Directed by: Anthony Ascott (Giuliano Carnimeo)
Written by: Ernesto Gastaldi
Starring: Edwige Fenech, George Hilton, Paola Quattrini and Annabella Incontrera
Reviewed by: Josh G.
“No orgies, I get motion sickness.”
Sleazy, cheesy, and things that’ll make your stomach queasy. These are common traits in the giallo movie genre in addition to being professionally shot little ‘classy mystery slashers’ (as I like to call them). There is rarely a time when I come across a bad one of these horror types, but I’d be lying if I said they were all masterpieces. Not much can measure up to Argento’s Deep Red, or senior Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much & Blood and Black Lace. It seems that the final twist in the bulk of these Italian productions mean well, but remain outside the VIP seating reserved for those big wigs who have made a name for themselves in such cult groups. However, there are times that will surprise you with lesser known makers, and even moreso when the high scale event uses just as much sleaze, cheese and quease to entertain as it does thought into setting up a good whodunit. Such is luckily the case for Case, a sexy romp in the dark with some loony abnormalities, making it one of the funnest entries in its clique for the time.
A young woman (Evi Farinelli) travels in a high-rise elevator to meet a special someone, but a mysterious scalpel wielding psycho prevents her from heading up any further by cutting her pretty body and ducking out just in time. Only days later, finder of the first victim, stripper Mizar Harrington (Carla Brait), is drowned in her bathtub by the same yellow gloved stalker. Models Jennifer Lansbury (Edwige Fenech) and funny girl Marilyn Ricci (Paola Quattrini) move in soon after into Mizar’s old apartment, located in the same luxury building where both women were killed. Architect Andrea Barto (George Hilton) sees that Jennifer is having doubts about the place but Marilyn insists on livening up the mood. Meanwhile Lansbury’s orgy-loving ex-husband (Ben Carra) cannot stand to be away from his love anymore, continuing to cross her path abruptly in the streets at night. Through all the drama, Jennifer still has one more problem – she is being haunted by the killer of those two girls, who certainly craves to kill again. But who? Who could want to kill Jennifer? Is it one of her neighbors? Her absurd ex? Or maybe newfound lover Andrea has a few hidden griefs of his own that can only be solved after the detectives piece together the puzzle of The Case of the Bloody Iris.
Nevertheless as slow as it is in the beginning, this giallo remains a special one in the bulk. With lesbian neighbors, horror-reading grandmas, and mutilated monsters, Iris’ characters are all filled with many sorts of dimensions and distinct personalities, whether it be the happy-go-lucky Marilyn, the desperate ex-lover, or the preying eye of gay neighbor Sheila (Annabella Incontrera). Colorful like most gialli, the shades of the rainbow makes its home less physically but more artfully with the scenes of window sex with lead Jennifer and Andrea, a pair of very Italian looking lovers. And of course, the sex dance with Mizar in the club when she pounces on a man during a cat and mouse fight/show. Even the title makes some relevance, however small, when a bloody iris is found on the floor of Jen and Marilyn’s new home, the type of flower that the bitter ex-husband always announces to Jennifer’s greets.
And of course, the giallo is not complete without a complementary sound, this time around provided by Bruno Nicolai, whose works really stand on the same level as his past themes for Argento’s animal trilogy or Lizard in a Woman’s Skin. It all adds to the funk of Bloody Iris, which though filled with some plot holes and wooden actors at the start, turns its head around and provides you with a few killer chase scenes. The setting of a luxury apartment is glamorous enough to coexist with the style, but infinitely larger where the viewer can still feel a sense of danger in the corners at night. It is also wonderful to see as the film moves on, that the thriller at times takes a back step for its horror cousin to share some light, evident greatly in the scenes where Jennifer discovers a gross monstrous secret in her neighbors’ abode.
Excellent at concealing its killer of the complex, its fault comes from another angle, where the blame is put on characters to try and trick you, but this comes off as too simple. The red herrings galore that they give us are usually those you can immediately mark off on your clue cards. No sale! We know what you’re trying to sell us Iris, but we’re not buying it! I will congratulate you though. You almost seem as an influence for Brian De Palma’s 1980 American giallo Dressed to Kill with your murdered woman in an elevator (who on certain angles looks strikingly just like Angie Dickinson!) later found by a sex entertainer. It’s all very, shall we say, conveniently placed, Mr. Palma.
Effects are few but satisfying and impressive when they do appear. In any case, the gore will not be of much aid in this story. It’s all about the mystery, not the slasher antics, though they do make a fair gathering. Close-ups on faces, new camera stances. Yes, it makes the cut, with only a few regrets. The ex of Jennifer in the tale about their troubled past comes to a finish halfway through, which is a downer seeing as a lot of potential flare could have been included. Perhaps a kidnapping of our final girl? Maybe some worries by the detectives over the possibility of a motive to murder? Regardless, I think the right moves were made in choosing who should go and who should stay, even if some of the most likable died a bit prematurely.
Wrapping a mystery up with a giallo can often be the hit of miss factor. The road to get there was slightly confusing just because of the guessing games you played with your mind. Thankfully, everything does make sense in the end; a repetition of the first moment we see on screen helps place the final puzzle piece on the board. I think the motive was slightly farfetched, but then again, what isn’t in the Italian world? Blue Underground’s re-release of this film on DVD is basically the Anchor Bay disc recycled. A director filmography, alternate (weaker and cut) stabbing scene and a revealing theatrical trailer which seems to have an extra gore shot not found in the film, fill out a fair release. There are sections that look spotty in the picture, almost as if a black marker had been strewed through the selected clips, but care has been taken to hide these from view as best as possible. Audio is mono but content in its class, and the film can be watched in 2.35:1 widescreen, as all giallo should be taken in. Not nearly as well known as it should be, The Case of the Bloody Iris is an exciting sensual body, dripping with light drops of blood and heightened by the perks it keeps reminding us of. Affirmative for you sex fiends; a Buy it!
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