Wicked, Wicked (1973)

WICKED, WICKED (1973)
Article 3630 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-8-2011
Posting Date: 7-23-2011
Directed by Richard L. Bare
Featuring David Bailey, Tiffany Bolling, Randolph Roberts
Country: USA
What it is: Psycho killer movie with a gimmick

A handyman at a hotel has been killing blondes and hiding their bodies, but the hotel detective begins to suspect there is something afoot, and begins to investigate.

To some extent, I’m lumping this movie in with DEAFULA and INCUBUS, though not due to any plot similarities; rather, all three movies feature extensive movie-wide “gimmicks” that more or less take over the films. I use the quotes because in some ways I don’t like the use of that word in this context; the central concepts (a movie shot in sign language, a movie shot in Esperanto, and a movie filmed almost entirely in split-screen) go beyond mere gimmickry. The split-screen process here (known as Duo-Vision) is interesting and occasionally effective; for example, it gives us much of the psycho’s backstory without ever bringing the movie to a halt, and there are moments where it’s really fascinating to see how one character reacts to what another character is doing while being able to see both of them. But there is one drawback with the split-screen approach; it’s not really an easy technique for a viewer to appreciate, as it requires a constant shifting of attention that can be rather tiring over the length of a movie. Furthermore, there are some real script problems; the attempts to establish parallels between this story and that of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA come across as very forced, and when it tries to lighten things up a little and become a “fun” horror movie, the effect is jarring and weird, especially towards the end of the movie. In the end, you have a movie that deserves some credit for trying something different, but it doesn’t really work overall. Incidentally, the movie is not entirely in split-screen, but its full-screen moments are extremely short and usually well thought out, so they end up underscoring the action well.

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