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Though Mario Bava had gotten the Giallo ball rolling in 1964 with "Blood And Black Lace" (though some may argue that it was really 1962's "Evil Eye/ The Girl Who New Too Much" that was really the first Giallo), it wasn't really until Dario Argento's 1969 masterpiece "The Bird With The Crystal Plumage" that started the Italian Production trend. But between 1970 to 1972 it was in it's full swing!
They must have been throwing these films out weekly! But Duccio Tessari's 1971 Giallo "The Bloodstained Butterfly" is a standout for many reasons. First it takes a slightly different approach in it's proceedings, anouncing the characters names like an Agatha Christie thriller. It contains a lush hypnotic soundtrack supplied by Gianni Ferrio (that blends out of a jarring Tchaikovsky number), that fits in snuggly with Ennio Morricone's doodlings (yet retains it's own originality). The entire cast is solid, with Helmut Berger's Giorgio (a pianist) going mental every time he hears Tchaikovsky, and Giancarlo Sbragia (the main suspect) looking timid (yet shifty) while trying to defend himself. Red herrings abound (everyone seems slightly guilty and slimey) the story weaves a web of perplexity until the surprising (or not so surprising if you've seen enough Giallos) climax. Dementia out of passion is called into explanation, and this is not just your regular moral avenger or greedy interloper Giallo. Beautiful Wendy D'Olive plays the daughter of the suspect (the only character who isn't dipped in slime), and one can't help but feel that this poor character will probably suffer a nervous breakdown at the end of the chaos. To give away the story would be a crime, because this is what keeps the interest jumping. Again the black gloved assassin is taking the lives of beautiful women, but this tends to feel like a more mature outing with restrained gore. The emphasis is placed on the convoluted, puzzling story. One thing that makes Giallo films so great is that it's stylized trash. Not simply just stalk n' slash fair (unlike so many of America's horror films of the time), but great detail is placed on locations, clothes, interior decoration, and music. Giallo films tend to seduce (before destroying) it's viewer with everything abound incorporating a lushous veneer.
"Bloodstained Butterfly" is a prime example of this asthetic. One of my favourite moments of the film is when Wendy D'Olive is taking a tram through the city, while Helmut Berger is driving his sports car right before their chance (or maybe it isn't?) meeting. The wonderful music glides you through the scene like an Italian daydream, only to drop you into a scene of suspicion. Highly recommended for fans of Italian Cinema!
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