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"It's getting so one can't do what one wants in one's own house.",
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This review is from: Bloodstained Shadow [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Stefano D'Archangelo decides to take a break from his professorship, he returns home to visit his older brother who's a priest. The village suffered a tragedy years earlier when a young girl was strangled and killed, the killer was never discovered. On the train there, he meets an attractive young woman called Sandra who's going to be staying in the same village for a while. Upon arrival, Stefano is met by his brother, Don Paolo, and they go to lunch where Stefano is filled in on what's going on in town. He's told about a creepy medium, a rich doctor with a mistress who "accidentally" killed his wife, a midwife who hides her crazy son somewhere on the island who may perform illegal abortions, and Count Pedrazzi who has been accused of interfering with young boys. Later on that night, Don Paolo is woken up by screams below his bedroom window, he witnesses the murder of the medium but can't see the killer because of a heavy downpour. Don Paolo is then sent a letter telling him to keep quiet about what he saw, scared that he's potentially the killer's next victim, he confides in Stefano. Stefano sets off to find the killer, and reveal the link between the murder of the medium and the young girl years earlier.
The acting in The Bloodstained Shadow is of a very high standard. Lino Capolicchio who was so brilliant two years earlier in Pupi Avati's excellent, The House With Laughing Windows, delivers another very good performance here. There's actually quite a lot of similarities between his characters, both are called Stefano, both come to a creepy village where people seem to be hiding a secret, a painting plays a huge part in both finding the truth, and both begin relationships despite all the murders that surround them. Stefania Casini is adorable as Stefano's love interest, Sandra. I find her very attractive and a very decent actress, she strips off in the film for a completely unnecessary sex scene. Casini will be best known to Italian horror fans for her role in Dario Argento's Suspiria, she's the one who's chased by the killer until she gets tangled up in barbed wire, in what I believe to be that film's most tense scene. American actor Craig Hill is very effective as Don Paolo, Hill was famous in Italy for numerous Westerns he'd shot in Italy in the 1960s. Massimo Serato is pretty vile and creepy as Count Pedrazzi, he appeared in Don't Look Now as Bishop Barbarrigo which is one of the films this one reminds me of.
Sadly this was Antonio Bido's last venture into the giallo, it came a year after his debut called Watch Me When I Kill. I'm a big fan of Watch Me When I Kill, but I think The Bloodstained Shadow is a little bit better. Bido showed a great talent for directing gialli, but he wasn't a fan of them at the time and wanted to do different types of film, something he has come to regret as he's developed a love for them over the years. The music is excellent, Bido wanted Goblin to do the soundtrack but the producers refused to pay the money that was being asked, so it was instead composed by Stelvio Cipriani and arranged by Goblin. Just like in Watch Me When I Kill, there's a piece of music that seems to have been completely lifted from Goblin's soundtrack for Deep Red, but it's just a small part of this excellent soundtrack. One thing that might grate on some giallo fans is the complete lack of any blood, something they were famous for was the inventive and bloody kill scenes. I thought the film had some really effective suspense scenes and some decent jump scares. One jump scare about a third of the way into the film really did make me jump, I was just thankful my cup of tea was half gone or I would have ended up soaked. The narrow passages and canals are beautifully shot, and the small village near Venice was a brilliant location for a film of this type.
The US DVD from Blue Underground is region free, the picture quality is superb. There's a thirteen minute interview with Antonio Bido where he discusses the film, a trailer and an Antonio Bido filmography. There's no subtitles. The Bloodstained Shadow isn't one of the very best gialli made, but it's still an excellent one. It really reminded me of The House With Laughing Windows, Who Saw Her Die? and Don't Torture A Duckling. The Bloodstained Shadow is a film I wouldn't hesitate in recommending to any giallo fan.