Blu-ray Review: The Possessed (1965)

January 13, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Bernard (Peter Baldwin), a sad sack novelist, decides to use that classic cure-all, namely horniness, and sets off to rekindle a relationship with his ex-lover Tilda (Virna Lisi); who works as a maid at a remote hotel located next to a lake. Everything seems hunky-goddammned-dory with the hotel’s owner, Enrico (Salvo Randone) and his daughter Irma (Valentina Cortese)…but it seems Tilda has pulled a David Copperfield and vanished. Having fuck-all to do, Bernard begins investigating the disappearance and ends up spiraling farther down a rabbit hole of perversion, insanity, and murder!
The Possessed, comprised of it’s heavily art house influenced style and dark and deadly themes definitely stands as a strong and stylish fore-runner of the beloved murder heavy giallo genre.  Directors Luigi Bazzoni, Franco Rossellini present the material with gobs of style and chiaroscuro visuals, but there are definitely moments where the concentration on aesthetics definitely hamper the clarity of the film’s storytelling (a problem also present in a number of giallo flicks as well in my not so humble opinion). This is definitely a fever-dream presentation, and over-all the film’s vibe far outweighs any negatives the narrative presentation may possess, ultimately ending up a satisfying watch.
Along with the feature film (presented in both Italian and English versions), Arrow Video has once again offered us a nice selection of beastly bonuses! First up is yet another scholarly and infinitely listenable audio commentary by writer and critic Tim Lucas that details not only the film’s production but it’s place in Italian genre cinema as well. Following that is a new appreciation of the film courtesy of cultural critic and academic Richard Dyer, interviews with the film’s Make-Up Artist Giannetto De Rossi, Assistant Art Director Dante Ferretti, and Actor/Director Francesco Barilli who was a close friend of Co-Director Luigi Bazzoni, and trailers for the film.
If you are a fan of the giallo genre, you owe it to yourself to slap your putrid peepers on The Possessed; it’s unconventional in style and storytelling and will give you an excellent base to see where your fav fright flicks got their DNA!


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