Il fiore dai petali d’acciaio (1973)

Carroll Baker got to be in plenty of giallo films — Knife of IceA Quiet Place to Kill, Orgasmo, So Sweet, So Perverse — and it reminds me of a conversation that I had with Mike Justice about how the globalization of mass media has led to a world where out of favor actresses could go to Italy and make some horror or giallo movies. Sharon Stone? You would be perfect right now instead of being a weird head on the end of a finger in a gambling app commercial.

Dr. Andrea Valenti (Gianni Garko, who was in a ton of films, like several Sartana sequels, as well as The Psychic, Devilfish and so many others ) is a surgeon who everyone loves, other than his lover Daniella (Paola Senatore, Emanuelle in AmericaRicco the Mean Machine). After a fight, we’re led to believe that Andrea has killed her, cut her up and dumped the remains in a sewage plant. That’s when Baker, playing Evelyn, who is not only one of Andrea’s past lovers, but also the current lesbian love of Daniella as well as her half-sister because this is an Italy movie.

She goes to the police and tries to convince Detective Garrano (Ivano Staccioli, So Sweet, So Dead) that Valenti killed her sister, which seems like it could be true. After all, didn’t Valenti put his rich wife into a mental hospital after they had sex on their wedding night? What the hell is that about? Is he that amazing in bed? Is she so innocent that she was shocked by his member? Really, this is amazing.

But I digress.

The first wife is now sane and has left the asylum, yet no one knows where she is. As for the doctor, he’s already moved on to his secretary Elaina (Pilar Velázquez, A White Dress for Marialé). And then he starts getting blackmailed as someone has the photos of the murder. Or maybe accident is more the term, as whomever it was tripped and fell on the metal flower artwork in his house.

While Argento wouldn’t have art outright murder someone until Tenebre, this movie borrows a lot from him. The metal flower seems like something out of The Bird With the Crystal Plumage and the tunnel of baby doll heads with a body at the end is straight out of Dario.

Director Gianfranco Piccioli produced lots of movies but only directed two other films: The Hokey-Pokey Gang and Double by Half.

By 1973, the giallo was starting to not be as popular as it once was. Then again, rumors of its demise were the same as disco, as the name of the genre may have shifted — erotic thriller — but the stories are the same. They’re still getting made today. Yet when this was made, it was definitely created to fit the exact format that everyone expected with a gloved and masked scalpal slashing killer.

All things being said, I have never seen another giallo that has an underwater scuba lesbian scene, so that’s perhaps one audacious reason to watch The Flower With the Petals of Steel.

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