Luto riguroso (1977)

Sadly, the most I can track down of this 1977 José Ramón Larraz directed and written movie are ten video clips online, but as several of Larraz’s hard to find movies have been showing up, I look forward to someday seeing a full version of this.

With a title that translates as Deep Mourning, this finds another of the obsessions of Larraz beyond mysterious homes in the London countryside filled with impossibly gorgeous and yet murderous women. Luto riguroso takes place in one of the small provinces of Spain and begins with the death of the father of a large family, leaving behind his wife and their daughters.

As the funeral begins, his wife has a nervous breakdown and finally says what she’s always wanted to: he’s made a horrible life for her and never treated her as if her opinion had any weight. This causes her to battle with Piedad de Ella, a daughter closest to the father, who may be way too close to her in temperament for them to ever get along. In fact, Piedad is the one who took care of the father in his final years and now sees no reason to keep on living without him in her life. In effect, she has been more of a wife than her own mother, and now lives in the cemetery.

Meanwhile, the other daughters — Asunción is an alcoholic, Loli is an innocent attracted to a hermit who lives outside of town and the oldest, Tina, is a sophisticated city woman — all come back together for the reading of the will, which goes about as well as you’d imagine.

The father may have arranged in his will that the land he owned will go to his wife and the house itself will be divided among the four sisters, but as Tina and Asunción want to sell the home, Piedad refuses to give up the security of the only home she has ever known.

Loli retreats to the embrace of the hermit and becomes pregnant with his child, as the shepherds that work the hills take special interest in her and if you know the work of Larraz, that can’t be good. Add in the fact that Tina’s boyfriend Mario has an eye for another sister and this house of repressed anger is about to explode.

Also known as Widow of Daytime, Lover at Night and Vedova di giorno amante di notte (Widow by DayLover by Night), this is a different film than Larraz usually made, which either had sex, Satan or some combination of both, but always violence and dread. From the forty minutes of so of clips I’ve seen, it feels like his most adult movie — and I don’t mean in a pornographic sense — and I’d love to see more.

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