Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Warner Archive Grab Bag - WICKED, WICKED ""

Monday, November 10, 2014

Warner Archive Grab Bag - WICKED, WICKED

WICKED, WICKED (1973; Richard L. Bare)
As much as I have enjoyed all advances that have been made with 3D film technology, I still kinda miss the old gimmicks. There's an anachronistic charm to trying to present your movie in some kind of different way, whether it be William Castle showing THE TINGLER in Percepto or John Waters using Odorama for POLYESTER, the filmmakers were trying to engage their audiences in a new way. Director Richard L. Bare (probably best known for his work on GREEN ACRES and a handful of classic TWILIGHT ZONE episodes) gave "Duo-Vision" a try in his 1973 horror-thriller WICKED, WICKED. What's "Duo-Vision" you ask? Well it's basically just split-screen, but doesn't "Duo-Vision" sound a hundred times cooler? I think so too. Actually the trailer makes it sound even more exciting by calling it "Anamorphic Duo-Vision" and list it as an evolutionary advancement above sound and 3D. This sort of split screening was not making it's debut voyage here by any means (the device had been used many times prior to this), but as a method showing an entire movie in this way has rarely (if ever) been attempted again. The one recent film that comes to mind that takes this process and doubles it is TIMECODE (2000) which ran four separate frames at the same time. Both that film and this one have to make concessions to the fact that they cannot have too much going on (especially in the way of dialogue) in any one frame or it may be difficult to know which to one to focus on. In the case of WICKED, WICKED what that ends up meaning is that either of the frames tends to have long stretches (back and forth) of rather dull scenes in order to allow the viewer to keep their attention on the other (where there may be more "action" or dialogue happening). The film starts out in a rather exciting/suspenseful way in that it shows a killer stalking his female victim in a hotel (the Hotel del Coronado - oft remembered from SOME LIKE IT HOT) in that Duo-Vision split screen and when he finally gets to her, the frames cut to one single anamorphic shot. WICKED, WICKED doesn't attempt anything to complex as far as continuous shots go. Each side of the frame is cut up as its own little movie and that plays fine. The split screen process is used not only for the killer/victim dynamic, but also as one side showing present time & while the other shows flashbacks, which is interesting and often used to comic effect. All in all, the gimmick is enough to make this one enjoyable and memorable enough for me to recommend. If you're into old film processes/effects I can't see how you wouldn't dig this. This DVD release is quite special too in that it is the film's home video debut (it never even had a VHS release stateside). I had recorded it off an old TCM Underground broadcast from years ago, but this DVD looks much better in that is is remastered in 16x9 which is kind of essential for a movie filmed in this format.

Here's the theatrical trailer for WICKED, WICKED:

Here's  clip from the film which demonstrates the Anamorphic Duo-Vision quite well:

1 comment:

KC said...

I couldn't see how this double view concept could work until I checked out the clip. It flows better than I expected. Interesting idea.