I'm on a Sergio Martino kick lately, and since I've recovered from watching Edwige and Rassimov ravage each other senseless in The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh for the 100th time (love that movie!), I decided to revisit another favorite by the director, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (Il tuo vizio è una stanza chiusa e solo io ne ho la chiave). Martino takes a cue from Edgar Allan's Poe's The Black Cat in this story of decadent deceit that revolves around the lustful and destructive Oliviero and his shrinking violet of a wife, Irina. This was Martino's fifth gialli and the film's pastoral surroundings set it apart from the chaos of city life that is prevalent in many of these titles. The villa setting is a lush backdrop for Martino's characters to play out their seductions and deceptions, while Bruno Nicolai's score lends an almost Victorian air to the dramas contained within.
From the moment we meet our host, we know that he's a genuine brute. His failures as a husband and writer are evident in the way he drowns his sorrows in drugs and drink, but he's cocky enough to continue to play the part of a success by masquerading his disgraces with merriment and vice. Oliviero surrounds himself with the young and beautiful, but spends his time waxing poetic about his deceased actress of a mother who looms over the household now in the form of a giant painting. Her grip on Oliviero is still strong and her spirit very much alive as is suggested by the presence of a black cat (appropriately named Satan), who seems to have the full run of the household and villa grounds.