Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
Your Vice is a Locked Door And Only I Have the Key aka Il Tuo Vizio E'Una Stanza Chiusa E Solo Io Ne Ho La Chiave (1972)
Available from Luminoius Film & Video | Review by Crites

Also known by it's Italian name, Il Tuo Vizio E'Una Stanza Chiusa E Solo Io Ne Ho La Chiave, YOUR VICE... is a fairly complex title for a Seventies variation on Poe's The Black Cat. But fittingly this rare slice of giallo is every bit as wicked as its title is long and its origin dark.

Oliviero Rouvigny is a bit of a bastard. A writer well past his prime, he now spends his time drinking and openly abusing his wife Ilena and their black maid Brenda. As if to exemplify his character early in the film, after an arty/hippie dinner party at their villa (complete with a little nude dancing) Oliviero rapes his wife right in front of Brenda.

Oliviero is also something of a womanizer, and when one of his girlfriends, the pretty little thing from the bookstore, is found carved up the police pay the Rouvigny household a visit. There's a little bit of cat & mouse before the cops leave, and a little more between Oliviero and his wife afterward; he came home late the night of the murder, and his wife doesn't buy his excuse. One wrong word from her just might do him in...

As a storm thunders on that night, Brenda works up a pair of hot pants and tries on the fancy dress of deceased matriarch "Bloody" Mary Stewart. Oliviero watches her pleasure herself for a time, but when the storm's outburst sends her running upstairs an unseen attacker slashes her down the middle. Ilena finds Brenda and goes into shock, but when Oliviero shows up he refuses to call the police - with the death of the previous girl another murder in his own home would hang him for sure. Oliviero convinces Ilena to help him bury the body in the cellar, walling it up behind a wine cask where, conceivably, it might never be found.

Just in time, too – Oliviero's niece Floriana invites herself to the villa for a visit, and the haughty little sexpot immediately starts poking around and making a nuisance of herself. It's not long before Floriana too bears witness to Oliviero's brutality, and his lecherous intentions. One night Floriana rescues Ilena from one of Oliviero's torments, which involves being locked in a dark room with Satan (a black cat, the beloved pet of Oliviero's dead mother, and a truly spiteful animal whose vicious streak is regularly directed toward Ilena). After releasing her Floriana does her best to soothe Ilena, and winds up doing so by way of the Sapphic tradition.

In another villa nearby Giovanna, a young slut just in from the city to work in her Aunt Millie's bordello, gets a surprise just past bedtime – the same slasher treatment received by the previous two girls. The killer drags her body bloodily down the stairs, and looks prepared to sexually assault the corpse when Aunt Millie pops out and brains him, revealing him to be a total stranger. With the killer's identity exposed, Oliviero revels in holding over his wife the fact that she was wrong about him. He's still a bit of a freak however as later, with a weird expression on his face, he watches his niece bone the deliveryman.

After dark that night Ilena hears a ruckus down by the pigeon coop, and upon investigating she finds Satan chewing on one of her beloved birds. Having had all that she can stomach of the hateful beast Ilena stabs the cat in the eye with a giant pair of scissors, sending it screaming off into the night. But still the creature manages to torment her; finding a moist package in the kitchen the following morning Ilena opens it up, only to have a stream of gelatinous eyeballs pour out onto the table. She's horrified, as much by the pile of eyes as by Oliviero's explanation –"Satan's favorite meal is sheep eyes and cream." Later, as the cat's ghastly howls echo throughout the villa, Florian makes a play for Oliviero and easily seduces the old drunkard.

But even incest can't make Oliviero forget about Satan. Heard but not seen since the stabbing, the cat's absence provokes Oliviero into a confrontation with his wife. Believing she's harmed the pet, hating Satan for being more a part of his family than she ever could, Oliviero threatens Ilena's life with her own scissors then violently takes her there on the floor of the pigeon coop (ew). Throughout it all, Floriana looks on from the villa steps.

It soon becomes clear that young Floriana is playing both ends of the field, pitting each spouse against the other for reasons as yet unknown. At a picnic one day she speaks to Ilena about doing away with Oliviero, yet Ilena later happens to overhear the two of them in bed discussing a similar fate for her.

And without spoiling the ending, and the cavalcade of murderous treachery it entails, that's about all that I can say in detail. Except to add that the plot moves through a swift number of wicked permutations before the tragically just desserts are served to all in a fittingly gothic fashion; one of the characters is considerably more bloodthirsty than the rest, and goes about mercilessly slaughtering enemies and allies alike in a miasma of hatred and greed before finally being undone by a poetic twist of fate hinging upon their own murderous treachery. And while it's not all a complete surprise, it is nicely executed (chortle). (Although truth be told, the motorcylce accident has got to be one of the worst in cinematic history.)

A passionate film, full of lust, violence, and all of the accompanying flesh and blood you could ask for, the film stars Edwige Fenech, Luigi Pistilli, Anita Strindberg, Ivan Rassimov, Franco Nebbia, Riccaardo Salvino and Angela La Vorgna, and is presented in English. The score by Bruno Nicolai recalls some of the lonelier moments of Morricone's music for Leone in parts, while dancing towards Baroque decadence in others amid a soundtrack filled with screaming, the crash of stormy nights and the wailing of a black cat. The digital transfer is a fair one, except during scenes taking place in darkened settings. Here the screen blackens to the point of being indistinguishable, obscuring a good deal of the essential action and, occasionally, even the plot (in the scene where the killer has his skull cracked by Aunt Millie, in the shadowy stairwell he looks almost exactly like Oliviero). Even in dimly lighted scenes the picture is clouded by the obtrusive peach/plumb tint of the colored lighting scheme. This, however, is the DVD's only real drawback. The plot, the action, and the simple all-out wickedness of it all makes Your Vice... a film worth experiencing.

Bonuses include the Edwige Fenech photo gallery, featuring a plethora of nude stills and poster of the actress portraying Floriana (set to an uplifting little Sixties tune), and a trailer for another Euro-thriller, THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS.


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