THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS (1972) Reviews and overview

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The Case of the Bloody Iris is a 1972 Italian Giallo horror-thriller feature film directed by Giuliano Carnimeo (RatMan) [as Anthony Ascott] from a screenplay by Ernesto Gastaldi. The original title – Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer? – translates as “Why Are There Strange Drops of Blood on Jennifer’s Body?”

The movie stars Edwige Fenech, George Hilton, Paola Quattrini and Giampiero Albertini. It features a soundtrack score by Bruno Nicolai’s and cinematography from Stelvio Massi (Strip Nude for Your Killer).


An attractive young blonde woman (Evi Farinelli) is slashed to death by a mysterious killer in the lift of a high-rise tower block. Incidentally, rather than the usual black gloves, this murderer wears brown latex surgical ones.


Mizar Harrington (Carla Brait), an exotic dancer whose act involves subjugating her male audience, discovers the victim’s body and soon becomes a victim herself when she’s tied up and drowned in the bath.

Having become friends with Andrea (George Hilton), the building’s architect, two models, Jennifer (Edwige Fenech) and Marilyn (Paola Quattrini), move into the deceased dancer’s former apartment. The bumbling police are suspicious that Andrea may be the killer. Meanwhile, Jennifer is being harassed by Adam (Ben Carra), her former partner.


After being attacked in her bedroom by the masked murderer, Jennifer seeks refuge in her neighbour’s apartment. The seemingly-‘good’ samaritan, who lives with her violin playing father, turns out to be a stereotypically predatory lesbian (Isabella Incontrera) with designs on her good-looking neighbour. Returning to Jennifer’s apartment, the increasingly frantic young women discover a bloodstained orchid and Adam’s body.

Later, Marilyn is stabbed to death in a busy street. Andrea, who happens to be at the scene of the homicide, becomes smeared in her blood and so goes into hiding from the police. Meanwhile, Jennifer is suspicious of her neighbour, a sour-faced woman named Mrs Moss, who is seen taking ‘Killer Man’ comic books into her apartment…


Shameless Films released The Case of the Bloody Iris in the UK on Blu-ray and DVD from a brand-new 2K scan on 19 November 2018.

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Extras include:

  • A new candid chat with the amazing George Hilton
  • A new scintillating chat with star Paola Quattrini


By the early 70s, Italian Giallo thrillers had become intrinsically linked with the horror genre. Here, the proverbial old dark house is replaced by a swanky new tower block but the essence of the terror-filled plot is still the same: murders a go-go, suspects a-plenty, a creepy old lady that buys ‘Horror Tales’ and even a mention of “Dracula”. Plus, there’s a violin mournfully played in the background by a mad professor.

There is also that other horror standby: a disfigured madman locked away from view. In Belgium, the film was sold as an occult outing with the title Rendez-vous de Satan, despite no such satanic elements. Producer Luciano Martino was adept at turning out slick, sexy thrillers (usually helmed in more brutal outings by his brother Sergio) and this vehicle for Edwige Fenech, his mistress at the time, is no exception.

The directorial reins were handled by Giuliano Carnimeo – best known for his four Sartana westerns, erotic comedies and (later) the trashtastic RatMan  (1987) – and the resulting lush visuals are a testament to his eye for striking imagery, such as a shot that includes two mirror images of Edwige Fenech’s Jennifer character being menaced.

Ernesto Gastaldi’s screenplay is a delightfully fluffy cliché-filled sub-Freudian synthesis of what Italian thrillers had become for their intended ‘knowing’ audiences. Meanwhile, future director of trash thrillers Stelvio Massi (Five Women for the Killer; Black Angel) competently handles the crisp cinematography and Morricone collaborator Bruno Nicolai’s jaunty score is one of the best easy listening Giallo aural accompaniments.

It’s a sly whodunit laced with copious amounts of nudity and intermittent violence and the requisite red herrings such as toad-like genre regular Luciano Pigozzi as the owner of a Pop Art nightclub, Oreste Lionello as a camp photographer (“what sells beer is a bare-assed broad”); and Jennifer’s seemingly insane jealous ex-husband, who previously involved her in ‘free love’ orgies – with flashbacks that are an excuse for more naked flesh.

Aside from the antics of the aforementioned camp cameraman, mild humour is derived from the antics of the philatelist Islam-admiring police inspector (twice he exclaims out loud, having seemingly found an important clue, although it turns out to be merely a rare stamp instead) and his long-suffering dishevelled-looking assistant.

Even Jennifer’s flatmate Marilyn gets in on the self-referential playfulness when she jokingly pretends to have been drowned in the bath where the former tenant violently expired. It’s perhaps tasteless yet typical of Italian ‘dark’ humour. Ultimately, The Case of the Bloody Iris is a cheerful example of the smoother blend of the Giallo genre.

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews: 

“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.” Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital

“The setting of a luxury apartment is glamorous enough to coexist with the style, but infinitely larger where the viewer can still feel a sense of danger in the corners at night. It is also wonderful to see as the film moves on, that the thriller at times takes a back step for its horror cousin to share some light, evident greatly in the scenes where Jennifer discovers a gross monstrous secret in her neighbors’ abode.” Oh, the Horror!

“It is quite competently filmed, has a few nicely-timed shock effects and benefits from an insanely catchy soundtrack by Bruno Nicolai. Compared to the films Martino and some of the other major genre directors were churning out at this time, it seems a bit unfocused and lethargic, but taken on its own terms it has ample charm and is well worth watching.” Troy Howarth, So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films

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“Good Giallo which benefits from solid murder sequences, well-placed moments of humor, and interesting characters galore. (And when we say “interesting,” we mean eccentric, crazy and hilarious.) Hats off to the excellent “full-daylight-on-a-crowded-street murder” sequence.” The Terror Trap

Choice dialogue:

Adam: “I’ll tear you as I tore the petals of the iris. You are an object and you belong to me. From the day of our celestial marriage you belonged to me.”

News kiosk vendor: “To really like Horror Tales you have to be nuts. She only buys Horror Tales. If you ask me, she’s got something loose up here.”

Sheila Isaacs: “We’re all as nervous as you are. We’d all like to get out but my father insists on staying on in that haunted house.”

Cast and characters:

  • Edwige Fenech … Jennifer Lansbury
  • George Hilton … Andrea Antinori
  • Paola Quattrini … Marilyn Ricci – Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
  • Giampiero Albertini … Commissioner Enci
  • Franco Agostini … Redi – Commissioner’s assistant
  • Oreste Lionello … Arthur, the photographer – Four Flies on Grey Velvet
  • Ben Carra [as Ben Carrá]… Adam, Jennifer’s former husband
  • Carla Brait … Mizar Harrington – TorsoThe Dead Are Alive
  • Gianni Pulone … Waiter – All the Colours of the Dark
  • Carla Mancini
  • George Rigaud … Professor Isaacs, Sheila’s father – Eyeball; Knife of Ice; Horror Express
  • Annabella Incontrera … Sheila Isaacs – Double Face
  • Luciano Pigozzi … Martelli, the nightclub owner [uncredited]

Filming locations:

Elios Studios, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Genoa, Liguria, Italy
Turin, Piedmont, Italy


In the UK, sleaze specialist distributors Border Films released the film in a BBFC butchered version as Erotic Blue to appeal to the ‘raincoat crowd’, just as they did with another Italian Giallo import, which they retitled Excite Me.

Image credits: Peanut Butter & Gialli | Giallo for Dummies

case of the bloody iris edwige fenech sheer top


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