An interesting premise, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh touches on the extreme fetish of blood arousal. The second film offered to me out of the "Sergio Martino Collection" from No Shame Films, Strange Vice was more reminiscent of a dog chasing its own tail than of a crafty, methodical thriller. Remotely circling the taboo topic of blood fetish, Strange Vice focuses more on troubling the viewer with round about plotlines and an ending that will make the average Joe itch to turn the film off.
Julie Wardh is the wife of a diplomat, who leads a very troubled, but monotonous life. Revealed early in the film, the audience finds out that Julie has a strange fetish for blood and is aroused when violence is brought into intimacy. Unfortunately for Julie, the man who took this fetish a bit too far is now stalking her. Coincidentally, a razor blade killer is on the loose and tearing apart the local women, whom seem to be young and attractive, like Mrs. Wardh. Enter George (Hilton, of course) who wishes to sweep Mrs. Wardh off her feet and tear her away from her dull life. In a childish game of cat and mouse, George pursues Mrs. Wardh's bramble patch and finally wins her over just enough to get a piece of her pie.
However, much like Martino's "Case of the Scorpion's Tale," Strange Vice again pits George as a suspect in the series of murders, as he is quickly tied to the women being brutally slashed. Convinced, though, that George is the man to save her from her troubles, Mrs. Wardh runs away with him to escape the horrors of the Razor Blade killer, and that of being a diplomat's wife. The end? They live happily ever after? Not in a Martino film, comrades.
Having rooted myself in Asian films prior to viewing this giallo, I can drive deep comparisons relating to the plot trickery often used in these foreign films. Similar in style to A Tale of Two Sisters, Strange Vice keeps leading the viewer down a series of dead ends to the film, until finally we are beaten into submission and at the mercy of the director. I found myself screaming "End already, damn you!" on several occasions during both films, neither one's ending convincing that it justified the means.
Luckily though, No Shame Films did put together another lovely presentation of a classic Martino film! Digitally remastered and restored from the original negatives, Strange Vice is as vivid and colorful as a Paul W.S. Anderson modern day catastrophe. Nora Orlandi's painfully obscure score is alive and well, perking up at the opportune times of the film, creeping out even the Michael Jacksons and Boy Georges of the world. The disc itself contains a slew of interviews, including those of Martino, writer Ernesto Gastaldi, George Hilton and Edwige Fenech. Much like Scorpion's Tale, Strange Vice is also packaged with a collector's booklet including talent bios and interests of the sort.