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April 25, 2007

Perversion Story

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Una Sull'altra/One on Top of the Other
Lucio Fulci - 1969
Severin Films Region 0 DVD

Lucio Fulci always wanted to be the thought of as the Italian Alfred Hitchcock. This film may have come closest to that dream. The San Francisco setting and the story of a woman who resembles another who died under mysterious circumstances obviously brings to mind Vertigo. There are other plot points that will remind one of Hitchcock, with virtually every character under suspicion. The last name of the main characters is Dumurrier, which sounds almost like Du Maurier. Of the several Fulci films I have seen, Perversion Story stands out as a smart mystery thriller.

Unlike the horror films Fulci is known for, there is no graphic violence. While Fulci uses extreme close ups of the eyes of his characters, none are gouged as in The Beyond or Zombie. There is much nudity, with Fulci taking advantage of both the new rating code and San Francisco's famed strip clubs. Fulci's cinema has almost always been of excess, but I'll take scantily clad or completely nude women over bloody body parts any time.

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The basic story, about a doctor possibly framed for the murder of his wife, is familiar. Fortunately, Fulci kicks into high gear in the last half hour with a few unexpected twists. Marisa Mell is the femme fatale. Also in the cast are former screen godess Elsa Martinelli and former Howard Hughes' starlet Faith Domergue. Perpetual supporting actor John Ireland plays the dogged police investigator who seeks the truth about pretty boy doctor Jean Sorel.

Concerning the title, Perversion Story was also given to another film by Fulci. One on Top of the Other is the translation of the Italian title. I am not certain what Fulci intended with his title, although it could possibly refer to the layer of lies the characters tell each other.

The DVD comes with a CD of the score by Riz Ortolani. A former jazz musician, Ortolani's music combines several of the jazz styles that would be heard both in film music in the late Sixties, both formal and improvised.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at April 25, 2007 08:20 AM