Case of the Bloody Iris, The (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Jun 12, 2024
  • Format: 4K Ultra HD
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Case of the Bloody Iris, The (4K UHD Review)


Giuliano Carnimeo (Anthony Ascott)

Release Date(s)

1972 (June 25, 2024)


Galassia Film/Lea Film (Celluloid Dreams)
  • Film/Program Grade: B
  • Video Grade: A+
  • Audio Grade: A-
  • Extras Grade: A-

The Case of the Bloody Iris (4K UHD)

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Director Giuliano Carnimeo was primarily known for making Italian Westerns with a giallo flavor throughout his career, including the Sartana films, but like many Italian filmmakers, he would also occasionally step into other genres, including comedy, horror, and straight gialli. The Case of the Bloody Iris (Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer?, or What Are Those Strange Drops of Blood Doing on Jennifer’s Body? was his 1972 gialli entryway, directing under the pseudonym of Anthony Ascott, with a story by screenwriter extraordinaire Ernesto Gastaldi (The Horrible Dr. Hichcock, The Whip and the Body, The Long Hair of Death, All the Colors of the Dark). A less traditional giallo in some ways, it features the towering presences of both George Hilton and Edwige Fenech, both of whom had their fair share of genre appearances, very often together.

Models Jennifer (Edwige Fenech) and Marilyn (Paola Quattrini) have been hired to pose for advertisements for architect Andrea’s (George Hilton) apartment building. A pair of recent murders by an unknown killer has led to the vacation of one of the apartments, and Andrea invites Jennifer and Marilyn to move in. As Andrea and Jennifer grow close, commissioner Enci (Giampiero Albertini) and his assistant Renzi (Franco Agostini) become increasingly suspicious of him and his intentions. Meanwhile, Jennifer is secretly trying to rid herself of Adam (Ben Carrá), who stalks her endlessly and threatens her if she doesn’t return to the “Iris” sex cult that she escaped from. As the police continue to hound Andrea’s every move, Jennifer believes she may be the killer’s next victim, but is it Andrea, Adam, or someone else in the apartment building?

The Case of the Bloody Iris has less conventional aspects to it. Most would describe the work of Dario Argento as the quintessential definition of giallo, with gloved killers committing over-the-top violence whose identity isn’t revealed until late in the film, and American authors who have moved to Italy and are subsequently either under investigation or take it upon themselves to solve the mystery behind the murders. Yet gialli throws a larger net than that, as evidenced in this film, where the characters, situations, and relationships are much different than one might expect.

Andrea is constantly accused of being a murderer, and the fact that he’s afraid of the sight of blood makes him that much more suspicious. You also have the cold, sneering, older neighbor lady who doesn’t want anything to do with anybody; the hard-nosed police commissioner who would rather be spending time with his stamp collection; the sexy, lesbian neighbor and her disapproving father; a black, ass-kicking stripper; a wacky and free-spirited best friend; and the female lead, Jennifer, who might also be mentally troubled in some way, given her past and the increasing pressure put upon her. In other words, it’s really up grabs who the main culprit is.

The murders themselves are also not all that violent in comparison to other gialli. In one case, there’s a forced drowning that’s much more disturbing than simply stabbing someone. Beautiful cinematography, courtesy of Stelvia Massi (a director himself), also gives the film a more welcoming appearance. Aside from a few, well-placed moments of darkness, everything is mostly bright and colorful with deliberate uses of zooms, tilts, and kaleidoscope lenses. And with a lush score by Bruno Nicolai and terrific performances from all involved, The Case of the Bloody Iris is an off-kilter giallo that’s memorable, effective, and beautiful to look at.

The Case of the Bloody Iris was shot by cinematographer Stelvia Massi on 35 mm 2-perf Techniscope film, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1. New dsitrbutor Celluloid Dreams debuts the film on Ultra HD from a new 4K restoration of the original camera negative, graded for High Dynamic Range in HDR10, presented on a triple-layered BD-100 disc, and encoded by Ryan Masciola at Diversified Video Solutions. Celluloid Dreams matches their peers right out of the gate with a marvelous UHD presentation that is thoroughly organic to its source and well-encoded, with bitrates that run primarily in the 80 to 100Mbps range. A light layer of well-attenuated and tightly-knitted grain is on display, with vast levels of depth. The HDR grade soaks up detail and boosts the color palette enormously with perfect skin tones and an array of hues, from the varying exteriors of Italy, to the clothing and interiors of various buildings. Deep, deep blacks with perfect contrast are also present. The majority of the presentation is extremely sharp and clean, with vary faint lines and mild speckling visible only to the eagle-eyed. There’s also one extremely minor change in color temperature at around the 6:06 mark that’s so subtle it’s hardly noticeable. However, it’s a mere drop in the bucket as this presentation is flat-out gorgeous and highly impressive.

Audio is presented in Italian or English mono DTS-HD Master Audio with optional subtitles in English for the Italian Audio (which has been newly-translated for this release) or English SDH for the English Audio. The opening and closing credits will also be in either Italian or English, depending upon which audio track you choose in the main menu (they can’t be toggled during playback). As is the case with the vast majority of films produced in other languages, the original is always better, and that’s certainly the case here. The English dub is particularly awful, and vastly affects one’s perception of the film. And though not all of the actors dubbed themselves in the Italian track, the vocal performances are far better. It’s also a clean track with good support for score and sound effects, and is much more natural compared to the English track, wherein the mix is limited in quality by its uneveness. The English track also contains more prominent hiss, whereas the Italian track does not. On both tracks, there are no issues of distortion to speak of.

The 2-Disc 4K Ultra HD release of The Case of the Bloody Iris sits in a black Amaray case alongside a 1080p Blu-ray, both containing the same content. There’s also an insert featuring Celluloid Dreams’ next 4K UHD title (The Black Belly of the Tarantula) on one side, and cast and crew information with restoration notes on the other. The double-sided insert features the original Italian poster artwork on both sides, one with the English title, and the other with the Italian title. The slipcover features new artwork by Lieu Pham. Both discs contain the following extras, all in HD:

  • Audio Commentary by Guido Henkel
  • Drops of Giallo (29:26)
  • Flowers of Blood (20:43)
  • Marilyn (11:50)
  • Outtake Reel (1:44)
  • Image Gallery (5:16 – 21 in all)
  • Italian Trailer (2:54)
  • English Trailer (2:54)

First up is an audio commentary with writer Guido Henkel, who provides much of the usual background on members of the cast and crew, but also delves into the film’s shooting locations, its influence on Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill, technical information about how the film was shot and why, the importance of listening to the Italian track instead of the English track (I wholeheartedly agree), various aspects of the story, sound design and the pros and cons of seeing films in different languages, some of the history of gialli on film and in print, and how the film touches on, what was then considered, taboo subjects that other filmmakers regularly avoided, among other subjects. There are a few silent gaps here and there, but it’s an otherwise excellent examination of the film.

The rest of the interview-based material comes from Freak-O-Rama Video Productions. Drops of Giallo features separate interviews with Ernesto Gastaldi and Giuliano Carnimeo, who discuss meeting and becoming friends, give an overview of their careers and the types of films that they wanted to make, give credit to producer Luciano Martino for the film’s title, Gastaldi’s constant dissatisfaction with the way people die in movies, his feelings about the actors, shooting in Genoa, aspects of the story, and his reflections on films made from his material. Flowers of Blood features an interview with George Hilton who discusses the kinds of films he made throughout his career, being excited to make The Case of the Bloody Iris, working with the various actors, his memories of Luciano Martino, his close friendship with Edwige Fenech, and his feelings about the filmmakers. In Marilyn, actress Paola Quattrini is interviewed, and she talks about the state of her career at the time when she made the film, how she feels about her performance, filming the scene in which she’s underwater, working in Genoa, how she got along with the cast and crew, being nude on set, her death scene, and owing her career to the stage.

The Outtake Reel informs us that it contains footage of excess trims from the film and the trailer that were deleted “in order to conform to Techniscope editing specifications and vintage reference elements.” Aside from a few extended shots, there’s also some more graphic violence that was trimmed out. The Image Gallery contains 21 stills of promotional materials, posters, lobby cards, a shot of a slate taken during filming, and an Italian censorship document. Last are the film’s Italian and English language trailers.

It’s worth noting that a few items are not included from previous releases. The Limited Edition French Region B Blu-ray from Le chat qui fume features an additional interview with Edwige Fenech while the Limited Edition German X-Rated Blu-ray features an audio commentary with film historians Gerd Naumann, Matthias Künnecke, and Christopher Klaese, and additional interviews with assistant director Danilo Massi and Ernesto Gastaldi.

If this 4K UHD release of The Case of the Bloody Iris is any indicator, Celluloid Dreams is a label to watch out for. This is a marvelous presentation of a gorgeous film, and a nice extras package to go along with it. Giallo fans take note as it comes highly recommended.

- Tim Salmons

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