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Una sull'Altra

Perversion Story
One on Top of the Other

Italy/France/Spain 1969
produced by
Edmondo Amati, Maurizio Amati (executive) for Empire Films, Les Productions Jacques Roitfeld, Trébol Films
directed by Lucio Fulci
starring Jean Sorel, Marisa Mell, Elsa Martinelli, Alberto de Mendoza, John Ireland, Faith Domergue, Riccardo Cucciolla, Bill Vanders, Franco Balducci, Giuseppe Addobbati, Félix Dafauce, Jesús Puente, George Rigaud, Jean Sobieski, Lucio Fulci, Malisa Longo, Bobby Rhodes
written by Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti, music by Riz Ortolani

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Dr George Dumurrier (Jean Sorel), a surgeon and head of a clinic who has come under fire for inventing some miracle surgeries to boost the profile of his clinic, leaves his asthmatic wife Susan (Marisa Mell) at home one evening to spend the night with his lover Jane (Elsa Martinelli). When he returns home the next day, she's dead, and has died under quite mysterious circumstances. When it's revealed that she has made him beneficiary of her vast insurance policy, despite the fact that she hated him, everybody gets suspicious that he might have killed her, and the insurance company sends a detective (Bill Vanders) after him.

Then George stumbles upon a stripper, Monica (also Marisa Mell), who apart from hair and eye colour is the exact splitting image of his deceased wife. He gets so fascinated by this that he pays (she moonlights as a prostitute) to spend the night with her. This is enough for the insurance detective to call in the police, and they soon have Monica arrested and find incriminating evidence in her apartment. Now Monica confesses she and George have planned an insurance scam, and enough evidence can be found at her place to corroborate that. George is arrested and Monica is let go for having been cooperative - and she simply disappears from the face of the earth.

George is convicted for the murder of his wife and gets the death sentence, and while already waiting for his execution, his brother Henry (Alberto de Mendoza) pays him a visit - to tell him what has really been going on: Point is, Henry was Susan's lover, and she had only chosen George over him for his money. But Henry figures with him being George's only relative left, he will inherit all of George's money and the insurance money, too, so he deviced a plan to get George into the gas chamber. The beauty of this plan is of course that Susan isn't really dead, and she and Monica are actually one and the same person - so yes, Susan has become a stripper just to get her husband out of the way, and only as a stripper she could have gotten the police onto George's trail, and the incriminating evidence was of course planted. The corpse she and Henry have provided to the police was actually that of her nurse (Malisa Longo), who was actually also a stripper in on the plan. With George out of the way, Henry and Susan figure on going to Paris to start anew ...

Knowing all of this, George tries to move heaven and earth to find evidence that proves him innocent, and he figures if the dental records of the dead nurse don't match those of his wife (who's supposed to be the corpse), that would acquit him - but alas, the dental records do match (Henry had his hands in this, having exchanged the dental records in George's clinic, where he had free access to everything).

George is already led into the gas chamber while Henry and Susan meet at a café in Paris, celebrating their victory ... when a stripshow customer (Riccardo Cucciolla) who is obsessed with her but was rejected by her pulls out a gun and shoots her dead out of frustrationand Henry as well. This of course saves George in the nick of time.

 

In 1969, the giallo genre - basically the Italian version of the murder mystery - was still in its infancy, and while this film is generally regarded as an early giallo, don't expect all the genre elements to be firmly in place (especially the horror aspects of later genre entries are absent here), but Perversion Story is still a potent precursor of films to come: It's directed with genuine verve and elegance, it's got an utterly Italian vibe to it (despite being set in San Francisco), there's quite a bit of nudity as well as quite some sleazy undercurrents, it features many an unexpected yet unlikely plottwist, and story is a tad overconvoluted.

So basically, Perversion Story is by no means a genre classic, but it's still a pretty watchable murder mystery that's also very easy on the eye.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD