The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Ward - The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Ward( Blu Ray & CD) [Severin - 2020]In recent years The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Ward has come to be seen as one of the top tier Italian giallo films- up there with some of Argento & Fulci's classic additions to the genre- and itís easy to see why. We have everything you need for a great example of the genre- a creepy Ďní sinister black gloved killer, brutal-to-moodily jarring murders, lots of glamour & 70ís camp, a big dollop of kinky sleaze, and an effective enough twisting Ďní turning plot with some great suspenseful moments. Here from Severin is a recent Blu Ray/ CD release of the film- taking in a new scan of the picture, a new commentary track from giallo expert Kat Ellinger, some new meaty interviews with the films key players, and a CD featuring the film's soundtrack.
Appearing in 1971 The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Ward( aka Lo strano vizio della signora Wardh, or The Blade of The Ripper) was the second feature film directed by Italian journeyman Sergio Martino- who over his forty-year career has dipped into horror, science-fiction, Western, & comedy genres- having sixty-six directorial credits. In all he directed eight gialli, and The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Ward was his first- which makes it even more impressive, that he managed to brew-up a near-perfect take on the genre.
The film focus in on Julie Ward- played by genre legend Edwige Fenech- the decidedly suave-yet-kinky wife of the straight-laced Italian ambassador, the pair live a glamorous life in Vienna. Recently a sexual focused black glove killer has been killing women in & around the city- and Ms. Ward wonders if it could be her kinky & cruel ex Jean- Ivan Rassimov- who is seen in flashback first forcing himself on Ms. Ward in a rain-lashed forest, then later slashing her chest & showering her in glass- before the pair make love- the shards pressing into her. Also added into the mix we have sleek-though-slightly sinister George Corro- played by another genre legend George Hilton- who is trying to bed Mrs. Ward too. The film unfolds at a good & entertaining pace- and along the way, we get lots of glamour & costume changes from Ms Fenech. Some well staged & brutal straight razor murders- some take in nudity, while others are just manic attacks- with a park-near-dusk stalking building up eeriness & tension before the slashing attack. The plot like many gialli is a little silly in places, and the twist(s) before itís all over do stretch believability- but hell, weíre not watching this type of thing for logic or sense- itís all about the heady blend of glamour, violence, sleaze, mystery, and camp- and that is why this can justifiable called a classic of the genre.
Moving onto this new two-disc- and first off let us talk about the Blu Ray- the print here looks great-really letting the 70ís tones flourish, though as often is the case the blood looks a tad too bright. Moving onto the extras- and first, up we have a new commentary track from giallo expert & author of All The Colors of Sergio Martino- and as we come to expect from Ellinger itís a fact-packed, entertaining & wholly worthy track. She begins by talking about the films production history, moving on to discuss how Martino's giallo differs from other works in the genre. She goes on to talk about key cast members, and their other notable roles. Moving on to discuss scene set-ups & their impact, talking about the fairly improbable plot resolve, an overview of Martinoís other films in the genre, and much more- really she is one of the best commentators in the business.
Next, we get a new forty three minute on-screen interview with director Sergio Martino- this sees him starting off talking about the film to hand, but he darts onto talk about his other giallo, and his career in general- before once again returning to Mrs. Ward. Itís an interesting & worthy interview, with some great insights- and he still seems to passionate about the giallo genre. Next, we get an around twenty-minute on-screen interview with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi- he starts by talking about his true passion been sci-fi, and he wishes heíd got to write these types of scripts. Before he goes onto talk about Mrs. Ward, his part in it, and some classic iconic scenes like the ice cube under the door latch, that has gone onto to be used in a few gialli. Lastly of the new interviews, we get Vienna Vice- this runs around twenty minutes, and features on-screen interviews with both actor George Hilton & Italian genre expert Antonio Bruschini. Hilton talks about his fellow cast, and working in Vienna- which at that time he felt was a city for older people. Bruschini talks about the film in general, and how ití blended 60ís suspenseful gialli with the more brutal killer focused 70ís gialli. He goes onto talk about key scenes, actors, and the film's impact. Of the three interviews, Iíd say this was the most balanced & focused- making it the most re-watchable of the lot. The last new extra we get on the disc is a short few minute film intro from Hilton, and we get an archive interview with Edwige Fenech, and a trailer- so a really extras packed disc.
Lastly, we of course have the CD- this like all of Severinís Blu ray/ CD soundtrack releases comes with a glossy double-sided inlay card- which on one side has the track listing, and on the other the poster artwork. The score is by female composer Nora Orlandi- who became the first woman to score films in Italian- during the í60s/ 70ís she scored spaghetti westerns, gialli, and spy films. The edition we have here is the thirty-one track/fifty-three-minute version put out by Beat Records. The scores key theme is a rather rising & sensual blend of buzzing organ & female vocalizing- it later got reused Tarantinoís Kill Bill Vol 2. The other tracks on the score are a blend of serviceable enough easy listening jazz work-outs, variations on the main theme- taking in bared back piano, and percussion/ vocal variations. Walling guitar & cluttering drums organ freak-outs, and slightly more angular/ dramatic cues.
Put simply this is the ultimate edition of this giallo classic- as we have a great uncut print, the films full soundtrack, and of course the marvellous new extras taking in Ellingerís wonderful commentary track, and the most worthy new interviews which in total near an hour & a half playtime. So itís a real unmissable release really- even if you have it in previous editions as Severin has gone the extra mile with the new extras.