Director: Luciano Ercoli
Blue Underground

Never shown theatrically in the U.S. and never before available on home video here, THE FORBIDDEN PHOTOS OF A LADY ABOVE SUSPICION was to be part of a Blue Underground giallo box set which never came to be, but it’s being released on DVD simultaneously with three other similar films of the period. This was the first effort directed by producer Luciano Ercoli, and its themes of deviant characters tangled up in a web of intensified sexuality and sadistic violence, lead the way for his next two films: DEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS (1971) and DEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT (1972). Although those films can be regarded as bona fide gialli, FORBIDDEN PHOTOS is a slick tale of black mail that pretends to be one.

Glamorous catered housewife Minou (Dagmar Lassander) is approached by a peculiar man (Simon Andreu) on the moonlit beach as he knifes the fasteners off her dress and claims that her businessman husband Pierre (Pier Paolo Capponi) has committed murder. The stranger accuses Pierre, who is Heavily in dept, of killing an associate he owed money to, and with her hubby's voice evidenced on an audio cassette of the crime occuring, Minou is inclined to believe him. Blackmailing her in exchange for rough sexual favors, the stranger then possesses photographs of their interlude, and nobody believes Minou when she describes her ordeal and that she's being constantly tormented by him, even with the crank phone calls in the middle of the night, wet footprints near the sliding doors, and his presence frequently just outside the house. Did Minou’s husband really commit the murder and why won’t this depraved sadist just leave her alone?

With an extremely low body count and hardly any nudity or gore to speak of, FORBIDDEN PHOTOS is very restrained, despite the violent nature and kinkiness of the story. Dagmar Lassander’s (from Bava’s HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON) boozing and tranquilizer-popping repressed housewife belongs to a different decade, and the fact that she has a hard time getting everyone to believe her plight is an all too common plot device, evidenced here in Ernesto Gastaldi’s rushed script. There is a certain amount of suspense that’s more or less reserved for the climax, and some colorful, arty widescreen photography and a lively Italio pop score by Ennio Morricone (collaborating again with Bruno Nicolai) make this a passable thriller, but it hardly compares with the best gialli of the period. As Minou’s friend Dominique, Spanish-born siren Susan Scott (aka Nieves Navarro) plays a dubious nymph who’s more interesting than the heroine, and being the director’s wife, would strut her stuff as the star of his next two ventures. Simón Andreu (THE BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE), who is well cast as the detestable blackmailer, would go on to be Scott’s co-star in those two films.

Blue Underground presents FORBIDDEN PHOTOS in an anamorphic aspect ratio that preserves the film's original 2.35:1 Scope aspect ratio. As would be expected, the transfer looks wonderful, with truly bright colors which are nicely saturated, especially the deep reds and realistic skntones. The image is exceptionally sharp, and black levels are strong. Except for a few light lines scene briefly during the beginning of the film, there are no blemishes on the source material to speak of. The Dolby Digital mono track is in English, with the usual post-synced dialogue, and it sounds fine from a technical standpoint with the music blending well into the mix.

Extras include a 9-minute featurette entitled “Forbidden Screenplays” which contains an interview with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi. Gastaldi enthusiastically touches upon his early work for the likes of Mario Bava and Riccardo Freda, and then segways into how he was approached to quickly turn in a script for director Ercoli and producer Alberto Pugliese. Gastaldi also explains how he got around the censors via flashbacks in his story, and states he doesn’t know what happened to Ercoli (who apparently left the film business along with his wife after securing a large inheritance) or if he’s dead or alive! An original theatrical trailer (which emphasizes Susan Scott’s sensuality more than anything) is also included. (George R. Reis)