Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh

The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh
Original Title; Strano vizio della Signora Wardh, lo
Directed by; Sergio Martino, Italy /Spain, 1971
Giallo / Thriller, 98min
Distribution by NoShame Films

Unfortunate Mrs Julie Wardh [Edwige Fenech] is cast into a frenzy of mixed emotions as her marriage to her stockbroker husband bounces onto the rocks. She seeks comfort with her new lover George Corro [George Hilton], who protects her from her sadistic ex-lover Jean [Ivan Rassimov]. But at the same time there's a murderer out on a violent killing spree hacking women to death. Could it be one of the many men in Mrs Wardh's life?

I have to admit it that there will always be a soft spot in my heart for the Italian Giallo. Nothing is as fun as these amazing arty thrillers with their jazzy soundtracks, hot seventies chicks, suave dudes, really bad bad guys, and over the top violence. Sergio Martino's Mrs Wardh is very true to the formula. Fenech is great as the confused Julie who can't keep her eyes and hands off her new boyfriend George. Rassimov suits the part of her sadistic ex Jean like a glove, and her surreal dreams of their violent relationship are great. The classic gloved stalking killer theme works well, and as usual Martino bring his tricks to the table. There is even a scene where the killing is seen reflected in the killer's glasses. Just like the Giallo genre usually is, there's plenty of weird plot twists and red herrings pointing the viewer in the wrong direction about who the killer is, and there are a few killings that don't really make sense as it's people outside of the main cast, that we've never seen before who get it. But that's the Giallo genre for you. Wonderfully wacky, violent and jazzy. I wouldn't suggest this one for a starter movie if you've never seen a Giallo before, but if you like the genre, or just dig Italian seventies flicks, then this should keep you happy for 98minutes. See how many of the plot twists that you can keep up with, and if you see the ending coming then you are ready to move up to the more obscure Gialli's.

Digitally remastered and restored from the original negative, NoShame have nothing to be ashamed about with this release. Presented in its original anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio it looks great and even though the night scenes are a bit on the dark side, Mrs. Wardh has never looked better.

One of the great treats of the NoShame DVD’s are the audio options, you can either watch the movie with the traditional dodgy dubbing or flick over to the Italian soundtrack and put on the English subtitles. It's all in Dolby Digital, and both soundtracks are in Mono, and I prefer that, I don't want these movies with remastered fake 5.1 surround sound. These movies are best watched late at night with my late grandfathers old seventies headphones on my head, and then I don't need surround sound.

Hopefully it's going to stay a standard that NoShame include their own produced mini-documentaries about each title, because they sure make great viewing and are full to the brim of geeky information that we like to know about when it comes to these classic gems. Here the title is Dark Fears Behind the Door and features director Sergio Martino, producer Luciano Martino, scriptwriter Ernesto Gastaldi, and stars Edwige Fenech & George Hilton all remembering The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh. Viewing several of the titles in No Shame’s catalogue, I constantly get the urge to start with the documentaries just to be able to nod and laugh at the anecdotes, but luckily it's DVD, so there's no rewind time, just a few flicks on the remote and rewatch the movie. Also included are a booklet with short biographies and career highlights, the original Italian trailer and a gallery with posters and stills.

Once again a superb DVD from NoShame and it's a pleasure to revisit Mrs. Wardh when it looks and sounds this good.

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