"When two women are viciously slain in a luxury high-rise, a beautiful young model (Edwige Fenech of 5 DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON) moves into one of their vacated apartments - and soon finds that she is now being stalked by the mysterious killer! The suspects include her ex-husband - a member of a group sex cult, a predatory lesbian neighbor, the deformed son of a sinister widow, and even the building's handsome architect (George Hilton of MASSACRE TIME) who suffers from a paralyzing fear of blood. CAn she expose the masked maniac with a taste for luscious women and depraved murder before she becomes the next victim?
Directed by Giuliano Carnimeo (under the pseudonym Anthony Ascott) and written by Ernesto Gastaldi (screenwriter of such notorious thrillers as TORSO and THE WHIP AND THE BODY), this 1972 shocker is also known as EROTIC BLUE and WHAT ARE THOSE STRANGE DROPS OF BLOOD DOING ON JENNIFER'S BODY?
The word giallo (yellow) refers to the controversial series of savage Italian suspense thrillers that shocked international audiences throughout the '60s and 70's. THE GIALLO COLLECTION presents these rarely seen classics fully restored from original vault elements and filled with all the explicit sex, graphic violence and startling twist endings that have come to define this brutal, stylish genre."
Argento's and Bava's Gialli may be the best but when it comes to the best of the rest this trashy hunk-o-fun is hard to beat.
A glamorous high class prostitute gets in the lift of a high rise apartment block after taking directions from a women on the phone. When the lift has nearly reached its destination it's almost empty, apart from the woman and an unseen person behind her who pulls out a scalpel and stabs her and then slashes her throat, leaving her bleeding to death on the floor. Her lifeless body is discovered by three of the block's residents: a old man, Prof. Hendricks (Georges Rigaud), a grumpy faced old girl, Mrs Moss (Liana Del Balzo), and a black model, Mizar (Carla Brait, who later appeared in Sergio Martino's TORSO (1973)). Despite some initial shock, the three are soon acting in a surprisingly laissez-faire manner; Mizar breezily, and somewhat hilariously, excuses herself, "I think I better go now, I've got to be at a rehearsal in an hour!"
Across town, a Woody Allen'esque fashion photographer, Arthur (Oreste Lionello), is chatting to his old childhood friend, an architect, Andrea Antinori (George Hilton); they're discussing Mizar as a possible model for an advertising campaign Andrea is thinking of launching, "[She's..] black, but not too black!", enthuses Arthur. Whilst he's there he sees Arthur in action at a fashion shoot, where English model Jennifer (Edwidge Fenech) and her ditsy friend Marilyn (Paola Quattrini) are lounging seductively over a motorbike, sporting sexy painted on tops.
Despite being somewhat smitten by Jennifer, Andrea goes to see Mizar's cabaret show at funky looking club. Her erotic wrestling (!) skit is quite a hit; she whips up the libido of the men in the audience, challenging them to three minutes in the ring, tossing them off (as it were) when they try and have a grope. At the of end of the show Andrea arranges to meet her backstage.
Meanwhile, Jennifer faints during a shoot when she thinks she sees her ex-husband, Adam (Ben Carra), the leader of the sex cult she used to be embroiled in (lots of naked flesh is shown in a hippy-trippy series of flashbacks). Her worst fears are confirmed when she sees an iris on the pavement (a motif of the cult) and is confronted by Adam. He begs her to come back, "[to ..] our group; a body made up of many members." (!), but when she declines he hisses, "I swear you will come back to me, but crawling on your knees!". When he tries to drug her she manages to flee.
On the return to her flat, Mizar is attacked by an assailant in classic giallo garb. Her wrestling moves are no match for her attacker, who knocks her out, ties her up and leaves her to drown in a filling bath tub.
When Mizar's body is discovered the police - led by Inspector Inci (Giampiero Albertini) (who, like many giallo sleuths, has a strange character quirk, this time a stamp-collecting fetish) and his comedy sidekick Redi (Franco Agostini) - soon link her death to that of the girl in the lift. Andrea, who owned Mizar's flat, agrees with Arthur that it would be a good idea to rent it to Jennifer and Marilyn, despite the fact that there's a psychotic killer running around targeting pretty girls in the building!
THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS is pure hokum, and is all the more fun for it. It's chock full of larger-than-life characters, there's the not so friendly neighbours: the mean-spirited, myopic Mrs Moss, who keeps buying grisly horror comics; has more than a skeleton in her closet and hates pretty young ladies (her rant against Jennifer - "You filthy whore!" - is a highlight); the seemingly kindly old man, whose violin playing provides constant background music and his predatory lesbian daughter, Sheila (Annabella Incontrera), who, when Jennifer runs to her for helped after being attacked, purrs "My dear, you'd tempt anybody!". Then there's George Hilton, who is surprisingly effective here as the love interest who may or may not have a dark side, and who has a curious blood phobia. But my favourite character has to be borderline psychotic, cheerfully demented model, Marilyn - Jennifer's flat mate - who constantly has a painful grin on her face and scatter-bombs the film with shrill bon-bons such as "No orgies, I get motion sickness!". Seemingly not perturbed by the earlier murders she squeaks, "Who needs blood? Strangulation is the clean way!". However, the real jaw-dropper comes when she takes a bath in the same tub Mizar was drowned in; Jennifer becomes concerned when water seeps under the door, so Andrea breaks it down. It looks like Marilyn has drowned, too, but then all of a sudden she leaps up all naked and soapy and squeals, "I'm a ghost!". Andrea barks, "Murder isn't a joke, you idiot!", and then gives her a little slap around the face to illustrate the point. Ah, the 1970's!
Of course, all these strange beings are in orbit around the Queen of the Giallo, the one, the only Edwige Fenech. As an English model (she does fine with the model bit, the English bit isn't quite so convincing) she's great as the celibate sex kitten (who falls off the wagon in a scene that gives a whole new meaning to shagpile, and which prompts a spying cop to quip, "Those two are really getting it on. Instead of a corpse we might have a birth on our hands!"). She manages to look fantastic whether she's throwing shapes or running for her life (and despite nearly being bumped off every half an hour, or so, still manages to find time to pick a stylish new outfit for every scene!).
THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS twists and turns like a python on heat. It has it all: fashion models in peril; groovy threads; red herrings galore; cheesy thrills; and a healthy dose of splatter. Fun, fun, fun! Even though it's topped off with a final twist that'll have you scratching your head (and, really, none of it stands up to scrutiny so don't even bother to try) this is a prime - perhaps even ripe - example of the genre and should be on everyone's list of must see gialli.
female:4 / male:4
1) Female stabbed and slashed to death with scalpel
2) Female drowned in bath tub
3) Male found with knife embedded in chest
4) Female stabbed with scalpel
5) Female has face burnt off with hot steam
6) Male found with slit throat
7) Male killed in car crash (flashback)
8) Male falls to his death