THE BLOODSTAINED BUTTERFLY (1971) – The Dungeon Review!
The Bloodstained Butterfly like so many films, has been in my queue for quite a while. I have tended to seek out the more horror-oriented giallo first. I’ve gone on a couple hard-core binges over the last couple of years. What is left on my list has been more difficult to find. My excellent new video store has a decent little selection of giallo and had two titles I had not seen which included this little nugget; The Bloodstained Butterfly.
Françoise Pigaut is found murdered in a local park. A knife left by her body is covered in fingerprints and along with other clues the police quickly discern the woman knew her killer. Alessandro Marchi is arrested and charged with the crimes. The evidence against Marchi is mounting but is he guilty of the crime? His adulteress wife Maria, his sleazy lawyer Giulio Cordaro, his teenage daughter Sarah and her lover; the handsome and troubled pianist Giorgio could all be potential suspects.
The Bloodstained Butterfly has a whodunnitesque intro where they throw titles up on the screen to introduce each of the central characters. This ain’t your mama’s Agatha Christie though, this is 100% pure giallo. Sex, nudity, a convoluted plot, red herrings, a black-gloved killer; you know the deal! I have long sung the praises of 1970s giallo; to which I am addicted to like crack. The Bloodstained Butterfly is missing the elaborately staged death scenes of some of its peers instead focusing more on its puzzle and eclectic mix of characters.
Alessandro Marchi is a somewhat empathetic character; I say “somewhat” because you don’t exactly trust the guy even if you do feel a smidge bad for him. Giancarlo Sbragia is excellent in the role. Maria Marchi is a beautiful but severe looking woman who I do not think smiled once. Evelyn Stewart is no stranger to giallo and plays Maria like a pro. Both halves of the married couple are cheating and Alessandro’s much younger alcoholic lover is one of the films wackier characters; I would not have minded seeing more of her. I almost don’t want to admit I kind of liked attorney Giulio Cordaro early in the film as he turns out to be such a sleazy douchebag! I mean this in the most positive way possible; Günther Stoll plays a douchebag perfectly. Teenage daughter Sarah has two cheating parents and her father was accused of her best friend’s murder. She was surprisingly normal considering. Perhaps a little too normal? She begins a relationship with a pianist who we learn was dating Françoise our dead girl. The plot thickens! Wendy D’Olive was a decent choice; she is pretty and likable enough. Sarah is the least likely suspect, but on the other hand, this is giallo and I’ve seen my share of wackadoodle twists. Rule number one of giallo should be never rule anyone out! Finally we have a young handsome Helmut Berger who plays Giorgio. He is not hard on the eyes, but man he has got issues! Ugly adult issues. I probably could have summed this up by saying the characters and performances are great, but I thought the solid cast was worth mentioning!
The Bloodstained Butterfly is stylishly filmed in various locations with a wonderful array of interesting set pieces. Various sequences in the film are seen through the eyes of different characters and help to keep the visuals lively. The Bloodstained Butterfly is the only Gialli I am aware of where a chunky portion of the film takes place in court. It does not drag the film down by any means as director Duccio Tessari constantly keeps things moving giving us plenty of insight on the films characters. The ever important twist is outstanding and even as a well-seasoned giallo watcher took me by surprise. Gianni Ferrio’s excellent score effortlessly weaves in a classical piece of music and adds to the mood wonderfully.
Despite a lack of violence, I thoroughly enjoyed The Bloodstained Butterfly. I am shocked this film had ratings from only 300 users on IMDB!! The Bloodstained Butterfly is an extremely well-executed and satisfying gialli. I highly recommend seeking this one out!
Dungeon Rating: 4/5
Directed By: Duccio Tessari
Starring: Helmut Berger, Giancarlo Sbragia, Evelyn Stewart, Silvano Tranquilli, Wendy D’Olive, Günther Stoll, Carole André, Anna Zinnemann, Lorella De Luca, Stefano Oppedisano, Dana Ghia, Wolfgang Preiss, Federica Tessari, Peter Shepherd, Gabriella Venditti