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us title: Seven Blood-Stained Orchids
italian title: Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso
year: 1972
director: Umberto Lenzi
composer: Riz Ortolani
full details: IMDB
overall score: 88

Bottom Line: Must-See
A quintessential example of the genre.

WARNING: Spoilers Below

score analysis

Umberto Lenzi is sometimes regarded as the unsung hero of the Giallo movement with a total of 7 films released by 1975 (3 of which were released before Argento's Bird with the Crystal Plumage). But even in a genre where over 80 films were released within a 5 year period (yes that's right, EIGHTY films!), quality still rises above quantity and Lenzi's trajectory as a Giallo director seems to peak with Seven Blood-Stained Orchids, his most conventional Giallo.

The film is ripe with all the classic genre signatures, from the opening sequence of the black gloved killer driving through the urban jungle to the final confrontation at the pool. In between, we are treated to art galleries, fashion houses, hippies, elaborate murder sequences (including one in a bathtub), the odd half-moon amulet clue and a slew of shifty-eyed red herrings.

Gialli that work best are the ones where the investigation maintains a good pace with the murder's actions and this film is a good example of that. The police serve a more useful purpose other than just comic relief, but are still one step behind Marco and Giulia's investigation. The plot is intricate, but not difficult to follow and once it's been established that the killer is working towards a goal of 7 murders the viewer can expect that the investigation and the killer will meet up at this number.

As usual, there are a few inconsistencies and unanswered questions relating to the script: Who did Raffaele Ferri call after Marco left his house? And why does Ferri show up outside the American hospital after Marco learns about Saunders? What did Barret know? Was he an accomplice or just a suspect because of his relationship with Saunders? But don't get too hung up on who knew what and when. The story is pretty solid when held up to normal Giallo scrutiny.

My only complaint about this film, other than the overuse of Ortolani's main theme, is the lackluster ending. A flashback to the hotel, the car accident or Saunders' funeral would have really reinforced the killer's motivation. The final battle between Marco and the killer in the pool could have been so much better with some underwater photography. I would have loved to have seen the killer get a foot caught underwater and drown accidentally.

I had a hard time deciding between giving the film a Must See or an Entertaining recommendation, but I'm sticking with a Must See status since Lenzi is a major contributor to the genre and the film is pretty easy to obtain. There's even a full length copy on YouTube.

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score breakdown

Hint: Hover over a score item for more details
Staples : 55/60
Italian Director10 points
Hidden Identity10 points
Black Gloves5 points
Amateur Detective5 points
Classic Period (1970 - 1975)5 points
Motivation: Psychological Trauma/Revenge10 points
Avoid Capture: Killed by Police or other character5 points
Director > 15 points
Standards : 23/30
Body Count >= 34 points
Italian Location3 points
Mistaken Identity2 points
Morricone/Nicolai/Ortolani3 points
Nude Scene >= 13 points
Suspects >= 34 points
Urban Location4 points
Signatures : 10/10
Airplane1 point
Animal, Number, Color, or "Death" in title1 point
Attend Funeral1 point
Bathtub Murder1 point
Chase scene1 point
Gay/Lesbian1 point
Odd Clue1 point
Photography/Glamor/Modeling/Art1 point
Priest1 point
Taunting1 point
Total Points : 88/100



This is my fourth favorite non-Argento, non-Bava giallo. If I had to show a newbie one giallo, I think this would be it. It's comforting in it's trope-filled-ness...

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Published: 2014-02-06