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Mrs Julie Wardh (Edwige Fenech) arrives in Vienna with her businessman
husband Neil (Alberto de Mendoza), but since he's busy most of the time,
that gives her plenty of opportunity to hook up with old friends and the
like. Unfortunately, her old lover Jean (Ivan Rassimov) is among these old
friends, and back in the days he has made her his submissive, and their
S/M games also involved blood and the like. She's long come over this and
over him, but he's not yet willing to let her go, actually stalks her from
time to time ... which drives her right into the arms of George (George
Hilton), cousin of her best friend Carol (Cristina Airoldi), and before
you know it, the two have sex - but are secretly photographed and Julie is
then blackmailed. Julie and Carol soon come to the conclusion that the
blackmailer can only be Jean, so Carol wills in to hand over the money to
him in Julie's place, to keep her out of harm's way ...
Harm's way is a
good one, because presently there's a serialkiller roaming Vienna, and
sure enough, when Carol wants to hand over the money to the blackmailer,
she's killed by the serialkiller. Later the same serialkiller also attacks
Julie, but she manages to escape.
Julie somehow persuades her husband to
take care of Jean, of course suspecting him to be the serialkiller, but
when they try to, they find him already dead. This drives Julie pretty
much over the edge, so she ... escapes to Spain with George. Weirdly
enough, she still receives threats of the kind that Jean sent her ... but
Sean's dead, right? On top of that, the Viennese serialkiller has been
killed by one of his would-be victims, and it was somebody who had nothing
to do with the story. Anyways, fear soon drives Julie half out of her
mind, and while George drives off to get a neurologist - Jean shows up
again and kills Julie in a perfectly stages mock-suicide.
Jean soon gets
his due though when it turns out he has been in league with George, and
George just shoots him, making that look like suicide, too. But why would
George kill the woman he has just run away with, a murder he can't hope to
gain anything from? Because in a Strangers
on a Train-sort of way he was in league with Julie's husband Neil,
who has killed George's cousin Carol in return so he can inherit a large
chunk of money - while Neil needed Julie's money to continue his
lifestyle. Anyways, in the end the two are spooked out of their minds (and
lives when they drive over a cliff) when they see the ghost of Julie ...
only Julie was never really dead but saved by the neurologist (Manuel Gil)
George brought to the scene of her alleged suicide as his alibi - but this
guy smelled a rat right away ...
Other than many other sources
I would not describe The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh as a milestone
early giallo - because it quite simply isn't: The whole thing's incredibly
far-fetched and over-constructed, and some of the movie's plotholes are
gaping even by giallo-terms, the murder and suspense scenes are nicely
done, mostly, but not exactly extraordinarily so, and they lack the
inventiveness of the best of the genre.
That all said, the film's still
totally worth watching, It might tell a story with more holes than Swiss
cheese but does so in a well-paced manner, its imagery is very stylish and
there's hardly a shot that's less than perfect, a bit of topless nudity is
subtly mixed into the mix to keep things erotic, and even if the
plottwists are far fetched they at least make sense in the context of the
No masterpiece, but not only giallo fans will like it!