The Sister Of Ursula

The Sister Of Ursula (Enzo Milioni, 1978)

Enzo Milioni’s first film as a Director sees Barbara Magnolfi as Ursula, who along with her sister, Dagmar, checks into a beautiful hotel on the coast of sunny Italy. The two girls have barely finished unpacking their suitcases when other guests begin to be murdered by an unseen assailant wearing black leather gloves. Ursula, being a touch neurotic due to the trauma of her father’s recent death, has a bad feeling about the hotel and some of the guests, especially the shady Fillipo (Marc Porel), drug addict boyfriend of the hotels resident cabaret star Stella Shining (Yvonne Harlow). Stella is also the world’s worst cabaret singer; she can’t even mime to her backing tapes competently. I’m not lying when I say that her lips barely move as she performs her act. It’s pitiful. But it’s also very funny.

The story on the whole is very thin on the ground; it’s the basic killer on the loose premise with the killer using the usual sex equals death motive for picking out the victims. Accompanied by the requisite 70’s style porn film music, the sex scenes are dropped into the film at regular intervals, each one followed by a murder. So at least you know what to expect. Sex is followed by death, which in this case is dealt out via a huge phallic ornament and you can work out for yourselves how it’s used on the victims(!)

Competently made, with some fantastic locations, ‘La Sorella di Ursula’ features some terribly lazy work from Marc Porel. Looking like he really can’t be bothered most of the time; the fact that his character is a hopeless junkie seems to eerily mirror his own predicament at that time. In fact out of all the cast it is only Magnolfi who looks like she’s taking her role seriously, turning in a solid performance.

Severin has done a great job bringing this film to DVD, finding the best vault elements available and transferring them to disc in a sharp, colourful, anamorphic widescreen transfer. There’s minor traces of damage to the print in the shape of light scratches here and there but this in no way detracts from the sleazy fun to be had from watching it. Audio is provided in the form of the original Italian language track, with optional English subtitles. Extra features consist of a 30 minute interview with Director Enzo Milioni and the theatrical trailer; fans of naked ladies will be pleased to know that almost every female character in the film disrobes at some point, something the amazingly exploitative trailer shows off with gay abandon.

All bases are covered in the interview featurette with the Director offering up plenty of information on how he managed to stop Marc Porel’s drug habit ruining the shoot – he gave the actor instructions to request two day breaks any time he needed to ‘get his head together’ – how the hotel used for filming was actually under construction at the time of the shoot and how it never actually opened once finished. Milioni comes across as a decent enough guy and has nothing but good things to say about the actors and actresses involved in the film especially Porel and Magnolfi who he considered good friends after filming completed, when he discusses the events leading up to Porel’s death and Barbara’s subsequent disappearance from the movie world he genuinely looks saddened by the whole affair.

‘La sorella di Ursula’ is definitely in the category of ‘so bad it’s good’, terrible lip synching by Stella Shining, borderline hardcore sex scenes with atrocious music and a black glove-clad killer with a terrifying huge wooden dildo. It’s late 70’s sleazy gialli at its best… or possibly worst depending on your taste in movies.

(Jonny Redman)