Seven Blood-Stained Orchids (2002) from Tuna

Seven Blood-Stained Orchids (1971) has never had a US release of any kind until the new DVD I screened. If I said it was a Giallo, and a good one, you would get the idea, but that wouldn't be technically accurate. It was written and directed by Umberto Lenzi, who got the idea from his favorite US mystery writer from the 50's, William Irish. My education did not include this author, but after some Web research, I've decided it should have.

CORNELL WOOLRICH (aka William Irish and George Hopley) 1903-1968

Despite the fact that he will probably be forever remembered only for the story behind  Rear Window, one of Alfred Hitchcock's most famous films, Cornell Woolrich will always be properly identified by mystery aficionados as an important figure in noir, possibly even the father of noir. One biographer said, "Beginning in 1940, the words 'black', 'dark', and 'death' appeared in so many of his titles that he is credited with suggesting to others the label 'film noir'" (See William Marling's article at

Born in 1903 in New York City, he spent most of his childhood in revolutionary Mexico with his father who was an engineer. He studied journalism at Columbia University but left rather soon when his fiction became profitable. Between 1926 and 1932, he wrote six novels in the manner of Scott Fitzgerald that met with tepid success. After a disastrous marriage (it was annulled when his bride found his secret diary of his homosexual escapades) and an unsuccessful early career as a scriptwriter, he went to live with his mother in New York, where he lived many of his remaining days in seclusion, especially after his mother died and his lag was amputated following an untreated foot infection.

In that quarter century in New York he became a mystery/suspense writer, and his first suspense novel, The Bride Wore Black (1940), is a classic noir and one of the major books of the genre. More followed - especially short stories - with the distinctive characteristic that readers were never sure if the ending was going to be a happy one or a sad one. This is probably why Alfred Hitchcock and many other film makers were so attracted to his work. Woolrich is one of the most "filmed" mystery authors, a prime example being Rear Window, which was based on Woolrich's "It Had to be Murder". In the case of the movie we are discussing here, it was Woolrich's "Rendezvous in Black" that gave Umberto Lenzi the idea for Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso. In addition to his film legacy, he was an inspiration for TV's The Twilight Zone as well.

Much of his mystery work was published in the format then called "pulp fiction", which consisted of 5 and 10 cent paperbacks printed on very cheap "pulp", the American equivalent of the cheap paper used for the Italian giallo fiction, but substituting lurid American cover art for the generic yellow Italian covers.

Woolrich died in 1968, after living as a virtual hermit for 11 years.

So, the first problem with calling this a Giallo is that it is not based on an Italian mystery, but rather on an American suspense thriller. 

The second problem is that it is a joint German/Italian production, and is not especially graphic or lurid Those familiar with Lenzi's more typical gore-fests will be amazed that he directed this well balanced thriller. Sure, there is some gore and some nudity, but neither is excessive, and in fact some of the murders actually take place off camera. Each murder is by a different method, including the first use of an electric drill as a murder weapon. Set design is very nice.


Gabreilla Giorgelli, despite playing a nearly cameo role as a hooker who is murdered, has the best exposure, with many shots of her breasts, and most of her buns in panties.

Marina Malfatti shows breasts as another victim, in what is one of the eerier scenes in the film, where she is surrounded by poisoned and dying pet cats as the killer is stalking her in her apartment.

 Several unknowns also show breasts at a party.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen, beautiful transfer, and even the dubbing is tolerable, compared to the usual in Italian films

  • The DVD includes recent interviews with director Lenzi, and actress Gabriella Giorgelli, whose most recent credit at IMDB is from 1999, capping a  37 year career which includes 63 IMDb credits.

Women turn up dead, and each has an amulet placed in her hand. One of the intended victims is recently married, and her husband sets out to solve the mystery. Clearly, if he finds the connection among the murdered women, it will help him learn the identity of the murderer. As I am recommending this film highly, I won't give away any more plot, other than to say that the murders are caused by a death which happened a year and a half before the murders start, providing a logical motive for the killer, rather than the usual "it is a random insane serial killer" cliche.

The Critics Vote

  • no English language reviews online

The People Vote ...


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this film is a B-, a timeless mystery thriller in the Hitchcock tradition, and is presented in a beautiful transfer for the first time in the US. Even if you generally dislike Gialli, you may well like this one. No reviews are available, but IMDB comments are highly favorable. B-.

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