A killer is targeting a group of seemingly unrelated women. But upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that there is a commonality between the victims. A man and his wife search for the common thread between the growing number of fallen women and their killer. But the closer they come to revealing the identity of the killer, the more their safety is jeopardized.
Umberto Lenzi’s Seven Bloodstained Orchids is an often overlooked but still noteworthy addition to the giallo sub-genre. The film is co-written by Lenzi and Roberto Gianviti. It has a lot of the characteristics that made the gialli of Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci great. It’s full of red herrings and redirects, it doesn’t skimp on gore, and the lead characters are engaging and enjoyable–the kind of people the audience does not mind spending time with. It is smartly scripted and delivers a great ending.
Umberto Lenzi is somewhat underrated as a director in general. And some of that is warranted. His body of work is not as noteworthy as some of his peers. He made the awful slasher film Nightmare Beach, for God’s sake. But he also has some gems in his filmography and this is certainly one of them.
Seven Bloodstained Orchids is one of the few gialli I can think of where the killer has a motive beyond simply being mad. A lot of giallo titles feature a psychopath that kills because he or she is crazy. Seven Bloodstained Orchids features an antagonist that–while crazy–kills for a reason beyond that. He or she has an axe to grind and their behavior is motivated by more than just an urge to kill. The film incorporates elements of the revenge thriller–which was just beginning to become popular at the time of its release.
The reveal, where we learn the identity of the killer is entirely unexpected and the fact that they have a revenge-based and believable motive makes the ending a lot more enjoyable. It feels less rushed than the conclusion one might expect from this type of film. It is still short and sweet but since the motive is believable, that makes all the difference.
As for pacing, Seven Bloodstained Orchids is right on point. The deaths come at just the right time and at no point is the viewer left disinterested in what is transpiring onscreen.
As of now, there isn’t a great version of this film available on DVD. I bought my copy from a small Oregon-based distributor called Sinister Cinema. The DVD is a DVD-R and the insert looks like it was printed on an ink jet. I will gladly take that over no DVD release but I have to admit that I was a trifle disappointed with the overall quality. The transfer isn’t bad for a DVD-R but the menus are awful and there are zero special features, other than a trailer. It would be really nice to see Blue Underground pick up this title and give it the treatment it deserves!
If you have not seen this film, you are missing out. You should absolutely check it out as soon as you are able.
WICKED RATING: 6.5/10
Director(s): Umberto Lenzi
Writer(s): Umberto Lenzi, Roberto Gianviti
Stars: Antonio Sabato, Uschi Glas, Pier Paolo Capponi
Studio/ Production Co: Flora Film, National Pictures, Rialto Film
Language: Italian (Dubbed in English)
Length: 92 Minutes