THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS (a.k.a. What Are Those Strange Drops of Blood Doing On Jennifer’s Body?) **** Italy 1972 Dir: Anthony Ascott (Giuliano Carnimeo) 94 mins
This hugely enjoyable giallo opens with one possible inspiration for the elevator murder in De Palma’s DRESSED TO KILL: a cool blonde woman is stabbed, her throat sliced by a mystery killer clad in mask, Fedora and yellow gloves. She’s the second victim in a lavish high-rise and next under threat is sexy model Edwige Fenech, while the crimes are (poorly) investigated by a suspect-beating police commissioner and his comically inept sidekick. Much of the fun from the script by giallo veteran Ernesto Gastaldi comes from the many outrageous red herrings: seedy casino owners and nervously giggling photographers; George Hilton as the building’s architect, who has a fear of blood thanks to his Dad’s fatal accident when he was a kid; a slightly intimidating lesbian neighbour (the cop advises she “try the opposite sex, that’s what we’re here for!”); and an elderly war widow who buys multiple copies of “Horror Tales” magazine and has a secret, disfigured son hidden away in her apartment (“He understands what whores you are!”). All the misdirection, oddball supporting characters and plot twists keep the movie busy and fun, and the murders have impact: a black stripper tied up and drowned in a bathtub, a woman stabbed to death in broad daylight on a busy street. There are plenty of bare breasts, plus the prolific Fenech in a variety of fetching outfits. Contender for Most Annoying Giallo Character of 1971 is “Marilyn”, who jokes about the murders and at one point even fakes her own “murder” in the bath before rising up to laugh “Ha ha! I’m a ghost!” She’s a precursor to all those equally annoying death-faking, practical jokers in 1980’s American slasher movies.
Review by Steven West