The Case of the Bloody Iris (1972)

NOVEMBER 24, 2010


Plot-wise and kill scene-wise (but title aside), The Case of the Bloody Iris (aka Perché Quelle Strane Gocce Di Sangue Sul Corpo Di Jennifer?, or What Are Those Strange Drops of Blood Doing on Jennifer's Body?) is not a particularly memorable Giallo - the motive for the plot isn't goofy or insane enough to stick out, the kills are all rather bland, and the rare stalk/chase scenes aren't exactly top notch. However, it's one of the most entertaining ones ever if you, like me, have an affinity for out-of-nowhere misogynist dialogue, or just plain goofy lines like "A pretty girl is never ridiculous."

Last week a reader bemoaned my "sexist" usage of the word "broad" when describing a particularly stupid female character, which I was a bit taken back by - I never thought of the word as sexist, my understanding was it meant, well, a particularly stupid female, and thus no more sexist that using "asshole" to describe an idiotic male. Then I did some digging around and discovered it's also another word for "a woman of ill repute" (aka a hooker), so I guess it's a regional thing (like how "bloody" is a swear in the UK but not here). But anyway, if she's still reading, I would urge her not to watch this movie, as both the male AND female characters in this film have particularly poor opinions of the fairer sex (including one referring to another as a "broad", go figure). The police captain in particular is pretty offensive, claiming that a woman who stays married to an abusive man must enjoy it, amongst other colorful "theories" that even I was a bit offended by.

But what makes it kind of amusing (to me) is that the females are no better - often berating one another, calling each other "whore" and what not, and NOT being offended when the males make their sexist remarks. The ultimate has to be when one thanks her boyfriend for being patient with her, and he replies "Don't thank me just yet, wait til I try to make it with you - then you'll see what a bastard I am." Does anyone in this movie have a healthy view of themselves or others?

It's also amusing thanks to the character of Ramsey, who has seemingly wandered in from a Police Academy movie or something. He botches a surveillance job because he decides to make a sandwich (in his car), and files away drinking glasses under B (for "bar materials"), much to his boss' confusion. At one point his commanding officer asks him if he ever considered the fire department instead, and he asks if you need to be intelligent to join (again with the low self esteem!). Basically he does or says something goofy and random every time he appears, which is often. There's also a photographer guy who acts like Woody Allen - he's only in two or three scenes, but he makes an impression.

The opening scene is also hilarious, when a girl is stabbed in the elevator and three folks waiting for it discover her body. They each let out a gasp, but then instantly just start wondering if she lived there and if anyone recognized her - no panic, no "let's call the police!" - they sit and look at the body and murmur as if it was something they were watching on TV. And the laughs even start before that - watch how angrily everyone presses the button for their floor.

It has a minor payoff in the climax, but one thing I didn't like was how similar two of the girls looked, making it a bit confusing for me as to which was which in the early parts of the movie, before I had gotten familiar with them. There's also a lot of stuff in the beginning that suggests a more complicated movie - a cult of some sort, a weird bar where a naked woman challenges the male customers to last three minutes with her in the ring (a challenge we see play out in real time), a guy with an aversion to the sight of blood... none of these things have any bearing on the plot after about a half hour or so. It also becomes more confined as it goes - most of the second half of the film takes place in the apartment building, though there is a brief little chase in a junkyard, furthering my curiosity why there hasn't been a full blown junkyard set slasher movie yet (that Machined shit don't count).

Blue Underground has delivered a really nice transfer for the film, but got a bit skimpy on the extras. There's a 'bio' for director Giuliano Carnimeo (under his pseudonym Anthony Ascott) that's actually just an incomplete filmography, the lousy trailer, and an "alternate stabbing scene" that's actually just severely edited, making the sequence more confusing than it was in the finished film. It also removes the shot of Ramsey making his sandwich, so I have no use for this whatsoever. Supposedly there are some versions that remove around four minutes of the film - this one scene does not account for that much (there's about 30 seconds' worth of difference, if that), so some details about what was removed (the DVD is of the full 94 minute version) would have been interesting.

So if you're easily offended by characters who have no respect for one another (or themselves in many cases), I would skip this one, but otherwise I think you'll find it's one of the most enjoyably odd Giallos out there, albeit not for the usual reasons, and thus highly recommended (it's certainly one of the more "Grindhouse"-y entries), especially if you're a De Palma fan, as it seems to have been an influence on Dressed To Kill (oh yeah, lot of nudity too, if that's your thing).

What say you?


  1. *Then I did some digging around and discovered it's also another word for "a woman of ill repute" (aka a hooker), so I guess it's a regional thing (like how "bloody" is a swear in the UK but not here).*

    It's not regional and it's not sexist because it means hooker. It's sexist because it's a derogatory term used ONLY against women and meant to demean and dismiss. Words like "asshole" are gender neutral. "Douchebag" (as you used as an example in our previous discussion) is generally used against men, but I've definitely heard it said about women and besides, it's meant to be demeaning because it's a feminine hygeine product, yes? And that's dirty, right? Have you ever called anyone an "enema"? Point being, you can make your point about the character being stupid without falling into the lazy writing trap of using sexist slang.

    Anyhow, I think I'll give this movie a miss not because of the misogynist characters but because you said it is:

    *not a particularly memorable Giallo*

    and so I'll find something more entertaining to waste my time on :)

  2. dude, i don't think you're going to win with her.

  3. No, douchebag is not meant to be demeaning because it is a feminine hygiene product. In the early 20th century the douche was used as a woman's form of contraception. It was very commonly marketed to women as such, until medical bodies began to more publicly decry their use as unhealthy, and ineffective as contraception. These public service message seemed to escalate the term in public's consciousness, while giving it the negative connotations of being ineffective and harmful. The fringe term then seemed to grow in popularity almost as a classist insult, as douches became associated with ignorant (and poor) women, while the more educated (and liberated) women began to look down on the term and concept. By the 1980's it was already a fairly widespread insult, by the time the douche industry stopped marketing them as contraception altogether. Your assertion that it is sexist because it is making reference to women as dirty is absurd ideological nonsense, mixing attitudes and ideas from different time periods in order to fit a particular narrative agenda.


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