Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh
Blade of the Ripper
The Next Victim!
Like his contemporaries Umberto Lenzi, Enzo G. Castellari, and Lucio Fulci, Sergio Martino was a director who possessed a highly developed degree of generic utility. This ensured that Martino and the others were constantly in demand in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but the price they all had to pay for this was critical marginalisation. However were it not for the commercial success of popular cycles such as the giallo, the spaghetti western, and the poliziotesschi films, the preening ‘art’ cinema of dullards such as Fellini, Antonioni, and Bertolucci, would undoubtedly have struggled to gain the domestic support they required. Sergio Martino’s renaissance has taken a little longer to come about, but like many of his ilk, the era of DVD has been critical in constructing an appreciation of a diverse and intriguing filmography. No longer do scribes have the excuse of films being unavailable. Whilst it is remiss not to place Dario Argento’s early films within the expectations of the cycle they operated within (a major weakness of Maitland McDonagh’s Broken Mirrors/Broken Mind’s was a failure to do this), it would also be equally remiss not to assess the important contribution to the cycle made by Martino and his producer brother Luciano. Although Martino was inspired by the success (and the style) of Argento’s debut picture The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), his own gialli offerings have a peculiarity and an attitude which help them to stand apart in a very overcrowded generic landscape.
© Shaun Anderson 2011