Sometimes ideas work better on paper than they do when put into action. The movie experience Duo-Vision was one of them. The ill-fated idea had an entire movie presented in split-screen. Each half showed a different angle or scene taking place during the movie with them merging together at certain pivotal moments. 1973’s slasher film “Wicked, Wicked” is the first and only movie to utilize this unique viewing experience for an entire movie.
A masked killer (Randolph Robert) is stalking women at the upscale Grandview Hotel in California. Bodies begin to pile up as the manager does his best to hide the murders from guests. All the victims have one thing in common – they’re all blond. Brunette lounge singer Lisa James (Tiffany Bolling) becomes a target when she dons a blond wig for her performances. Can her ex-husband and former police officer Rick Stewart (David Bailey) keep her safe?
“Wicked, Wicked” is one of those movies that would have worked beautifully as part of a Horror Remix. If you aren’t familiar with Horror Remixes, let me enlighten you. Three films with the same themes (Christmas, Sharks, Sorority Houses) are put together as an anthology. Each one is edited down to its basic ingredients. For example, if all the superfluous narrative and dialogue is cut out from “Silent Night, Deadly Night Part II,” the 90 minute movie would end up clocking in at around 30 minutes. Most of the time all that is left is the killing sequences, nudity, and basic plot points.
The good parts of “Wicked, Wicked” are fun, while the bad sections are exhausting to watch as characters yammer with each other back and forth. Things get entertaining when the masked killer shows up onscreen and takes out his victims. Actor Randy Roberts does a great job keeping the viewer bouncing back and forth between empathy and fright. Flashbacks help communicate the murderer’s tragic past.
Most of the action in Wicked, Wicked is accompanied by the original Phantom of the Opera score. It’s awkwardly played by an old lady sitting at an organ. Many times she’s shown in one frame as the killings and drama unfold on the other half. It seems like the director was trying to fill space on one side because they didn’t have enough footage to accompany certain scenes.
The only special feature included for "Wicked, Wicked" is a trailer. It was only released on standard DVD and is available as a manufactured-on-demand item. It would've been nice to see some reflection on the movie and its Duo-Vision gimmick by the cast and crew, but Warner Archive rarely includes much bonus material.
“Wicked, Wicked” is rated PG for adult situations, violence, profanity, alcohol and smoking, and frightening and intense sequences. If released now in theaters, it would be given a PG-13 rating. There are some bloody scenes with victims gawking wide-eyed out from the screen. Sexual situations are insinuated and include hints at incest.
Viewing “Wicked, Wicked” is an experience everyone should participate in at least once in their life. It’s tiring at points and will no doubt test your attention span, but must be seen since the concept died with this film. By no means is it a good movie. However, the event is worth the headache you might get darting your eyes back and forth from left to right to take as much in as possible from each side of the screen.
"Wicked, Wicked" is available now on DVD.
For more articles by Eric Shirey that don't fit on Moviepilot, check out his official website.