Il prato macchiato di rosso [The Bloodstained Lawn] (1973) - Give Blood! February 26, 2019 20:03
There's an age old saying "beware of strangers bearing gifts", an adage that the characters of Il prato macchiato di rosso [The Bloodstained Lawn] would have done well to live by. The Bloodstained Lawn is an Italian thriller which puts you in a similar boat as some of the characters of the film leaving you guessing what the motivation of their hosts may ultimately be.
The film follows a cast of characters who for a better lack words are the unwashed of society, a prostitute, a drunk, a gypsy, and two hitchhiking hippies who have all willingly accepted a ride from Alfiero (Claudio Biava) who looks like he stepped out of an Italian mafia film. He brings them all over to his sister Nina's house (played by Mariana Malfatti) where they meet her eccentric husband Dr. Antonio Genovese (Enzo Tarascio) and are asked a barrage of strange and seemingly alarming questions (at least they should be) from Nina regarding if they have anyone that would miss them or be looking for them. She then proceeds to wine and dine them with steak and wine.
While the band of misfits are living it up, numerous incidents present themselves which would alert any normal person to get the hell out of there, like seeing the gypsy girl nude bound and gagged on a bed, never to be seen again afterwards. Or the strange contraptions and mannerisms of Dr. Antonio who along with his wife Nina clearly give off that creeper vibe. But this couple seems to have a pretty fool proof racket going, as their victim's "nothing to lose" lifestyle seems to work in the now captors favor. That is until a UNESCO agent stumbles on a shipment of wine with the bottles full of blood, and eventually traces it back to the Genovese's, but by then it will likely be too late for the current "guests".
In comparison to most of Italy's giallo films The Bloodstained Lawn is definitely unique and strays away from the typical serial killer slasher / strangler film that by the 1970's most had gravitated towards. The cast is very well assembled and Mariana Malfatti (the queen of "deep V" cleavage) does a great job playing an emotionless Black Widow role, though I was confused why she was limping around the entire film, this was oddly never addressed.
My biggest complaint is the payoff at the end, most of the film flirts with the idea that Nina, Antonio and Alfiero are blood suckers (vampires, or maybe some freaks who drink blood) but the big reveal is not so complex, in fact it's a little underwhelming. While bizarre it doesn't make a whole lot of sense from a practical point of view to go to the amount of effort and trouble they do when surely there's some other illegal activity that would be easier and more profitable. And if their main goal is simply to purge the earth of the poor seems like there would be quicker ways of going about that than wining and dining them for days. While I grasp underlining message of the film I think the "execution" of the plot could have been better. But overall if your looking for a really different giallo The Bloodstained Lawn is definitely an option.