The Frightened Woman - Blu-ray review

James Whittington
Saturday, January 13, 2024

The Frightened Woman

Shameless Films

Certificate 18

Euro legend Dagmar Lassander (Hatchet for the Honeymoon, The House by The Cemetery) takes the screen by storm once more in this cult Euro movie from Piero Schivazappa, the surreal and engrossing thriller The Frightened Woman. By the way, this review includes some spoilers but let’s just say you need this in your collection!

Lassander plays Maria, a young journalist who works for Dr. Sayer (Philippe Leroy), the head of a philanthropic foundation with peculiar views on humanity's issues. When Maria is drugged and imprisoned by Dr. Sayer, she is subjected to increasingly sadistic acts by her captor, but she endures the horrors of her ordeal and unravels her boss's twisted beliefs and vulnerabilities. Using her intelligence and cunning, she shifts the power balance between them in a scintillatingly stylish game of cat and mouse.

Reconstructed by Shameless and fully approved by Schivazappa himself, this is a movie which defines the era with its surreal set-up, pop-art infused setting and envelope pushing set-pieces of dominance. Constantly blurring the narrative and twisting its main theme of female empowerment and control, the movie was way ahead of its time and the on-screen gender dynamics and eroticism push the story forward instead of being here just to exploit the often uncomfortable situation.

This is a very adult game of cat and mouse played out to a dramatic and deadly end, the shifting of power between the leads is at times uncomfortable until the final reel kicks in and you understand how “played” Dr Sayer has been. Talking if Dr Sayer, Leroy is perfectly cast as a damaged man determined to overcome his fear of intimacy with faked brutality and as his fragility begins to show through Lassander truly shines.

I have to point out the incredible score from Stelvio Cipriani which accompanies one of the most memorable and celebrated sequences from 60s cinema.

Restored from a 4K scan this transfer is solid, colourful and bold, never losing its sharpness no matter what the image is. It brings to life the 1960s style and architecture, almost making the sets an additional character. The sound too has been given a polish with the original Italian being the best way to view.

Though there are only two extras on the disc they are worthy of the price alone! Dagmar Lassander, here in a world exclusive interview, covers her career and this movie with detail and love. She is rightfully proud of it and deserves her own box set where she’s given the chance to boast about her work. The other interview is with director Schivazappa which is well worth investing your time with.

Shameless Films has done an incredible job with this movie, a film which takes important and challenging topics and gives them a much-needed airing. Highly recommended.