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August 2016

The Bloodstained Butterfly

cast: Helmut Berger, Giancarlo Sbragia, Ida Galli (as Evelyn Stewart), Silvano Tranquilli, and Gunther Stoll

director: Duccio Tessari

99 minutes (18) 1971
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Arrow blu-ray regions A/B
[released 22 August]

RATING: 6/10
review by Donald Morefield

The Bloodstained Butterfly

Not a typical slasher, this giallo is rather tame by the standards of Mario Bava and, in particular, Dario Argento, whose feverish creativity usually favoured a bevy of beauty carved up for splattery effect. Still, it does get started with the results of a violent act when a maniac strikes in public park-lands. He kills a teenage girl, and then escapes wearing a raincoat and hat, using a sudden downpour to his advantage.

The Bloodstained Butterfly delivers the goods as a police procedural of whodunit intrigues, as the initial homicide case is built upon forensic evidence. And yet it's also a demonstration of how legal arguments work as this careful assemblage of scientific proof is later demolished in court. Witness testimony is also crushed by the defence lawyer. However, there's a clever twist when the accused Marchi presents an alibi, as his last-minute pervy confession that should, paradoxically, clear his name of murder is unsubtly jinxed, so that he's found guilty and sent down for life imprisonment.

While convicted Marchi is locked up, another murder occurs in the same park. Shock horror for justice means a new trial, but even after Marchi is released from prison and returns home, there are fresh complications to solving the crimes and some betrayals that add to a confusion of motives. When every new suspect looks guilty of something or other, logic is tenuous until revelations of the confrontational finale as it is revenge that prompts all sorts of evil. Truth is a sketchy illusion influenced by circumstances.

Duccio Tessari went on to direct the great Alain Delon in Zorro (1975), and genre star Rutger Hauer in Desert Law (1992), but his filmmaking career began with a couple of spaghetti westerns about a gunfighter named Ringo. For this study of a crime, with its focus upon courtroom drama, Tessari ably pulls off a series of cinematic tricks, as the plot emerges from a fragmented narrative, like a jigsaw puzzle where pieces of the big picture are fitted together in jolts and unexpected disclosures.

A brand new 4K restoration job for this classic Italian movie results in a superb hi-def transfer from the original negative. Extras: commentary track by Alan Jones and Kim Newman, new interviews with the stars, some trailers, and an image gallery.



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