61 Days of Halloween: The Case of the Bloody Iris (1971)

Introduction

For an introduction to the concept of 61 Days of Halloween, as well as a list of previously featured titles, please go here.

The Case of the Bloody Iris is a giallo film from 1971 by director Giuliano Carmineo. It’s written by Ernesto Gastaldi based on his own story. Now as is the case with many Giallo films it could end up being “just another one,” especially considering that this one does take place, at least in part, in the world of fashion (as quite a few do). Staple actors of the genre Edwige Fenech and George Hilton are leads. A lot of it boils down to how it all shakes out in the end.

Without spoiling it, I was highly satisfied with the result of the whodunit. There were, in my estimation, a few unsavory possibilities in that regard, and the best path was taken. The outcome does leave a question or two, but most of it works.

Yes, there are a few elements that do date it however some of the representations (both in terms of ethnicity and sexuality) while ensconced in the lack of political correctness of the day are somewhat departures from the norm, which was refreshing to see.

The mystery is cloistered about one building. The police involvement can be counted on for a bit of bumbling, and comedy, but they are mostly competent. It’s just that the enigmatic nature of the case does prove to be a rather difficult one.

For as many complications this film foists upon itself and engaging in the occasional flashback sequence, it never gets confusing which is another win for it. And, on a pet peeve note: gialli have some of the greatest, most florid titles in cinema. However, the more often than note end up being a bit of a stretch (one example would be The House with the Laughing Windows) that is not the case here. Despite its strong elements I can’t say it’s a great giallo, but it is a good one that is worth seeing if you’re a fan of the genre.

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Silent Feature Sunday- Haxan (1922)

While I do watch many new films, and have annual awards and will discuss current cinematic topics. Part of my desire to create my own site was to not have an agenda forced upon me that was not my own. This allows me to discuss films from all periods of history whenever I see fit. Recently my Short Film Saturday posts have been running toward silents more often. I questioned this tactic for a second until I realized that if I really do hope to encompass all of film history then the silent era most definitely should not be ignored. If you mark the silent era from the birth of film (1895) to the first talkie (1927), and I realize it could be argued that the silent era stretched a few years beyond that, and also that there were experiments with sound very early; that’s still 27% of film history at current which was entirely silent. Therefore a weekly post (or, however often I put it up) is not out of line at all mathematically or otherwise.

The good news is that many silent films are available to watch online, and are in the public domain. So I will feature some here.

Yes, folks, I missed this post last week. The reason was I had a feature I’d not seen scheduled and I didn’t have the time to see it. This weekend I wanted to get you at least one title I had already seen. Thankfully, in researching I found I had neglected Häxan. In fact, it’s a title I previously wrote about. Here are some of my thoughts on it when I discussed its DVD release.

Häxan is a fascinating piece of cinematic history for a number of reasons – the first certainly being that it is one of the earliest films to straddle the line between fact and fiction; narrative and documentary. Second, because it is one of the earlier (#134) releases by the Criterion Collection.

The film tells its tale of witchcraft and satanism from the middle ages through the modern times. It cleverly uses vignettes (dramatizations if you prefer) and slides, illustrations etc. It goes from a title describing reasoning and custom behind an act or belief to a scene in which it is depicted or to an illustration where typically a pencil held by an unknown person indicates to us the area of interest.

The film goes along chapter by chapter revealing reason and the cause and effect of the hysteria concerning witches and the devil. Although, we at one point find out that several trials involve people from the same household there is little by way of a through-line, and that is by design. However, it does make it slightly troublesome to follow in part because you expect it to come back to one scenario or another but it doesn’t. Alas, one of the perils of blending fact and fiction, it moves and is structured like a doc but is portrayed as fiction much of the time so the audience member expects similar conventions.

Towards the end it does do a fascinating feat of simulacrum and tell the audience its reusing actors, does demonstrations and the titles take on a very analytical approach but it is some of the more enjoyable stuff in the film.

Criterion gets very high marks for this particular release for a number of reasons. First, there are two versions of the film on this DVD – one the 1922 silent, and then a 1968 re-score, voice-over included re-do by avant-gardists called Witchcraft Through the Ages.

In the former Criterion did a great job re-recording the score and returning the film to its original intended tinting. Tinting was a fabulous technique which was widely practiced in the silent era because it gave you the wonderful contrast and grain of black and white but it was bright and lively. It was also a tremendous tool for symbolism of time, place, emotion and so forth as colors hold many associations for people.

The original Häxan is very much worth watching.

I scored Häxan a 7/10. Enjoy!