Michael Hartford

writer, photographer, programmer, dad

Tag: edwige fenech

The Case of the Bloody Iris (Why Are There Strange Drops of Blood on Jennifer’s Body?)

Jennifer is a fashion model on the run from her estranged husband and a sex cult. She moves into an apartment building with a friend where two women were recently murdered, one in the same apartment. Murders continue as a killer stalks Jennifer.

This is probably about as pure a giallo as could possibly exist: beautiful victims, stylish settings, many red herrings and misdirections (at least three potential suspects crop up besides the actual killer, two of whom meet their own demise), and a good deal of blood. Giallo fans will recognize many of the actors, and will not be terribly surprised at the outcome. Credulity is stretched to the breaking point (right after we see Mizar [Carla Brait] beat the crap out of a big guy without breaking a sweat, we see her go down to the stalker’s single karate chop to the neck?), but if you suspend your disbelief and go along for the ride, this is a fun movie. (Well, except for the raging misogyny and not-too-subtle racism that crops up throughout; it is definitely a product of its time and place.)

All the Colors of the Dark

Jane is tormented by her mother’s murder when she was a child, by a recent car crash that claimed her unborn child, and by terrifying nightmares of a blue-eyed knife-wielding killer. Her husband recommends vitamins, her sister recommends psychotherapy, and her neighbor recommends participation in a Black Mass.

The first half of the movie, in which Jane is stalked by a silent blue-eyed man who may or may not be a figment of her imagination, is better than the second half, after she starts to participate in a Satanic cult’s ritual orgies and plunges deeper into insanity. But it’s still a solidly tense and unsettling movie that shifts between dream and reality, keeping the viewer off balance and delightfully confused. Though the director and most of the actors worked in the giallo genre, this is far more gothic than giallo in tone, with its dreams, mysterious castle, and dark occult activities. The movie wraps up like a giallo, though, a little too neatly, with the dastardly plot exposed; it would have been a more satisfying film if things had been left a bit more mysterious and unexplained.

Strip Nude for Your Killer

After a fashion model dies during an abortion, people linked to her modeling agency start to die at the hands of a heavy-breathing killer dressed in black leather.

This is a paint-by-numbers giallo, with plenty of blood, boobs, red herrings, and scenery-chewing over-acting. The male lead is incredibly creepy, and incredibly lacking in self-awareness; the female lead, played by Edwige Fenech, is smart and savvy except in her choice of romantic partner (see above creepy male lead). It teeters on the precipice of being a sex farce, but manages some moments of real tension (as when Magda is alone in the photography studio). It’s not a great introduction to giallo–“Tenebre” and “Torso” are better movies, and better representatives of unhinged Italian slasher gems–but it’s definitely a much-watch for fans.

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