The Plot: Ursula Beyne and her sister Dagmar are two Austrian women on a trip through Italy to find their mother who abandoned them as children, so that they can give her news of their father’s recent passing. Ursula has really taken the news of her father’s passing to heart and is reeling from the loss. So much that she has even developed slight psychic intuition. The two sisters wind up at an incredibly fancy hotel that is run by a man named Roberto Delleri, who is in the process of his own internal power dispute with his wife. Once there, they take in a showing of Stella Shining who is a beautiful singer within the lounge area of the hotel. Stella is in a relationship of sorts with Filippo Andrei, a young and troubled man who is addicted to heroin. At the same time that we meet these characters, a psychopath tracks down a prostitute and then pays her to have sex with a young man while he hides behind a curtain and watches. After the couple finish and the young woman sends the man on his way (as he had no idea anyone was watching), the psycho murders the young woman with a phallic-like object. This however is only the start of his rampage, who will be next and who could possibly stop this murdering beast?

The Review
As with so many Giallo films (Italian thrillers that were the precursor to the slasher film; the direct translation means “yellow” which is taken from yellow pulp paperbacks that many of these films were based upon) I tend to watch, I walked into The Sisters of Ursula with no previous knowledge whatsoever. There were three things that ultimately sealed the deal for me: cover artwork looked interesting, it is a Giallo and it has been released by Severin Films… what more does one need? Those elements alone were enough to grab my interest, but unfortunately they do not add up to a tremendous piece of work over all. After watching I decided to look into what others had said about the movie, and while I did find some valid criticism I also found a great deal of hyperbole being thrown around. I suppose I should refrain from insulting writers for hyperbole, as I am usually the king of exaggeration, but I actually think there is a really solid thriller somewhere down in the base of The Sister of Ursula. It is just unfortunate that it is never unleashed upon the world.

Directed by Enzo Milioni, a director I had never heard of, and featuring a cast of actors I was not entirely familiar with (not by face and certainly not by name, but some have had parts in far bigger films), this one was definitely going to turn out a unique experience. I had rather low hopes going into it after reading that the cinematography was going to be weak, and I forget where I read that, but as soon as the film opened up I knew that wasn’t going to be the case. Featuring a lot of really beautiful scenery shot in very interesting ways, The Sister of Ursula is far from the dry and visually plain piece of cinema I had been lead to believe it was. The visual presence of the film is quite dominant and impressive at nearly every turn in the 90 minute run-time. Rome always has a lovely look to it in the hands of a capable crew, but the mountain landscapes that are showcased in the opening moments here are almost impossible in their beauty. Although you could make a case and argue that the natural beauty is really more of a factor for this than anything done by the crew, there are a lot of really interesting angles and camera set-ups throughout that prove that the filmmakers knew what they were doing.

As for the content of the movie and not just the process of making things appear beautiful… I’ll just say that sexy Gialli usually are not what I am looking for when I go digging up a Giallo. These movies more often than not seem to serve their purpose as a means of titillation rather than straight-laced entertainment. Unfortunately, that is precisely the case with The Sister of Ursula and despite it having a massive amount of really nice qualities going on within it, for the most part everything gets bogged down in the sexuality. The sex here is exploitative and not usually that attractive, to be honest. Sure, the women look beautiful, but the artistry simply isn’t there to make it work in the context of the movie. So instead we’re left with seemingly endless love scenes that are as graphic as they come and stick out like a sore thumb.

Within minutes of starting the movie we watch as Dagmar undresses until she is completely nude while a very funky porn groove plays over the soundtrack. If you didn’t know what you were in for up until this point, you can pick up on things very quickly! Going back to the sex itself, the actual logistics of the sex are as goofy as any late night cable softcore romp you are going to find with the only real difference being how far these filmmakers are willing to take it. We have a fairly graphic scene of fellatio that goes just maybe half of an inch from showing full on penetration. There is another scene of cunnilingus that takes the softcore label to its very limits. The final scene of graphic sexuality would probably be the masturbation sequence featuring Dagmar rubbing herself down with a golden necklace. Very bizarre and in your face, this movie is bold in its approach to grabbing a audience.

I have went this far into the review and I haven’t even mentioned our killer’s weapon of choice, have I? It is certainly a change of pace for most Giallo films, that is for sure. You see, our killer only goes after very naughty girls who are in the process of having sexual relations or have just finished a session. That in itself isn’t the surprising part mind you, it is just that the killer doesn’t use a straight razor for these special girls. Instead he uses… well, there’s no easy way to put this, but he uses a dildo. Since genital mutilation was apparently all the craze within the Giallo genre (The Killer Has Returned, Torso), the filmmakers didn’t want to lose out on a growing market I am sure! Some of the most unintentionally hilarious moments pop up when we see a silhouette shadow on the wall of our killer and his phallic symbol slowly rising to the occasion. This is where the movie goes into ridiculous territory and actually makes a name for itself. Honestly, how many movies have the nerve to do this straight faced?

The Conclusion
The Sister of Ursula has some good qualities going for it, there is no question. It is a beautiful looking picture, the killer is memorable to say the least and the writing is actually clever (unfortunately there is no English dub though). These aspects don’t really overshadow the pacing issues due to the boring sex scenes or the incredibly convoluted plot that really takes a sharp mind to keep track of. Convoluted plots are the norm within the Giallo, to be sure, but The Sister of Ursula is on a plain all to itself. Generally, I like the movie but I have a lot of reservations. If you’ve ever been curious what Hanzo the Razor might be like if it were set in a Giallo, definitely pick this one up! I give it a three out of five.

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