One of my favorite things about giallo are the alternate titles. As if The Bloodstained Shadow isn’t a great name, this movie also goes by Solamente Nero (Only Blackness), which is a way better title. The other thing I love about this genre is that just when I think I’ve seen every good one, I find another to enjoy.
This is the kind of movie that tells you exactly where it stands in the first minutes, as a killer strangles a girl in a field before the credits even start. That murder has never been solved. Years later, a college professor named Stefano has a nervous breakdown. To recover, he comes home to visit his brother Don Paolo, who has become a priest that hates all of the immorality in their small town.
Oh what immorality — there’s a gambler, a psychic, a combination atheist/pedophile and an illegal abortionist with a mentally challenged son who lives in a shack top the list, along with your typical sex and drinking that happens in any town.
Meanwhile, murders have been piling up and whoever is behind it, they’re leaving notes to the priest, warning him that if he reveals who the killer is, he’ll be next. That’s because on Stefano’s first night back home, Don Paolo saw the killer murder the town psychic in the courtyard.
Stefania Casini (Suspiria) also appears as the love interest, Sandra, who helps Stefano come back to normalcy. Well, as normal as a town filled with murder can be. I’m kind of amazed that she wears a belly chain all day. When you get to the love scene, you’ll know what I mean.
There’s also some amazing religious imagery in this one, like a skinned and bloody animal that has been placed in the sacristy to warn the priest that he’s getting too close, or the communion scene that reveals who the real killer is.
Finally, Goblin plays some great music in here, created by composer Stelvio Cipriani. It’s really a great package, thanks to director Antonio Bido, who directed one other giallo, Watch Me When I Kill. I love how the past childhood trauma that the brothers endured continues to permeate their lives as they try to grow up. This is a very adult giallo and by that, I mean that it doesn’t need nudity and gore to tell its tale.
You can watch this on Amazon Prime.