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The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971) aka Blade of the Ripper aka Next!

THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH

Heaven help whoever is … “Next!”

Directed by Sergio Martino

A prostitute gets into a car, moments later out comes the straight razor, there’s slashing, there’s blood. So begins Sergio Martino’s The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh.

The stunning Edwige Fenech stars as Julie Wardh in this unmissable giallo. Now, Mrs. Wardh is married (big clue in the Mrs. bit) to Neil Wardh played by Alberto de Mendoza but there are also two other guys in her life, Jean (Ivan Rassimov) and George (George Hilton). George fancies himself as a bit of a playboy, he’s the cousin of Julie’s friend Carol (Conchita Airoldi), while Jean has a history with Julie, seen in flashback, their relationship involved violent sex.

The killer is typically hidden in the shadows with his black gloves and his straight razor. He sets about blackmailing Julie when he spies on her doing the horizontal tango with George. Carol goes to meet him in Julie’s place.

Look, the film looks fucking wow you know. Brilliant locations and cast shot to perfection, really classy stuff, think Connery-era Bond maybe with tits and blood and that should give you a fair idea. This is one of the best gialli and Shameless did a bang-up job of releasing it. Giallo films were the influence behind slasher films basically as they included nudity and gory kills and so on. This does have some nudity, I didn’t think there was that much nudity really, maybe prudes might not like it, it isn’t gory but the kills are alright and imply a fair bit of nastiness even though they don’t show much.

The music by Nora Orlandi is superb, it has that early Argento film sort of feel to it and enhances the film no end. It might just be me but I think there’s a sort of spaghetti western feel to the soundtrack too which really works, these are spaghetti thrillers after all, I like that, adds a depth or something.

But Sergio Martino isn’t copying Argento or Fulci or anyone, he’s a really top-notch director. I’ve only seen this and Torso (1973) by him but I love his stuff, based on those two anyway, and there’s definitely a couple of others I’d like to see, hard to get hold of mind. There’s a lot to see in a Sergio Martino film, a lot to get involved in. It’s a shame films of this quality aren’t a lot better known but then, you don’t have to do a lot of digging to get to them.

The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh is a high, high quality slice of Italian cinema from the 70s. Fuck the dubbing, I don’t give a shit about dubbing. This is awesome but if you don’t like it you don’t like it I guess. The plot might leave you looking like a chimpanzee that’s been at the Special Brew or is that just me watching it kaylied? But, you’ll be like, that was alright. Stylish and shit! And then you might want to see more gialli and just drift off into that shit like a good ‘un. Not a whiff of 70s bush in this one mind, or did I miss it? I saw some swinging melons earlier. And some girl was ripping some other girl’s knickers off. Brilliant!

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