Blade of the Ripper (1971)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Giallo  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Donald Guarisco

Director Sergio Martino's first entry into Italy's giallo genre delivers everything this style of thriller requires and then some: Ernesto Gastaldi's fills his script to the brim with beautiful people doing terrible things to each other to create a plot overflowing with twists, brutal murders, and a hefty dollop of kinky sex. The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh is short on sympathetic characters and often strays from believability during its overheated finale, but fans of the genre won't care because Martino keeps the film stylized in the extreme. The resulting exercise in thriller mechanics layers on Bruno Nicolai's spooky lounge score at every opportunity and juxtaposes the story's mayhem with lush settings and gorgeous photography. Martino also gets effectively stylized performances from his cast. Edwige Fenech might not have the most sympathetic role, but she does an excellent job of conveying the title character's mysterious, emotionally (and sexually) overheated persona. Her work is ably backed up by George Hilton, who is believably smarmy as her would-be playboy suitor, and Ivan Rassimov is sublimely creepy as her perverted ex-lover. In short, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh is a skillful example of how the giallo can be a head-spinning experience in style over substance. It's not for all tastes, but Euro-cult enthusiasts are likely to eat it up.