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THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH (1971) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2010 by goregirl

I ended up watching The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh on the last day of Italian horror month and didn’t get a review done. Since a month had passed, I decided I should watch it again. Despite knowing how it ends I actually enjoyed this film even more the second time around. Edwige Fenech may be the greatest female star of Giallo ever! This has been my favourite entry from Sergio Martino so far. It has all the elements that make these films so appealing to me; sex, sleaze and violence and Fenech is the cherry on top!

The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh opens with a prostitute getting into a car and being slashed to death by an unknown assailant. We then meet Neil and Julie Wardh as they arrive at the airport after a business trip to the US. Neil goes off to do some business sending Julie home by cab on her own. The cab is stopped on route by a cop and the driver and Julie are asked to hand over identification. It is revealed that a serial killer has been terrorizing the area and another woman’s body has just been found. As the cab continues on to Julie’s destination she has a flashback that reveals what her titular strange vice is. Apparently Julie likes her sex rough and bloody. Although this excites her in the moment she is also completely repulsed by this dark side of herself. In order to put this past behind her she has married Neil Wardh but her ex-lover is still obsessed with her. When a third man, the cousin of a close friend shows interest, she can’t seem to help herself. Julie has problems! Julie Wardh is a woman conflicted. She has an air of self-importance but also a serious self-loathing. The sight of blood excites and repulses her and she completely falls apart, breaking down completely and fainting in men’s arms. I wondered often if things could possibly end well for Julie Wardh.

Unlike her role in Your Vice Is A Locked Room and Only I have the Key where Edwige Fenech plays a confident, cheeky little minx, in this one she is definitely the woman in peril. Unlike many of her peers playing the victim, she never strikes me as an air-headed ditz. As always she gives an intriguing and memorable performance. Fenech is the cat’s ass! She gets some pretty solid support too. Martino regulars Ivan Rassimov and George Hilton are two of the men in Julie’s life. Rassimov, the man of a thousand hair don’ts always brings a sleazy charm to his roles. He plays Jean, Julie’s ex-lover, fellow vicer and giver of roses with creepy notes. Hilton plays the new lover, handsome cousin of her best friend Carol. That Coppertone tan, sideburns and swaggering confidence screams of the decade! This is the first I can recall seeing of Conchita Airoldi who plays Carol. Airoldi plays Carol as a hideously bitchy socialite type with a rather glib sense of humour. Finally Alberto de Mendoza who plays Julie’s hubby Neil Wardh gets a bit overshadowed by the bigger personalities here. Mendoza is seemingly the older and wiser of the players but acts as a pretty good leveller.

This is a pretty meaty film for the very early 70’s. In the first 15 minutes we see a woman slashed with a razor, Fenech naked and slapped around until she’s bleeding from the mouth and two women ripping the dresses off of each other at a party. Missing in The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh is the dramatic drawn out classic chase and kill scene. The films serial killer makes pretty quick work of the ladies he slashes to death. Truth be told, the violence isn’t very graphic and certainly there are other Giallo that offer more in this regard. But what it might lack here it makes up for in so many other ways! There are almost as many red herrings as there are boobs and there is a twist ending, and then another twist and yet another! An unholy trinity of twists that was as satisfying as cold beer in a frosty glass on a sizzling hot day. There are absolutely amazing location shots in both Italy and Spain and kick ass sets and set pieces. The Wardh’s apartment with its spaceship doors and obnoxiously busy wallpaper is swingingly seventieslicous! Martino’s stylish filming and care for detail shines as bright as chrome. Amazing shots like Jean smashing a wine bottle that shatters and flies through the air onto Julie’s naked body; the two fucking as the broken fragments lacerate their flesh and blood trickles from their wounds is a thing of lavishly kinky beauty.

The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh is a perfect example of all the reasons I love Giallo and all things 1970’s. My highest of recommendations!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Sergio Martino

Starring: George Hilton, Edwige Fenech, Conchita Airoldi, Manuel Gil, Carlo Alighiero, Ivan Rassimov, Alberto de Mendoza, Bruno Corazzari

THE CASE OF THE SCORPIONS TAIL (1971) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by goregirl

I’ve mentioned many times on this blog how much I love the films of the 1970’s. That is why I am completely mystified as to how I could have overlooked the films of Sergio Martino. ‘The Case of The Scorpion’s Tail’ is the second Martino directed film I’ve reviewed during Italian horror month and is another outstanding example of the mans work.

Lisa Baumer wastes no time cashing in her husbands million-dollar insurance policy after he dies in a plane accident. Insurance agent Peter Lynch is sent to investigate the case. Bodies begin piling up and the million-dollar bootie goes missing. Ambitious reporter Cleo Dupont hooks up with Peter and together they try to solve the puzzle.

The film opens with a couple having sex; during which we are shown flashes of an airplane flying and then exploding in mid-air. I found it really entertaining that the first piece of the puzzle does double duty as a visual for an orgasm. The airplane shots were created using a model airplane on a string and that’s exactly what it looked like. It was so damn cheesy I couldn’t help but be charmed. ‘The Case of The Scorpions Tale’ has a deliciously convoluted plot full of red herrings, violence and numerous suspects with twists and turns that keep you guessing. You are well rewarded with a dramatic reveal and an excellent chase sequence. The chase really is superb but Martino cuts it short in a rather blunt manner. It’s a minor detail but I would have liked to see this scene extended. A great plot is complimented by stylish and inventive photography, fantastic set pieces, and beautiful outdoor scenery. It is all set to an excellent score from Bruno Nicolai. Topping it all off are top-notch performances from Martino regulars Anita Strindberg and George Hilton. The two actors have amazing chemistry together. The stunning strindberg is perfect as the intelligent and confident reporter Cleo Dupont. Hilton is excellent playing charming insurance man Peter Lynch.

There’s a decent body count, a bit of the red stuff and some beautifully staged kills. My favourite was a woman whose throat is cut as she is approaching a sliding glass door. The blood sprays all over the door, she falls forward and her face meets glass. Martino shows this from the other side of the door so we can see her face squished against the bloody glass surface contorting as it slides slowly down. This is accompanied by the squeaking sound you hear when you wash your windows. Great stuff! Although ‘Case of the Scorpion’s Tail’ certainly wouldn’t qualify as gory, its scenes of violence are very effective.

‘Case Of The Scorpion’s Tail’ is an amazing film with all the classic Giallo elements served up with flare and style by one of my new favourite masters of the genre. I’m thinking the Sergio Martino Collection might be a DVD box set worth owning. The NO SHAME dvd I rented had a nifty short documentary on the making of the film featuring director Sergio Martino, screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi and actor George Hilton, not to mention a flawless transfer of the film. Pure 70’s Giallo gold! Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Sergio Martino

Starring: George Hilton, Anita Strindberg, Alberto de Mendoza, Ida Galli, Janine Reynaud, Luigi Pistilli, Tom Felleghy, Luis Barboo