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Sette Orchidee Macchiate di Rosso / Das Rätsel des Silbernen Halbmonds

Seven Blood-Stained Orchids
Sieben Gesichter für die Mörderin / Puzzle of the Silver Half-Moons

Italy/West Germany 1972
produced by
Lamberto Palmieri, Horst Wendlandt for Flora Film / National Cinematografica / Rialto Film
directed by Umberto Lenzi
starring Antonio Sabato, Uschi Glas, Marisa Mell, Pier Paolo Capponi, Rossella Falk, Marina Malfatti, Renato Romano, Claudio Gora, Bruno Corazzari, Franco Fantasia, Gabriella Giorgelli, Aldo Barberito, Linda Sini, Nello Pazzafini, Petra Schürmann
screenplay by Roberto Gianviti, Umberto Lenzi, based on a novel by Edgar Wallace, music by Riz Ortolani

Rialto's Edgar Wallace cycle, Edgar Wallace made in Germany, Edgar Wallace: The German-Italian co-productions

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A maniac is roaming Rome, killing women with (seemingly) no connection to each other: a whore (Gabriella Giorgelli), an American artist (Marina Malfatti), & Giulia (Uschi Glas), a young woman embarking on her honeymoon with her husband Mario (Antonio Sabata), & the only connection between them all might be that the killer leaves half-moon lockets with each of his victims.

What he doesn't know though is that his latest victim, Giulia, has actually survived his assault, but police inspector Vismara (Pier Paolo Capponi) has declared her dead to save her from another assault ... & while the police are still doing everything to come up with nothing, Giulia & Mario start taking up investigations on their own ... & soon come up with a connection between Giulia & the other dead women: the women all stayed in a hotel Giulia once owned at a certain time 2 years ago ... & there are 4 more women whom Mario now tries desperately to save - but even becfore he can get to the next woman on the list (Rossella Falk), a paranoid woman in a sanitarium, she turns up dead too ... but at least this convinces the police that Mario's & Giulia's leads are right, & the cops start guarding the other women, which doesn't keep the killer from bumping them off one by one.

Mario meawhile follows up on a clue his wife has given him, about an American, Sanders, who had a half-moon locket - like the ones found with the dead women - on his keychain & who was staying at the hotel too, 2 years back. Mario goes out of his way to find the elusive American, he even digs up Barrett (Bruno Corazzari), Sanders' homosexual friend, who seems to have some kind of grudge against Sanders ... but after more investigations it only turns out that Sanders has been killed in a carcrash ... 2 years back, when all the women on the killer's list were staying at Giulia's hotel. It turns out that Sanders was a raving homosexual who had a relationship with Barrett, but then he found a woman he fell in love with & ditchet Barrett. But then he & the (unidentified) woman got into a car accident, & for some reason the woman just left Sanders to die (even though he could have been saved).

So Mario, Giulia & the police come up with one of these typical giallo-plans to trap the killer: Mario is arrested as the killer & it is revealed in the media that Giulia is still alive. Now all Giulia has to do is sit ialone in her house & wait for the killer to appear & itroduce himself - for the police to then appear.

The plan is however ruined when by breaking a window (don't ask why he did that) Mario himself frightens Giulia enough to make her faint & the killer, who was already in the house, has all the time in the world to make a clean getaway. & then Barrett is found, obviously he has committed suicide by hanging himself ... & for the police this is as good as a confession.

Only Mario is convinced that Barrett was not the killer, but the killer is still out there. Obviously he thinks the only sensible thing to do in such a situation is to leave his wife (who is next on the killer's list) alone & follow up on a hunch ... as with Anna (Marisa Mell), there is another woman who has escaped the killer (he confused her with her twin sister), & she was actually Sanders' girlfriend from 2 years back & had left him to die in the car accident as she was also a married woman & didn't want a scandal.

And the killer is (drumroll): Sanders' brother, who is actually a priest (Renato Romano) who has actually helped M;ario in his investigations, & who is by now busy trying to kill Giulia ... Of course, in the end Mario can interfere & kill him, if only just ...

 

By the beginning of the 1970's, the interest in the German Edgar Wallace-adaptations had begun to seriously wane, while the Italian giallo - actually a sort of violent whodunnit that has its roots in the German Edgar Wallace series - was on the rise. So for German production company it seemed only logical to co-produce its last Wallace-movies with Italian procuction companies, & having them done in giallo-style, with its flashy & stylish images replacing the certain (often charming) stuffiness of earlier movies.

In Sette orchidee macchiate di Rosso / Das Rätsel des silbernen Halbmonds, there is very little left (namely Uschi Glas) to suggest it part of the series, & above all, it can be considered as a competently made & stylish, if not all that original giallo, with the typical over-convoluted plot that is not quite as incoherent though as in other similar productions & the production values are quite decent.

Maybe director Umberto Lenzi's best-looking film.
 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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written by
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