The Bloodstained Shadow: Eerie canal

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The Bloodstained Shadow directed by Antonio BidoThe Bloodstained Shadow directed by Antonio Bido

The Bloodstained Shadow directed by Antonio BidoA practically goreless giallo coming fairly late in that genre’s cycle, The Bloodstained Shadow (1978) yet manages to provide all the requisite thrills that Eurohorror fans might reasonably expect. This was the second picture from director Antonio Bido, whose initial giallo entry, The Cat With Jade Eyes (aka Watch Me When I Kill), released the year before, seems almost forgotten today. Drawing liberally from 15 years’ worth of giallo tropes and conventions preceding it (Bido, on this Anchor Bay DVD, acknowledges his debt to Dario Argento during a modern-day, informative interview), the film remains a very worthwhile contribution to the genre.

In it, the viewer meets a pair of brothers, Stefano and Paolo D’Archangelo. When Stefano, a college professor (played by Lino Capolicchio, who some may recall as the leading man in Pupi Avati’s grisly giallo of 1976, The House With the Laughing Windows), comes to visit his older brother, a priest living on an island off the coast of Venice, he picks a rather unfortunate time to do so. On his first night in town, Paolo witnesses the murder of the local medium woman, although the murderer him/herself is not visible in the driving rain. Before long, Paolo (played by Craig Hill in a very intense manner) begins to receive threatening notes enjoining his silence, while the trio of regulars at the medium’s séance get-togethers starts to meet very violent ends. To help his distraught brother, Stefano goes into Sherlock Holmes mode, accompanied by a woman whom he’d met on the train trip to the island, Sandra (played by Stefania Casini, whose barbed-wire demise in Argento’s Suspiria the previous year will be recalled by many)…

Filmed largely on the island of Murano, right off the northern coast of Venice, The Bloodstained Shadow certainly does have local color and ambiance to spare. The town where Stefano visits looks beautiful and at the same time run-down, engendering a seedy aura of old-world, decayed charm. Bido and his director of photography, Mario Vulpiani, treat the viewer to many glimpses of the town and its canals, as well as nearby Venice; add this picture to the list of horror films that transpire around Venice in the winter, such as Don’t Look Now and Who Saw Her Die?

Plotwise, Bido’s film holds together fairly well, unlike many other gialli that I have seen (I’m thinking of you, Death Walks at Midnight!), although most viewers will benefit from a repeat viewing to appreciate all of the film’s plot subtleties. As mentioned previously, The Bloodstained Shadow is not a particularly violent giallo picture, and even the queasiest of viewers will have no problem watching the murders — a strangling, a spear to the chest, an old woman being thrown into a roaring fireplace, a slaying via motorboat in a nighttime canal, a throat slitting — that the film dishes out. And adding hugely to the experience is yet another wonderful score done by the prog-rock outfit known as Goblin. Here, the band has arranged and performs music by composer Stelvio Cipriani, and those viewers who have enjoyed the band’s contributions to the Argento films Deep Red and Suspiria will certainly be pleased with its work here. Goblin goes uncredited in the film, as does director Bido’s cameo role, playing a cemetery surveyor around 4/5 of the way in. (On a side note, this viewer just recently saw yet another Italian horror film with a score by Goblin, the 1979 cult item Beyond the Darkness, which I can also recommend. This film is twice as sick and 100 times as gruesome as The Bloodstained Shadow, and is quite the unforgettable experience!)

As for the Anchor Bay DVD itself, it looks just fine, and the 13-minute interview with the modern-day Bido reveals him to be a man with an engaging personality and a clear memory. The film has been excellently dubbed for this print (although subtitles would still have been preferable), and in all The Bloodstained Shadow makes for a very nice evening’s entertainment. Just one thing: Make sure you look up the definition of the word “breviary” before venturing in…


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SANDY FERBER, on our staff since April 2014 (but hanging around here since November 2012), is a resident of Queens, New York and a product of that borough's finest institution of higher learning, Queens College. After a "misspent youth" of steady and incessant doses of Conan the Barbarian, Doc Savage and any and all forms of fantasy and sci-fi literature, Sandy has changed little in the four decades since. His favorite author these days is H. Rider Haggard, with whom he feels a strange kinship -- although Sandy is not English or a manored gentleman of the 19th century -- and his favorite reading matter consists of sci-fi, fantasy and horror... but of the period 1850-1960. Sandy is also a devoted buff of classic Hollywood and foreign films, and has reviewed extensively on the IMDb under the handle "ferbs54." Film Forum in Greenwich Village, indeed, is his second home, and Sandy at this time serves as the assistant vice president of the Louie Dumbrowski Fan Club....

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2 comments

  1. This sounds like an interesting one.

    • Sandy Ferber /

      Yes…a giallo for those folks who don’t really care for the, uh, marinara….

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  1. Reading Links 10/17/17 – Where Genres Collide - […] http://www.fantasyliterature.com/reviews/the-bloodstained-shadow/ Provides all the thrills of a Eurohorror. […]

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