Wednesday, October 19, 2011

La sorella di Ursula (1978)

... aka: Curse of Ursula
... aka: Sister of Ursula, The

Directed by:
Enzo Milioni

Dagmar (Stefania D'Amario) and her extremely fucked-up younger sister Ursula (Barbara Magnolfi) have just inherited a ton of money and decide to take a holiday at a resort hotel in Italy. While Dagmar plans for a nice, peaceful stay in the picturesque town, and possibly even a little romance while they're there, Ursula behaves like a miserable, hateful bitch the entire time and constantly complains about wanting to leave, claiming that "Terrible things are going to happen!" And she would be correct, as a sadistic serial killer starts running amuck killing nude women in a very perverse way. But we'll get to that here in a second. First, a little history on our sibling protagonists. Their mother was a famous actress who put them in a boarding school when they were little girls and never saw them again. Their father was a musician who commited suicide. Both girls inherited a lot of money, and Ursula ended up inheriting much more, like some serious mental problems. She's also cursed with ESP abilities, which makes it difficult for her to interact with anyone because she always knows their true intentions ahead of time... and with the crew she encounters at this hotel, that's definitely not a good thing. Either way, Ursula is picking up some bad vibes and barely wants to leave her bed.

Hotel owner / drug trafficker Roberto Delleri (Vanni Materassi) is having an affair on his wife Vanessa (Anna Zinneman) with cabaret singer Stella Shining (Yvonne Harlow), who in turn is having an affair with heroin junkie Filippo Andrei (Marc Porel). Both Roberto and Filippo seem interested in Dagmar, while Vanessa demands a divorce (and her share of the profitable hotel) from her husband because she's also been unfaithful and has fallen in love with Jenny (Antinisca Nemour). Stella tries to call off her affair with Filippo, but he starts stalking her. All the while, Ursula carries on hysterically about various things (including thinking her father is still alive) and the mystery killer continues their rampage; first killing a few extras (including a prostitute and a pair of horny runaway teenagers) before moving on to our principal characters. So what technique does the killer use in dispatching victims? Well, by raping them to death with a giant wooden dildo! Hey, I already told you it was perverted.

If nothing else, this silly film delivers big time on the sleaze. It's filled with graphic sex scenes (which actually cross into hardcore territory on at least one occasion), full frontal nudity from both genders and lots of bloody, below-the-belt aftermath shots of what the killer has done to his / her victims. It also benefits from being shot in Amalfi, Italy, an incredibly beautiful location with lots of large homes dotted along the cliffsides and sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The cinematography and art direction are both good, and they even through in a couple of cabaret numbers for good measure. So while this may not be a great film, or even a good one, it provides the trashy goods for fans of this stuff, plus has the production values to back it all up.

It's also interesting to see two actresses who were usually lost in minor roles in popular Euro horror flicks getting to play major parts here. Magnolfi's best-known part was playing Jessica Harper's bitchy roommate Olga in Argento's SUSPIRIA (1977). There she had just a couple of scenes, but in this one she gets to emote a lot and is the only female in the cast without a major nude scene. D'Amario is probably best known for playing zombie fodder in Fulci's ZOMBI 2 (1979) and Lenzi's NIGHTMARE CITY (1980). She had little to do in those films but die, but here she's really the primary focus. She also picks up Magnolfi's slack by appearing fully nude no no less than four times (including a solo scene pleasuring herself with a gold necklace). Porel, who had also acted for Fulci (1977's THE PSYCHIC) and starred in Mario Bava's final film THE VENUS OF ILLE (1978), doesn't make much of an impression in this one, plus the big revelation of his character doesn't really make sense.

Never released to American theaters or on VHS (though IMDb lists this as having gotten an X rating), this finally received a DVD release in 2009 through Severin.


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