Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh (1971)

Sergio Martino is a name I have been hearing for years. His work is recommended by other horror fans who love his work and, having seen this movie and All The Colors Of The Dark, I can now honestly say that I know why he has so many fans.

This is a stylish giallo starring the gorgeous Edwige Fenech (who also, along with a few of the male cast members here, starred in "All The Colors...") as the Mrs. Wardh of the title. She used to like a bit of pain mixed with her sex (which explains her past relationship with the twisted Jean - played by Ivan Rassimov) but is now a happily married woman (her husband, Neil, is played by Alberto de Mendoza). By happily married I mean, of course, that Mrs. Wardh acts like a loving wife but isn't averse to having her head turned by the likes of hunky George (played by George Hilton). Her friend, Carol (Cristina Airoldi), positively encourages this potential dalliance. The fact that some maniac is killing women he views as whores definitely makes life difficult for anyone wanting to take an extra lover.

Have I mentioned recently how long I have held a candle for Edwige Fenech? How I could watch her in anything at all? Well, the big bonus is that the surrounding movie is usually pretty damn good when it's directed by Sergio Martino. And the lovely Edwige wasn't a shy starlet.

I'll grudgingly admit that the movie isn't a success thanks only to the presence of Miss Fenech. The rest of the cast are pretty good in their roles but it's the twisting plot (from the screenplay by Vittorio Caronia, Ernesto Gastaldi and Eduardo Manzanos Brochero) and top-notch direction that really makes this a superior giallo.

There may be more than a hint of free love and the fashions are decidedly of the era but this movie somehow still feels fresh and energetic as opposed to many other examples that have retained their entertainment value while also feeling a bit like a time capsule of the era. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the turn of events in the second half of the film and really appreciated the efforts made to intrigue and wrong-foot the viewer.

Definitely one to view if you're a fan of giallo, Sergio Martino and/or Edwige Fenech.


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