’s The Black Cat includes cast & crew info, an essay about the film titled ‘9 Lives of the Black Cat’ written by Mikel Koven, ‘Lucio Fulci –The Final Interview’ conducted by Howard S. Berger, Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Black Cat and information about both films transfers.
Also included with this release are DVD’s for each film that have the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Arrow Video gives two of Italian genre cinema’s most underrated films their most spectacular releases to date, highly recommended.