Wednesday, July 6, 2011


(Sergio Martino, 1970)
Sergio Martino was one of the most inspired, visionary directors of the giallo boom and, despite his creativity and influence, is oft overlooked. His first giallo, TSVOMW, set new standards in combining sexuality and violence, and must have made quite the impression on a young Dario Argento as the latter seems to have borrowed several sequences and images from a variety of Martino's gialli.
Julie Wardh (Edwige Fenech), a woman of new-found privilege, intones, "I'm not a boring wife" when her husband Neil leaves town for business, a statement made concrete when we are treated to flashbacks of her previous sadomasochistic relationship with her then-lover Jean (Ivan Rassimov). Jean, however, is not through with Julie, and stalks her despite Neil's efforts to keep him away.
At a party one night, Julie is introduced to her friend Carol's playboy cousin George (George Hilton) and, though initially apprehensive, begins an affair with him. Meanwhile, a vicious murderer clad in black leather starts his own love affair with a straight razor and several unfortunate women. As he carves his way closer to Julie, it becomes apparent that one of her three lovers wants her to meet the same fate.
TSVOMW was one of the first and most influencial gialli released. There's rarely a dull moment or wasted frame, and the cast is top-notch. Ivan Rassimov is creepier than usual (if that's even possible!), George Hilton suave as ever, and Edwige Fenech believable as an unfaithful wife consumed by her own repulsion and fascination with blood. The film features spectacularly fluid, leering camerawork that follows and watches the players from either afar or in extreme closeup. Nora Orlandi's score is memorable and menacingly appropriate, and was even used by Quentin Tarantino in the second Kill Bill soundtrack.
On an interesting note, this was among the first films to equate nudity with death, as most, but not all, of the women killed are nude or have undressed in earlier scenes. Definitely worth a gander! The NoShame dvd release is long out of print, but it is available under the title "Blade of the Ripper" released by the much maligned MYA Communications. Buy it here.

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