The Sister of Ursula (1978) DVD Review

sou1THE SISTER OF URSULA (1978)

Dir- Enzo Miloni

Starring- Barbara Magnolfi, Stefania D’Amario, Marc Porel, Vanni Materassi

The ever reliable sleaze and trash merchants, Shameless Entertainment, release Enzo Miloni’s THE SISTER OF URSULA, already adding strength to there ever growing roster of some of the most outrageous and explicit cinema around, and URSULA is no exception.

Utilising a beautiful Italian coastal resort as its main setting, the film follows two sisters, Ursula (Magnolfi – Suspiria) and Dagmar (D’Amario – Zombie) who have recently inherited some money from their father who has killed himself, and they are on the search for their estranged mother. As soon as they arrive in the resort Ursula, starts to act strange and for some reason has some kind of psychic power and predictions at doom to come. Naturally her predictions come true when a killer starts offing local women, promiscuous women that is, usually not long after they have had sex. In between this Dagmar meets Filippo (Porel), who Ursula does not trust and thinks is the killer, and who also might be hiding some secrets of himself.

sou3Naturally as this is a giallo, many of the characters are suspects, and it’s always a fun game of trying to guess who the killer is. Is it Filippo, who has a shady side to his charming character, or is it the charming hotel manager, Roberto (Materassi), who is not pleased with the murders driving away his business, but also behind his charm lies some secrets of his own, and even motives. All these characters keeps the audience guessing until the end as who the killer might be, but that eventually starts to come clear towards the climax and becomes pretty predictable. One thing that makes URSULA stand out is the killer looks like they are murdering their victims, with a gigantic phallus. As most of the killings are not shown and only the build up, we only get glimpses of the weapon (pardon the pun) and again the full killing device is only revealed in the final scene, adding more oomph to the films sleazy tone.

sou4Admittedly SISTER OF URSULA seems more like a soft-core porn giallo than anything else, and there’s distinct lack of the genres traditional plot progression on offer, with the central characters investigating the murders, tracking and finding clues and putting their own lives in danger, which lessens the films impact as it seems to be more focused on the sex scenes than anything else and Miloni does seem to deliver on this front. Decidedly more soft focus explicit than hardcore explicit, the director splices in scenes of straight couples sex, lesbian couples and even a scene of masturbation, with a gold necklace chain, that adds a sleazy edge to the proceedings and it’s no surprise to see why the Shameless gang have picked this up. These scenes are then punctuated by eventual murders, which as mentioned before are not shown, but only the bloody aftermath is displayed, leaving the audience to fill in the detail of the horrific crimes.

sou6This is a problem that the film has, in that its more obsessed with seeing copulating naked couples than delivering a solid thriller and in parts seems almost like a laid back mess, where as crimes are taking place and there’s a killer on the loose, but everyone seems to have their own agenda which includes a lot of shagging, and less focus on tracking down the killer and this makes the film drag in its 91 minutes and starts to make you drift away from what’s happening on screen, eventually waiting in anticipation for the final reveal. Though URSULA seems to belong to a brief period of Italian genre cinema where directors combined horror with eroticism, sometimes sexual explicit as in Joe D’Amato’s EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD and PORNO HOLOCAUST, films that came out in the late 70’s/early 80’s and were sold on this tantalising combination of horror and porn, and in many respects where critically derided for this combination.

sou7Acting wise, aside from occasionally disrobing their clothes most of the cast handle the film well, considering the clunky dialogue which they are given to perform and interestingly it seems to be like the actors are just as confused as the audience as to where this film is going. The two leads also look less pleased to be there, and again given pretty poor characters to contend with, particularly Magnolfi, who seems to have two acting styles for her character, one of manic outbursts and vitriolic outbursts.

While what has been said about it sounds negative, and yes it does drag in parts, URSULA somehow managed to keep me with it till the end. Its combination of soft core sex scenes with giallo murder mystery is flawed, very flawed indeed, and like Joe D’Amato’s output of sex horror films, the combination doesn’t work.

sou9Though far from being a terrible film, URSULA is not that great either, but in the end manages to be a somehow mildly entertaining, one off experience and will keep many grind house and sleaze fans entertained if anything for the scene with the gold chain necklace and for the killer’s reveal particularly with their phallic murder weapon. Oh and as it’s a giallo keep an eye out for the standard bottle of J & B whiskey.

5.5/10

Extras

* A SPECIAL HEARTFELT INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR ENZO MILIONI

*A UNIQUE ARTWORK BY GRAHAM HUMPHREYS

* THEATRICAL TRAILER

* SHAMELESS TRAILER GALLERY

The Sister of Ursula is available to buy now direct from Shameless Films here – http://www.shameless-films.com/shop/The-Sister-of-Ursula.html

James Pemberton

About James Pemberton

James has been a horror fan ever since he was 6 when he used to watch hammer horror films on late night tv. He is currently living and working in Manchester, occasionally gets work on helping out with short films and music videos, and in his other spare time like to go to heavy metal gigs, cinema and horror film festivals and has attended Frightfest in London 3 years in a row, as well as Frightfest Glasgow, and Grimm up North festival. He is planning on trying to get to either Fantasia in Montreal or Sitges in Spain, some point in his life!
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