Sunday, June 7, 2015

Obsession: A Taste for Fear (Piccio Raffanini, 1988)

As I was noodling with what to write about in regard to Obsession: A Taste for Fear (a.k.a. Pathos - Segreta inquietudine), the bulk of the thought-based anomalies that began rattling around in my head involved statements pertaining to the aggressive manner in which this film depicts the 1980s. Realizing that I had already written a review like that (Valet Girls), I started to panic. However, just as I was about to give up and start writing about stockings and pantyhose, I remembered the sound Virginia Hey's car makes at around the twenty-seven minute mark. Whereas cars in 1980s roared pretty much the same way they have always done, Virginia Hey's car sounded different. Then it dawned on me. This isn't a hyper-stylized depiction of the 1980s, it's a hyper-stylized depiction of the future. While some might argue that Virginia Hey's car is merely a prototype (one of the perks of being a successful artist during the 1980s), the moment Lt. Arnold pulls out his gun and fires a shot at a fleeing vehicle was when I officially declared this film to be a futuristic science fiction cyberpunk giallo. The reason? It's simple, really, cops didn't carry ray-guns in 1980s. Another thing that clued me in to the film's futuristic setting was the fact that the characters watch bondage snuff porn on DVD.

Whatever time period the film is supposed to take place in, my mouth was literally agape during the course of this movie. Let's face it, when a movie starts with a scene that features a woman in sexy lingerie being tormented by a gun-toting woman in drag, agape gobs are par for the course. As for the scene itself, we quickly learn that the whole thing is being staged for the sake of art, specifically the art of Diane (Virginia Hey), a fashion photographer.

Remember the scene in Clueless where Cher uses a computer to pick out her outfit? Okay, combine that with one of the many scenes in Automatic where a character downloads an item from their desk, and you'll get Diane's closet. Simply type in the name of the clothes you want to wear (for example, dresses and shoes), and you'll be given various pictures of yourself wearing... dresses and shoes. When you have chosen the ensemble you want to wear, a mannequin comes bursting out of the closet wearing the very get-up you selected. As you might expect, when I saw this occur, the distance between my (mouth) lips was astronomical.

While I could sit here all day and list hundreds of scenes that caused my mouth hole to become a gaping maw of wide open wonder, I'm going to stop wasting everyone's time and simply declare Obsession: A Taste for Fear to be cinematic perfection.

In order to familiarize myself with the movies I write about, I usually watch them a second time. However, since most movies, even the so-called "great ones," don't hold up on the second viewing, I, more often than not, find myself hitting the fast-forward button just to move things along. Well, that temptation didn't happen once during this Piccio Raffanini-directed masterpiece.

Oh, and don't worry, you're not alone. I have no idea who Piccio Raffanini is either. It would seem that Obsession: A Taste for Fear is the only film Piccio Raffanini ever directed. And while it might show, I'm actually glad it does... show, that is. Unless your name is Jess Franco or Joe D'Amato, I don't think people should be allowed to make more than, oh, let's say, five movies. I was going to say one movie, but some people need a little practice before they get things right.

This, of course, does not apply Piccio Raffanini, who knocks it out of the park at his first at bat, as he  has made a film filled with style, fashion, synths, lingerie, Eva Grimaldi's pillowy bee-stung lips, female bodybuilders, retro-futurism, Kid Creole (sans his Coconuts), racial diversity, live-in lesbians, cheekbones, Japanese coroners and a two-hundred foot high building made entirely out of televisions.

Okay, I made up the one about the TV skyscraper. But if Georges (Gérard Darmon), professional bondage pornographer, had his way, he would totally build that. Of course, all the televisions would be screening his bondage porn on a loop.

Anyway, I know that's a lot to take in, but there's actually more.

Just for the record: When I say, "Japanese coroners," I don't mean coroners of Japanese decent. No, I'm talking about an actual coroner from Japan. I know, Japanese coroners from Japan are allowed to exist outside of Japan, but do they usually speak Japanese to people who clearly do not speak Japanese? Well, they do in this film's universe, thanks to the automated translator, a device that translates the Japanese coroner's words into English with a female robotic voice. Trust me, it's very cool, very Blade Runner.

As I was saying, this film has more to offer than the things I just listed. Did I mention that it's gay-friendly? Sure, I listed "live-in lesbians" as one of the things this film is filled with. But going beyond that, the film is rather blasé when it comes to sexuality. Every character is either bi-sexual or, at the very least, bi-curious. Well, everyone except Dario Parisini's Lt. Arnold, a cop who seems to be from another planet. In fact, he seems so out of place, I almost expected him to begin every sentence by saying, to quote Keyrock (Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer), "Your world frightens and confuses me."

Except, instead of being an unfrozen caveman lawyer, Lt. Arnold comes across as an unshaven cop living on the edge of an edge.

In case you're wondering, the reason Lt. Arnold is brought into this frightening and confusing world is because he has to solve the murder of a fashion model. And since the model was last seen by Virginia Hey, her assistants Paul (Carlo Mucari) and Valerie (Gioia Scola), who also acts as Diane's live-in lesbian, and Kim (Carin McDonald), the murdered model's live-in lesbian, they're all are considered suspects.

When it's discovered that the model's murder was filmed, Gérard Darmon's Georges (Diane's ex-husband) is added to the suspect list, as the film bares a striking resemblance to the style of bondage trash he's known for making.

As more of her models are murdered, Diane does what any sane woman would do, she masturbates in a black beret as two scantily clad dancers perform an interpretive dance routine set to Grace Jones' cover of The Pretenders' "Private Life." That's it! Right there. If the scene I just described sounds appealing to you, you will love this movie. If it doesn't, well, I'm afraid to say it, but you ain't hooked up right.

Make sure to stick around during the closing credits, as the photo montage that accompanies them pretty much encapsulates everything I believe in. Gorgeous.


  1. Teagan Clive is the blonde female bodybuilder

  2. Worth seeing even if the acting isn't so good. Very artsy and cool movie. Too bad it's not on DVD or Bluray.

    1. You can get it on dvd-r at under Slasher Flicks.