*. Fans of gialli, and I certainly count myself among them, should admit to their being spoiled. With lots of intelligent if bizarre scripts, flourishes of stylistic gore, and talents like Bava and Argento directing you can’t go wrong. Even a mediocre giallo is usually a good time.
*. Seven Blood-Stained Orchids is a mediocre giallo. The story here comes from the pen of the insanely prolific Edgar Wallace. In fact this was the last of a series of Wallace adaptations by Rialto, and, a German-Italian co-production, is considered by some to mark the transition from the German krimi to the Italian giallo. I can’t say much about this because I don’t know the krimi genre very well, but this is about as yellow as it gets.
*. What does that mean? Well, there’s a serial killer, dubbed by the media the Half-Moon Maniac, stalking beautiful young women. We see a lot of shots from the killer’s point of view, revealing only his black gloves. There are red herrings galore, and a convoluted back story explaining the killer’s motivations. I’ve actually read commentary on this movie where the killer’s identity is said to be obvious but I certainly didn’t find it so. Even at the end I wasn’t entirely sure what had been going on.
*. Umberto Lenzi borrows all the motifs but his heart doesn’t seem to be in it. There are enough pointless zooms to make your head swim and some odd angles that only rarely serve any purpose or score any style points (the overhead shot of the dead cats being one of the few exceptions). There are no good kills, even with the employment of a power drill. One naked corpse has paint dripped over it, turning her into a Pollock. That’s very giallo too.
*. But as I said, even a mediocre giallo is still pretty good. They’re basically slasher films made with a flash of art and intelligence. Or, put another way, slasher films made before art and intelligence went completely out of style.