THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH
Directed by Sergio Martino
Written by Vittorio Caronia, Ernesto Gastaldi & Eduardo Manzanos Brochero
Produced by Luciano Martino & Antonio Crescenzi
Cinematography by Miguel Fernández Mila & Emilio Foriscot
Music by Nora Orlandi
Cast: Edwige Fenech, George Hilton, Ivan Rassimov, Alberto de Martino & Cristina Airoldi
1971/94 mins./Color/5.1 Dolby Digital
2.35:1 anamorphic/Italian/English/US/NTSC Region 1
Review from the NoShame Films DVD
THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH. That title alone should alert the more astute readers that its time once again for everyone's favorite black gloved wearing assassin to assault your senses with more madness and mayhem from the shadow engulfed world of the giallo! Once again, we'll be taking a look at a film from Sergio Martino, which has been long overdue for a proper DVD release. Will THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH stand up to the many other films that have turned this once mild mannered individual into the slick, calculating killer that he has become?
Julie Wardh (Fenech) has recently gotten married and moved to Vienna to try to escape from her past and her sadistic relationship with Jean (Rassimov); however, she is unsatisfied with her new workaholic husband who seems more into the stock market than her. To make things worse, there is a killer on the loose in the city who is slicing up young women. To try to keep herself busy, Julie attends a party with her best friend Carol (Cristina Airoldi) who introduces Julie to her cousin George (George Hilton). Its obvious that George takes a liking to Julie but she soon notices that Jean has also arrived for the festivities. Julie quickly departs the scene leaving George somewhat puzzled. Outside in the street she meets Jean again, but luckily her husband is there to tell Jean to beat it. The next day George gets in touch with Julie again and tries to use his suave, confident mannerisms to who work his way into her life regardless of the fact that she's married. In the mean time, Julie keeps getting bouquets of flowers with notes referring to her brutal past (presumably from Jean).
One night, Julie receives a call from someone stating that he has pictures of her cheating on her husband with George and that he wants a large sum of money to keep quiet about it. He demands to meet her in a secluded park to exchange the pictures for the money. Julie, frightened by the proposition, suspects Jean but doesn't want to meet him so Carol offers to take her place. Unfortunately for Carol, the meeting ends up with her on the receiving end of a cold, steely blade at the hands of a black gloved maniac. Other people in Julie's life soon begin to meet similar fates and now she is terrified for her life. Will her "strange vice" save her or will it cause her to pay the ultimate price???
THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH is Sergio Martino's first foray into the giallo genre. You certainly would never think so though as the film is everything that a good giallo should be and then some! The film is shot very stylishly, there are plentiful red herrings, the performances are way above average from everyone involved, the soundtrack is unnervingly beautiful, and it has a triple twist ending! Martino keeps the film moving along at a nice pace and never lets your mind stop wondering what the hell is going on. His direction and the cinematography are both fantastic, just watch the scene where Ivan Rassimov and Edwige Fenech are getting it on in a rain storm or their scene involving broken bottles and you'll see my point. Speaking of Fenech, I don't think she's ever been more beautiful than in this film. Every second she's on screen you just can't take your eyes off of her, and she's a good actress too! Hilton is great as usual, playing the suave guy that he's so good at. Rassimov is his typical mysterious, weird self; you've got to wonder if the guy is really like that sometimes. The rest of the cast all turn in decent performances too.
There's not a whole lot of blood and gore in the film, but certainly enough to keep most Euro-enthusiasts happy. There is a shower scene that is particularly effective and should satisfy fans that are watching for such fare. The important thing is that what is there worked well within the context of the film. Can't forget the T&A either, and there's plenty on display courtesy of the smoking hot Fenech, Airoldi, and various other nice looking switchblade fodder. The haunting soundtrack is also a huge compliment to the film and adds a sinister atmosphere to everything. Its a theme that will be stuck in your head for a long time after the end credits role. Simply put, this is a 10 out of 10 in my opinion.
THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH, sneaks its way onto DVD courtesy of NoShame Films. This is also the film's US debut, and what a debut! The DVD packaging is very nice. It includes a color collector's pamphlet with liner notes on the director, Fenech, and Hilton. Its nice to see a company that has decided to include these again as many have abandoned it. The film itself is divided into 12 chapters that are accessible through the menu. The transfer (2.35:1, anamorphic) is simply stunning. There is no print damage, the colors are just about perfectly rendered and the black levels are just as they should be. No mpeg compression either. Its damn hard to believe how good this film looks without seeing it. Sound is also a highlight because it features the original Italian language track (which matches the characters) w/ English subs. There's also an English dub track, which isn't too bad, but I preferred watching it in Italian. Extras are: Original Italian theatrical trailer, Poster and Still Gallery, Short introduction with Martino at the Venice film festival, and the featurette DARK FEARS BEHIND THE DOOR that includes interviews with director Sergio Martino, writer Ernesto Gastaldi, and stars Edwige Fenech and George Hilton as well as film clips. This featurette should be MORE than enough reason for all Euro-cult fans to pick this film up. Its nice to hear everyone's recollections of working on the film together. There are some amusing anecdotes that Fenech (who is still as gorgeous as ever) brings up too. In short, NoShame Films has done an absolutely bang up job on bringing this fantastic film to the masses.
Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend that anyone even slightly interested in slipping into the shadows of the world of black-gloved psychos do themselves a huge favor and pick this film up. I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed. I'm sure I don't need to even recommend this film to Euro-cult fans as they've no doubt already given their copies multiple spins, as I will be doing very shortly.
This Film Features:
Review by The Black Gloved Killer. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©
You can purchase this DVD at our official sponser by clicking on the image above.