DIRECTOR– Sergio Martino
PLOT– Austria is the home of the Alps, stinky cheese, the Von Trapp Family Singers, and a serial killer stalking & murdering vulnerable women with a straight razor…. and, out of those four, you might think stinky cheese is the worst, but you’d be wrong.
Julie, a socialite with a boring diplomat as a husband, has just returned to Austria…
…and to her past. A past that includes an experimental phase in her life involving freaky blood-sex with her former boyfriend Jean.
***on a side note: I have no idea what “blood-sex” is… and I’m perfectly happy about that
She meets up with her best friend Carol who informs Julie that Carol’s hot cousin George is visiting Vienna… Oh, and Carol casually mentions she wouldn’t mind having a little incestuous relationship with her hunky cousin either. Those wacky romantic Italians, right???
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They all attend a party together where Julie sees that Jean is back and she suspects he’s stalking her once again and (apparently, far more terrifying) sending her rose bouquets.
Carol agrees to investigate these scary roses and consents to meet the stalker all alone in a deserted park at night…
Great idea, right?!?
Not so fast, Columbo… she quickly learns it was, in fact, a bad plan… and is slashed up by a straight razor.
The police decide to question Jean and attempt to get him to leave his precious lizard roommates to accompany the police to the station…
Julie, tired of her boring husband, terrified that she might be the next victim of the serial killer, and overcome with grief for her murdered friend Carol, decides to bump uglies with Carol’s cousin George…
Jean commits suicide, so they both escape to Spain for some more sexy-time. The next morning’s paper reveals that the serial killer has himself been killed by an intended victim. Julie is elated to feel safe once again…
…until someone again sends her a note threatening her death.
Julie has a nervous breakdown and, while drugged up on some sedatives, is murdered by her former boyfriend Jean…
The police once are baffled… Jean committed suicide earlier, so he couldn’t be the killer… right?
Not so fast, Matlock.
Jean faked his suicide and, evidently, the police didn’t actually check his pulse at the time… Jean is alive!
Jean meets with George and it’s revealed that they planned the whole thing together… with a little help from Julie’s diplomat husband.
Upon their trip back to Austria, they drive by a figure on the side of the road… It’s Julie! She’s alive??!
Yep. The whole thing was a ruse to trap her stalkers. The police chase them off a cliff.
3 THINGS WE LEARNED–
- Italian cocktail parties often include nude lesbian wrestling
- Tough bitches wear feather boas
- Scuba divers frickin hate truck tires
REVIEW– The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh not only has an appropriately strange name, but it’s also a very strange movie.
It’s not a thriller, really.
Yes, there’s a few murder who-dunnit scenes.
It’s not a romance either.
Yes, there’s a few lovers-find-each-other scenes.
It’s a strange(wink wink) mish-mash of both… that somehow works quite well.
It certainly helps that Edwige Fenich stars… she’s fantastic… both as an actress and to look at.
Besides Ms. Fenich, we can probably thank the director Sergio Martino for The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh‘s success. It moves along at a great pace, never lingering too long on any one particular scene.
It’s full of those weird little moments only an Italian director of the 70s can produce… other-worldly sound effects, bizarrely shot sequences, scenes featuring lizards and owls, two dudes laughing playfully like Siegfried & Roy with a new cub, close-ups of indistinguishable body parts writhing together… you know, those types of things.
He adds a funky synthesized guitar to a mix with an overly lavish orchestral score to produce something quite unforgettable.
Overall, it’s a wonderfully realized early 70s giallo.