Director – Antonio Bido
Cast – Lino Capolicchio, Stefania Casini, Craig Hill, Massimo Serato, Juliette Mayniel, Laura Nucci, Attilio Duse
Release Year – 1978
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I was very stoked to get my hands on this one mainly because 1.) I had never heard of it before, and 2.) I thought its title was incredible. After looking into this film a bit more it seems The Bloodstained Shadow is somewhat of a hidden gem in the giallo sub-genre, making this experience even more fun to me given someday I am sure I will exhaust all of the hidden gems out there, I just hope that day does not come very soon, or ever.
Stefano makes a long-awaited trip to the island that he grew up in so that he can visit his brother Don, the local priest. Soon after Stefano’s arrival, a woman known to be the town’s spiritual medium is murdered in front of his brother Don, prompting mysterious letters and death threats making references to a long ago crime in which a young schoolgirl was murdered and the killer never caught. As more heinous murders occur around the small town, Stefano and Don find themselves in the sights of a secretive killer with a vendetta against them, one that will shed light on the decades-old crime, and leave Stafano wishing he’d never come to his hometown.
Going into this film I was pretty sure that I was going to enjoy it, which is pretty much the case with every Italian giallo film from the 70s. We get the usual mystery storyline, and I enjoyed the idea of Stefano returning to his hometown only to find himself in the mist of a deadly killer with his/her sights set on him and his brother. The entire film follows Stefano as he tries to desperately figure out who is behind the threatening letters sent to his brother, and we are given a few great kills thrown into the mix as well. This is definitely a story-driven flick, and that could be why The Bloodstained Shadow never became as well known as other giallo films from its day and age such as Black Belly of the Tarantula. At times I felt that the film was a little slow, especially when you consider that we are only given a few kills despite a 109 minute runtime that left me itching for more kills. When you have a 45 minute gap between kills in a giallo film you are going to have problems, and that is my only real balk with this one. As far as the usual shocking climax that we get with giallo films I can say that I saw this climax coming before the film hit its halfway point. This was not a huge bummer to me but I felt it was quite predictable and lost the edge it could have had if its conclusion was more unique, but that is only my opinion.
Director Antonio Bido did a fine job executing this film, and he somehow managed to keep my attention for the most part during the film’s slower kill-lacking scenes. As with most giallo films he employs fantastic sets and great camerawork, and to make up for the lack of kills he delivers the few kills in fantastic and shocking fashion, which I can always appreciate. I was quite surprised to see that Bido did not have a long career in the horror genre, which I found hard to believe given the guy obviously has talent, especially when you consider that he managed to keep me engaged in this slow but positive story-driven giallo film.
Overall, The Bloodstained Shadow is another positive late 70s giallo film that manages to give us the usual awesome giallo story with positive direction and fantastic kill sequences. The film moves slow and does not come with as many kills as I wanted, but in the end the experience is a positive one and is sure to give giallo fans what they want.