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Oliviero (Luigi Pistilli) once was a great writer, but he has been
suffering from writers block for years (since his mother died, actually)
& now he only finds pleasure in running parties in his run-down villa
& humiliating his wife Irene (Anita Strindberg), preferably in public.
However, when Fausta (Daniela Giordano), his ex mistress is found slain
& he suddenly finds himself being the prime suspect, his wife
providses him with a watertight (if false) alibi. The next day, in the
villa, the black maid is murdered much the same way Fausta was, &
Oliviero, afrauid the police might suspect him again, only this time
there's no easy way out, decides to wall up the body in the villa's
basement, & he can even persuade Irene to help him.
Soon, everything seems to be back to normal again, with Okliviero even
reassuming his abusive role, when his niece Floriana (Edwige Fenech)
invites herself for a visit ... & it doesn't take her long to figure
out that something is wrong between her uncle & aunt, especially when
Oliviero locks Irene up in a small room in the basement in another fit of
Not only does Flo free her & learn everything about the dead maid
& that Irene suspects Oliviero to be the killer, the 2 also start a
Then, in a turn of events, the killer is revealed to be not Oliviero
but the owner of the local bookshop, who is caught red-handed when trying
to slay a prostitute.
With the killer safe behind bars, everything should be back to normal,
but now Flo takes the initiative, starts a sexual relationship with
Oliviero too, & tries to entice both him & Irene to kill their
respective significant other ...
Eventually, Oliviero is slain, &
Irene can persuade Flo to help her wall up the body, beside the dead maid,
actually, & in exchange, Flo asks for Oliviero's mother's priceless
jewelry, which Irene offers gladly just so the ordeal is over ... or does
As soon as Flo has left the villa, Irene's accomplice Walter (Ivan
Rassimov) shows up, & he & Irene make up plans to have Flo met
with a nice little accident ... & soon enough, Flo & her boyfriend
Dario (Riccardo Salvino) crash when riding out of town on his motorbike,
& Walter makes sure everything catches fire too, he only saves the bag
with the jewelry from the flames. Then he meets for a picnic in the nearby
mountains with Irene - & it would seem everything was now perfet, but
Irene turns out to be a rather greedy bitch & pushes Walter down some
cliffs to his death.
Arriving home, Irene finds the police waiting for
her - & invites them in, since she thinks she has got nothing to
featr, having destroyed or hidden all the evidence ... until a spooky meow
of Oliviero's favourite cat makes everybody a tad suspicious, especially
when it is found out that it is coming from behind a wall inthe basement -
& since the police has had some complaints about Irene molesting the
cat (which she really did), they free the cat from behind the wall ...
& unexpectedly find the corpses of Oliviero & the maid.
Vice is a Locked Room and only I have the Key does not even make a
serious effort to follow the tried & true (& overused) giallo
formula of throwing some innocent protagonists into an overconstructed
murdermystery full of suspicious characters, garnered with gruesome murder
scenes every now & again.
Instead, the film paints a decadent &
disturbing psychogram of an inspirationless author who just has to be the
killer - until the revelation of the real killer turns everything topsy
turvey, & in the end, the true motivations of the 2 female leads are
revealed & it turns out, the biggest arsehole in the film is actually
the only innocent (well, to a point) character. Choosing the Italian
countryside as a setting proves to be perfet for the story too, since it
is at once pittoresque & provides the film with a suitable atmosphere
of isolation (culminating in the godforsaken cliffs Irene throws her lover
from). Only the combination of walling up corpses & a black cat does
give away the finale a bit too soon (at least for everyone who has read
his Edgar Allan Poe).