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The Blood Stained Shadow is the second and last - giallo that Antonio Bido directed. His other one was Watch Me When I Kill (a.k.a. The Cat's Victims). While Bido may never be considered one of the masters of the genre, I actually think his two efforts are rather good and at the very least he should be considered one of the best purveyors of the genre in the late 70's. There are some aspects that do stand out in Bido's gialli, making them distinctive. Firstly, there is a somewhat slightly more serious tone and secondly, and most significantly, both films dispense with young sexy women as murder victims. In fact, in both movies it's middle aged characters that end up as the killer's targets. It might not sound like much to some but it is highly unusual, and both of Bido's gialli follow the same pattern. So hats off to the director for being a little bit different. Other than an obligatory sex scene, The Blood Stained Shadow has really no sleaze factor at all.
The story begins with a mysterious slow-motion murder of a young girl. Several years later a maths teacher returns to his home town, where upon a series of murders ensues. Events seem to revolve around a séance group of local bad eggs.
This is another one of those occasional gialli that is set in Venice. The off-season spookiness of the canal streets was also used to good effect in films such as Don't Look Now and Who Saw Her Die? This city does give off a unique ambiance, which is once again utilised well. The film also includes several other odd details in its plot that will be familiar to fans of gialli, such as the weird painting, the retarded boy in the cellar and the present being governed by a terrible event from the past. All of this is put together to construct a film which, while possibly a bit overlong, has a mystery that does actually work in that it isn't too obvious where it's going and there are some decent red herrings sprinkled throughout.
Lino Capolicchio leads the picture. Many of you will be familiar with him from his turn in Pupi Avati's stand-out giallo The House with Laughing Windows. He's an interesting leading man. He's doesn't have the machismo of a Franco Nero, or the shiftiness of a Tomas Milian nor is he as suave as Jean Sorel. He plays characters a little more nerdy, which isn't so common in giallo leading men. He's good and is definitely a good choice for this more serious minded example of the genre. His leading lady is Stefania Cassini, most famous for her turn in Suspiria. I find her really very attractive and a good enough actress. Unfortunately, like here, she is normally dubbed into English by voice actresses. This is a mistake, as anyone who has seen the cult movie Blood for Dracula can confirm she has a beautiful, extremely heavy Italian accent that sounds simply divine. Ah well! The other significant contribution is the music. Stelvio Cipriani is the named composer but seemingly the legendary prog-rock outfit Goblin were key collaborators. It does sound a little Goblinesque at times - though not as good as their usual output to be fair. Still, it's a good soundtrack overall.
The Blood Stained Shadow is definitely recommended to giallo enthusiasts.
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