• Bloodstained Butterfly, The



    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: August 23rd, 2016.
    Director: Duccio Tessari
    Cast: Helmut Berger, Giancarlo Sbragia, Evelyn Stewart, Gunther Stoll
    Year: 1971
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Directed by Duccio Tessari The Bloodstained Butterfly centers around the murder of a beautiful French foreign exchange student named Francoise Pigaut (Carole Andre) after her body is found stabbed to death in a park. The murder took place in daylight and several witnesses peg the killer as Alessandro Marchi (Giancarlo Sbragia), recognizable for his work as a sportscaster on television. Alessandro’s wife, Maria (Evelyn Stewart a.k.a. Ida Galli), is in cahoots with his lawyer, Giulio Codrero (Gunther Stoll) and they’d both be more than happy to see him locked away for good so that they can carry on without him.

    Marchi is locked away, the evidence against him is pretty strong – but soon after he’s put behind bars the killer strikes a second time. While all of this is going on, Marchi’s daughter, Sarah (Wendy D'Olive), gets up to no good with her boyfriend, a pianist named Giorgio (Helmut Berger). All this occurs while the cops, led by Inspector Berardi (Silvano Tranquilli), try to sort out the details before the killer strikes again.

    An unusual giallo in that it feels as much like a courtroom drama or a police procedural at times as it does a sexy stalk and slash picture, The Bloodstained Butterfly doesn’t move at a particularly manic pace. It does, however, pull you into its story with some strong character development and some generally slick and stylish cinematography. The score from Gianni Ferrio helps out here too, accentuating both the drama and the tension inherent in the plot quite nicely. What the film lacks in outlandishly gory set pieces and scintillating nudity (this isn’t nearly as gory or sex-centric as many of its fellow giallo films), it makes up for with smarts and top notch production values. The locations used for the shoot are hip in the way that the best seventies films are, there’s plenty of swanky furnishings, clothing and décor on display to keep your eyes busy.

    As to the cast, all are in pretty fine form here. Giancarlo Sbragia plays the man who may or may not be wrongly accused quite well. He knows something is awry here, and much of the film’s mystery stems from his character arc. Evelyn Stewart and Gunther Stoll are both quite good in their supporting parts, she’s a very attractive woman who plays her role well and he’s just fine as the sleazy, underhanded lawyer. Silvano Tranquilli is sufficient enough as the cop, even if he doesn’t create the most memorable character for us to latch on to. Wendy D'Olive, also very pretty, is decent enough as well. Helmet Berger is really good here, not going over the top the way he can in certain movies but definitely giving the part some decent energy and enthusiasm.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Arrow brings The Bloodstained Butterfly to Blu-ray from a “brand new 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative” in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and it looks excellent. There’s a lot more clarity here than was ever present on the various DVD releases that have come before it and considerably better color reproduction too. Black levels are nice and deep and you get a really impressive boost in detail and texture in pretty much every frame of the movie. Skin tones are nice and natural looking, and the image is fairly spotless. Grain is present but never overpowering and there are no noticeable compression artifacts to note. Edge enhancement and noise reduction never factor into the equation at all – this is a very impressive, film-like transfer.

    Audio options are provided in the original Italian and English options in DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 format with newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack and optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack. Both tracks are nicely balanced and free of any hiss or distortion. The Gianni Ferrio score has nice range and depth to it, which does a nice job of heightening tension in a few key scenes and also complementing some of the more dramatic moments as well. No complaints here at all, you can’t go wrong with either option.

    Extras start off with a brand new audio commentary with film critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman that, like all of their collaborations, is quite engaging. It focuses a lot of attention on the style that director Tessari employs here but also explores how the film tends to push off from typical giallo conventions and tread a bit of unexpected ground. There are some interesting observations made here about certain visual motifs used in the picture and loads of interesting facts and anecdotes about the cast and crew who worked on the film.

    From there we move on to a series of featurettes starting with Murder In B-Flat Minor, a new ‘visual essay’ from author Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse. This does a nice job of rounding up all the cast and crew information you could want and in putting some of what the film deals with in a bit of a context. Running just over twenty-six minutes in length, this piece contains a lot of good information about Tessari in particular, but so too does it offer some welcome observations about the film’s unorthodox (at least by giallo standards) finale. This is definitely worth checking out.

    The fifty-five minute featurette entitled A Butterfly Named Evelyn is quite a coup, as it is (so far as this reviewer can tell) the only interview with actress Evelyn Stewart (born Ida Galli) ever produced for a supplemental featurette. She’s popped up in loads of Italian films over the course of her career, having worked with genre specialists like Lucio Fulci and Umberto Lenzi as well as arthouse darlings like Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti. She got her start in front of the camera in 1960 and worked all the way up until 1990 – a good run by anyone’s standards and as you’d expect, she’s got a lot of interesting stories to tell about her life and times. She talks about how she got into film and gives some specifics on this particular picture but also talks about working with Fulci on The Psychic and about some of the other shoots she was involved with. This is a very well put together piece and one that fans of Italian cult films should really enjoy (she was in giallos, action films, police thrillers, spaghetti westerns, horror pictures and dramas as well – quite a storied career!).

    Me And Duccio is an interview with Lorella De Luca who not only starred in The Bloodstained Butterfly but who was also married to director Duccio Tessari. At eight minutes it is a little on the short side but no less interesting for it. She talks about how her late husband’s career as a writer evolved into him taking on directing gigs and she also shares some interesting anecdotes about his career and about working with him on this and other films.

    The last featurette is the seventeen minute long Mad Dog Helmut, which is a brand new interview with actor Helmut Berger. Those familiar with Berger already know that the guy is a bit of an… eccentric and he doesn’t hold back here. He shares his thoughts on working on this picture and his opinions of its director but then goes on talk about other interesting points from his time in the film industry. Not surprisingly he discusses The Secret Of Dorian Gray but also Salon Kitty and a few others. More often than not he comes across as a reasonably insane prima donna but you’ve got to love the guy’s honestly and the fact that he calls it like he sees it.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is an optional video introduction from Berger, the original Italian and English theatrical trailers, a substantial still gallery, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release, a DVD version of the movie containing the same supplements is also included inside the clear Blu-ray case that also holds a reversible cover sleeve with original art on one side and a newly created piece on the opposite site. Also included inside the case is an insert booklet illustrated by Tonci Zonjic, containing writing by James Blackford, Howard Hughes and Leonard Jacobs.

    The Final Word:

    The Bloodstained Butterfly is an unorthodox giallo in some ways, but so too is it very well made and quite gripping. Arrow’s Blu-ray release presents the film in absolutely beautiful shape and with a really strong collection of supplemental material as well. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!