Thursday, April 25, 2019

Weird Wicked, Wicked

Wicked, Wicked (Richard L. Bare, 1973) almost works. It's the story of a bellhop with mother issues who murders blondes that stay in his hotel - murders that are pretty gory and explicit for the era. After a rather dull and meandering first half, the film picks up steam with some truly audacious choices, including a quick-cut montage of perhaps the worst assembly of visual metaphors for sexual congress ever put on film (ending with an atomic explosion!), an utterly slide-splitting flashback in which a minor character jumps out a window like a human cannonball to escape unjust arrest only to crash his toy car, and the brilliant moment where a tough-as-nails cop dares a suspect to jump to his death, figuring reverse psychology will lead to an arrest. The cop guesses wrong, to hilarious effect.

The bizarre duo-vision gimmick, in which the action of all but a few seconds of the film is presented in side-by-side split screen, wavers between sublime and banal. Most the time the effect is used merely to offer two mundane angles of the same moment, but sometimes the split screen delivers flashbacks or imagery that reflects or comments on what's happening in the other panel, or, confusingly, shows two conversations at once, sometimes with parallel themes.

I really don't know what to make of this movie, except that the filmmakers nearly won me over by the end. Nearly.

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