BLOODSTAINED SHADOW *** Italy 1978 Dir: Antonio Bido. 108 mins

Following the pattern of several earlier 70’s giallo with its opening revelation of a strangled schoolgirl, Antonio Bido’s follow-up thriller to WATCH ME WHEN I KILL features young mathematician Lino Capolicchio (favourite things: bread and equations) returning to his home village in Venice and almost immediately being caught up in a series of murders, including the throttling of a fake-medium and the impalement of a local paedo. Who’s wearing the black gloves?
Why does love interest Stefania Casini have a penchant for Satanic art? What’s with all those ominous childhood flashbacks? Eerily and atmospherically shot and set in a mist-enshrouded Venice, this benefits from a fine, evocative Goblin-inspired score that errs close to SUSPIRIA on a couple of occasions. A shame about the padded script and excessive running time, not to mention an excess of silly false scares, including what might be the only example in giallo history of a cheap shock effect hinging on the random appearance of an extra playing the accordion! the hilarious moment in which the heroine is apparently stalked through the streets at length, before being scared outright by a gratuitously positioned accordion-playing extra! Both stars get naked for the obligatory pace-killing mid-point love scene, but Bido’s strong command of suspense – notably the fate of the wheelchair-bound pensioner – and a fun array of red herrings (got to love the animal / doll-loving manchild!) keep it afloat.

Review by Steven West

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