DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
BLOODSTAINED SHADOW, THE (aka: Solamente nero) (director/writer: Antonio Bido; screenwriters: Marisa Andalo/Domenico Malan/story by Antonio Bido & Domenico Malan; cinematographer: Mario Vulpiani; editor: Amedeo Giomini; music: Stelvio Cipriani; cast: Lino Capoliccio (Stefano D'Archangelo), Craig Hill (Father Paolo), Stefania Casini (Sandra), Massimo Serato (Count Pedrazzi), Juliette Mayniel (Signora Nardi), Alina Simoni (Medium), Alfredo Zammi (Police Commissioner), Laura Nucci (Sandra's stepmother), Gianfranco Bullo (Nardi's son), Luigi Casellato (Signor Andreani), Attilio Duse (Gasparre, the sacristan), Sergio Mioni (Dr. Aloisi); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: NR; Anchor Bay; 1978-dubbed in English)

 
"When we learn the identity of the killer and his motive, the story seems nothing less than ludicrous."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Antonio Bido ("Watch Me When I Kill") helms his second and last giallo (Italian for yellow, which is derived from the covers of the pulp paperback thrillers on which many of these films from the 1960s through the 1970s were based on), and co-writes with Marisa Andalo and Domenico Malan this set in Venice twisty suspense story, that's neither good nor bad. It suffers from a poor script, a poor dubbing translation and a lack of character development. But it's well-crafted, features one of the last scores by the noted jazzy state of the art giallo inspired musicians called Goblin, is adequately paced (though it could have trimmed 20 minutes, including an unnecessary soft-core sex scene and been the better off for it) and its photography of Venice's labyrinthine streets and canals and the eerie rustic island village are eye-catching.

In the pre-credits prologue, a schoolgirl is murdered in a field, in the shadow of a castle that sits atop a hill. The film  flashes forward to the present, several years later, after the credits, where the young college professor, stationed in Rome, Stefano (Lino Caoplicchio), meets the young interior decorator/painter Sandra (Stefania Casini) on a train and discovers that they're both headed for a small island near Venice called Murano and strike up a friendship. The professor seems to be having a nervous breakdown due to overworking and took a leave of absence to rest during his visit with his Catholic priest older brother Father Paolo (Craig Hill) in their hometown; while Sandra is on a working holiday, as she's taking some time off from caring for her ailing stepmother (Laura Nucci) in Venice.

With the arrival of Stefano, who suffers from spells due to his repression of the childhood murder he witnessed, some prominent members of the community get brutally killed by a Black-Gloved Person who strangles, stabs, and burns. The vics include a notorious blackmailing charlatan medium (Alina Simoni), who is strangled at night in the square outside Father Paolo's church and her body is dragged away leaving the priest to think he might have been dreaming. The priest witnessed the murder but failed to recognize the killer, nevertheless the priest starts receiving threatening notes and fails to inform the police because the killer's threat implies if he doesn't remain silent he will die. Tying in with the medium's murder, one of her unsavory seance regulars, the wealthy children's piano teaching count (Massimo Serato), who is a pedophile, turns up stabbed to death. Soon the other clients of the medium — a criminal doctor (Sergio Mioni) who received a slap on his wrist for murdering his wife and an abortionist midwife (Juliette Mayniel) with an insane son (Gianfranco Bullo) — become part of the murder mystery. The brothers try to put their heads together to come up with the deranged killer, as they are sure it has something to do with the unsolved murder case of the strangled young girl from a few years ago. Both brothers begin to suffer from nightmares that reveal an unspeakable childhood trauma, and with each killing the priest receives another threatening note. Stefano, in the meantime, takes solace in dating Sandra and finding that one of the paintings in her stepmother's apartment is a clue to the murderer. 

The identity of the murderer is not really hard to figure out, even though there are several red herrings. When we learn the identity of the killer and his motive, the story seems nothing less than ludicrous. 

REVIEWED ON 1/28/2008        GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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