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The Bloodstained Butterfly (1971)

The Bloodstained Butterfly (1971)

The Bloodstained Butterfly (1971)

Directed by Duccio Tessari. Starring Helmut Berger, Giancarlo Sbragia and Ida Galli.

When a young girl is murdered in a park, the police quickly apprehend a suspect, Alessandro (Giancarlo Sbragia). All the evidence points to Alessandro as the guilty party, yet in court, he has an explanation for everything. Further doubt is cast as even with Alessandro behind bars, the killings continue.

The Bloodstained Butterfly (1971) C. John Archer

The Bloodstained Butterfly is a Giallo that barely qualifies as a Giallo. While possessing many of traits of its contemporaries, such as the black-gloved murderer, a hefty dollop of sex and sleaze and the whodunit murder-mystery elements, The Bloodstained Butterfly shakes loose many of the genre conventions. It’s more of an old episode of Law and Order, focusing on procedural police work and the courtroom than elaborate murders and amateur sleuthing.

Bloodstained Butterfly 1971 C. John Archer

The vast majority of the story takes place in the courtroom. We’re walked through the killing of a young girl from multiple PoVs. Everything seems to implicate Alessandro, yet enough doubt is cast as to his guilt. Meanwhile, various other characters are introduced, some of whom look guilty as sin themselves.

The Bloodstained Butterfly (1972) Review by C. John Archer

There are the expected twists and turns. Alessandro’s daughter, Sarah (Wendy D’Olive) is adamant that her father is innocent. Her mother, Maria (Ida Galli as Evelyn Stewart) seems supportive of her husband but appears to be hiding many things. The murdered girl’s lover, Giorgio (Helmut Berger) becomes involved with Sarah, and Alessandro’s lawyer, Giulio (Gunter Stoll) turns out to be sleeping with someone he shouldn’t be.

The Bloodstained Butterfly (1972) Review by C. John Archer

The Bloodstained Butterfly casts aside elaborate setups and high body counts. As we approach the climax, only three killings have taken place. There is also no desire to wow the viewer with lurid or surreal visuals. It’s still a beautifully shot film, but it’s not as dazzling as an Argento or Bava.

The Bloodstained Butterfly (1972) Review by C. John Archer

Those looking for a more traditional Giallo might not be taken with this one. It’s much more methodical and deliberate than many of its contemporaries, ramping up the whodunit aspect above all else. Yet by subverting the genre, it manages to stand on its own merits rather than demand comparison with its peers. Perhaps a bit slow in places, and the coffee gag got old, fast, but The Bloodstained Butterfly is suitably different to be worth a viewing for a genre fan.

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