Seven Blood-Stained Orchids is a 1972 Italian-West German giallo-krimi horror thriller directed by Umberto Lenzi from a screenplay co-written with Roberto Gianviti, based on Lenzi’s storyline.
The movie stars Antonio Sabàto, Uschi Glass, Pier Paolo Capponi, Rossella Falk, Marina Malfatti and Marisa Mell.
A woman is fatally stabbed in bed by an unseen assailant. Her daughter Marcella, a prostitute (Gabriella Giorgelli), is then battered to death and a female painter is strangled with a telephone cord.
Another woman, Giulia (Marisa Mell), who is on her honeymoon, is attacked in a train carriage but the killer flees when her fashion-designer husband Mario (Antonio Sabàto) comes to the rescue.
In spite of his protestations to the police, Mario is accused of being the murderer. He sets out to prove his innocence by conducting his own inquiries. In the meantime, a woman in an insane asylum is drowned in a bath and another unfortunate female victim is power-drilled to death…
Seven Blood-Stained Orchids begins like a textbook example of an early Seventies giallo. A cool Riz Ortolani score — one of the highlights of this generally lacklustre production — accompanies images of a black saloon cruising through an urban landscape whilst an array of city lights illuminate the darkness. Point-of-view shots reveal a typical knife-wielding, black-gloved killer stabbing a female victim and brutally stabbing a lady of the night.
Despite upping the ante with some notably nasty murders, including a gruesome death by power-drill, Lenzi is unable to maintain the classic style and composition of the aforementioned opening scenes of mayhem and once the (usual) alienated protagonist begins to investigate this ‘puzzle of the silver half-moons’, the plot begins to meander.
Spaghetti western star Antonio Sabàto was perhaps not the best choice to provide the film’s lead and seems bemused rather than engaging; in casting this undistinguished actor to carry the bulk of the film’s narrative baggage, the film’s producers, unfortunately, allows the viewer’s attention to slip before the film grinds onto its inevitable conclusion, despite the enjoyable psycho set-pieces.
Unlike Sergio Martino or Lucio Fulci’s more accomplished early seventies gialli, such as A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin and Don’t Torture a Duckling, this is a killer thriller that seemed to be merely going through the murderous motions, albeit with the requisite black-gloved assailant. That said, the use of a power drill as a murder weapon predates Abel Ferrara’s The Driller Killer by seven years. Perhaps this movie inspired him? Riz Ortolani’s sublime soundtrack score also elevates the proceedings slightly.
Lenzi’s next gory whodunit, Gatti rossi in un labirinto di vetro (the delightfully titled ‘Red Cats in a Labyrinth of Glass’ aka Eyeball) is considerably tackier and undeniably more frivolous fun. He also directed the ground-breaking cannibal cruelty opus The Man from Deep River the same year as this death-by-the-numbers giallo.
Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA
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Brand New 2017 HD Master
Includes both English and Italian Audio Tracks
Brand New Interview With Director Umberto Lenzi
Brand New Audio Commentary By Film Historian Troy Howarth
Vintage Interview With Umberto Lenzi And Gabriella Giorgelli
Original Theatrical Trailer
Cast and characters:
Antonio Sabato … Mario Gerosa (as Antonio Sabàto)
Uschi Glas … Giulia Torresi (as Uschi Glass)
Pier Paolo Capponi … Inspector Vismara
Rossella Falk … Elena Marchi
Marina Malfatti … Kathy Adams
Renato Romano … The Priest
Claudio Gora … Raffaele Ferri
Gabriella Giorgelli … Ines Tamburini aka Toscana
Aldo Barberito … Lt. Palumbo
Bruno Corazzari … Barrett
Franco Fantasia … Lt. Renzi
Petra Schürmann … Concetta De Rosa
Ivano Davoli … Palmieri
Linda Sini … Wanda
Nello Pazzafini … Giovanni Rau
De Paolis Studios, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Nuova Pesa Gallery, Roma, Italy (art gallery interiors)
Lei di Filippo, Rome, Italy (boutique interiors)
Spoleto, Perugia, Umbria, Italy
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1
Soundtrack main theme:
Cover version by the Ozarks: