This is the first review in a new project here on the Fringes blog. As many may know I am a huge fan of the Italian Thriller/Horror genre of Giallo. A precursor to the US slasher boom, the giallo was named after the lurid yellow covers that graced books on the newsstands in Italy. Then when those tales of sex, crime and violence came to be adapted for the big screen, the name stuck.
We are going to attempt to watch and review as many Gialli (and peripherals titles) as possible. And to give some tension to proceeding the review cannot drop below 500 words or rise above 1000 words, or the child dies!
Edwige Fenech made a firm living from starring in broad Italian sex comedies starting in the late 60s (where she was the attractive young woman looking for ‘love’) and continuing through to the mid 80s (where she was the attractive mother looking for a toy boy!). But alongside this remarkably long run in the Sex-Comedy world, she was also one of the most significant gialli actress of the golden age of the sub genre of horror thrillers that Italy.
From the early to mid 70s she starred in Mario Bava’s Five Dolls For An August Moon (1970), Strip Nude For Your Killer (1975) and a series of Gialli she made with director Sergio Martino from 1971’s The Strange Vice Of Mrs Wardh, through All The Colors Of The Dark finishing with Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key (1972). She also starred in The Case Of The Bloody Iris (1972).
Iris, or to use the straight translation of the original title, What Are Those Strange Drops Of Blood Doing On Jennifer’s Body? (what a title eh?) is a solid entry in the giallo genre and indeed Fenech’s gialli career. The plot involves model Jennifer Lansbury and her scatty model friend who move into a new flat after the previous tenant is brutally murdered in the building’s lift. The killer’s attention is drawn by Jennifer and soon she is the focus of his sexualised blood lust!
Mainly this plays like a sexy garish version of an Agatha Christie murder mystery. In comparison to the likes of Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) or Blood And Black Lace, Iris is like the slutty cousin. The trashy relative chasing the fashion trends.
The opening death is stylishly done and sets the tone for this pacy film. The victim is in a packed lift when the killer gets in. Each floor more people get off until the last person departs and the killer makes his move as the lift door closes. A nice way of establishing the killer’s pent up frustration and a pretty cool way of cutting from the death.
The rising sense of threat is conveyed nicely and the death scenes are varied. The death of Mizar (Carlo Brait – Torso) is particularly nice. Attacked by the leather clad mystery killer, she awakes to find herself tied down in a bath tub, and the tap is running.
The characters are a gloriously outrageous bunch with George Hilton (My Dear Killer) playing the male lead with a little bit of doubt over his motives. Is he burying a dark side with his adverse reaction to blood? There is the crazy old woman who rants at the sexy models calling them ‘Filthy Whores!’ There is Professor Isaacs and his overtly lesbian daughter, Sheila. Also Marilyn, Jennifer’s goofy flatmate and the police detective who is more interested in stamp collecting than seemingly solving the murders. The gloriously catty photographer Andrea, who steal so many of those early scenes. Then the film throws in the back story of Jennifer’s time married to a sex cult leader! A cult whose symbol was an Iris, her now manic ex-husband Adam soon comes back on the scene screaming that she will come back to him ‘crawling on your knees’! Suspect much?
The score keeping the action whipping along with Bruno Nicolai putting in another varied and fun soundtrack. In fact the record label Finders Keepers have been reissuing on vinyl scores to Edwige Fenech films all scored by Nicolai and this is another cracker.
Sex, violence, outrageous lines of dialogue and some pretty inventive death scenes; The Case Of The Bloody Iris is a good (and sleazy) starting point for those looking beyond Profondo Rosso and Blood And Black Lace.
3 1/2 Black Leather Gloves Out Of 5
Torso, a movie mentioned in this review, is screening as part of the Dead And Breakfast All Nighter on Friday 31st October – http://www.derbyquad.co.uk/film/dead-and-breakfast-six-violence-18