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  Wicked, Wicked Split Personality
Year: 1973
Director: Richard L. Bare
Stars: David Bailey, Tiffany Bolling, Randolph Roberts, Scott Brady, Edd Byrnes, Diane McBain, Roger Bowen, Madeleine Sherwood, Stefanianna Christopherson, Arthur O'Connell, Jack Knight, Patsy Garrett, Robert Nichols, Kirk Bates, Maryesther Denver
Genre: Horror, Thriller, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: In this hotel by the sea, there have been a few problems with certain, younger, blonde, female guests not paying their bills and running out on the establishment, much to their chagrin. But what if there was more to the story than they realise? What if someone was hiding in disused parts of the building, spying on the customers, and sharpening his knife collection? What if that same person was responsible for the disappearance of those absent guests? What if this person was donning a mask, taking an item from his blade collection, and creeping up on the blonde women, then stabbing them brutally to death? It hasn't crossed the manager's mind, but maybe it should...

This was first and foremost a gimmick movie, using its trick much as the 3-D craze of the nineteen-fifties had, though for one thing, that actually resulted in some decent films, and for another, the "Duo-Vision" implemented here was never to be adopted by anyone else, since this was a total flop at the box office. Its big idea was to split the screen in two, so we could see two angles on the story, ostensibly to increase the tension as both killer and victim were apparent at the same time, but in effect there was an issue director and writer Richard L. Bare hadn't counted on: there was a reason most films and television concentrated on one image at a time, and it wasn't confusion.

As you'll find out should you give this a try, it was largely because a heck of a lot of padding was necessary to provide both sections of the screen with enough material, in effect this was a three hour movie cut in two and both sides played at once. Therefore, sure, you got to see the killer skulking around and stalking and spying and all that pervert business, but that was not the whole story as for the most part you were watching uninteresting conversations, random shots of corridors and actors wandering along them, people pottering about, all the stuff that no filmmaker in their right mind would have included because it did nothing to further the direction of the narrative.

What Wicked, Wicked did have in its favour was a claim to being one of the first slasher movies out of the United States, beating even Canada's Black Christmas to the screen as far as North America was concerned for the genre. Unfortunately, what should at the very least have been revelling in sleaze to keep our interest was hemmed in by the needs to keep the rating at a PG - now, a PG in the seventies was not the same as a PG decades later, but nevertheless if any horror needed a jolt of gory violence to justify its existence it was this. All we got was a little blood, a shower seen behind frosted glass, and the explanation for the murderer's mental aberration which involved a Psycho-aping trauma, in this case thanks to being taken to bed by a middle-aged woman guardian while still a kid himself.

So that was distasteful, but it wasn't entertaining, and neither was a bunch of other stuff Bare saw fit to drop in. The leading lady was Tiffany Bolling, star of many a dodgy seventies effort and her presence should have upped the movie's game, but alas the only reason she took the role was to show off her vocal prowess, for she played the singer in the hotel's ballroom. If she was an accomplished songstrel it wasn't clear here, mostly because the two tunes she belted out were utterly godawful; the album Bolling released around this time has supposedly gone on to cult status, therefore it is assumed it did not include the borderline unlistenable title track of Wicked, Wicked (check out those diabolical lyrics!). Our lead man was David Bailey, your regulation seventies hunk on the wrong side of thirty, while the killer, whose identity was not hidden, was essayed by Randolph Roberts, who might have been famous had sitcom Happy Days kept him on. Yes, a curio, it did add jokes, and for some that may be enough, but tedium set in early. Music by Philip Springer.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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