Beatrice Cenci (1956)

4.0 out of 5

This is Riccardo Freda’s take on the famous story of Beatrice Cenci, also filmed by Lucio Fulci amongst others. Beatrice Cenci was an 16th century noblewoman who conspired with her lover, brother and mother to murder her tyrannical father. Beatrice was then tried and executed, with the family’s estates conveniently becoming the property of the church. Compared to Fulci, however, Freda downplays the anti-clerical aspect and the violence, in favour of a melodramatic and at times downright operatic approach in which his mastery of mise-en-scene is evident. He also daringly foregrounds sexual tensions, implying incestuous desires between father and daughter and mother and son. Gabor Pogany’s Eastmancolour visuals are a delight and should appeal to fans of early Hammer horror or Mario Bava, while the casting of Tony Steffen as Beatrice’s brother grants wider Eurocult appeal.

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