Celluloid Dreams’ Unearth a Lost Feminist Giallo with Their 4K UHD Release of THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS 

Ironically the night before I got a copy of Celluloid Dreams’ The Case Of The Bloody Iris, I was having a conversation with a female friend, who was just getting into Giallos. She lamented about how, while she was loving what she had seen of the subgenre so far, but she was sometimes taken aback by their baked in misogyny and male gaze, which were hallmarks of these films. Little did I know, the following day I would get a copy of the first release by a new boutique label, that would not only be one of the most feminist takes on the sub-genre I’ve seen but a new personal favorite. 

The Case Of The Bloody Iris was a film that not only played with a narrative of how women are viewed and treated, but also has the deep subtext to back these questions up. The hidden gem was released in 1972 during the sub-genres golden era, while they were only two films deep in Argento’s animal trilogy. Iris was directed by Antony Ascot aka Giuliano Carnimeo who was responsible for both Ratman and Exterminators of the Year 3000, with a script by Ernesto Gastaldi responsible for Torso, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock, All the Colors of the Dark and even rewrites on Once Upon a Time in America. 


The film stars the Italian raven haired bombshell Edwige Fenech and George Hilton in their third cinematic outing and starts off like most of these films do with the death of a prostitute by a mysterious gloved and black trench coated killer. The woman of the night is killed in the elevator of a posh highrise on her way to the 20th floor, which is filled with a group of well to do eccentrics and where most of our story will take place. The film then segue into a photo studio which is definitely a trope of Italian genre, but that’s where the film starts saying the quiet part out loud, as the queer coded photographer laments to his handsome architect (George Hilton) friend about how all you need to sell anything is, to put a woman or breasts on an ad. 

We are then introduced to two lovely models Jennifer Langsbury (Edwige Fenech) and Marilyn Ricci who just so happen to be looking for a new place to live. The pair end up living in the highrise from the opening, which also just so happens to have been designed by George Hilton’s character, who gets the pair a room. As the bodies begin to pile up in the highrise, we get sex cults, stalkers, stripper fighters and of course bumbling detectives who can’t seem to catch the killer. This rather traditional Giallo story is infused with a progressive slant thanks to its rather fearless female cast, LGBTQ+ elements and the film’s thought provoking script. Not only do we have Edwige Fenech’s very competent Jennifer in the lead to thank for this, but all of the women on screen here have their own agency and motivation in the dark narrative. 


The scenes of women in peril here are mostly drained of all the salaciousness and luridness you’d normally expect given the Giallo’s knife penetration metaphor. The women are allowed to wield power on screen and while they are objectified and literally called objects, the film actually uses that with our pair of models to illustrate the commodification of their sexuality, which is echoed by the prostitute in the beginning, and our models. Just to hammer this point even further, the film is littered with moments like: after Jennifer’s ex husband says that she is his property, because they were married, they literally cut to a man giving another man a receipt. That feminist messaging is paired with an openly gay woman, who shockingly is not simply as a plot device to justify a skinamax lesbian pantomime scene, but further doubles the odds against the two women who can’t trust anyone. 

This messaging is not just through dialog, but other subtextual cues, when we meet Jennifer she is topless and working as a model clad only in body paint, as she progresses through the film, she slowly appropriates the attire of the men around her, sporting a cunning jacket and tie, there literally could be a essay just on her wardrobe or lack there of in this film. Jennifer is never completely helpless and even when the dashing architect (George Hilton) begins courting her, the power dynamic of the relationship still has her having her own screen time. Another standout is Carla Brait who plays a stripper of sorts. She plays a dense metaphorical game in the club she works at, where she challenges men to “prove their manhood” and pin her in 3 minutes, for a chance to sleep with her. Only we get to witness her make short work of her opponents and completely emasculate them. 


The cinematography in Iris is lush and probably some of the best I’ve seen in a film not by Dario Argento. There’s a steady hand at work and every shot is just immaculately framed with some great use of color, light and shadow. There’s also quite a few scenes in a pitch black room, or at real night, which is the true test of any cameraman, and Michele Pensato really composes some truly breathtaking frames, which are captured flawlessly in a new 4K restoration from the original camera negative. That new scan is paired on this release with the original audio in both English and Italian presented in the original mono. The presentation retains that vibrant 70s color palette with an unbridled clarity, and while the image is restored, it still retains its grain and its organic feel. This image is immaculate and that only brings home how gorgeous the cinematography here is. 

Bonus Features:
• Reversible cover, featuring the original Italian and English title of the movie
• (NEW) Commentary Track by film critic Guido Henkel
• (NEW) “Drops of Giallo” Interview Featurette with Ernesto Gastaldo and Giuliano Carnimeo
• “Flowers of Blood” Interview Featurette with George Hilton
• “Marylin” Interview Featurette with Paola Quattrini
• (NEW) Outtake Reel
• Image Gallery
• English Trailer in 4K resolution
• Italian Trailer in 4K resolution

New 2023 4K ultra-high definition Master sourced from 4K scan of the original negative!
2-disc combo containing a Blu-ray Disc and 4K UHD version of the movie
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Run Time: 94 minutes
Subtitles: Newly translated English, English SDH
Audio Specs: Italian – DTS HD Mono, English – DTS HD Mono

The set came with not only the film on both Blu-ray and 4K UHD, but new interviews with key cast and an informative commentary that dug up some rather impressive facts about the filming and the film’s rather fascinating production.The special edition came with a mouse pad of the poster art and TRUE TO SIZE lobby card reproductions that just made this package that much more surprising, for a first release. It’s been a while since I dug a Giallo this much, but The Case Of The Bloody Iris is special because it’s so different, it’s as dense as it is gorgeous to behold. The film’s script and rather impressive rogues gallery manages to really dig into the genre while also dealing out a satisfying killer reveal who only reinforces the thematic subtext carried throughout the film, in a way few of these films manage to do. I can’t recommend this enough for either the content or the presentation and this is a great first release for Celluloid Dreams.  

Previous post Tribeca 2024: #AMFAD: ALL MY FRIENDS ARE DEAD – A Chat with Star Jade Pettyjohn and Director Marcus Dunstan
Next post THE WATCHERS is a Half-Baked Debut from Ishana Night Shyamalan