• Obsessions

    Released by: Cult Epics
    Released on: May 30th, 2017.
    Director: Pim de la Parra
    Cast: Alexandra Stewart, Dieter Geissler, Vibeke Lokkebert, Fons Rademakers
    Year: 1969
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    The Movie:

    Nils Janssen (Dieter Geissler, who also served as the film’s co-producer) is a young man enrolled in medical school who becomes distracted from his studies when he discovers a peephole in the wall of his apartment hidden behind a Van Gogh painting. When he looks through the peephole, he sees the man who lives in the apartment next door to him indulging his dark carnal cravings with a string of women. At first it looks like these women are being tortured but as he watches and his voyeuristic tendencies become harder to resist, it becomes clear that they inevitably seem to wind up in his bed before then disappearing.

    Raised on classic thrillers and action films, Nils then takes it upon himself to investigate things. He breaks into the apartment where he finds one of the man’s victims tied to a pipe in the bathroom completely nude. Before he can do anything about it, he loses his courage and flees. When he checks back in, the girl is gone. He confides in his girlfriend Marina (Alexandra Stewart) about what he’s seen and what he’s done and soon enough, she’s in on it with him. The deeper they get involved with this mystery, the more dangerous things get and once Marina changes her mind and tries to put a stop to it, for Nils it might already be too late.

    Clearly inspired by the films of Alfred Hitchcock (there are not only thematic similarities to his work but visual nods to the master of suspense littered throughout the film) it’s surprisingly how unknown this Dutch-German co-production from 1969 is given that it was co-written by a young Martin Scorsese and scored by none other than Bernard Herrmann. This is stronger stuff than anything Hitchcock put his name on, however, as the picture has a fairly sleazy side to it what with all the nudity and the treatment of the female victims unfortunate enough to be involved with what’s happening on the other side of that peephole. Regardless, this is a very well made picture with some excellent cinematography that takes full advantage of the locations used for the shoot and that frames certain scenes in such a way as to effectively make the viewer complacent in the voyeurism. If not an unexpected tactic, this nevertheless puts us in the picture ourselves and it succeeds in helping to hold our attention throughout the picture.

    While this was made on a modest budget it never seems to matter to much to what’s up there on the screen. Pim de la Parra and company do a fine job of focusing less on flashy set pieces than on what the locations and cast can bring to the picture. The performances from both Geissler and Stewart are excellent and never over the top nor underplayed. The fit the tone of the story well and the script is smart enough to ensure that we understand their motivations and their subsequent actions. The film also scores points for ending on a particularly strong note with an ending that most viewers certainly won’t see coming.


    Obsessions debuts on home video for the first time in North America via Cult Epics on a 25GB Blu-ray disc that houses an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed in a 1.33.1 fullframe aspect ratio that would seem to present the film with its intended framing intact. Taken from 35mm elements the transfer offers good detail and texture but the colors are sort of drab and flat looking. It’s hard to say if this is an issue with the elements or if the movie has always been intended to look this way. Regardless, if the transfer isn’t going to floor you it generally does look quite good. Close up shots benefit the most from the HD picture quality but even medium and long distance shots can impressive. Any print damage that shows up here is minor and there are no noticeable compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction issues to note.

    The only audio option for the feature is an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track is decent enough. Dialogue is clean and clear and there are no issues with balance, audible hiss or distortion. Ideally a lossless track would have been included here but that didn’t happen. There are no alternate language or subtitle options provided.

    The extras include separate introductions to the feature by director Pim de La Parra and actor/producer Dieter Geissler that are interesting enough to watch once. More interesting is an interview Pim de La Parra in which he talks about he came to work with Martin Scorsese on the script, getting Bernard Herrmann to score the picture, the film’s tight shooting schedule, casting the picture and working with the actors and more. Up next is an interview with Dieter Geissler that runs twenty-three minutes in length. In this piece the actor talks about how he got into the business, some of his early roles and how they led him towards being cast as the lead in Obsessions, his thoughts on working with de la Parra on the film, the locations that were used for the shoot and of course, the Scorsese/Herrmann connection.

    Cult Epics has also included a text interview with Martin Scorsese originally done for Volkskrant in 2017 in which the famous director discusses his involvement in the picture. Also on hand is a five minute excerpt from a 2010 documentary called Parradox that quickly tells the story of Scorpio Films and how they came to be quite a big player in the Dutch film industry in their day. De la Parra and Geissler appear here, as does Paul Verhoven.

    Rounding out the extras are an original Dutch theatrical trailer, some script notes by Martin Scorsese, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release the Blu-ray sized keepcase also includes a DVD version of the movie containing the same extras found on the Blu-ray disc.

    The Final Word:

    Obsessions might wear its Hitchcock influence on its sleeve but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining or engaging. This is slick, tense and really well made with some fantastic cinematography and solid acting across the board. Cult Epics has done a nice job bringing this one to home video in North America for the first time giving the film a decent presentation and including a nice selection of supplements that document the film’s history.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. agent999's Avatar
      agent999 -
      I have the German disc of this. Enjoyable, even if it doesn't make any bloody sense whatsoever. Fun to see the guy who played 'mother' in Daughters of Darkness popping up in it.