Here’s a little piece I did for my friend‘a blogathon over at Tranquil Dreams:
I think, when you think, or the curious film thinker thinks about Giallo, the first thing that probably comes to mind is: a very strange title and probably naked Italians. Of course, that would also mean that you’ve probably seen one or two to get you to that impression in the first place. I’ve seen quite a few of them and, in general, I like them a lot and most of them fit this mold: a strange movie title!, a murder!, more murders!, naked Italians!, inept police!, a dozen or so suspects!, a mystery that probably won’t be solved until the very last second!. A lot of them also feature some nasty kills which could turn a lot of people away Most of them also feature pretty creative camera work and some of that cool 70s chic that I loved growing up (and still do).For better or worse, if you were looking to look this up, it will probably be found under The Case of The Bloody Iris and it’s actually pretty tame as far as Giallo goes but it’s also one of the good ones.
The basic plot is this: someone killed a call girl then a stripper who will wrestle you for money followed by the leader of a Group Sex Astrology Cult and, naturally, some more characters along the way. Instead of the graphic nature of the murders, this one is more interested in leading you in (maybe!) misdirection on how could be pulling these off. Is it the terrified-of-blood building architect who has drawings for all of the rooms in his office? Is it the flamboyant photographer who takes photos of nude women to sell motorcycle ads? Is it Edwidge Fenech’s character’s ex-husband who used to shoot her up with heroin for group orgies? Is it the mysterious, retired, violin playing Professor next door? Is it his aggressive daughter Sheila? Is it the deformed son of the decrepit lady down the hall? Is it the police investigator who steals envelopes from crime scenes for their stamps?
Well – it could be any of them, really. Maybe someone just has bad headaches. Maybe this one guy just likes detective magazines. Maybe someone was in a bad car crash when he or she was a kid and got — strange drops of blood all over his or her body… Maybe!
The cleverness to these things, I believe, comes in the direction or at least the work of the DP. You don’t really see things like this that often any more (or maybe not in the things I like to watch) but I always enjoy the slow movement of the camera instead of just the traditionally stick it on a tripod method. And especially not gimmicky shaky cam trying to signify you’re someone watching things unfold, right there, in the scene. Take this an an example:
A man is looking in a file cabinet, he’s mumbling about how the criminals are getting smarter than the police. We pan right as he’s now complaining about his partner who is so stupid he should get demoted to the fire department. The camera stops on a ringing phone (rotary even!). Someone picks it up. Panning right further, we stop on a new character sitting in an office chair, a bottle of dark scotch in the forefront. He’s smoking! Offscreen, someone hangs up the phone. The camera pans right, to the door, someone opens it and advertises there’s been another murder. Someone’s been stabbed in the street! She had an armful of groceries! The two characters from the left of the room scramble out, putting out their cigarettes and putting on their hats. The door slams shut and the camera makes it’s way back to the telephone. Was that what we were supposed to be paying attention to the entire time? Who called what in? Was it the ex-wife? Was it the roommate? Was it the maître d’ at the wrestling club? What’s the significance??
One last thing I’d like to mention – we’ve all seen a shot somewhere of a body being thrown down the middle of a stairwell, hitting everything on the way down, right? Sure – of course, probably. Well, here – not only do we get that but, just to make things clear, they do it again for good measure! And not the same body! Score!
All in all, I don’t know if this is because it came around in the early 70s before everything started getting really weird but, for Giallo, while strange, this one is tamer than the later ones. Still R Rated no doubt, but not as grisly as some of the others.
FILED UNDER: GIALLORAMA