The Yellow Room: Tessari's THE BLOODSTAINED BUTTERFLY
Duccio Tessari is perhaps best known for helping pen Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western
masterpiece A Fistful of Dollars and directing the much loved pasta jams A Pistol for Ringo and it’s sequel, The Return of Ringo—both releasing in 1965. After a few other offerings ranging from crime, spy thrillers, comedies, and westerns, 1970 brought us the notable giallo entry, Death Occurred Last Night, an enjoyable yet by the books entry to the genre. The following year he returned with The Bloodstained Butterfly, a 1971 flick that fuses together luridly sketchy giallo traditions with procedural/courtroom drama, a different approach that interestingly enough, works.
The Bloodstained Butterfly opens during a thunderstorm where a young college student is brutally murdered in a park. The accused culprit seems obvious: her lover, TV sports personality Alessandro Marchi (Giancarlo Sbragia), who was seen fleeing the scene of the crime by numerous eyewitnesses. The evidence against him is stacked... but is it all too convenient? 1970s heartthrob Helmut Berger (The Witches, Dorian Gray, The Godfather: Part III) thinks so, and when the killer strikes again while Marchi is in custody, it quickly becomes apparent that there's more to the case than meets the eye... C.S.I. GIALLO!
Butterfly is less concerned with giving us elaborate murder set pieces by instead focusing on just how these murder events unfolded. Even from the opening park slaughter, the accused killer is trying to evade the police and continuously running into people, all whom would take the witness stand once it goes all Law & Order. This giallo by way of a police procedural with a chunk of courtroom drama slathered on it, which, I’ll admit that on my first go around I was hesitant about, but there’s less courtroom scenes than I thought there'd be and none of said scenes are wasted filler, keeping Butterfly interesting throughout as Tessari weaves an intelligent giallo with a kicker of an ending.
While not as lavish, violent, or pulsating with tension as offerings from genre kings Argento or Martino, it’s no less flamboyant, with a pace that’s juuuust right, visually appealing camerawork and a cast of characters that all seem to be sleeping with each other. I was genuinely intrigued by the mystery too, it's a solid story and bolstered with a strong score by Gianni Ferrio that has no problems evoking intrigue or passion. One of the things that keeps me coming back to this genre is the color aesthetic that more often than not plays a secret character within the films, the overall color pallet in Butterfly isn’t as stunning as an Argento picture, the recurring visual of beautifully colored flowers was a winner, as was the downbeat ending that isn’t afraid to piss in your bowl of Cheerios.
Once again giving my favorite genre the treatment it deserves, Arrow Video released an uncut Blu-ray with a brand new 4K Restoration, complete with visual essays, a Tessari retrospective, and reversible artwork. Another fine edition for the collection, especially if you’re looking to switch it up from the typical black gloved killer jam.