A high-rise apartment populated by models, nightclub dancers and call girls becomes the focus of a mysterious serial killer. When a young model named Jennifer and her friend Marilyn move into one of the victims' former apartments, Jennifer becomes the next target and the pair try to identify the killer.
23 Jan The Case of the Bloody Iris (1972)
When I’m blue, the movies I look for aren’t comedies. Film comedies work too hard, follow too many script formulas and when I am blue it is because I have worked to hard following similar internal scripts.
What I need and what you might like are films that are so abstract they have almost nothing to do with reality. They abstract from other movies in a kind of Xerox of Xerox way so that what you has nothing to do with reality and all to do with filmmaking.
And no one is better at empty films, films with no emotional content or soul than Italians. Elsewhere I’ve noted that the Hollywood Italians attach to characters and violence as cinematic icons. Leone abstracted from the western and character fantasy.
Giallo is similar but does something a bit more clever to my mind. It has (for the time) extreme violence and sex (usually a few nipples) but not having much to do with each other. It takes these two abstractions and places it in a highly refined mystery-thriller context.
The way these things work is you have sexy women — or thought so for the era, and since these are Italians, we are talking compliant big-breasted teases. These are in some sex-related trades and get killed by some serial murderer. Many candidates are described, as if this were a real detective story that we could figure out. We can’t of course; when the thing was abstracted all the elements of logic went, things like causality and clues.
In fact, it works in reverse. The things that seem logical turn out not to be. Illogic is always the way.
I like this giallo best of them all. It is the most stylish, the most cinematic (except for the murders which are mundane). By cinematic, I mean the way things are staged, the edges of walls are used. Mirrors.
And it has two characters that are extremely evocative. One is a carbon copy of Woody Allen, appearance, mannerisms and all. He is a photographer here in much the same stance that Allen himself appears as a filmmaker in many of his own movies. Logic says he is the killer.
Then we see a woman in the building where the main action takes place. You will swear that this is the same actor: Woody in disguise. All logic points to this Psycho-based notion.
There’s a further structural/character fold. Another character — about whom we learn has a bloody past — is an architect. Now architects in movies are always special people, especially when they have the “plans” to what is important. Logic also says this is the guy and the story duly frames him.
Another movie reference: one potential killer is a member of a group sex, free love new age society. The bloody iris is not a sliced eyeball as you would expect. The iris is the symbol of this sexual commune and one appears bloody.
There’s a scene is here that I value. You know how it is, that each genre has one scene that is so perfect it acts as a strange attractor for the whole genre? Here we have an inept European policeman who is investigating the crimes: young women in sexy jobs being killed. He and his boss are in an ornate office that one could only imagine of Italians.
The policeman is handed a letter, a piece of evidence and is asked his opinion. The cop goes on and on about how ordinary the stamp is, as if the entire value of the thing had nothing to do with the meaning of the letter, nor the document on which that meaning is recorded, nor even the container for that document, instead the designation on the container — the stamp — that indicates its genre only.
Watch this if you are blue.
Posted in 2005
Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.