Color, 1972, 94 mins. 40 secs.
Directed by Giuliano Carnimeo
Starring Edwige Fenech, George Hilton, Paola Quattrini, Ben Carra, Clara Brait
Shameless Screen Entertainment (Blu-ray) (UK RB HD), Anchor Bay / Blue Underground (DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9), Vipco (DVD) (UK R0 PAL)

The Case of the Bloody IrisAmong The Case of the Bloody Iristhe bizarre, wordy titles associated with Italian '70s thrillers, few can compare with What Are Those Strange Drops of Blood on Jennifer's Body? (or in Italian, Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer?), sensibly issued on home video under its more terse (but less colorful) export title, The Case of the Bloody Iris. Better known for his spaghetti westerns, director Giuliano Carnimeo attempted a single dip in the giallo pool with this wildly entertaining pulp thriller starring Edwige Fenech and George Hilton, the photogenic leads more often associated with director Sergio Martino starting with The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh.

The always wonderful Fenech stars as Jennifer, a fashion model living in a high rise apartment building populated by an array of beautiful, sexually voracious women who spend their days either posing in front of the camera, turning tricks, or beating up men in nightclub performances. Unfortunately said women are also being bumped off one by one by a mysterious killer, who attacks them in the elevator and the bathtub. Jennifer and her roommate, Marilyn (Quattrini), are a bit concerned they might be next (since one of the victims had lived in their new The Case of the Bloody Irisapartment) and try to narrow down the list of suspects. Could it be the landlord (and Jennifer's current beau), Andrea (Hilton)? Or Jennifer's freakish ex-husband, Adam The Case of the Bloody Iris(Carra), who has a proclivity for mystical orgies? Or that slinky lesbian next door? Or the strange, mentally challenged guy with a domineering mother down the hall?

Utterly devoid of any social significance, realistic character development, or stylistic innovation, The Case of the Bloody Iris is pure giallo fun stripped down to its basics. Set in a bizarre universe where everyone acts suspiciously and speaks in some weird form of double-talk, the film exists to propel the viewer from one tableaux of menaced, scantily clad females to another; not surprisingly, the final revelation is absolutely absurd, piling on Catholic guilt as some sort of motivational device for mass slaughter. As usual Fenech and Hilton make a great pair, working their glamour to the hilt and giving the circuitous storyline their all. Another Martino veteran, composer Bruno Nicolai, pops up again to deliver one of his best giallo scores, a catchy collage of sinister pop that's easily one of his best. Western cinematographer Stelvio Massi chips in with colorful, nicely balanced scope photography, ensuring that any pan and scan versions on home video are absolutely worthless. Eurocult fans should also note that the story was concocted The Case of the Bloody Irisby the The Case of the Bloody Irisamazingly prolific Ernesto Gastaldi, who penned most of Martino's best films as well as a slew of classic '60s Gothic shockers. Sheer decadent fun with no apologies necessary.

This film made its DVD bow in 2002 as a bonus exclusive disc in Anchor Bay's "The Giallo Collection," which was a fine incentive to pick up the whole set. The transfer looks good overall, though some slight water damage is evident on the left third of the screen during a handful of darker scenes and the blacks are very pale. The English dubbing is significantly sloppier and sillier than usual, but it sounds fine; for years viewers had to settle for non-subtitled Italian prints, so this was certainly a step up. Extras include the European trailer, an alternate version of the elevator stabbing, and a director filmography (under his most common screen name, "Anthony Ascott"). The same configuration was later issued as a standalone disc in 2008 from Blue Underground. British label Vipco also released the film multiple times on DVD in low-grade editions including a baffled double feature with Snowbeast!

In 2018, the film appeared on U.K. Blu-ray in a Region B numbered edition from Shameless Screen Entertainment, featuring a 1080p presentation touted as a new 2K restoration. The The Case of the Bloody Irisexact source isn't cited but it's an Italian one with the original opening and closing titles, featuring a very different font compared to the English one and sporting The Case of the Bloody Irisa slightly different closing with the disclaimer text that used to play out over the final shots now moved to the end (and abbreviating the last shot slightly in the process, so the running times are almost the same). Film grain is present if not always convincingly natural thanks to that usual Italian-sourced digital veneer; most significantly and pleasantly, the blacks have been brought down to their proper levels with the formerly blown-out white highlights now under control in the process. The English and Italian tracks are included (LPCM mono) along with optional yellow English (properly translated) subtitles. Two video featurettes produced by Freak-o-Rama are included starting off with "Flowers of Blood" (20m23s), a chat with Hilton about his career from westerns (where he met Carnimeo) to this giallo, a script he enjoyed with a slightly different character wrinkle for him than usual. He also goes into a bit about his other gialli including his collaborations with the Martinos and frequent co-star Fenech, with whom he remains friends. Next up is Quattrini with "Marilyn" (11m51s), which isn't as substantial as she mainly recalls her perception of the character and notes she's happier watching her performance here than most of her other films. She also recalls the pleasure of shooting in Genoa and reveals which scene she was reluctant to do, and it gave her an aversion to going under water in a bathtub to this day. Also included are promo trailers for All the Colors of the Dark and Strip Nude for Your Killer.


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Updated review on November 6, 2018