The troupe make themselves at home, with 'romantic' couplings aplenty, much to the chagrin of the Count's maid and butler. We discover that the Count's father and grandfather both died in identical circumstances-finding their spouse in the arms of another man, they decapitated their wives and jumped into the ocean, committing suicide, but, undeterred, Evelyn allows herself to be romanced by him. The maid, slightly deterred, grudgingly allows herself to be romanced by Luciano Pigozzi, who has some dirt on her. The designated slut of the group, Cora, spurns the advances of lovelorn Samuel, the troupe's gopher, and seduces an earthy fisherman, who lives on the other side of the island and turns out to be Luciano Pigozzi's son. And the other two actresses spend most of their time in bed, conducting a tepid love affair. This inspires one of the castle's two young servants to convince the other to feel her up.
If that paragraph felt long, consider yourself lucky that you read it in under 55 minutes (if you didn't, you can't read [and thus probably can't understand this either, you fool]).
Anyway, after 55 minutes, Cora is decapitated. A black-and-white storm rages, delaying the arrival of the police. Muddy footprints coming from Cora's room suggest Pigozzi, the gardener, as the guilty party. Then one of the lesbians is decapitated. Muddy footprints coming from her room suggest Pigozzi as the guilty party. We discover that the dagger used by the Count's relatives for their decapitations, which looks too small for efficient head-chopping, has vanished. The other lesbian is decapitated.
A policeman (played by Luigi Batzella, director of The Beast in Heat) arrives, and Samuel confesses to the murders in an attempt to be seen for once in his life as anything but a figure of fun. The policeman dismisses him, then reveals that Pigozzi had gone to the police the previous day, fingering the maid as the guilty party. (He doesn't reveal why the police took a day to act upon this information.) The maid breaks down and confesses-she and the Count were childhood sweethearts, but class differences came between them. She kidnapped the Count's wife when he was on the mainland, and kept her locked in a secret dungeon, where she slowly went insane. The maid has been letting her out at night, to eliminate all her rivals for the count's affections (apart from, curiously, the only actual rival; Evelyn).
That's probably a bit harsh on Bloodsucker-it's actually nowhere near as bad as The Room or Trump-but it's still a bad, bad film. The denoument is a tableau-styled scene of the remaining characters sitting in a cramped room, taking turns to speak at length. Length being the operative word here, as the scene runs to almost ten minutes. Coming after the aforementioned 55 minute soft-porn build-up, this effectively means that the action is compressed into a brief, fifteen minute window. Although 'action' is overstating it; we get no actual murder scenes, and are forced to make do with pedestrian 'aftermath' discoveries of corpses.
There are other failings; almost too numerous to note. To hint at a few, though: the black and white stick footage of the storm, the visible gauze filters early on, the 'aunt' character's complete and utter irrelevance, the confusion of sexuality with sex, the title, the curtained walls of the castle's corridor, and the shockingly dilapidated state of the skirting boards. The sexy shenigans of the opening hour are often laughably adolescent in their conception and execution. And so on.
The weird thing, though, is that there is a clear awareness of the genre in evidence, with the failings possibly coming from the directing side of things (Alfredo Rizzo was in his mid-70s when he made this). The name Evelyn, alone, displays an awareness of the genre's history. The set-up is fairly standard too, following the standard Ten Little *cough*s set-up beloved of several gialli. One of the main limitations of that scenario is that it limits the scope for any amateur sleuthing, one of my favourite tropes. When that's combined with a lack of any inventive murder scenes, or inventive scenes of any kind, then you know you're in trouble.
Yet, the ingredients are all there-the storm, the Double, the ancestral curse, the stock characters. It's just that something has gone badly wrong along the journey from brain to page to production to screen. But still, it's not without its loopy charms (and, again, gets nowhere near The Room-esque levels of ineptitude). So, instead of criticising it any further, let's take a different tack. The film does a terrific job of including as many different giallo stereotypes as possible, each with equivalents in films past and future, and each bringing something different to the table in terms of being a red-herring. Here's a quick summary-
The Damaged Aristocrat Giacomo Rossi-Stuart's Count Marnack isn't quite as troubled or damaged at most of his equivalents, but he is clearly a bit mental, having attended every performance bar one of the acting troupe's play. He has historical precedent weighing heavily on his shoulders.
Other examples: Lord James MacGrieff (Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye), Lord Cunningham (The Night Evelyn Came out of the Grave)
The Innocent Double Evelyn (Patrizia Webley) resembles Marnack's wife, in one of the most popular tropes of Italian genre cinema (going back to Barbara Steele in Black Sunday [and before that to Vertigo]). She possesses little character herself, but is the vortex around which the plot, such as it is, swirls. Occasionally, such characters aren't quite as innocent and devoid of personality as you might think.
Other examples: Susan/Monica (Una sull'altra), all the women (The Night Evelyn Came out of the Grave)
The Slut Cora (played by Krista Nell, who was sadly dying of leukaemia at the time). is just one of many sexually confident women who suffer for their desires. Long before slasher movies adopted the sex=death paradigm, gialli, as product of a Catholic country after all, were knee deep in dead sluts. Sluts tend not to be the killers, or even red herrings, but rather act as fodder to kick-start the plot.
Other examples: Julia Durer (A Lizard in a Woman's Skin), all the women (The New York Ripper)
The Disposable Women The two lesbians exist seemingly only to add to the skin quotient, and provide easy cannon fodder. Occasionally you might get a cheeky lesbian who's only pretending, and is really an evil genius. Not this time, though.
Other examples: The very similar characters in Torso (Torso), Tilde and Marion (Tenebrae)
The Religious Nut I won't give other examples of such characters here, because their nuttiness is often hidden until their unmasking. In this case, the butler (Mario de Rosa) considers the actresses to be the spawn of Satan, and openly rejoices in their murders. This is probably meant to push him to the fore of our list of suspects, but it's so overdone that you can immediately discount him. Unless, in a cunning post-modern twist, the filmmakers knew that we'd all have realised that it was a terrible film, and thus might think that the killer would in fact be that obviously signposted. If this was indeed the case, take a bow Signor Rizzo.
The Earthy Hunk It's a fact that women like a bit of rough. And rough, gruff, men with dirty hands pop up from time to time in gialli. And, because of the genre's frequent depiction of the upper classes, these earthy chaps are often made aware of their place in the hierarchical pecking order, and thus have large chips on their shoulders. In Bloodsucker's case, the fisherman fulfils this role.
Other examples: Simon (Bay of Blood), La Maciara (Don't Torture a Duckling-NB when it's an earthy hunkette, the sexy aspect disappears, replaced by fear)
The Luciano Pigozzi Essentially an unsexy, unhunky variant on the Earthy Hunk, An especially useful suspect in films which involve a succession of women getting bumped off, Pigozzi can always be relied upon to supply a steady stream of shifty-eyed looks and mournful stares at the nearest female. In Bloodsucker, he gets a rare example to actually touch one of these females, although she's not exactly brimming with consent.
Other examples: Luciano Pigozzi (Blood and Black Lace), Luciano Pigozzi (Naked... You Die)
The Impressionable Youth Young, innocent characters (usually of the female persuasion) are often corrupted by others in gialli. In the case of this film, the 'corruption' is merely the observing, and tentative practising, by the servants of lesbianism (essentially being just another excuse for t&a), but there remains the remote chance that one of them, who has heard about the family curse, has gone in for some copycat murders.
Other examples: Gloria (The Suspected Death of a Minor), the kids at the end of Bay of Blood (Bay of Blood)
The Scorned Lover A staple of murder mysteries down through the years, Femi Benussi appears here as a combination of the jealous avenger and the earthy hunk (her relationship with the Count having been doomed by their differing backgrounds). Everyone can identify with wishing ill upon someone who's wronged you, the question is, has the jilter or jiltee taken their anger to the next level (or, maybe, a level or two above that)? It's also interesting to note that Bloodsucker, although packed full of skin and sex, doesn't really feature any illicit trysting. There were obviously some sacred lines that Rizzo wouldn't cross.
Other examples: Giorgio (The Bloodstained Butterfly), Antonio (The Pyjama Girl Case)
Bet you didn't think I'd wring that much juice out of that film, did you?