Ode to Giallo

Sometimes I wonder what the world would be like without Giallo films in our lives. I don’t want to live in that world. What would the world be like without gratuitous nudity, a knife and black gloves, a mystery killer with an absurd alibi, a witness, blind people, J&B, infidelity, an inheritance or money hungry fools, eye gouging, and the ever so popular hallucinations? Lets not forget the really cool clothes and home decor. Giallo is literally the Italian word for yellow which is the color of the covers of Italian murder mystery novels made WAY before the films became popular. These films were usually produced in Italy from the late 60s to the late 70s. There are so many Giallo films I cannot even name all of them. I’m a GENIUS! I’m also an encyclopedia for horror films and I can’t even do it. It was Dario Argento’s “Bird With The Crystal Plumage” (released in 1970) that broke box office records for these films and set the “psycho killer” trend for most to follow. Interesting enough, Bird With the Crystal Plumage was one of the last Giallo films for me to see. I like to go out of order. I even watch all the Nightmare on Elm Street films out of order because I am hardcore. Plots in Giallo films are basic and they’re usually all the same BUT the way murders are shot make the films memorable. I’m going to list a few of my favorites. Google actually named these as the most searched Giallo films; Deep Red, Suspiria, Dawn of the Dead, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The New York Ripper, Stage Fright, Blood and Black Lace, Inferno, and Cannibal Holocaust

Deep Red is one of the first of these films that I had the pleasure of viewing. The copy I have on DVD actually has Italian mixed in with it. If I were you, I’d check out the Blu-Ray. The film is about a musician that witnesses the murder of a famous psychic, and then teams up with a retarded reporter (Daria Nicolodi) to find the killer. The reporter isn’t actually retarded I just make jokes about it due to the ending of the film that lead me to believe she might be slightly mental.

Dario Argento’s shop in Rome is named ‘Profondo Rosso’ after this film and for years I have been  dying to shop there! Co-writer Bernardino Zapponi said the inspiration behind the murder scenes came from Argento and himself thinking of painful injuries that the audience could relate to. Basically, not everyone knows the pain of being shot by a gun, but everyone has at some point accidentally struck furniture or been scalded by hot water. This is an interesting piece of info I found out from IMDB. Don’t accuse me of stealing you loser. Pictured above and the clip below is from the opening scene of Deep Red. The children’s lullaby has always creeped me out and there was even a local band years ago that included this song at the beginning of their crappy tune that made my ears bleed. No one but me seemed to notice.

 Don’t Torture a Duckling, 1972 was a pretty controversial film for it’s time. Now people kill children in movies all the time and no one seems to give a fuck. The film is about yet another reporter and young woman out to solve a mysterious series of child killing. Because of the film’s controversial storyline, which criticized the Catholic Church, the movie was blacklisted and received a limited theatrical run throughout Europe and was never released in theaters in the United States. In 2000, Anchor Bay secured the rights and released the film for the first time in the United States on DVD. Thank you for that Anchor Bay.

Lucio Fulci has said in numerous interviews that he ranks this movie as his most personal favorite of all the movies he directed in his career. It’s a lot different than the rest of his films. A lot of the time featuring zombies and not giving us much of a mystery, this is actually a “who done it” film.

 I realize that this is a cover of the soundtrack. I just thought it looked cooler. Did you know that three of the killer’s victims went on to become Bond Girls (Claudine Auger, Barbara Bouchet, and Barbara Bach?) I actually JUST realized this. The DVD transfer is also gorgeous. The film is about a killer that injects beautiful women with the poison of a rare wasp, paralyzing them and forcing them to witness their own brutal murders. One of the best scenes in this film occur during the killer’s pursuit of his prey. Their faces are smeared across the screen and their make-up palettes matched the rooms in which they were sliced open. You wont find too much gore in this Giallo though. It’s mostly style over gore.

In English: Bay of Blood. This film actually has like 9876947896936 titles. You may also know it as Twitch of the Dead Nerve. The plot goes a little something like this: An elderly heiress is killed by her husband who wants control of her fortunes. What ensues is an all-out murder spree as relatives and friends attempt to reduce the inheritance playing field, complicated by some teenagers who decide to camp out in a dilapidated building on the estate.

For fans of Friday the 13th Part 2, they actually ‘stole’ a coupe of scenes. I don’t know if it was intentionally or if they actually thought they were the first to think of it. However, Giallo Films>Friday the 13th Films. Oh and on that note, Nightmare on Elm Street>Friday the 13th. Oh but we aren’t here to talk about mainstream American films. When Christopher Lee first saw this movie he was reportedly so disgusted at the level of violence he left the theater in protest. Mario Bava deeply regretted filming the scene where a bug is pinned alive. Often considered Bava’s most influential film, and considered the film that started the Slasher Craze, which is still popular to this day. Fans of the genre consider this the grandfather of the modern slasher film. Mario Bava’s personal favorite of all the films he made. Some fun facts I learned about the film.

 I’m sick of hearing people say this film is under-rated. You’re a tool. This film has everything a horror movie should have you annoying little fag. We are given style, beautiful colors, a glorious and chilling score, and memorable death scenes that people still talk about to this very day.

Argento liked Jessica Harper in Phantom of the Paradise. Joan Bennett’s last feature film. The first part (with Inferno and La terza madre) of a trilogy of films about the “Three Mothers”. Director Dario Argento composed the creepy music with the band Goblin and played it at full blast on set to unnerve the actors and elicit a truly scared performance. Dario Argento’s original idea was the ballet school would accommodate young girls not older 12. However the studio and producer (his father) denied his request because a film this violent involving children would be surely banned. Dario Argento raised the age limit of the girls to 20 but didn’t rewrite the script, hence the naivety of the characters and occasionally childlike dialogue. He also put all the doorknobs at about the same height as the actress’ heads, so they will have to raise their arms in order to open the doors, just like children.

Dario Argento was inspired to make this film by stories of Daria Nicolodi’s grandmother, who claimed to have fled from a German music academy because witchcraft was being secretly practiced there. Argento had cinematographer Luciano Tovoli watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to have him model the color scheme of that film for Suspiria.

The plot of this film is also one of my favorites….cause ballerinas rule! A newcomer to a fancy ballet academy gradually comes to realize that the staff of the school are actually a coven of witches bent on chaos and destruction. Well, isn’t that special. Say what you will about zombies, I can out run them. I can probably out run or knock out a basic serial killer, but witches? Witches are pretty hardcore.

I’ve always wondered something though, why is there a room filled with nothing but bared wire?

 Dressed to Kill is actually an American Giallo film directed by Brian De Palma aka one of the best directors of all time. I had and cherish my director’s cut edition of the film on DVD but I let a friend borrow it (big mistake) and have yet to see it again. *tear* It had so many extras! Dressed to Kill is about a mysterious tall, blonde woman with sunglasses that is going around murdering Michael Caine’s patients and now she is after a prostitute who witnessed it. Nancy Allen and Michael Caine….I less than three both of you fine actors.I don’t know about you guys but I TOTALLY saw that ending coming. I’m not sure why Angie Dickinson was chosen to be in the film. I’ve never been a fan. However she is only in 20 minutes (big spoiler omg) and THANK GOD they had a double for her shower scene. I mean, could you imagine what she looks like naked?

As a young man, De Palma, at his mother’s urging, actually followed his father and used recording equipment to try and catch him with another woman. That incident inspired this film.

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