Mon 9 Jul 2012
THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS. Galassia Cinematografica, Italian, 1972. Original title: Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer? (or What Are Those Strange Drops of Blood Doing on Jennifer’s Body?). Edwige Fenech, George Hilton, Annabella Incontrera, Paola Quattrini, Giampiero Albertini, Franco Agostini, Carla Brait. Director: Giuliano Carnimeo.
First impression: Beautifully photographed in sharp, colorful detail from many clever and unusual angles – a visual delight, smashingly so.
The story: a unknown and unseen killer is stalking the tenants of an upscale apartment house, with many of the victims being terrifically good-looking women with large expressive eyes. It passes enough muster to keep your mind entertained, but you can’t help be aware of all the cliches of the crime thriller genre that went into putting this film together, even as you’re watching.
The police act sincerely but they talk better than they perform, having a largely carefree attitude toward the deaths. Giampiero Albertini as Commissioner Enci spends as much time on adding to his stamp collection, while his hapless assistant (Franco Agostini) fumbles his way around while doing the actual legwork.
Two of the good-looking women, Edwige Fenech and Paola Quattrini, roommates who move into the apartment of the second women to be killed, pay only lip service to the idea that maybe that’s not such a good idea.
There are a lot of suspects – it’s a tall apartment complex, complete with subcellar with lots of spooky (and deadly) machinery to be trapped in – and hints at motive, but when the killer is a madman (or woman), motive is the last thing that matters.
A small masterpiece of its type (a genre called “Giallo,” as if you hadn’t deduced that on your own by now), humorous and chilling in turn, atmospheric and colorful, and entertaining from beginning to end. Bloody but not gory, and almost tastefully so. (But if Philo Vance is your idea of the ultimate in detective work, this may not be to your taste at all. In fact, I almost guarantee it.)
NOTE: I wrote this review back in December, but I lost track of it until I was reminded of it last week when I read Sergio Angelini’s review of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) on his blog. I’m far from an expert on Giallo films, so I found his detailed comments on the film to be very informative.
The movie is available on DVD either by itself or in a box set with three films of the same vintage.