Arrow's FORBIDDEN PHOTOS OF A LADY ABOVE SUSPICION Review
Luciano Ercoli’s 1970 giallo, The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, finally makes its way to HD on January 15th via Arrow Video’s new 2K restoration, and I’ve been pretty excited about this release getting a makeover… especially since Arrow Video and Gialli is a winning combo like peanut butter & jelly... or J&B and black gloves! Ironically enough, this Ercoli jam is pre Argento’s Crystal Plumage influence dominated the genre both visually and thematically, it’s vacant of amateur male sleuths or murderous bloodshed… opting instead for psychological tension woven into the melodrama with increasing suspense increases via the cause and effect of a sex maniac... his devious sexual blackmail, forced hysteria, and paranoia inducing manipulation.
The official synopsis reads: Minou (Dagmar Lassander) leads a pampered but dull life with her frequently absent husband, Peter (Pier Paolo Capponi). One night, while out walking on the beachfront, Minou is accosted by a mysterious blackmailer (Simón Andreu) who informs her that Peter is a murderer. Driven by misplaced loyalty to her husband, Minou gives in to the blackmailer's every perverted whim in exchange for his silence. But as the blackmailer ups the ante, demanding that she submit to his increasingly obscene demands, can Minou hold on to what little remains of her sanity?
I’m a big fan of how this story unfolds—paced deliberately and utilizing tension and terror without overdoing each attribute, plus the genre staple heavy cast all do a great job, but special shout out to giallo goddess Nieves Navarro aka Susan Scott as Minou’s best friend, who steals the damn show here, folks, radiating charisma and overshadowing everyone she’s in a scene with. Also, can I get a ‘hell yeah’ for Simón Andue? I’ve never seen him turn in a performance I didn’t love...including here as the deviant sex maniac—going all in on kinked out depravity blackmail. As for the story, it’s penned by genre legend Ernesto Gastaldi (All the Colors of the Dark, Torso, Day of Anger, the list is endless) and despite some back ended plot twists it’s not super convoluted like many gialli tend to embrace.
It’s a solid euro thriller that more often than not seems to get written off as boring since it’s not the typical black gloved murderfest, but that’s not the case as far as I’m concerned, It’s safe to say that my opinion on this sexual hysteria gaslight jam has changed for the better, it’s a who’s who of genre heavys in front of and behind the camera—loaded with some excellent photography, top notch score, and.. well, Nieves f’n Navarro! Add in the underlying psychosexual tension, super solid direction from Ercoli, and the presentation of new Arrow disc definitely made for a reappraisal viewing on my end. Speaking of the disc, there’s another fantastic commentary from Kat Ellinger, interview footage with Navarro, Ercoli, and Gastaldi, and a featurette entitled The Forbidden Soundtrack of the Big Three, with soundtrack collector Lovely Jon digging deep into 70’s italio soundwaves, specifically detailing the working relations between Ennio Morricone, Alessandro Alessandroni, and Bruno Nicolai. Awesome stuff.
If you’re a giallo fan I’d recommend picking this up, especially knowing Arrow’s track record for genre pictures and the meticulous care put into each release. The disc looks great—colors definitely pop more and naturally Morricone’s excellent Bossa Nova tinged score ‘slaps hard’ as they kids say. As it should. The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion is available for preorder on Amazon and at DiabolikDVD.com, I can’t wait to see what Arrow does with The Fifth Cord next month!