Who is the black-gloved killer slashing and decapitating his way through the ugly Italian family spending the weekend at their crazy Aunt Martha’s house? Is it Thomas, the creepy caretaker? Or maybe it’s Thomas, the creepy caretaker. Then there’s always the chance that they’ll pull a fast one on us and have it turn out to be Thomas, the creepy caretaker.
The Murder Secret is the kind of movie where the killer is that obvious (especially since virtually everyone else in the cast has been slaughtered by the one hour mark), but The Murder Secret is also the kind of movie that tacks on one of those “so strange it makes no sense” type of endings favored by people whose idea of keeping the audience off balance is to have the little kid imitate the voice of the crazy aunt to scare his older and rather jumpy sister.
If you haven’t already been tipped off by the presence of a creepy caretaker, a homely family that alternately spends their time on vacation in and out of showers and getting beheaded, accompanied by an ending that makes no more sense than the rest of the movie, this is an Italian idiocy served up by Mario Bianchi by way of Lucio Fulci.
Richard and his family are driving to visit Richard’s aunt who is back in the country after an extended absence. After thirty years, Aunt Martha is finally coming back to Italy from South America.
And what pray tell has she been doing down there all those years? Managing her diamond mine? Writing award-winning poetry about the struggle of the gauchos? Staying locked up in an insane asylum?
Hmmm, Richard and I think a flashback might be in order. Way back when he was a fancy lad and wore short pants and knee high white socks, his mom took him to the local mental hospital where Martha was being held and banging her head against the wall.
Now, Richard’s mom isn’t a bad parent, so she obviously didn’t take him there until after Martha had been subdued and was being strapped to a gurney. But she isn’t the best parent either since she kills herself after they get back home!
Back in the present, Richard and family arrive and meet the creepy caretaker Thomas. Thomas helpfully informs them that Aunt Martha has been delayed and wont be able to make it in until the next morning, so go ahead and make yourself at home, just don’t try to go through the locked door into the basement.
Later that night, a mysterious man with a rifle starts stalking about on the property. He goes all through the house until he gets to the bedroom where Richard and his wife are sleeping. Richard has heard the noise though and is awake and is suddenly face to face with Charlie, his older son from his first marriage!
Charlie has made it a little later than everyone else and just like most of us would do when arriving late in the middle of the night, has prowled around with a firearm until he runs into someone he recognizes. He feebly explains to his dad that he wasn’t sure which room they were in which of course explains nothing.
Morning arrives (following a murderous night) and Richard’s daughter sets about taking a shower. The shower scene from Psycho is completely ripped off, but of course done infinitely worse. A shower scene just isn’t the same if the shower in question is one of those wimpy hand-held deals that barely spurts water out of it. Are you taking a shower or watering your marigolds?
Richard’s son fares no better, also the victim of a popular horror movie convention. Without giving too much away, it involves a chainsaw and the bratty little turd’s head!
Meanwhile, Richard discovers there’s no such thing as any creepy caretaker! He also finds a little impromptu graveyard and as he brushes back the dirt and leaves obscuring the gravestones, he is surprised to see the names of his family on them! And their date of death is today!
The funniest bit though is that he really freaks out when he sees his own name and death date! (“It was only mildly distressing to see my wife and three kids listed among the dead, but holy crap – I could be next! Yikes!”)
Back at the house, Richard confronts Aunt Martha about why she killed his family and then set their corpses around the kitchen table. She replies that she’s miffed that his mom sent her away so that she could have all of Martha’s money and that Richard didn’t do anything about it. But despite Martha’s confession, she has an alibi – she’s really rotting away in the basement!
For aficionados of fake severed heads only. This is just another one of these hyper-cheap Italian flicks that practically shriek “made for obscure Italian cable channel” and other than possibly maggot wrangling, I’m not real sure what Lucio Fulci had to do with anything other than give Mario pointers on how to shoot a really ugly movie that didn’t make a lick of sense. Selected yucky scenes were recycled into Fulci’s Cat in the Brain.
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