This extremely rare Italian film (the only ever video release I know is the Greek one - it probably was never released even in its country of origin) is a thoroughly interesting movie, even though the production values are very low and it is, without a doubt, an oddball of a movie.
John Phillip Law is a troubled painter on the edge of madness; his slightly psychotic state of mind becomes worse as his wife, who always gave him inspiration and faith, dies. Soon after her death he discovers his butler (played nicely sickening by Gordon Mitchell) trying to rape her corpse, which fills him with fury, but he needs the butler as an assistant because he would be helpless without him. After his wife is buried, the painter doesn't feel any inspiration anymore and is unable to get a painting done. So he decides to get his wife back and steals her corpse from the cemetery (with a help of the butler, of course). At the opening of his latest exhibition, he meets Sybille, a woman that resembles his wife almost like a twin sister. He invites her to his lonely castle, and at first, she likes it there. But the painter's state of mind gets worse, even though she gives him new confidence. Problem is that his inspiration stays missing, until his butler kills a girl and he realizes how beautiful blood is. He starts to use blood as "the color of life", while the butler has to dispose from the bodies. When the woman discovers this, she has to be kept hostage in the lonely castle...
The story sounds a little bit like a retelling of Herschell Gordon Lewis's "Color Me Blood Red" from 1965, but this isn't the case. This one is rather a horror drama that somehow falls between the two genres: For a drama, it is too much exploitation, and for a horror film, it is too dramatic and not exploitation enough for not to write not gory enough.
Law and Mitchell are strikingly convincing in their roles of rather perverse characters, and the sound track adds to the atmosphere, although it doesn't seem to be always appropriate to the melancholy mood of the picture. The film also contains supernatural elements that are hardly convincing but somehow still fit into this weird work.
Director Bergonzelli is probably best known for his psychedelic giallo "Nelle Pieghe Della Carne" (aka In the Folds of the Flesh) from 1970. in one scene, he even repeats an element of his earlier film: The butler disposes of the bodies by putting them into sulfuric acid - the same way the protagonists do it in "Nelle Pieghe". And the atmosphere in "Delirio di Sangue" contains also some rather psychedelic attitudes, if not that obvious.
It seems clear that Bergonzelli, who also wrote the screenplay, was inspired by the life and madness of Vincent van Gogh, a portrait of whom hangs on the wall of the painter's working room. Needless to say that the notion of van Gogh makes a scene with an ear that gets cut off necessary - and the viewer won't get disappointed.
All in all, "Delirio di Sangue" is a wonderfully strange piece of celluloid. I assume that most viewers would consider it as a piece of crap, because it's made on a very low budget, neither delivers any action packed moments nor even scenes of excessive gore or sympathetic dramatic protagonists you could identify with. It's a quite nihilistic film, with an oddly repulsive plot, which makes it unique in a certain way.
A very interesting film that is far too little known, but which won't be appreciated by a broad audience, I guess. My rating: 7 out of 10.