The Film (4/5)
Getting non Big 3 gialli onto the Blu-ray format has been quite an uphill battle. It seems like after the Italian horror/giallo boom of the DVD era getting these films on to a physical format has not been a priority for many labels releasing product into the cult video market. However, Arrow Video has come to the aid of giallo junkies like myself who have wanted to feast our eyes on some HD yellow goodness, and for the last few years put out box set and single releases of some of the genres heavy hitters. Their latest release is another genre high point Duccio Tessari's The Bloodstained Butterfly.
Tessari's film it can be argued is not giallo in the traditional sense, as the film is a blend of poliziotteschi, giallo, and courtroom drama. This is not out of step for director Tessari, whose prior giallo Death Occurred Last Night (on Blu-ray by Raro Video) strongly blended elements of giallo with powerful drama. The Bloodstained Butterfly opens with the murder of a young woman, the corpse rolls down the side of a hill, and in front of a little girl. The supposed killer, a local TV newsman Alessandro Marchi is seen fleeing the scene, and quickly arrested. Marchi is quickly put to trial, and evidence is collected to prove his guilt, but once he is locked up more murders occur in the style of the first. This puts into question Marchi's presumed guilt.
The Bloodstained Butterfly is an effective mix of giallo and police procedural. With more emphasis on the procedural and trial aspects. The murder that ignites the plot happens mere moments into the film, but unlike it's giallo brethren, it is not a violent sadistic highlight. It is just a plot point made to get out of the way in order for the main story to take hold. The film then feels like a mix of heavy courtroom drama and something like CSI - Rome '71.
The visual style of the film is more muted in contrast to some of the more garish and flamboyant visuals that this genre is known for. As such is reminded me of Luigi Bazzoni's the Fifth Cord and also Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look now on a visual level. The performances from the main cast are solid for the most part. Gianni Ferrio's score offers a nice counterpoint to the onscreen action.
Arrow Video knocks another one out of the park with a 2:35:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer preserving the film's OAR. The film has a more muted and restrained color palette from it's giallo peers and that is reflected here. The film has nice fine detail, flesh tones are solid , and blacks are deep. The grain is non-obtrusive and very natural.
Audio is handled with DTS-HD MA mono tracks in English and Italian. the audio tracks are quite serviceable with dialogue and score coming through crisp and clear. I did not detect any issues with pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.
Arrow Video has put together an excellent slate of extras for the Bloodstained Butterfly. There is a short introduction by actor Helmut Berger. The disc then gets underway with a commentary by Alan Jones and Kim Newman. We then get an excellent nearly 30 minute visual essay on the film with some genre overlap by film historian Troy Howarth. Following on from this there is a 55 minute interview with actress Ida Galli (aka Evelyn Stewart). There is also an 8 minute interview with the widow of director Tessari, and an 18 minute interview with Helmet Berger. The disc is rounded off with a gallery of promotional material, and 2 trailers.
The Bloodstained Butterfly is a strong entry in the giallo genre that has seen an excellent restoration from Arrow Video. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, and is loaded up with fantastic extra features. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.