the review site with a difference since 1999
Reviews Interviews Articles Apps About

Anchor Bay presents

The Bloodstained Shadow (Solamente Nero) (1978)

Paolo: The killer thinks I saw him from the window. He's threatened to kill me if I talk. But believe me, I wasn't able to recognize him.
Stefano: Then that means there really was a murder.- Craig Hill, Lino Capolicchio

Stars: Lino Capolicchio, Stefania Casini, Craig Hill
Other Stars: Massimo Serato, Juliette Mayniel, Laura Nucci, Attilio Duse Sciascia, Gianfranco Bullo
Director: Antonio Bido

Manufacturer: Crest National
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, violence)
Run Time: 01h:48m:45s
Release Date: 2002-06-25
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer


DVD Review

Of all of the unique genres now getting proper treatment on DVD, the Italian giallo films have now been given an especially nice shot in the arm, courtesy of Anchor Bay. These twisty suspense films, which were generally laden with an excess of violence and nudity, were prevalent in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but somehow slipped into the shadows cast by the equally garish Italian horror giants like Dario Argento and Mario Bava. Anchor Bay has done an exceptional job on the restoration of four rarely seen examples of the genre, and has seen fit to make them available separately or as part of a nicely packaged boxset.

Antonio Bido's The Bloodstained Shadow is one of those newly restored four (the others being Who Saw Her Die?, Short Night of Glass Dolls, and Case of the Bloody Iris), and was made in 1978, near the tail end of the giallo craze. Bido was far from one of the genre's more prolific directors, and this one was actually only his second film, coming just after the superbly creepy The Cat With the Jade Eyes.

The setup here is pure giallo: the film opens with a slow-motion strangulation of a young woman set to a gurgly score performed by genre faves, Goblin. It's a weirdly well-composed sequence (content notwithstanding), and the element of slow-motion makes the whole thing seem like some kind of vile dance. Meanwhile, young college professor Stefano (Lino Capolicchio), a guy who favors comically large turtlenecks, returns to his quaint (re: grubby) town just outside Venice for a bit of a vacation; it seems that Stefano suffers from some sort of mysterious "spells", so he's back in town for a little rest and relaxation. Stefano's older Paolo (Craig Hill) is the Catholic priest for the village, and he quickly brings his collegiate bro (as well as the viewers) up to speed on the odd local inhabitants.

When the murder of the town psychic occurs that night, literally under the priest's window, Bido ratchets up the giallo-osity by having the killer mercilessly taunt Paolo with cryptic, threatening notes. Paolo and Stefano team up to pinpoint which of the town crazies could be the killer, and trust me there are plenty to choose from. Is it the stern midwife with the crazy son she keeps locked away? Is it the Count, the pedophile music instructor? Is it the town doctor whose wife died from "accidental" gunshot wounds? Or could it be sexy and mysterious Sandra (Stefania Casini from Suspiria)? Let's not forget Tomas, the angry young love slave of the Count, either.

Bido's film has its share of standard genre twists, and he uses the tried and true effect of the black-gloved killer's point of view to good effect, too. But it's not all cheap giallo tricks; Bido has a huge crucifix fall off a church wall, nearly crushing Paolo, and that moment is a nice payoff to a particularly tense sequence that is as good as any I've seen in more polished thrillers. However, in the quality kill department, The Bloodstained Shadow does feature a wheelchair-bound old woman being tossed into a roaring fireplace, as well as a nifty canal chase that gives new meaning to the term giving someone his "props."

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer here pales next to Anchor Bay's fine work on Who Saw Her Die?, but it's still a respectable job considering this is an Italian B-movie from 1978. The color field is never overly rich, though that is probably in part due to the generally dreary look of the film's locale. Black levels and shadow depth are off slightly, rendering a few night scenes, such as the one with the two policeman discussing Stefano's sexuality, extremely difficult to follow. Some fine grain is evident in a few of the daylight scenes, but is forgivable considering the film's age. More importantly, though, source print flaws are minimal; a few pesky white specks do appear occasionally.

All things considered, this one looks pretty good.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The single Dolby Digital mono track, here presented in English dub form, is devoid of any distracting hiss or crackle, and is consistently clean and understandable.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: As part of their impressive Giallo Collection, Anchor Bay has included segments of freshly shot director interviews on each of the releases in the series. Here we get a brief piece called Solamente Bido (13m:12s) which, like the others, is in Italian with English subtitles. Antonio Bido discusses how he came to be associated with the project via a short story, and how he chose to set the film in a "hypothetical Venice." Bido, like fellow giallo director Aldo Lado, is an effusive speaker and the thirteen minutes we get from him here seems to only scratch the surface. Fans of the Italian band Goblin, who also did work on Suspiria and Deep Red, will probably be amused at Bido's explanation of the exaggerated machinations involved in getting them to do the music for The Bloodstained Shadow.

In addition to 28 chapters, the disc includes a theatrical trailer, a Bido filmography, and a thick insert card of the film's original Italian artwork, when it was known as Solamente Nero. Oddly enough, Craig Hill's name is misspelled as Graig Hill on the insert artwork.

Extras Grade: B

Final Comments

I hope Anchor Bay releases another set of giallo titles soon. Films like The Bloodstained Shadow, with its rich cast of shady characters and predictably unpredictable twists, have only whet my appetite for more.

There's always room for giallo.


Rich Rosell 2002-08-01