When a beautiful blonde is stabbed in an elevator to the strains of a bouncy Bruno Nicolai score, you better believe it’s giallo time! Queen of the genre Edwige Fenech plays Jennifer Osterman, a scantily-clad (would fans have it any other way?) model ogled by suave architect Andrea Antorini (George Hilton) during a photo-shoot. Already being harassed by her cracked ex-husband Adam (Ben Cara) with whom she was part of a strange sex cult, Jennifer’s troubles grow tenfold when she and ditzy friend Marilyn (Paola Quattrini) move into Andrea’s newly-designed apartment complex. A masked madman in a black coat is busy drowning and stabbing various sexually voracious women. When the cops peg Andrea as the culprit, Jennifer turns detective to prove her boyfriend innocent but has a plethora of shifty suspects to choose from.
Producer Luciano Martino placed then-girlfriend Edwige Fenech in a string of striking giallo horror-thrillers, usually directed by his brother Sergio Martino. Here however, spaghetti western helmer Giuliano Carnimeo takes his sole stab (sorry) at the genre with The Case of the Bloody Iris. The original Italian title is a real mouthful: Perche quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer? which translates as What Are Those Strange Drops of Blood on Jennifer's Body?, a delightfully florid title though you can understand why they changed it. Carnimeo brings a lot of style to proceedings, as when the killer stalks stripper Mizar (Carla Brait) through her darkened apartment, or the kaleidoscopic flashbacks to Jennifer’s wild “free love” orgies, and a lengthy sex scene capturing the lovers from an array of oddball angles. “Those two are really going at it”, remarks snooping Detective Redi (Franco Agostini). “We may end up with a baby on our hands instead of a body.” It’s typical of the wry wit dealt by veteran screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi who includes additional quirks in the form of stamp-collecting Inspector Erici (Giampiero Albertini), Mizar’s bizarre live sex show-cum-wrestling stage act, a camp photographer (Oreste Lionello) styled after and dubbed to sound like Woody Allen, traumatic childhood flashbacks explaining Andrea’s aversion to blood, dopey Marilyn’s inappropriate practical jokes and the shrewish old woman hiding her hideously disfigured son.
Whether intentional or otherwise, much of the humour stems from Inspector Erici and his jaw-droppingly crass remarks that range from “Everyone wants a black girl” to telling slinky lesbian next door (Annabella Incontrera): “Why waste your talents? Try the opposite sex, it’s what we’re here for!” As ever with Gastaldi scripts, it’s hard to tell whether he’s being satirical when nasty neighbours brand Jennifer a whore or out to have it both ways by revelling in sex and nudity while condemning loose women and trendy swingers. The titular bloodstained flower scarcely qualifies as a clue, connected to a throwaway remark (“I’ll tear you as I tore the petals off an iris”) and the reoccurring image of a naked Fenech festooned with flowers, while the killer’s identity may as well have been drawn out of a hat.
In spite of all that, the film remains a great deal of fun and still a treat for Edwige Fenech fans, though a notch below her Sergio Martino movies.