Gialloween Day 11: Seven Blood-Stained Orchids
Umberto Lenzi, prolific director of spaghetti westerns, italo-crime, and cannibal films enters our day 11 spot with his 1972 giallo Seven Blood-Stained Orchids. A married woman manages to survive an attack from the infamous “Half-Moon Killer”. She teams up with her husband in a race against time to find her connection to the other six targets to avoid becoming the seventh.
Before I go deeper into the film, I’ll preface with this. My history of Lenzi has been anything but stellar. The gialli of Lenzi bring to mind extremely evocative titles such as Knife of Ice and Oasis of Fear. Hell the alternate title to this entry is The Puzzle of the Silver Half-Moons. The man can title a film, I’ll give him that. Unfortunately, the films themselves hardly live up to the expectation set by their name. Since my expectations where set lower than usual, this initial viewing of Orchids was…ok.
There is certainly no shortage of beautiful women here. Genre player Marina Malfatti’s appearance showcases some of film’s best outfits and coolest apartment. More visual goodies come from the numerous other interior locations featured in the film. The main couple’s 60s influenced pad is worth mentioning in particular. Now that I think about it, Orchids, has the most amount of eye candy of any Lenzi film I’ve seen so far.
But yet, it isn’t enough to carry the film. The jumbled plot, and focus on the boorish husband as the amateur detective made me lose interest rather quickly. Unlike the many giallo films that reach a big reveal and end at the height of climax, the ending here feels more like a car that has run out of gas and has slowly come to a stop.
The highest point of the film, besides the double (triple?) whammy of giallo bombshells Marina Malfatti and Marissa Mell is the moody score supplied by genre favorite Riz Ortolani. The film’s main theme is a contemplative disco tune with a driving bass line that is as equally evocative as the film’s title. Ortolani’s liberal use of the electric guitar and organ in variations of the theme transform parts of the soundtrack into a great prog rock jam.
This is one of the best Lenzi films I’ve seen, and at the same time, a Lenzi film nonetheless. My experience with Orchid can be described as a pleasant disappointment. I can see myself coming back to this title later with a couple of beers, maybe even a couple orchids of my own and enjoying myself. For now though, let’s just say this about the other two Lenzi films in the series— I’m dreading watching Knife of Ice again, and excited to watch Eyeball for the first time.