(1974 - Italian with English subtitles / optional dubbed English audio). Finally in a Region 1 / NTSC release, it's time to toss out the old wretched copies of this much-lauded and impossible to find gaillo, comfortably sit back and enjoy this classy retro-artifact by director/writer Francesco Barilli (who also penned 1972's 'Who Saw Her Die?').
Starring Mimsy Farmer ('4 Flies On Grey Velvet','Autopsy','More'), who portrays a chemist as well as a psychologically fragile main character who finds herself sinking slowly into a kaleidoscope of hallucinations and past nightmares - or are they? Are these disturbing visions of her childhood with her mother just sediments of a past that are now being subconsciously re-evaluated, or do they conceal some dark machination of a trauma she once suffered and buried? The slow progression from successful scientist to a disturbed woman on the edge of insanity details the in-depth intricacies of the haunted mind, one that weaves fantasy, reality and memory into one seamless fabric. With a cast of interesting characters (especially Mario Scaccia, who stands out as the eccentric elderly next door neighbor) and threads of murder, black magic, blind psychics, flesh-eating, Alice in Wonderland and 'Rosemary's Baby' all tossed into a salad of sanguinary psychosis, all fans of gailli, cult and Eurohorror should stay well-entertained.
Unlike most gailli, there's no real sleaze involved (nudity, yes, that's a given in European films from the 70's, but it's there as part of the plot and not random titillation); this one's more of an arthouse/horror hybrid than most - the sets are gorgeous, the cinematography wondrous to behold, the soundtrack is hauntingly beautiful, the director's eye is awash in artistry (Barilli was first a painter before becoming a writer and director) and the digital transfer of this RaroVideo release is absolutely glowing. Colors are rich and vibrant, contrasts are deep, and audio is crisp. (I hope they continue to release Euro-artifacts from their PAL vaults in NTSC for the rest of us to enjoy). Special features include the documentary 'Portrait in Black', the director's bio and filmography, and a small booklet.
4 solid stars for both the flick and the print we're treated to - take a whiff of 'The Perfume of the Lady in Black'.