Review Date: March 14, 2004
Released by: Anchor Bay
Release date: 7/9/2002
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
A student of Dario Argento, director Antonio Bido made two major contributions to the giallo line of films in Europe in the 1970's. The first was the well received Watch Me When I Kill
from 1977, and based from its success, Bido's second film was The Bloodstained Shadow
a year later. The giallo movement in Europe has long passed, but the fine folks at Anchor Bay are keeping it alive with their stellar Giallo Collection, of which Bloodstained
is a part. Is it a great film, or merely a shadow of some of the other fine gialli in the set?
The film begins with a very frantic and disorienting murder sequence. Music pounds as a woman is strangled in a Don't Torture A Duckling
-esque rural gialli landscape. The victimizer is of course unseen and in black and the scene ends with the girl's untimely death. The story jumps forward some time to a place reminiscent of Venice, with large canals and harbors. College professor Stefano (Lino Capolicchio
) has just arrived in the city to meet up with his older brother, a priest named Don Paolo (Craig Hill
). Stefano needs a break from the big city, and Paolo promises him some rest.
Rest he gets not though, for the night he arrives a woman is strangled to death outside their apartment. Paolo sees the whole thing, and Stefano is nowhere to be found. The body then goes missing for awhile, and the police begin questioning suspects. More people are killed in a similar manner, and a pattern begins to emerge. The people being killed are all intertwined with a minor cult, and one by one the surviving members begin to lose their lives.
Paolo meanwhile is receiving death threats via typewritten notes, and his reputation as a priest becomes in danger. Stefano, with the help of his beautiful girlfriend Sandra (Stefania Casini
) is determined to solve the crime and save Paolo from danger. However, the closer Stefano gets to solving the crime, the closer he comes to uncovering an even graver secret. A statue of Jesus tumbles to the ground, and in the process the protagonists' lives are thrown upside down.
The Bloodstained Shadow
starts off with an amazingly effective opening sequence. Set to a pulsing synth score, the film begins with a mirage of broken imagery of a woman being strangled. The music continues uninterrupted, but the off putting imagery continues disjoined, making for an uncomfortable clash of stimulations. The result is an uncomfortable and very moody sequence, one that sets the tone for the rest of the film.
The tone continues throughout the film thanks to the fantastic score by Stelvio Cipriani and famed rock band, Goblin. The score is full in breadth and utilized skillfully by director Antonio Bido. Nearly ever stalking scene is accompanied by Goblin's synthesizer arrangement, with the same pacing and restrained composure of a heartbeat. Thumping along, the score really gives the film life, and helps make the decaying Venice-looking walls and alleyways seem as sinister as ever.
Definitely one of Goblin's best scores, the music here is comparable with their scores for Deep Red
. It carries the film, from its slow parts right through to the climax. Unfortunately though, Shadow does contain a fair number of slow, overly talkative segments, and it bogs down the film. Although at a reasonable length of 109 minutes, the runtime seems much longer, and could have benefited from some trimming. Stalking scenes are mixed in appropriately, but some of them lack the violent payoff to keep the viewer satisfied and interested through the next batch of exposition and dialogue. Nearly every giallo though, falls victim of a flat middle segment, only to pickup steam in the end.
The Bloodstained Shadow
definitely picks up steam, and ends with a satisfying and quite unpredictable twist ending. Antonio Bido plays around with some of the standard giallo conventions, and makes the outcome much different than the film appears to be heading toward. The cast of characters is kept relatively small and therefore easier to follow. Some of the talk tends to throw the focus of the film off pace, but it all comes together in the end.
Shadow is a smart film, dealing with religion and rural decay in the same ways that ambitious gialli like Don't Torture A Duckling
and Who Saw Her Die?
did years prior. It is a rarity in the genre for a film like this to be so composed and mature about its subject matter. The film never resorts to sleaze, and the uniformly strong performances elevate the film from the standard gialli. Craig Hill is the standout though, as the tortured priest in a multifaceted and highly emotional role.
While not quite as balanced as some of Argento's and Fulci's giallo masterworks, The Bloodstained Shadow
still stands as a classy and entertaining giallo. The pacing problems are countered by some great Goblin music and some solid performances. Not for all tastes, but the mature viewer should get a good bit of enjoyment from this one.
The only film in the giallo set not to be in 2.35:1, The Bloodstained Shadow
still looks super in its 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen dimensions. The print has a few specs and scratches here and there, but for the most part looks very tidy. As per usual with Anchor Bay, the image is strikingly clear. The Venice-esque walls look all the more decayed and grubby thanks to the sharp transfer. Not much to complain about here, and with Anchor Bay, there never really is.
Presented in an English mono track, the result is only fair. The track has a minor hiss to it, and at times can be distracting. Everything sounds rather flat and the dialogue scenes in particular lack clarity. Goblin's score sounds better than the rest of the track, and thankfully is quite clear. All in all though, this is the weakest of the four mixes in the Giallo Collection.
A 13 minute interview with Antonio Bido entitled "Solamente Bido" is the major extra on this disc. Bido is very enthusiastic as he describes various facets of the production, as well as elaborating on his distinct style. He aimed to make a film similar, yet different to Argento's subject matter, and largely succeeded. Time is spent describing the locations, the actors, the controversy around the soundtrack and the overall subject matter. Bido ends the interview thanking giallo fans, stating his desire to make another giallo film.
Aside from the solid interview, the only other notable extra is a revealing theatrical trailer. Pretty well done, but save it for after the feature. A useless filmography for Antonio Bido is also included.
The Bloodstained Shadow
is a dark and serious giallo, buoyed along by a strong Goblin score and good performances. While not as good as Lado's two gialli, it is a more than satisfying inclusion in the giallo set. The video transfer is up to Anchor Bay's high standards, but the audio track is somewhat lacking. The entertaining interview gives the DVD a nice bit of completeness, and it's always nice to see the trailer. Giallo fans who care about story more than sleaze and gore will find plenty to like about this near-bloodless Shadow
Movie - B
Image Quality - B+
Sound - C-
Supplements - B
- Running Time - 1 hour, 49 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English Dolby Mono
- "Solmente Bido" 13 minute interview with the director
- Theatrical trailer
- Antonio Bido filmography