Horror Movie A Day: THE BLOODSTAINED SHADOW (1978) Why, you whore! I can find better than you on any street corner!
Published at: Oct. 27, 2008, 4:57 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[The regular A Movie A Day list has been frozen in order for me to do an all-horror line-up for October. I’ve pulled many horror titles from my regular “to see” stack and have ordered many more horror and thriller titles to make sure we have some good stuff. Like the regular AMAD column all the movies I’m covering are films I have never seen, but unlike the regular AMAD column I will not connect each film to the one before it. Instead I will pull a title at random every day and watch whatever the movie Gods determine for me.]
Okay, so this one was a dud. But you can’t fault me for thinking a ‘70s giallo with the awesome title THE BLOODSTAINED SHADOW, a creepy as shit DVD cover and some awesome original posters might have something worthwhile about it.
The setting (Venice) and gratuitious (and lovely) nudity from Stefania Casini are the only things worthwhile about this flick, Antonio Bido’s attempt at creating an Argento giallo about an Italian town plagued with a series of murders. This below lobby card shows ten times more atmosphere than anything in the movie:
Lino Capolicchio plays Stefano, a young professor coming back to the Islands off of Venice, his home, to visit his brother Paolo (Craig Hill). Paolo’s a priest and quickly fills his little brother in on the nefarious people within the town.
We have a suspected kid-toucher, a piano teacher who may or may not be touching kids, but is certainly gay. I guess they think being gay is synonomous with kid-raper. There’s also an Athiest doctor, an abortion-performing mid-wife who has a crazy son she hides somewhere in town so he’s not taken away from her and then there’s a medium who constantly gathers them all together for séances.
Sounds like this movie should rule, doesn’t it? Italian horror, hairy-arm-pitted naked hot Italian girls, a crazy cast of characters… Well, take that movie that’s playing in your head right now and hold on to it. I guarantee you it’s better than this one.
I give the filmmakers a little credit for trying, but they commit the cardinal sin of horror and exploitation. They made a boring, boring, boring movie.
I couldn’t find anything to latch on to as a viewer. The characters are mediocre at best and the big mystery of the movie isn’t interesting. Somehow these new murders are connected to a strangling that happened in the past (which opens the movie… a bizarre slow-motion strangling of a girl who looks like she’s trying to keep a straight face and not look at the camera), but if you think you have the who of the whodunit figured out just by reading this review you’re not wrong.
Bido does his best to try to throw you off of the scent, but his best isn’t good enough. The red herrings he throws at you are too obvious to be the real twist to the movie and then he delivers us an ending that is incredibly over-complicated, but somehow still predictable.
The dubbing on this film doesn’t help it, but on Italian exploitation and horror films I find the dubbing the easiest thing to overlook. Especially on horror. Look at Lucio Fulci’s movies… the dubbing is hardly ever great, but goddamn does he give you visuals to focus on instead… gut-barfing, nipple-slicing, sharks fighting zombies… Fulci knows how to do it.
Now, I will say there are two good scares in the movie. Both are jump scares, one a fake-out and another not-so-much. The fake-out is great because it could have been in a spoof movie. The beautiful Stefania Casini is walking the deserted alleys, sure she’s being followed. The tension mounts and mounts and mounts until she turns a corner and runs smack dab into a man holding an accordion. The accordion lets out a sudden and high pitched series of notes, like you’d expect to be on the soundtrack of the film.
The second is an attack scene that is just well time, a hand coming out from behind the curtain of a confession booth.
But yeah… the filmmakers had the right idea with this one, but didn’t have the talent to pull it off. If you’re not going to bring a quality mystery, you gotta at least bring the fun, guys.
Final Thoughts: Definitely not a blind buy quality, but if you happen to find it at a friend’s house or have a big hole in your Netflix queue then maybe it’s worth giving a view just for the Casini love scene and one or two decent kills. This is one I wish I could have watched on fast-forward. After watching through the whole nearly 2 hours (that felt like 3) of the film I realized I could have watched it that way and have still known what was going on.