Saturday, October 28, 2023

Ten Days of Terror!: Your Vice is a Locked Room, and Only I Have the Key

Film: Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (Il Tuo Vizio e una Stanza Chiusa e Solo Io ne ho la Chiave)
Format: Streaming video from Amazon Prime on Fire!

Giallo films often have ridiculous names, and none is more ridiculous than Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (or Il tuo vizio e una stanza chiusa e solo io ne ho la chiave in the original Italian). It’s a wildly entertaining title, but also a ridiculous one, if just for the length of it. There’s a 200-character limit for tags on this website, and this comes close to maxing us out. For my own sanity, I’m going to call this Your Vice from this point forward.

I have complained about Italian horror films in the past, convinced as I am that a number of them are created by the director envisioning a particular scene or two and then cobbling the rest of the movie around them, not worrying about whether or not there is an actual coherent story. Plenty of these films are influential in various ways. Many of them have great moments—those scenes envisioned by the directors—but are otherwise difficult to follow.

Your Vice uses the Edgar Allen Poe story “The Black Cat” as its basic starting point and adds as much sex as possible to that without going for straight-up porn. We’re going to begin with Oliviero (Luigi Pistilli), a failed writer and alcoholic whose main pleasure in life seems to be the sadistic humiliation kink he has, shaming his wife at the parties he holds. His wife, Irina (Anita Strindberg) deals with this as best she can. When Oliviero’s mistress Fausta (Daniela Giordano) is found murdered, Oliviero is a key suspect, and he forces Irina to cover for him.

Shortly thereafter, their maid Brenda (Angela La Vorgna) is murdered, and once again, Oliviero forces Irina to cover up the crime. The body is buried in the cellar, but Oliviero refuses to part with the dress she was wearing, since it belonged to his mother. We’re also going to be subjected to the frequent presence of Satan, Oliviero’s cat. Irina hates the cat, and this is going to be a theme throughout the movie.

Eventually, Oliviero’s niece Floriana (Edwige Fenech) arrives and immediate starts having sex with everyone in the house including Irina, and her own uncle. It’s decidedly unsavory. Anyway, the bodies start to pile up and eventually we’re going to get to a place where the killer/killers is/are revealed. And a substantial part of the third act is going to be Irina trying to do away with Satan the cat.

The truth is that there’s a lot here that is really unpleasant, not the least of which is the incestuous Oliviero/Floriana relationship. There is an actual plot here, though, but it takes a long time to get there. A lot of what happens here feels like a series of unconnected events involving the same people. The murders, for instance, are supposed to feel like they are connected, but they genuinely don’t. They feel like things that just happen around the same people.

And, one of the biggest issues is that these people are substantially stupid. Oliviero clearly wants to humiliate and kill his wife. He even writes down his plan to kill her and wall her up in the basement next to the dead maid and admits this to Floriana. Irina clearly has motive to kill Oliviera, and should he die or vanish, she’d be the clear suspect. And so, the two of them try to kill each other, or threaten each other, for the bulk of the film. It’s so stupidly predictable, because these people act like they’ve never considered the existence of the police before. Moreover, it feels like the screenwriters had no experience with writing films, watching films, or basic narrative structure. It’s also worth noting that Brenda the maid is Black, and there’s a lot of racism regarding her throughout the film, even after she’s killed.

You want to know what this has going for it? Nudity. If you watch movies like this one in the hopes of some skin, you’re going to get some, and frequently this is going to be Edwige Fenech. If that’s your thing, there are a couple of minutes of film worth seeing. Other than that, the presence of a cat named Satan is pretty great.

I found this genuinely unpleasant, and I’m happy I won’t have to watch it again.

Why to watch Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key: There’s a cat named Satan.
Why not to watch: Some of the Italian sexy times are just nasty.


  1. OK, I might see this just for the boobies. I just watched an Italian anthology film thinking it was going to be a horror but it ended up being a comedy though there were some good stuff by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Vittorio de Sica with the latter having his short star Clint Eastwood in this strange rom-com short as it was weird seeing Clint being a cuckold. It was called The Witches starring Silvana Mangana. I'll have a review posted tomorrow.

    1. Italian horror just doesn't really work for me. I keep trying and it just never feels coherent.