Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Case of the Bloody Iris



Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer?

Even though the giallo genre had some of the most unusual titles you could think of, there was always a certain significance in them as it pertains to the plot and characters of the film. Case of the Bloody Iris isn’t any different. The heroine of Case of the Bloody Iris, an up and coming model named Jennifer (genre stalwart, Edwige Fenech), knows a suspicious cat named Adam and his showering of flowers upon her lying body is visually presented to us in flashback.

Jennifer, married to Adam, was *pledged* to a peculiar cult, her body offered to the members for sexual purposes. She tired of this group, wanted to be an individual and belong to one man, not to be offered up to just anyone, free to make her own decisions. It is too bad Adam is a bit psycho. He is almost like a harbinger of doom, as he stops her on the way to her car, presents a hypodermic (probably holding a knock-out paralytic drug), and claims she will return or else. She breaks free, retreating in terror, but how long will she be able to escape Adam’s clutches?

When the giallo plot opens, it often starts with a young woman, normally with a shady past, getting it by someone with gloves on. In Case of the Bloody Iris, there’s a particular emphasis on an apartment complex where two women are murdered in two days. The first is recognized as a “hustler”, someone not very popular with the other tenants who lived in the apartment near her, and as she enters an elevator, another mysterious man in an overcoat, quietly places on each hand a pair of tan gloves, waits patiently as others exit, and removes a scalpel-type knife with a curved blade, two quick, vicious stabs into her lower torso, as she can only bleed and collapse, her eyes getting a nice glimpse of the weapon that would end her life.

The second was a private club *performer*, one of those female athletic wrestlers who promised a male patron in attendance a *good time* if they can outmatch her during a time limit. Her fate is horrific in that once he lands a firm chop to her throat, he rope ties her feet, hands, and neck, leaving her to drown in her own tub as it fills with water.

George Hilton was also a staple in the giallo genre, often the dashing lead actor who rarely escaped suspicion. In this film he owns the apartment complex where the murders occurred. He offers the massive apartment that the second victim stayed in to Jennifer and her model gal pal, and this sets up the possibility that these ladies aren’t exactly safe. He had seen Mizar (the drowning victim) in her club yet tells Jennifer that he only knew her from a photograph. He is repulsed of blood, as evident by how he responds to a mere cut on Jennifer’s finger. Hilton is definitely the model of success and has the looks to drive the ladies wild. Must be nice. But this is a giallo, so even the kind like Hilton have skeletons and perhaps psychological baggage of some sort.


He isn’t particularly fond of Jennifer’s goof-off prankster pal, Marilyn, whose sense of humor has a wild range from silly to inappropriate (she plays off Mizar’s death, tricking Andrea (Hilton) and Jennifer who think she might be in jeopardy when soap bubbles from her bath appear under the bathroom door). Marilyn seems to take nothing seriously, always with a jokey comment or goofy expression, but she’s harmless, if just a wee bit off-putting at times. We later learn he’s an architect for his company’s apartments.



I always liked how Hilton can cast doubt his way with just the right kind of odd look of menace. Notice a scene where he tells Jennifer to be careful when the two start to “make it” with each other and she finds out what kind of bastard he is. She says she can’t believe that, leaves his car, and Hilton passes off a look as she walks away that seems to indicate he’s not as fond of her as he might lead her to believe. It is just the right comment and look; a giallo, for me, needs to produce such suspicion. It’s all about letting few people off the hook except the heroine (but, I like it when the formula gets turned on its head and the heroine herself is the real culprit; Fulci has done this before..).

Get out of here, I’ll call the police.
Go ahead. Say your husband came here to violate you.

I’ll tear you as I tore the pedals of the iris, you’re an object and you belong to me.

The film does make sure to mention the iris often, the pedals in disarray when Adam is pissed at her for cavorting with Hilton, but especially when the red herring is left dead in Jennifer’s apartment dress closet, a knife stuck in him, the aforementioned iris laid on the floor covered in his blood.

They’re really going at it. Instead of corpse, we could have a birth on our hands.

With my experience watching available giallo thrillers, there always does seem to be one great scene that sets up in the brain and I think Marilyn’s death fits the bill. She is carrying groceries—hands full, recognizes the person who approaches her, and doesn’t have a chance to defend herself—and is fatally stabbed right on a crowded street. A moment of shock, falling against Andrea, trying to tell him something but unable, collapsing on the sidewalk, her blood smeared on his coat, citizens surrounding them. It sends Andrea running panic-stricken as the posted cop watching him gives chase, losing him.



This film gives us minute details about characters. The reason behind why blood repulses Andrea is shown at the very end while dangling over a railing as the killer tries to throw him over to the floor several stories down (the apartment has one of those square stairwells that produces a righteous image as a man is tossed to his doom, with the director showing us his hitting a few rails before landing with a sudden thud, a trickle of blood from his head, at an angle that is askew; this is badass.). Sheila, a neighbor to Jennifer, is lesbian and her professor father (typically playing his violin) is always at her about sin. A rather creepy lady neighbor, who buys “killer mags”, has a deformed son with rather nasty burns on his hands who moves to different rooms to peep on girls. So the suspects list is loaded, to say the least. A letter sent to Mizar, and the desirable ladies murdered (and Jennifer, seemingly always on the receiving end of the depraved and grotesque) produce clues as to the motivation behind the killer’s attacks.



That, and eventually you have amateur sleuth Jennifer attempting to do a little detective work herself, spying and following killer mag lady (who, along with Mizar and Professor Violin, found the body of the first slain lady in the elevator). Any film that has lots of close-ups of the beautiful face of Edwige Fenech (including plenty of zoom lens) doesn’t bother me one bit.


Sin can be as black as your color and you have corrupted me.

We live in a degenerate age, Lieutenant..isn’t she mouth-watering?

You made a big mistake going from group sex to a vow of chastity.










 















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