The Giallo, the one genre of film that is completely hit or miss with me. I like a few, dislike most. For those unaware a Giallo is a mystery film more or less with a heavy gore emphasis when the murders are committed. The term comes from the old Italian mystery books when the covers were yellow. Giallo means yellow in Italian. Dario Argento perfected them in the late 70’s always focusing on the killers hands which were usually dressed in black leather gloves. The haunting score would set the tone and you who have a “Who Done It” with an ample amount of blood and nudity. Sergio Martino was another director who did a good amount of these as well. His most famous of this genre is called The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh aka Blade of the Ripper. Made in 1971 this is actually one of the most celebrated films of the Giallo genre.
The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh centers on, you guessed it Mrs. Wardh, Judy is her first name. She is the wife of Neil, a Diplomate who has just moved to Vienna. It’s a beautiful place to live but unfortunately a black gloved serial killer is running around killing women with a straight razor. When Julie and Neil arrive we learn that Julie is essentially a bit off. She is turned on by blood, and actually enjoys being sexually degraded. She’s also not really a stellar wife as when they arrive she meets up with Jean, an ex-boyfriend of hers from years past. He stars sending her roses. You would find that sweet but we learn he used to whip her with rose stems when they were a couple. She enjoyed it very much. She also hooks up with a new lover named George who romances her around the town
Now during her escapades more and more women begin getting murdered. And during a late night rendezvous with George a masked man spots her and begins blackmailing her. Now is where the mystery kicks in full gear. Is the mysterious blackmailer also the black gloved killer? Is it her husband? A lover? You have to watch as it all unfolds. As everyone is essentially a suspect it does make it hard to figure it all out.
This film boast very good practical effects. The murders are all well done. In fact he POV shots are all perfectly framed to add to the tension. The film boast an ample amount of nudity, and with the heavy sexual overtones it plays out more like an erotic thriller than a standard Giallo film. In fact if it wasn’t for the black gloved killer I wouldn’t even consider this a Giallo. To me it really is a sleazy thriller. Its masterfully directed and the score used only adds to the tension and suspense throughout the film.
For as well regarded as this is it never really had a proper release until now. The fine folks at Severin have done it again with this uncut and immaculate transfer. The video is as crisp as you can get. Everything is bright and colorful for day scenes, and the night shots look amazing as well. Severin is very good when it comes to the transfers for the dark scenes as they never get that horrible blue tinit that plagues a lot of transfers. I mentioned how well the score is, and it sounds fantastic in this print. This is a about as clean a print from a 70’s film I have ever seen. To top it off Severin is even including the soundtrack with this
· Of Vice and Virtue: Interview with Director
· Cold As Ice: Interview with Screenwriter
· Vienna Vice: Interview with Actor and Italian Genre Historian
· Archive Interview with Actress
· Introduction by Actor
· Audio Commentary with , Author of ‘All The Colors Of Sergio Martino’
· The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh Comic Book
This really is different that any other Giallo film out there. If you’re a horror fan, mystery fan, erotic fan, it’s a must own for sure. Great directing and special effects combined with a great score and acting really set this one apart. Order this one today.
Overall 3.5 out of 5 Stars!