As I have mentioned before in other reviews the Italian Giallo genre is an interesting one being as that although it appears to have only been massively popular for a short period and predominantly in one country its influences are still felt right up to this day in many mainstream visual mediums.
Duccio Tessari’s Bloodstained Butterfly is a brilliant example being that it plays out as a police murder mystery with emphasis on the forensic evidence gathering that moves into a surprise filled courtroom drama all elements we see again and again in populist mainstream American TV series such as C.S.I and Law and Order among a million others.
What set Giallo movies apart in their heyday was the blending in of horror tropes and images which today’s audiences are more than use to on their favorite goggle-box broadcasts and masters of the genre such as Dario Argento and Mario Bava combine stylish gore filled murders and sick psychological set pieces to thrill and chill the viewers.
Although opening with the aftermath of a gruesome molestation and murder of a young girl Bloodstained Butterfly is far less horror infused than other Giallo’s which is somewhat of a disappointment as the script and story are both excellent and a few more imaginative death scenes would have elevated the film no end in my humble opinion.
What we do get is a large injection of intrigue as the dead girl’s friend Sarah (Wendy D’Olive) finds her sports commentator father played by Giancarlo Sbragia accused of the heinous crime. As his lawyer tries his best to change the juries mind against the pile of evidence stacking up against him and her mother becomes more and more distraught Sarah seeks solace in old friend Giorgio (Helmut Berger) but everyone it seems has a secret and by the end of the twisted tale all of them will come out.
With a rich and beautiful score by Gianni Ferrio, Tessari’s direction is flawless and the clever jumping around in time works wonderfully amplifying not only the suspense and enigma on offer but the sense of fragility of life and love both of which are lost to the characters caught up in this riveting whodunit.
Arrow’s 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative looks sensational and the excellent extras which include audio commentary with critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman and interviews with the cast and crew including Helmut Berger and Lorella De Luca, actress and wife of director Duccio Tessari and much, much more are extremely informative and entertaining.
Bloodstained Butterfly may be a little too bloodless for my personal tastes but as a gripping thriller and testament to the quality and validity of Giallo as a genre and its importance in influencing conventional cop shows as we know them today it more than deserves to be pinned in to any aficionados collection.