A Dragonfly for Each Corpse (1975) gives us a Paul Naschy we haven’t seen before. He plays Inspector Paolo Scaporella, a tough, cigar chewing detective seeking redemption for a botched case by leading the investigation into a new one, the “Dragonfly Killer.” His character defies stereotype by being a faithful husband and staying on the right side of the law.
The pre-credits scene is wonderfully bloody. I don’t recall seeing a similar shower of blood as a black-cloaked killer, except for bright red pants, pounds his/her machete into a victim over and over. We don’t see contact. We don’t see the body. We see only blood spraying into the air like water from a fountain with intermittent pressure. The splatter on the wall is mild compared to this.
However, that’s about it for the gore. Nothing later in the move comes close to it, although there are murders aplenty. Each time Paolo and crew arrive to search the crime scene, he finds a small plastic dragonfly, stained with the victim’s blood. Soon, the killer is sending notes to Paola encouraging him to drop the investigation.
A Dragonfly for Each Corpse reminds me of Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll in that each of the obvious suspects is eliminated one by one before revealing the killer’s identity. First, it’s Professor Sandro Campitelli (Eduardo Calvo) the thick glasses-wearing necrophiliac who is coincidentally present at the scene of the first few murders. (He also knows the meaning of the dragonflies.)
His confidence shaken as his glass dragonfly collection builds, Paola entrusts details of the case with his wife, Silvana (Erika Blanc.) She offers some good ideas, then gets cocky and eventually goes out on her own to face the person she believes is the killer. That’s never good, setting up a finale that, while contrived, generates a decent amount of suspense.
Leon Klimovsky is back behind the camera directing the screenplay by Naschy. A Dragonfly for Each Corpse demonstrates the versatility of Naschy as an actor and is perhaps the first time he plays someone that’s not a literal or figurative monster. He’s also not afraid to reveal his true self, thinning hair and all. At this point in his career, anyway, it feels like something different.
Written by Paul Naschy, Ricardo Munoz Suay
Directed by Leon Klimovsky
Starring Paul Naschy, Erika Blanc, Angel Aranda, Maria Kosty
RT 85 min.
Released Nov. 17, 1975 (Spain)
Home Video Shout Factory (Blu-ray, The Paul Naschy Collection II)
Rating 7 Waldemar Daninskys (out of 10)