The name Umberto Lenzi is not one normally associated with the stylish and sexy giallis of his time, but rather the Italian cannibal genre -- in particular, Cannibal Ferox and the film he coined his best, Man From Deep River. With that in mind, one would almost expect his 1972 giallo, Seven Blood-Stained Orchids, to be heavy on the sleaze. The opening scene would seem to indicate as much -- we watch a group of prostitutes trying to score with random Johns and one ends up in the bushes. However, instead of finishing the trick, she's viciously attacked and left for dead. But that's about as grotesque and frantic as things get in Orchids, which ends up being filled with bits and pieces of genre savvy but essentially falls flat because of its story and uneven pacing -- especially during act two, which is interminable.

This is just one of the things that tends to infuriate me about Lenzi though -- false starts and narrative apathy. For example, pseudo occult symbolism becomes a major part of the plot, but when the meanings are revealed they're as disappointing as the killer turns out to be. This probably shouldn't be surprising. Lenzi is, after all, the director who did an amputated limb scene where the victim just had the cut off appendage buried in the sand. He's always been known for taking a few shortcuts in his work. While Orchids doesn't suffer from the same kind of laziness and is actually well made from a Lenzi standpoint -- it just doesn't make the mark and plays it safe. It's a very textbook-like example of the giallo form.
categories Features, Reviews, Horror