Believe it or not, a film co-written by Martin Scorsese with music from Bernard Herrmann (Hitchcock’s main composer, De Palma used him too) went unreleased in the U.S. until now. The film, Obsessions, was released in 1969 and is considered the first Dutch horror film and was the first Dutch film sold in numerous territories outside of the Netherlands. It’s landmark film, one that helped to establish the presence of Dutch cinema in the international lexicon. It could be said that without this film, we wouldn’t have the wonderful films of Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Total Recall, Starship Troopers among others) among other Dutch film makers if Obsessions hadn’t made such a splash. There is no question of the importance of Obsessions in the Dutch film industry, but what’s it about, and is it any good?
Obsessions is about a young man whom is soon to become a doctor. He lives in a studio apartment and has many sexy lady friends. He also has a hole drilled in his wall that allows him to peep on his neighbor next door. Curious one day he watches his neighbor have sex with a woman but then things get rough and she becomes unconscious. The woman then vanishes and our doctor snoop becomes intrigued. He sneaks into the apartment and discovers the woman in the bathroom in a pool of drug spiked water. Hurriedly escaping, he becomes obsessed with the goings on in the apartment next door and gets involved in a situation outside of his comprehension. He’s joined by a lady-friend who works at a newspaper working on the disappearance of a woman and the murder of a man. She begins to suspect that there may be connection between the neighbor and her investigation and together they get embroiled in a strange and dangerous affair.
It’s hard to talk about Obsessions without point out the obvious: this movie reeks of Hitchcock. The score was made by Hitchcock’s maestro and the score sounds like something Hitchcock would have used. The story itself is too lurid and vague for Hitchcock’s razor sharp films but it still lives in the general universe created by Hitchcock. It’s a universe that De Palma would explore throughout his early career in a similarly vague fashion. With that out of the way, I can say that I did enjoy Obsessions. It’s plot was intriguing and characters, while not 3 dimensional, lived unique lifestyles that fascinated me. Aside from the mystery element and the score, the film is also Hitchcockian in its tight runt ime, with little time wasted on anything outside of the main thrust of the movie. The film’s plot starts from the very beginning of the film and thankfully we don’t get bogged down in melodrama between the characters, instead the lead of the film remains steadfast in his curiosity, in fact when extraneous elements enter the film, he’s pointedly distracted by his obsession with his neighbor. I don’t want to give the film away, but I will say the ending is rather shocking and the movie had me engaged throughout its run time.
It’s a cinema miracle that this film can be released at all after many thought it was lost forever. Thankfully it’s been lovingly restored by Cult Epics with a sharp picture and clear audio. The Blu ray comes with some great special features including interviews with the director, actors, the original script notes from Martin Scorcese as well as a transcript of an interview with him about the film.
I really enjoyed Obsessions. It’s sleazy in places though not overly so, intriguing, unique and compelling. The special features are fantastic and the presentation of the film is rock solid. If you enjoy 60’s cinema, Eurohorror, crime, mystery, Hitchcock, or cinema obscurities, this one will be right up your alley.