Thanks to author John Grisham, I enjoy a good legal thriller, whether in book or film form. Even so, horror will always be my favorite genre in either media. So when I received the press release for THE BLOODSTAINED BUTTERFLY, which is touted as a giallo-styled legal thriller, my curiosity was instantly piqued. Could two vastly different genres be fused into an entertaining film?
The answer is yes. THE BLOODSTAINED BUTTERFLY is not your everyday giallo, nor is it an actual horror movie per se. But regardless of how you classify it, the film is vastly entertaining and very worthy of a look.
If you are not familiar with THE BLOODSTAINED BUTTERFLY, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution:
Directed by Duccio Tessari (Death Occurred Last Night, A Pistol for Ringo), The Bloodstained Butterfly melds the lurid giallo traditions popularized by Dario Argento and Mario Bava with courtroom drama, resulting in a film that is as concerned with forensic detail and legal process as it is with grisly murders and audacious set-pieces.
When a young female student is savagely killed in a park during a thunderstorm, the culprit seems obvious: her lover, TV sports personality Alessandro Marchi (Giancarlo Sbragia, Death Rage), seen fleeing the scene of the crime by numerous eyewitnesses. The evidence against him is damning… but is it all too convenient? And when the killer strikes again while Marchi is in custody, it quickly becomes apparent that there’s more to the case than meets the eye…
Starring 70s heartthrob Helmut Berger (Dorian Gray, The Godfather: Part III) alongside genre mainstays Evelyn Stewart (The Psychic, The Case of the Scorpion s Tail) and Carole André (Colt 38 Special Squad), and featuring a score by Gianni Ferrio (Death Walks at Midnight), The Bloodstained Butterfly is presented uncut and in a sumptuous new 4K restoration that allows this unique and haunting thriller to shine like never before!
I think the uniqueness of this film is a big part of what makes it so entertaining. It’s not really a horror movie, although it does have the “slasher” element to it. Instead, it’s more of a crime-drama with bite. Granted, some of the court scenes seem a bit long, but they are important to keep the story moving. In the end, I think even seasoned horror fans will enjoy this one anyway.
THE BLOODSTAINED BUTTERFLY is shot very well, and the HD transfer looks excellent. I don’t know what previous DVD and VHS versions look like, but the quality of the Blu-ray makes it look like the film could have been made in recent years. Likewise, the sound is great as well; the surround sound is crisp and clear.
The acting is very good, with Helmet Berger headlining alongside Evelyn Stewart and Carole Andre. The whole cast meshes well, and the chemistry between them is evident onscreen. I particularly like how there’s no “over-acting” in this film; some of the giallos I’ve seen in the past are overloaded with Captain Kirk-esque characters, and they get old very fast. Not so here, thankfully.
The story is interesting and inventive, however as I mentioned earlier, it’s not really a horror piece. Instead, the plot unfolds into a murder mystery. The audience is given clues as the storyline progresses, which allows a deeper immersion into the film. The end is satisfying and fun, a worthy conclusion to a great film.
THE BLOODSTAINED BUTTERFLY is a great flick, and I recommend it. Don’t go into it expecting a lot of gore or intensity. Just accept the fact it’s a legal thriller with some giallo aspects, and you’ll be in for a treat. In addition to the HD picture and sound, the Blu-ray comes with a host of Special Features, including:
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• Brand new 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
• High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray (Region A) and Standard Definition (480p) DVD (Region 1) presentations
• Original Italian and English soundtracks in DTS-HD MA mono 1.0
• Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
• New audio commentary with critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman
• Murder in B-Flat Minor, a new visual essay on the film, its cast and crew by author Troy Howarth
• New career retrospective on director Duccio Tessari
• Original Italian and English theatrical trailers
• Gallery of original promotional images
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
• Limited edition 36-page booklet illustrated by Tonci Zonjic, containing writing by James Blackford, Howard Hughes and Leonard Jacobs