Britain’s Shameless Screen Entertainment continue their tradition of releasing quirky, cult and classic genre cinema on DVD, with their latest selection being this late period giallo from director Enzo Milioni.
The Sister of Ursula stars Suspiria actress Barbara Magnolfi as Ursula, a young woman who is suffering from psychic visions and horribly vivid nightmares. Magnolfi’s character is staying temporarily at a beautiful seaside hotel with her sister Dagmar-played by fellow Italian genre actress Stefania D’Amario-as they search for their estranged mother, in order to share with her their recent inheritance.
Of course, this plot device takes a back seat to the real sleazy goings-on which are taking place behind closed doors at this hotel, as a savage killer is stalking and violently butchering sexually active young women on the hotel grounds. The Sister of Ursula holds a reputation as one of the sleazier and more depraved entries in the Italian giallo canon-alongside such similar examples as Giallo a Venezia, Play Motel and So Sweet, So Dead-and in this respect the film does deliver the exploitation goods, although there is quite a bit of “dead air,” as it were, with some awkward dialogue and pacing issues in between murder set pieces.
Indeed, Milioni himself has admitted as much to making this film primarily for commercial reasons-evidenced in the on camera interview with the director, included as an imported extra from the Severin DVD from a few years ago-as the giallo murder mystery genre was dying out at this point in 1978, with many other filmmakers choosing to inject certain “sellable” elements in order to prolong the inevitable. There’s a wealth of nudity, line-blurring softcore sex and fetishized murder sequences where the POV shots of the killer utilize a very…”unique” item as a murder weapon.
It must be said, however, that The Sister of Ursula isn’t as successful a film as its aforementioned sleaze counterparts, despite Magnolfi and D’Amario’s natural beauty, and the Suspiria actress has publically expressed disdain for the film, thanks to a number of foreign distributors adding hardcore inserts without her consent. Milioni’s direction isn’t terribly exciting, either, relying primarily upon the gorgeous locations and exploitative elements to sell the film.
Giallo completists are probably already aware of this relatively obscure flick via the Severin disc, but for those who have yet to experience what Shameless is advertising as “the proto porno giallo,” this region 2 PAL disc is a fine time waster…just keep your expectations low.
ORDER ‘THE SISTER OF URSULA’ DIRECT FROM SHAMELESS UK