Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key / Il tuo vizio è una stanza chiusa e solo io ne ho la chiave (1972)

2.5 out of 5

Sergio Martino’s tale of madness and deception is an unusual mixture of giallo and Poe’s “The Black Cat”.

Anita Strindberg is a woman on the verge of a breakdown, due to the humiliation and abuse that she suffers at the hands of her husband, Luigi Pistilli, an alcoholic, failed writer who spends his time obsessing over his dead mother or throwing parties for neighboring hippies. Making matters worse is the presence of her husband’s black cat, who torments her at every turn. After several women are found murdered, Pistilli is the prime suspect. Is he the killer or is it someone else?

Although marred by an illogical plot and unlikeable characters, the film provides some excellent performances, with Pistilli as a convincingly bitter and despicable sadist, and Edwige Fenech as a seductively manipulative vixen. Strindberg is most impressive, as a genuinely terrified woman driven mad by abuse and paranoia.

The imposing isolated villa is utilized effectively to achieve a sense of confinement and dread, complimented by Bruno Nicolai’s brilliant score. Recommended for completists, but may be disappointing to those expecting a traditional giallo.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics