Newly married to an older man, Julie returns to Vienna, where a razor wielding slasher is killing women. Jean, her cruel and sadistic former lover, immediately contacts her, certain that only he can satisfy her strange vice. But she rejects him. She also meets George, the handsome cousin of her friend Carol; both are newly rich, thanks to an uncle’s death. Julie’s husband Neil is away frequently, so George pours on the charm. Meanwhile, it seems that the slasher is now focused on Julie. Bodies pile up, other murders are barely avoided, and George invites her to go away with him. Can it end happily? —IMDb
Prolific Italian genre filmmaker Sergio Martino was born in Rome to a family with impressive film credits. His maternal grandfather, Genaro Rigelli, had directed films in Germany for many years and helmed the first Italian sound film, La Canzone dell’Amore. Starting his career as an assistant director for Rigelli and filmmakers such as Mario Bava and Brunello Rondi, Martino eventually moved into directing himself, with the lurid 1969 documentary Mondo Sex. Over the next three decades, Martino was responsible for some of the more exploitative films in a number of genres, moving from spaghetti Westerns (Arizona, Mannaja) to giallo thrillers (Lo Strano Vizio della Signora Wardh, La Coda dello Scorpione) to gritty crime films, sex comedies (including the minor hit 40 Gradi all’Ombre del Lenzuolo with Marty Feldman), jungle adventures, and apocalyptic science fiction. There were many duds, such as the appalling Ursula Andress vehicle La Montagna del Dio Cannibale and the ridiculous L’Isola… read more
Erotic giallo that borrows much of its plot from Henri-Georges Clouzot's Diabolique and some scenes from The Wages of Fear (the scenes in the car at the end of the movie) of the same director. Is it homage, references or simply exploitation of the average audience's ignorance? Now The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh is a good average example of this peculiar genre. I personally liked a lot the last scene that justifies the presence of this DVD in my library. Recommended.
An excellent example of the Giallo genre, which successfully juggles the elements of thriller, mystery and erotica to produce a genuinely stylish and impressive feature. The atmospheric, psychedelic soundtrack of Nora Orlandi rivals much of Morricone's work from that era, and lead Edwige Feneche manages to be incredibly sexy whilst avoiding the usual passive bimbo archetypes which the genre is so often guilty of. Yes, there's plenty of nudity, but it never feels overly exploitative. A great sense of style and interesting camera shots highlight Sergio Martino's significant directorial skills. My only gripe would be that the ending feels a little bit too contrived and Scooby-Doo-esque to make it a true classic in the wider sense, and prevents it from breaking out of the straitjacket of its genre limitations.
While watching this I was hit by a startling realization about the giallo genre. Despite being filled to the brim with gratuitous nudity and sexual content, there is actually very little that is titillating about these films. Nowhere is this more apparent than the films of Sergio Martino. There is a certain grotesque androgyny to his movies. He relishes in this expressionistic sterility. The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh is in may ways a culmination of this aesthetic. The plot here is standard giallo fare (leather clad serial killer, older husbands, handsome but lecherous men, promiscuous women, more twists and turns than the small intestine), but it is Martino's ideas and visual flair that elevate the piece. One interesting tidbit is like with many movies of this type, the characters who are the most decadent and hedonistic are the ones who are punished by death, but the Italians are equal opportunists when it comes to dishing out punishment; the men get what is coming to them just as much as the women. This is a great giallo; one of the genre's and Martino's best entries.