42nd Street Cinema

The Case of the Bloody Iris (1972)

Giuliano Carnimeo's giallo, The Case of the Bloody Iris/Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer?

Starring: Edwige Fenech, George Hilton, Annabella Incontrera, Paola Quattrini and Giampiero Albertini.

As I have previously mentioned, I began my exploration into Italian cinema with Fulci's Zombie Flesh Eaters/Zombi 2 (1979), eventually working my way through to Argento's Suspiria (1977), Tenebrae/Tenebre (1982) and Deep Red/Profondo Rosso (1975). At the time, I was very naive and largely attracted to Italian cinema by the sheer quantity of the red stuff readily shown in a wide array of titles. However, once I had seen the most well known titles, by the most prevalent directors. I started digging, as you do, through the lesser mentioned, yet still renowned giallo film titles.

I remember watching The Case of the Bloody Iris for the first time and while I was underwhelmed by the film's lacking visceral gore, my eyes were opened to something more. The cinematography. Now, I understand that I've previously mentioned 3 Argento movies and haven't commented on how beautiful they are. Well, I have to be honest with you and say, aside from the astounding use of colour, I didn't notice much else. Shameful, I know. While I would later return to the works of Argento, Fulci and Lenzi and love them for much more than just the quantity of bloodshed, I would also eventually learn to understand that The Case of the Bloody Iris is a pretty generic gialli, in terms of acting, plot and character development, however, even with that in mind it has still remained one of my personal favourites.

After a young woman is stabbed to death, in the elevator of an apartment block and the woman who discovered the body also murdered. An english model working in Italy, Jennifer (Fenech) moves into the vacant room and soon finds that she herself has become the killer's next target. It soon becomes a race against time to uncover the identity of the killer, but with so many suspects the possibilities are almost endless.

If I didn't know better I would have told you this was directed by Sergio Martino, as it possess very similar aesthetics to his early giallo features. Even including genre stalwarts Fenech and Hilton. Except, Iris is directed by Giuliano Carnimeo, who didn't spend a lot of time on the gialli scene and is credited as "Anthony Ascott" for this release.

Written by Ernesto Gastaldi, the man behind countless westerns and numerous other Fenech starring gialli, including, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh/Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh (1971), All the Colors of the Dark/Tutti i colori del buio (1972).
Gastaldi's work gradually became less about the intricacy of the plot and more centralized on a nonspecific character's sexual situations, accompanied by gratuitous on-screen violence. This is especially evident if you begin with the 1970 film, The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion/Le foto proibite di una signora per bene, a picture which contains very little acts of violence, instead it involves an intriguingly complex plot, deep characters and more red herrings than it knows what to do with. Fast forward to 1973 for Torso/I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale and we can see that Gastaldi's work has transcended more towards gratuitous sex and violence, ultimately changing what giallo films were originally renowned for and breathing fresh life into a splendid sub-genre.

Sporting an array of artfully executed murder set-pieces, usually built up by a lengthy stalking sequence. Beginning with the opening elevator murder, in which there is no dialogue however, cinematographer Stelvio Massi makes use of some great zoom shots, enough to emphasize at what point the killer gets into the elevator and effectively build tension, with the assistance of Bruno Nicolai's trippy score.

The Case of the Bloody Iris is a perfect example of how entertaining giallo films are and acts as a great jump off for those new to the sub-genre.


Shaun Anderson [The Celluloid Highway] said...

I reviewed this one recently for a Giallo month I ran in January, and found it to be a wholly enjoyable, if somewhat flimsy entry. I liked the gallery of eccentric characters, especially the stamp collecting detective. The writer Ernesto Gastaldi deserves greater attention and recognition for his vast contribution to the form.

pay per head shop said...

*Then I did some digging around and discovered it's also another word for "a woman of ill repute" (aka a hooker), so I guess it's a regional thing (like how "bloody" is a swear in the UK but not here).*

It's not regional and it's not sexist because it means hooker. It's sexist because it's a derogatory term used ONLY against women and meant to demean and dismiss. Words like "asshole" are gender neutral. "Douchebag" (as you used as an example in our previous discussion) is generally used against men, but I've definitely heard it said about women and besides, it's meant to be demeaning because it's a feminine hygeine product, yes? And that's dirty, right? Have you ever called anyone an "enema"? Point being, you can make your point about the character being stupid without falling into the lazy writing trap of using sexist slang.

Anyhow, I think I'll give this movie a miss not because of the misogynist characters but because you said it is:

*not a particularly memorable Giallo*

and so I'll find something more entertaining to waste my time on :)

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