THE SISTER OF URSULA (1978):Reviewed by Bryan “SHU-IZMZ” Schuessler
In my mind, if a movie has nudity in the first five minutes, and is not a hardcore adult film, it can have great potential as a sexploitation film. In the case of director Enzo Milioni’s The Sister of Ursula, it didn’t. Oh, don’t get me wrong- the film had tons of full-frontal nudity and steamy sex scenes, but as for it playing out as a giallo and working, it fell fairly short.
The story goes like this: Ursula Beyne (Barbara Magnolfi, Suspiria) and her sister Dagmar (Stefania D’Amario, Zombie) go off on a holiday of sorts to this beautiful hotel with some gorgeous scenic views, but Dagmar’s sister, Ursula, is a sourpuss from the start, never enjoying everything and always defensive and guarded towards outsiders. I believe we have a term for that type of personality- it’s called being a stuck-up bitch! Anyways, we find out as the story progresses that both sisters lost their father early on in life and their step-mother shipped them off to boarding school once her career took off as an entertainer and she became famous, running off with some man she fell in love with.
While Ursula and Dagmar are staying at the hotel, they are warmly met by the owner and manager of the hotel, Roberto (Vanni Materassi) and his friends, one of which sings at the hotel’s club (Stella Shining played by Yvonne Harlow) and Filippo Andrei (Marc Porel, The Psychic). Of course Ursula despises these people, especially Filippo, and her sister Dagmar falls for Filippo. That makes for a rift between the two sisters and creates non-stop tensions and bickering.
Apparently, everyone in Italy sleeps naked, walks around naked, and is very comfortable with their bodies. At least, that is the impression I got from watching this movie. I wish that were the case in the United States. There is abundant nudity in this film, full of the most dense jungle bush that I have seen in some time and if one leaves the movie for five minutes it is a safe bet that they will have missed a nude scene in the film. The film really is only worth a watch for the nudity because it is very light on the gore and blood, minus one scene that is supposed to be death by evisceration. If one is truly eviscerated, I am sure it would have entailed there being far more blood, some guts hanging out and being an over-all anatomical mess-not so here.
The film tries to play itself off as a thriller or giallo, which it did, but just not a very good one. I felt that the plot of the film was sort of interesting, but did not create enough suspense or intrigue to keep me going the whole film. I would much rather have been watching an Argento or Fulci giallo, which always have phenomenal soundtracks and music that created great suspense and atmosphere. I believe that if Milioni had a better score for the film, I would have enjoyed it much more. In fact, if the murder scenes were a bit longer, more graphic, and the film focused on them more, I really would have enjoyed it more.
This film did have excellent cinematography and wonderfully shot panoramic views of the countryside and landscape. Cinematography alone is never going to win me over in a film, especially one that i supposed to have murder, mystery, and suspense. The film transfer is, again, immaculate and well done. Severin Films put out another wonderful edition of a film in its uncut and uncensored form, but I just wished I had enjoyed the film more.
The special features portion contains an interview with director Enzo Milioni is interesting, and goes into the background of him as a director and how the film came to be. It runs about 30 minutes in duration. There is a theatrical trailer of the film included as well.