• The Bloodstained Butterfly (Camera Obscura) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Camera Obscura
    Released on: July 10th, 2019.
    Director: Duccio Tessari
    Cast: Helmut Berger, Giancarlo Sbragia, Evelyn Stewart, Gunther Stoll
    Year: 1971
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    The Bloodstained Butterfly – Movie Review:

    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.

    The Bloodstained Butterfly – Blu-ray Review:

    The Bloodstained Butterfly arrives on Blu-ray from Camera Obscura on a 50GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen. This has been taken from the same source that was used for the Arrow Video Blu-ray release but has had additional color correction work done to it. This gives it a slight edge over that earlier release as there are noticeably better whites in a few scenes. The differences are usually not all that drastic, but they are there if you look for them. Otherwise, this shares the same qualities – excellent detail, nice colors, good black levels and proper skin tones. There are no noticeable issues with compression nor are there any problems with noise reduction or edge enhancement. Additionally, the image is quite clean, showing no real print damage outside of the odd white speck here and there.

    Audio options are provided in the original Italian and German options in LPCM 2.0 Mono format with optional subtitles provided in English and in German. 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. The English language track that was included on the Arrow Blu-ray has not been ported over to this release.

    Extras on the Blu-ray disc include is an optional video introduction from Berger, the original Italian and English theatrical trailers, a substantial still gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    This is a combo pack release, and the DVD included with it holds a few featurettes starting with the fifty-five-minute featurette entitled A Butterfly Named Evelyn, carried over from the Arrow release. This 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!).

    Also carried over from the Arrow disc is Me And Duccio, 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 carried over from the Arrow disc 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.

    The Camera Obscura release loses the Troy Howarth featurette and the commentary from Alan Jones and Kim Newman but it does, however, include a twenty-minute piece called Red Carnation which is exclusive to this release. Here, film historian Fabio Melelli gives a nice overview of Duccio Tessari’s career, talking about how he got into the business before then covering some of the westerns that he made in his early days and then some of the genre-hopping that he did throughout his career, including some thoughts on, of course, The Bloodstained Butterfly. It’s an interesting and well-informed piece worth checking out.

    Both discs are packed in a beautiful sleeve packaging that also includes an insert booklet containing an essay on the film by writer Pelle Felsch entitled The Wing Beat Of A Butterfly that makes for good reading.

    The Bloodstained Butterfly – The Final Word:

    The Bloodstained Butterfly is an unorthodox giallo in some ways, but so too is it very well made and quite gripping. Camera Obscura’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 The The Bloodstained Butterfly Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Randy G's Avatar
      Randy G -
      I find the atypical gialli are often the best.