Thursday, September 27, 2012

DVD Review: The Dark Side of Love (1985)


Fotografando Patrizia

Label: One 7 Movies
Duration: 91 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Region Code: 0 NTSC
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: Italian, English Dolby Digital Mono
Director: Salvatore Samperi
Cast: Monica Guerritore, Lorenzo Lena, Gianfranco Manfredi, Gilla Novak

Tagline: Incest is no longer a Sin!

 Patrizia hides a very dark secret - her brother Emilio is secretly in love with her. At first she just tries to play with him, confessing her love stories with other men, but fate has other plans for the doomed and incestuous would be lovers...

Film: Oh those Italians and their exploitation cinema, gotta love it and you gotta love One 7 Movies for unearthing these previously obscure nuggets of sexploitation and erotic cinema and making them available to the masses. This time out we have Salvatore Samperi's Fotografando Patrizia (1985) now re-titled The Dark Side of Love for the American DVD release. In it a young neurotic young man named Emilio (Lorenzo Lena) mother has passed on and his older sister Patricia (Monica Guerritore) returns home to care for her sheltered and socially awkward brother. It's an odd sibling dynamic to say the least. He chronically jerks it while he watches "art films" (read: porn) while conversating with his sister whom regularly parades topless through the house. More so she straddles him in bed while she excites him with stories of her sexual escapades, whoa, that's gotta be uncomfortable.... or is it. 

There's an uneasy sexual tension between the two that builds towards that most taboo of loves, the love that dares not be named - incest. Patricia lays upon her brothers lap (in only a bath towel, mind you) to console his sadness when she notices a throbbing erection in his pants, yeah, that's weird but what's even weirder is that she returns to her room and immediately rubs one out while little brother listens to hear spin a tale of sexual discovery, soon he's watching her masturbate and things just get stranger and more uncomfortable - for the viewer - these two don't seem to mind in the least, there's tons of nudity and weird sexual situations but the film just never takes the plunge into the deep end of the gene pool. It plays out as more of a lurid psychological thriller with a  lot of flesh. It's a weird one, you're watching this brother and sister fall in love, the sexual tension is thick enough to cut with a knife, they engage in mind-games and petty jealousies and push each other's boundaries. One such boundary pushing adventure has Emilio escorting Patricia to the cinema to observe her bring a complete stranger to his ultimate climax with an impromptu hand-job, a reenactment of a story she told him about being molested as a child.

The film offers no deep exploration on why these two have come to this odd place in their lives, perhaps a history of past sexual abuse (in her case we know this has happened), or maybe the two had incestuous encounters in their adolescence when they were developing their sexual identities... nothing is really offered as explanation and the film doesn't seem too concerned with the details either. Sadly, the film also doesn't seem too interested in giving me what I wanted, some lurid exploitation sleaze, the damn things is just way to slick and timid to ratchet up the sex and instead is quite pleased to settle on unsettling, erotic voyeurism. 

DVD: One 7 Movies presents the film in it's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen (16x9) and it's sourced from a very nice print with very little  print damage, the transfer is quite attractive. Very crisp - definitely one of the better On 7 Films releases I have seen. Colors are warm and vibrant, black levels are decent and helped in no small part is cinematography from Dante Spinotti whom would go onto lens Manhunter (1986) and L.A. Confidential (1997), it's gorgeous stuff that's well framed and definitely classes up a film that's about incest. Audio options include the original Italian language mono track and a dubbed-English track with no subtitle options which is a bummer since I prefer watching films in their native language but when all is said and done the dub is pretty great. When toggling back and forth from Italian to English it was evident that the dub was the more robust option. The dialogue is crisp and clean with only a few minor instances of distortion, Fred Bogusto's score is above average, too. There are no bonus features but the presentation is just fine. 

Verdict: This is definitely one of those moments when I will make it way too apparent that I am a pervert because this is a classic case of not enough sleaze to appease my inner perv. Truly, it's a gorgeous slice of exploitation cinema but it's much too subtle for my taste. 3 Outta 5