Remember that awesome scene in Sisters when director Brian DePalma switched to split-screen after Jennifer Salt witnessed the murder and you got to see Margot Kidder and William Finley hiding the body on one screen while the police were closing in on the other? Well Wicked, Wicked takes that idea to the nth degree. It was filmed in “Duo-Vision”, which means literally 95% of the movie is shown in split screen. For example, on one screen you see the victim getting dressed and on the other, you see the killer slowly approaching her. Then, when the murderer actually kills his victim, it switches to full screen so you can see every bloody stab.
The plot has a nutty electrician (Randolph Roberts) bumping off blondes in a large resort hotel. He lives in a secret room on a missing floor and keeps the bodies of his victims preserved and props them up around a table to make it look like they’re having a tea party. He falls in love with a beautiful lounge singer (Tiffany Bolling from Kingdom of the Spiders), who is more or less safe from his murderous advances because she’s a brunette. However, once she goes on stage wearing a blonde wig, he snaps and sets out to make her his next victim.
Roberts does a good job as the killer. He’s sensitive whenever he’s acting “sane” and is pretty out there whenever he kills. His disguise is just a Halloween mask turned inside out; it’s simple, yet effective and creepy looking. Bolling is also well cast as the object of his affections and even gets to belt out two musical numbers, including the hilarious title tune. (“Wicked, Wicked”/”That’s the ticket!”)
The gore is surprisingly decent for a PG horror flick from the 70’s. The stabbing sequences are pretty cool as is the scene where
That’s basically what Wicked, Wicked is: a gimmick movie. It’s easy to see why there were no more films shown in this process. One obvious reason is time and money. Since you have two scenes being projected at once, it’s like literally editing two films; something that I’m sure ate up the flick’s budget. Also, the effect gets a little disorienting on your eyes after awhile. Not as back as 3-D, but still.
Although the gimmick begins to wear out its welcome as the film progresses, the filmmakers keep the gag from getting stale by making clever use out of the split screens. Sometimes they use the dual screens for ironic effect. Like when some old woman tells a story about how she used to be a ballerina who “danced in front of kings”, the other screen projects the truth where she actually was a stripper, shaking her goodies in front of a bunch of drunk and horny men. Also, whenever the killer starts getting depressed, the other screen shows flashbacks of his troubled youth to make you sympathize with him.
Wicked, Wicked is a gimmick movie, but it’s a good one and besides, there wasn’t many gimmick movies being made in the 70’s anyway. There’s no other film quite like it, which means it comes highly recommended.