Written by The Vern
I must start off this review with a confession. The only giallo (supernatural/mystery films that were usually made in Italy) movies I have ever seen were Suspiria and this one. There was a foreign film section at the video store when I was younger. But they never had such original titles like A Suitcase for a Corpse, The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave ,or my favorite, Kill the Fatted Calf and Roast It. I’m not sure if they come up with the title first and then write the script, but these titles are awesome. Even the name of the movie I watched sounds very beautiful: The Bloodstained Butterfly.
Before the story even begins, we are presented with a cool opening credit sequence where each person is introduced on screen. It even displays titles letting us know their relation to other characters that have already been announced. This is a much easier and faster why of letting the audience know about certain characters. Without the need for them to use pointless exposition in their dialogue.
We see that a young girl has been murdered in the park and all signs point in the direction of Alessandro Marchi (Giancarlo Sbragia). His attorney Giulio Cordaro (Gunther Stoll) isn’t interested in helping his client. Because he would rather start an affair with his wife Maria (Evelyn Stewart). Maria’s daughter Sarah (Wendy D’Olive) is good friends with Giorgio (Helmut Berger) who used to date the deceased girl. After Alessandro is tried and convicted, the murders still continue. So the question remains who really is the killer.
Unlike most of the other giallo films I have seen or I have at least read about, this one is very different in the genre. Director Duccio Tessari is more interested in telling a good mystery rather than creating a straight-up horror film. This is an investigation film where clues are gathered by the characters on screen as well as us, the viewer. Some of these clues are known to the audience before the characters and other times, it’s vice versa. While watching it, I was convinced who it was, and at the end, I was surprised to find out it was someone I wasn’t expecting.
While the story was fascinating and the characters were interesting, I found some of the acting to be a bit over the top and too melodramatic in certain scenes. Maybe it’s because it is Italian and that is just my opinion of the few movies I have seen from that country, such as La Dolce Vita and Life is Beautiful. I’m not saying that all Italian people are over dramatic so please put down those pencils before you start writing me hate mail. Then again, who really uses pencils anyways. Oh great, I went and offended those who still handwrite everything.
Arrow Video has put together a really good looking Blu-ray where the colors on screen really pop and the soundtrack is just dynamite. There is a booklet and documentary by Troy Howarth and James Blackford that gives a quick history lesson in Italian giallo films. The book goes on to talk about the score by Gianno Ferrio and the restoration, along with an interview with actress Evelyn Stewart. The two-set disk includes an introduction and interview with Helmut Berger, a section with Duccio Tessari’s wife Lorella, and an audio commentary with film critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman.
I am very interested in checking out more giallo and other Italian films after watching this. There is a certain kind of style that this has that other suspense films lack. Yet, I can still see in recent films how this has helped influence them, especially in the area of building tension. None of the murders in the movie are graphic but they do a great job in displaying a sense of dread in the characters and in the viewer.