Synopsis from our dear brother in the war against obscurity, IMDB:
“A tongue-in-cheek psycho movie in "Duo-vision." The entire feature employs the split-screen technique used in parts of Brian De Palma's "Sisters" that same year. As a handyman at a seacoast hotel, Randolph Roberts wears a monster mask while he kills and dismembers women with blond hair.”
Also from Wiki (a more balanced view):
” The Grandview is a sprawling Californian hotel with a terrible secret: single blonde visitors who check in don't check out. Hotel detective Rick Stewart (David Bailey) begins investigating what's happened to a handful of vanishing guests but he soon becomes personally involved when his brunette ex-wife, Lisa James (Tiffany Bolling), arrives for a singing engagement at the hotel. When Lisa dons a blonde wig for her performance, she finds herself the next target of a psychopathic killer.”
If you told me that somebody decided they wanted to make a film about dismembering women with blond hair and felt the need to try a gimmick like split screen through the movie I might tell you that I have black hair. I guess imitation is the greatest form of flattery and if so Brian DePalma must have felt pretty darn good about Wicked, Wicked. He also used the split screen technique in Carrie at the end as you may remember which was ultra super mega effective. The technique was also used in the documentary/film Woodstock for what it’s worth; a film that might be considered by many to be equally if not more creepy than Sisters or Carrie combined.
Seeing as this movie is rather difficult to get your hands on and that it is in duo-vision, Exhumed Films truly did their audience members a great service by showing this picture at the second Exhumed 24 Hour Horror-thon. What better way is there to see a movie that is divided into two pictures? I’m sure your 60 inch, hi def television set can handle it, but there’s nothing quite like the scale of a theatrical viewing. Side note: Do they still call them “television sets”? Just curious.
I suppose you could say that one of the highlights is the theme song “Wicked, Wicked” performed by Tiffany Bolling who plays one of the leads. I’m not going to say its for all tastes. I will encourage you to listen to it from a historical perspective and think of films like Gold Finger where the title of the film is used in the many theme song constructed for the film. Tiffany Bolling was also in Open House from 1988 and, infinitely more important, Kingdom of the Spiders. Now if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you know I have a soft spot in my heart for Kingdome of the Spiders, so this automatically qualifies as a very important discovery (that she is in something else of merit). She is credited with some other TV work and is listed as a singer. She also posed for Playboy in the April 1972 issue of Playboy. That in itself is not necessarily of any real importance except that I actually owned this issue when I was a young buck. I could tell you stories about this magazine that would turn most people bright shining red. I’ll refrain.
I’d say another highlight of the film is the mask and butcher knife approach. I don’t know that I would call this movie a slasher picture, but it definitely carries out some of the iconic images that would become popular in later slasher films. Most likely another film influenced by Psycho. Still, that mask was really very unique. Might as well have been wearing a Tor Johnson mask.
The film is quite effective at times, and I’m not completely certain that if you didn’t put better actors/actresses in here that you might not have ended up with a fine picture. There are definitely uses for this style of film especially to misdirect your horror fan. Think of how misdirection gets the jump scare to work or lack of misdirection drops the jump scare on its ass. It’s the typical haunted house style scare. Duo-Vision/split screen is perfect for this kind of misdirection. While I know many aren’t fans of the jump scare, this kind of film technique might make it work properly and create a fun viewing experience. I’ve included some clips below from the film so you can get an idea of how this technique was employed in Wicked, Wicked.
Rusty Pipes sequences (creepy-ish):
You can definitely see the charm in this to be sure. Clearly not Oscar winning material though. I’ll stick with Carrie and Sisters for now. Also, appreciate the organ work in the opening sequence. It’s apparently from the music used in the original Phantom of the Opera. Creepy and overdramatic. It saves the questionable acting. I’m not sure that I dislike Wicked, Wicked, but I can safely tell you that I love duovision and I adore the organ music. It’s from one of my favorite times in filmmaking.
Make your way over to TCM Underground and enjoy not only Wicked, Wicked, but anything you can get your hands on. This site is a must for fans of the more obscure pictures.