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WICKED WICKED, 1973:

TCM has been showing the weirdest 1973 psycho killer film, Wicked Wicked. It takes place at the historic (and reportedly haunted) Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, set up in the flick to be a somewhat seedy residential hotel.

Almost the whole movie is done in split-screen, a mildly innovative device introduced at the time as "Duo-Vision."

Not like the TV show 24 where they show different things happening at the same time -- instead, the second screen illustrates backstory and foreshadowing with flashbacks, internal thoughts, and just weird little bits of the story.

For example: on one screen, a creepy guy is telling a girl that he studied chemistry -- the "flipside" screen shows his childhood persona reading a book on embalming, and then being punished for his weirdness.

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The story revolves around kinky peeping tom fetishes, while the music is all soap-opera organ (we even see the old guy playing it on occasion, looking for all the world like Six Flags' spastic dancing senior!). The script can't seem to decide whether its spoofing or emulating low-budget mystery/slasher movies, but it's very well played.

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(Tiffany Bolling VS Paper Bag Face)

To be honest, I never heard of Wicked Wicked before I stumbled across on TV -- I just saw the Hotel Del in the opening shots, and ended up staying on the channel. Such a very offbeat little flick -- I had to stop what I was doing so I could watch closely and absorb the two different POVs running side by side.

Aside from some interesting storytelling, it's a love letter to the Hotel Del -- a bunch of exterior shots, from different angles, plus the Crown Room, the west bell lobby, the beachfront and fountain pools, and a lot of lengthy interior hall shots that sure look like the Hotel itself.

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The Wicked Wicked theme song is still stuck in my head -- it's performed on stage two and a half times, plus it runs over the credits. A schmaltzy James Bond lounge affair, the girl singer kind of gargles the lyrics, but in a creepy cool way that I think may have been intentional parody (she may have been doing Sammy Davis Jr.).

Just an odd, interesting little film. If you're a curious Tom who wants to give it a peep, it's available on DVD.

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