The Bloodstained Shadow

The Bloodstained Shadow

"I always thought spiritualism was a form of civic neurosis."

Stefano D'Archangelo (Lino Capoliccio, looking like an Italian James McAvoy) is a college professor, returning home to Murano after suffering a nervous breakdown. He is staying with his brother, Don Paolo (Craig Hill), the local priest, but his visit isn't the restful getaway he thought it would be. On Stefano's first night back in town, Don Paolo witnesses the murder of the local psychic in the courtyard and, though he couldn't make out the killer's face in the darkness and rain, He starts receiving threatening notes. Soon, the killer strikes again, rifling through old books and papers at the site of each murder, and stealing a painting from one victim's house. What is the murderer trying to cover up with these mysterious and specific thefts? Could the killer be the repugnant pedophile, Count Pedrazzi (Massimo Serato)? Or maybe it's the shady local doctor? With the help of his new girlfriend, Sandra (Stefania Casini), Stefano must follow the clues before the killer follows through on his threats.

The Bloodstained Shadow (not to be confused with The Bloodstained Butterfly or Seven Blood Stained Orchids) turns out to be a really good giallo with a story that actually makes sense, some inventive murder scenes, quite a bit of action, and an engaging, twisty plot that will keep you guessing. The wintertime setting in Murano, an island near Venice, provides some great atmosphere.  

  • Stelvio Cippriani composed the funky, synth-driven score. I like to imagine that the producer directed him to make it sound like a Simonetti score.
  • There is some bad 70's art in this movie but, surprisingly, there's also a lot of good 70's art too.
  • The "Main character in a creative profession" is Sandra, an interior designer and a painter.
  • In one scene, Sandra is painting while listening to Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring. A few scenes later, Don Paolo is walking through San Michele Cemetery, where Stravinsky is buried.
  • The killer places a severed, skinned animal head in the sacristy as a threat to Don Paolo. I didn't count this under "Animals killed" because I don't think the sheep (or whatever it is) was killed for the express purpose of scaring the priest. It was more likely a leftover from an animal slaughtered for food.  Feel free to disagree.
  • The creepy midwife, Mrs Nardi (Juliette Mayniel) is hiding a mentally challenged son in her apartment. Reminds me of the Mosses in The Case of the Bloody Iris.
  • Many elements appear to have been borrowed from the 1977 giallo Who Saw her Die? including the venetian setting, an artistic main character, the rich pedophile suspect, and the killer's identity and ultimate fate.

What the Hell am I Watching?

So Don Paolo witnesses the murder in the courtyard, but instead of going outside to help the poor victim, he runs through the house calling for his brother and the Sacristan. When he finally finds them, they stand around and talk it over before they actually go outside to look for a body. Big surprise: they don't find one! With all that procrastinating, the killer probably had enough time to go out for a bite to eat, come back, and then move the body.

Maybe a murder scene with an exposed corpse isn't the best hangout for a guy who gets panic attacks.

Check out Sandra's belly chain in the grownup scene. Kind of an interesting choice.

The police in this movie are entirely useless. In one scene, they check on Sandra when they see a figure running from her house. The whole while they have their guns drawn, waving them around and pointing them at the frightened woman.

There's a great scene where Sandra  is walking home and feels she's being followed. The tension ratchets up slowly and builds to a shock when an accordion player jumps out, providing his own scary soundtrack.

Fashion Moment

It's winter in Murano, 1978.

Stefano's look is "Wolowitz on Brokeback Mountain," with a white turtleneck paired with a deep-V sweater and a flashy wool-lined denim parka.  Sandra has opted for a bulky fisherman's sweater (who does she think she is? Luigi Pistilli?) under an avocado-green jacket. This is paired with the daring combination of dark tights, white socks, and clogs.