1/1/09

B.L.O.G Presents: The Case of the Bloody Iris (1972)

Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome back to another installment of Beautiful Ladies of Genre. This week I am very happy to have a film starring one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the silver screen....

Ms. Fenech has starred in a couple of films I've already covered here, the Sergio Martino giallo Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key and the sex comedy Giovanna Long Thigh. Both films I have dearly loved and I hardly ever find a film with Fenech in it that I don't enjoy (The exception being Strip Nude For Your Killer). She has had a long career starting in 1967 that has continued up until recently when she appeared in a small role in 2007's Hostel II. She has also transitioned into producing films which include the Al Pacino film The Merchant of Venice. For my money there is no better type of film to see her in than a giallo where she can play anything from the devious to the innocent with equal aplomb. Tonight I have the honor of presenting another of those fine movies in a little film called....

The Case of the Bloody Iris (a.k.a What are Those Strange Drops of Blood Doing on Jennifer's Body?) (1972) starring Edwige Fenech, George Hilton, Annabella Incontrera, Giampiero Albertini, Franco Agostini, Oreste Lionello. Directed by Giuliano Carnimeo.


A rash of killings of beautiful women begins to plague an apartment complex designed by Andrea Barto (Hilton), and he soon becomes one of the suspects. Andrea meets a gorgeous model, Jennifer (Fenech) and moves her and her friend into an apartment vacated by one of the murdered girls. Soon Jennifer is being stalked by a man in a black mask and trench coat, and Commissioner Enci (Albertini) and his assistant Redi (Agostini) become even more suspicious of Andrea. The apartment complex is littered with other suspects including a horror story obsessed old woman, a mysterious professor, and a predatory lesbian named Sheila (Incontrera). With the murderer still at large, Andrea goes on the lam, but is he the killer or is there someone else with sinister designs on Jennifer.



Film Facts

--A poster for the film Io non vedo, tu non parli, lui non sente , a murder mystery set on a train, is seen in the film.

--In total Carnimeo and Hilton would work on eight films together. All the other films were western including Deep West and In The West There Was a Man Called Invincible.

--Oreste Lionello who plays the Woody Allen look-alike photographer in the film was actually the the official voice of Woody Allen in Italy. He dubbed all the actor's films except Casino Royale.

--Giampiero Albertini would go on to appear again as a police commissioner in the Umberto Lenzi film Rome Armed To The Teeth.

The Bug Speaks


Let me just start off by saying that What are Those Strange Drops Of Blood Doing On Jennifer's Body? has to be one of my favorite alternate titles to a film ever. That and the appearance of Ms. Fenech was what drove me to want to watch this movie in the first place. I was for the most part not disappointed, but there were a few things that bothered me.

For starters the film does not have the visual style I have become accustomed to in the works of Bava, Martino, or Argento. Carnimeo had a background in westerns and I think it shows even here in this modern setting. The shots are static for the most part and very little of the set design goes beyond basic realism. There is no broad color palette or play with light and shadow that enhances so many gialli. That being said the direction is not bad, merely underwhelming in comparison or contemporary work of the period.

The script was also lacking in some regards. Some of the dialog seemed clunky and forced. This could have to do with the extremely poor dubbing job by some very unenthusiastic performers. I would have really preferred to see this film in the native language, but such an option was not available. Where the script found it's strength was in the narrative of the mystery. It is deftly woven, and the many red herrings serve to confuse the identity of the killer quite well. In fact at one time I solved the mystery only to second guess myself due to some of the misleading plot points. However the sub-plot about Jennifer's involvement with a free love cult seemed unnecessary, and it added in a thread that was quickly resolved to little effect or character development. The pacing of the film was handled nicely with the violent scenes acting as punctuation to quiet moments of charactazation. It gave the film a very rich qulaity as the suspense unfolded.

With all that being said, there was much of the acting in the film I enjoyed. George Hilton was very well cast as the accused architect, and his phobia of blood is an interesting character flaw. I even enjoyed the brief flashback where they explained it's origin. Giampiero Albertini gave a great performance as the Commissioner, and I really enjoyed that he was often searching crime scenes for rare stamps rather than clues. Also effective was Franco Agostini as the Commissioner's assistant. His bumbling portrayal might have felt like forced comic relief if not handled deftly, but he managed to slide back and forth between the dramatic and comedic with relative ease to the benefit of the film.

I would like to take a moment to point out what I felt to be an excellent score by Bruno Nicolai. Ranging from pulse pounding to laid back jazz the film enhanced every scene and nearly made up for the lack of depth in the film making. It is a score I will be looking to get so I can listen to apart from the film if that gives you any idea of how much I enjoyed it.

I want to take a moment to talk about Ms. Fenech. While the film features many lovely ladies and most of them have the decency to appear in various stages of undress, they pale in comparison to Edwige. While most of the film she seems to have a constant expression of stress combined with fear, she also has some lovely scenes where she appears very natural and light. Speaking of natural, she also shows off her form in a series of situations including her body being painted with a leather jacket for a photo shoot and her marriage into the free love cult. She also seems to model about every kind of clothing that a hip '70's chick might wear, and she looks great in each of them. In the end, everything about her appearance in this film is lovely, and she definitely stands out as the lead performer.

So while the film definitely has a lot going for it as far as the story and the quirky characterizations go, it does lack the flair of other titles. This is a film that fans of the genre will like, though possibly with some reservations. For anyone inexperienced with giallo this may well be a great place to start. By focusing on the mystery and leaving out the dreamlike qualities of other gialli, it becomes a straightforward primer to the basics of the genre. This is a film I do recommend to fans of Italian cinema and especially to anyone unfamiliar with the beautiful Edwige Fenech.



Bug Rating


4 comments:

  1. "What Are Those Strange Drops Of Blood Doing On Jennifer's Body?" Awesome title! Gotta love giallo film titles. And gotta love Fenech!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great Review LB!!

    I am ashamed to admit that I am not familiar with Fenech [though I am going to quickly remedy that!] I do have Vice in my Netflix Queue though, and will be going there to add this one as well.

    Also, I have to agree - that alternate title is great!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the Comment, Johnny. Let me know what you think when you see Vice, 'breaker. I'd love to know what you think about it.

    ReplyDelete
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