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The Bloodstained Shadow (1978)

  Tags: 70's, Antonio Bido, Giallo Flicks, Murder, Mystery, the bloodstained shadow

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Antonio Bido
109 minutes
Lino Capolicchio, Stefania Casini, Craig Hill, Massimo Serato, Juliette Mayniel, Laura Nucci, Attilio Duse, Gianfranco Bullo, Luigi Casellato, Alfredo Zammi

Here is another flick I recently stumbled across in my search to see all worthwhile Gialli. Again I had heard zero on this one but did a quick internet search and came up with enough to warrant a view. Thoughts on it were mixed ranging from good to to not so good, the pics however looked great. So it was upon that basis that I decided to get my hands on this one, and i'm glad I did.

This late 70's Giallo gets rolling with the slow motion strangling of an attractive young lady. After that it transitions quickly and we meet Prof. Stefano and his brother Don Paolo the town priest. There is also a potential love interest for the Prof thrown in here too. Stefano goes on to explain that he's returned to Venice hoping to escape the pressures of the city. That doesn't work out to well since his brother winds up witnessing a murder later that evening. Everyone in the house is of coarse absent when the strangulation occurs, soon reappearing after it's over. Don Paolo then finds a note from the killer that sets the stage for secrecy, blackmail, and of coarse more murders.

After the first murder the film gears up into suspense mode where various effective tracking scenes and eerie music are employed. There are also a few interesting plot inclusions such as a local cult group, and a rich old child molester. Neither of them are explored with much depth but they help keep you guessing as to who the killer is. Possibilities begin to narrow though, when the killer begins to slow stalk and murder out many of the main players. Now you don't get the graphic Argento style kills, but you do get another black gloved strangulation, death via Halberd, and an interesting new use for the fire place. Which was probably my favorite of the bunch but I found them all to be quite good regardless. Especially the scene where a man is kicked into a watery trench then run down with a boat. I also liked that the killers identity is concealed well despite the many suspects dropping like flies.

The main story is constantly evolving while dark, damp atmosphere permeates the screen. The director being fully aware, expertly takes advantage of the numerous esoteric Venetian backdrops. Using great cinematography to lead us down the fog laced, water entrenched areas of the city. This adds some needed depth and a little bit of artistic influence to many of the scenes. Bolstering these things is an imaginative score that is at times offbeat but often fitting. The music used in the stalking and suspenseful sequences works well, yet some of other bits are completely out of place. It does feel disjointed in a few places but overall it's ominously effective. When it comes to acting we get some good performances from the cast. Good enough that even the slowly developed romance plays out fine.

The Bloodstained Shadow is a bit of a lost gem, having everything the genre prescribes. The murders are solid, the tension is thick, atmosphere is at a premium, and the killer is mysterious. The only thing that could have been upped was the gore and nudity. That aside the film is a moody murder mystery that should please genre vets and some casual fans as well.

Posted on May 21, 2009 - 6:07pm | steelba