Color, 1971, 91m. / Directed by Giuliano Carnimeo / Starring Edwige Fenech, George Hilton / Anchor Bay (US R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)


Among the bizarre, wordy titles associated with Italian '70s thrillers, few can compare with What Are Those Strange Drops of Blood on Jennifer's Body? (or in Italian, Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer?), sensibly issued on DVD under its more terse (but less colorful) export title, Case of the Bloody Iris. Better known for his spaghetti westerns, director Carnimeo attempted a single dip in the giallo pool with this marvelous, utterly irredeemable trashfest starring the photogenic male and female leads more often associated with director Sergio Martino. The lovely Fenech stars as Jennifer, a fashion model living in a high rise apartment building populated by an array of beautiful, sexually voracious women who spend their days either posing in front of the camera, turning tricks, or beating up men in nightclub performances. Unfortunately said women are also being bumped off one by one by a mysterious killer, who attacks them in the elevator and the bathtub. Jennifer and her roommate, Marilyn (Paola Quattrini), are a bit concerned they might be next (since one of the victims had lived in their new apartment) and try to narrow down the list of suspects. Could it be the landlord (and Jennifer's current beau), Andrea (Hilton)? Or Jennifer's freakish ex-husband, Adam (Ben Carra), who has a proclivity for mystical orgies? Or that slinky lesbian next door? Or the strange, mentally challenged guy with a domineering mother down the hall?

Utterly devoid of any social significance, character development, or stylistic innovation, The Case of the Bloody Iris is pure giallo fun stripped down to its basics. Set in a bizarre universe where everyone acts suspiciously and speaks in some weird form of dubbed double-talk, the film exists to propel the viewer from one tableaux of menaced, scantily clad females to another; not surprisingly, the final revelation is absolutely absurd, piling on Catholic guilt as some sort of motivational device for mass slaughter. As usual Fenech and Hilton make a great pair, utterly watchable and giving the circuitous storyline their all. Another Martino veteran, composer Bruno Nicolai, pops up again to deliver one of his best giallo scores, a catchy bit of slasher pop that screams out for a soundtrack release someday. Western cinematographer Stelvio Massi chips in with colorful, nicely balanced scope photography, ensuring that any pan and scan versions on home video are absolutely worthless. Eurocult fans should also note that the story was concocted by the amazingly prolific Ernesto Gastaldi, who penned most of Martino's best films as well as a slew of classic '60s gothic shockers. Sheer decadent fun, with no apologies necessary.

Available only as a bonus feature in Anchor Bay's "The Giallo Collection," this is certainly a fine incentive to pick up the whole set. The transfer looks very good overall, though some slight water damage is evident on the left third of the screen during a handful of darker scenes. The English dubbing is significantly worse and sillier than usual, but it sounds fine; for years viewers had to settle for non-subtitled Italian prints, so this is certainly a step up. Extras include the European trailer, an alternate version of the elevator stabbing, and a director filmography (under his most common screen name, "Anthony Ascott").


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