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Pier Paolo Capponi
Gypsies, tramps and thieves, we'll drain their blood with a silly-looking robot!
Come to think of it, quite a lot of things were "blood-stained" in the wicked world of 70s Italian cult cinema! I've seen films that dealt with bloodstained orchids, shadows, butterflies, and now even a full lawn! The title, by the way, refers to a quote spoken by one of the female leads early in the film already. When she spots a field full of poppies/roses, she states: "Oh, so beautiful, it looks like a blood-stained lawn". That also pretty much gives you an idea of how random this entire film is. I have very mixed feelings about "Il Prato Macchiato di Rosso", and I can't help feeling somewhat disappointed because Giallo & Euro-Cult are my favorite exploitation sub genres and this title stood on top of my watch list. The basic plot is terrifically twisted, the main characters are joyously eccentric, and many sequences are truly beautiful to gaze at, but still the overall feeling is that the full package could have been a lot better. Style is clearly predominant over substance here, whereas the true Italian masters of cult cinema (Bava, Argento, Lenzi, ...) always managed to keep the two in perfect balance. Writer/director Ricardo Ghione obviously isn't one of those masters. It already begins with the opening credits. Teo Usuelli's music is phenomenal and moody, but there are far too many images of one and the same sunset from various camera angles. Did Ghione already run out of inspiration at this point? The next half hour is familiar, if you're into Italian cult that is, but still very well-handled. The sleazy-looking Alfiero picks up a variety of lower-class drifters (a drunk, a prostitute, a fortune-teller and a hitch-hiking hippie couple) and brings them to the villa of his sensual sister Nina and her eccentric husband Dr. Antonio. The latter apparently has a wardrobe full of oversized and ludicrously colored bow-ties and drags a bizarre looking machine that looks like a robot around the house. The guests are treated to copious amount of booze, drugs and orgies, but it's abundantly clear that these crazed aristocrats have vicious plans for them in store. Meanwhile, an ambitious UNESCO-agent (I don't have a slightest clue what the link with this organization could be) tracks down the origin of bottles with human blood that are being sold as prestigious red wine. "Il Prato Macchiato di Rosso" is a frustrating film in the sense that you know what is going to happen, and you also really look forward to some nasty bloodshed and misanthropy, but it just isn't coming. Only the climax is rewarding in terms of gore and thrills, but the disappointment already sunk in too deep by then. Although, I have to say, it rejoiced me to finally see that blood-draining robot device in action! If the overload of dialogues doesn't give you a headache, Enzo Tarascio's increasingly flamboyant bow ties certainly will. Beforehand, I was sure that "Il Prato Macchiato di Rosso" would have entered at a reasonably high position in my Giallo top 100 (albeit not an actual giallo), but I honestly can't give it a good rating. It does receive one extra bonus point, however, for that utterly coolest (yet completely irrelevant) film poster with the blond beauty incorporated into the deep-sea monster.
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