Director – Sergio Martino (Slave of the Cannibal God, Torso)
Starring – George Hilton (The Case of the Bloody Iris, All the Colors of the Dark), Edwige Fenech (Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, Naughty Nun), and Conchita Airoldi (Torso, Closed Circuit)
Release Date – 1971
Rating – 3.5/5
Blu Release – 4/5
There is a lot more giallo out there than I first thought. Giallo is a sub-genre of horror made popular by director Dario Argento. The most important film of this sub-genre is easily Suspiria. I always feel obligated to mention Suspiria when I review a giallo. Mostly because I feel that it is a perfect film. It is because of this that I have pretty high expectations for them.
Several years back Shamless Screen Entertainment contacted me to review their release of the giallo The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh. This is a company I am fairly new to but the blus I have been lucky enough to review have been awesome for the most part. This is a giallo that I rarely hear mentioned aside from this release but news of Severin releasing the film quickly took over horror groups. It was time to revisit this one for me and I couldn’t wait to check out the Severin release.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows the wife of an important business man/politician, Julie Wardh (Fenech), who is in a loveless marriage. She was formerly in a relationship with a twisted man who likes to flirt with danger.
She still runs into her former lover from time to time which still brings up old feelings. She has also met a wealthy man and has an affair but when someone threatens to expose her she is brought into a world of lies and secrecy. To make matter worse, there is a serial killer killing women in town with a straight razor. The further she goes the further into a conspiracy she finds herself involving all the men in her life.**Spoiler Alert**
I’ve seen several giallos over the years and I have to admit that I enjoy them. Sure, some are duds but most of them are clever and fun. Shameless Screen Entertainment has really opened me up to giallos that I would typically avoid but Severin is a company that I’ve respected for sometime now.
The acting in this one is great. I love Edwige Fenech and it’s always a pleasure watching her on screen. She is one of the few women in horror that can play a convincing victim. When she screams it doesn’t ruin the film and come off as forced. Instead, the viewer thinks it is genuine. So many actresses over play it and she doesn’t. The supporting cast is great as well. They really get into their characters and make them unique to their own personalities. The film has a great cast and it shows.
The story for this one has a lot going on. At first it makes you think it is another giallo style murder mystery that is very similar to the faceless slashers that would be everywhere just ten years later. Then the story switches gears and we find ourselves in the middle of a murder plot between Julie and her lovers. This was very unexpected and brought a fun twist to a rather bleak story. The film has consistent pacing and the story keeps the viewer engaged.
Finally, the film has several on screen kills. The kills are normal slashings that we have seen in so many other giallos but they work very well with the story we have established. The practical effects are very minimal and don’t really add to the kills. Overall, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh is a fantastic giallo that I would recommend to any horror fan. If you like stylish horror films with beautiful women then this one is for you. The Severin release looks great and the quality is fantastic. Italian horror fans will want this one for their collections.