Friday, April 30, 2010


...from gialli.

It's hard.  Knowing that I'm not gonna allow myself to see a giallo until late May is making me want to see them even more.  Whole wanting-what-I-can't-have thing.  Doesn't help matters that a package came yesterday with two that I ordered.

Almost rented Basic Instinct to take the edge off.  I've never seen it all the way, but I've been told it's close to an American giallo.  I figured it would still be cheating.  Besides, Basic Instinct is one of those movies you don't actually rent from the store.  Like Brokeback Mountain or Gigli.  You Netflix that shit.

Also almost rented Fulci's Zombi 2.  Figured it'd be Italian enough, but non-giallo.  Got Drag Me To Hell instead.  I wanted to see how accurately it portrayed Sears (I worked there for four years, so I believe I am fully certified to make that joke).

The only thing getting me by right now is my copy of Blood and Black Lace by Adrian Luther Smith.  I just wish I had a copy for every room in the house.

Okay.  Going to bed.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Like my new graphic?  Just something temporary until I come up with something.

Until graduation, things are gonna be updated more sporadically.  Dunno if that's propar grammar or not.  My brain's fried from finishing my research paper.  Okay, it was only five paragraphs.  But still, it's 20% of my grade.  And if I turn it in by tomorrow morning and do well enough, I can be exempt from the final.

I'm gonna mention a few things about the upcoming Trenta Giorni di Giallo.

I'm still unsure as to the exact day I start it.  I want to do it on a day off, so I can devote time to the big launch.  Plus, I might buy a couple mini-bottles of J&B if I can find them (enough for two or three shots).  No drinky at worky.  That would not be good.  I can't hold my liquor well, and puking does not help sell TVs.

I won't necessarily do a big long review for each film.  I will do a write up about initial impressions, likes, dislikes, etc.  But not always in-depth.  I work part time, and I want to devote some time this summer to my standup comedy (YouTube me-Justin Kosch), which I have poorly neglected over the past school year.  Plus I need to get back in the workout habit.  Need to counteract all the laying in front of my TV.

Some movies will be tied in with something cool done that day.  Since I promised I'd buy myself a massage after this semester, I'll get it on a day that I watch a movie where a massage is featured.  It won't always cost me money, but there will be an activity tied in with a few movies.  If I watch Iguana With The Tongue Of Fire, maybe I'll try a ceviche.  Comment if you get that joke.

If some major event keeps me from being able to watch a movie one day, I WILL make it up on my next day off and make a double feature out of it.  I'll try to avoid it, but I can't predict the future.  Either way, 30 movies will be viewed in 30 days.  Darn it.

I'm going to keep my selections a secret.  Partially to keep things fresh.  I have a basic idea of what I will watch, but not necessarily which order everything will be in.

I will tell you it isn't gonna be straight Argento for, like, ten of the thirty days.  I am a diehard fan, but there's more to giallo than Dario.  Yes, he will be represented.  As will Bava.  Fulci and Martino may also make an appearance, but I'll make no guarantees.  I'll do some more famous gialli, but I'll also dig deep into the genre.  This will be a month with various flavors.

Most of all, I hope this blog piques some people's interest in the genre.  If I introduce one person to gialli through this monthlong marathon, I'll be happy.

And I hope everyone has fun reading this.  I'll try to keep things light throughout, while still showing my love for all things giallo.  After all, it's Italian Lemonade.  It oughta be refreshing.

Okay.  I'll let y'all go.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Case of the Boy in the Yellow Pajamas

Ah, memories.

I don't remember a time in my life that didn't revolve around movies in some form or another.  Whether it be watching movies, renting them, whatever.

Some of my earliest movie memories come from 1988.  I was four.  My family would often go to City Video of Wyandotte.  I'm sure it was an average size video store, but to my short four-year-old self, this was a great big temple.  Going there was the highlight of my week.

I don't know how it would happen, given that my parents were somewhat concerned about my fragile little mind.  But I always managed to sneak away and gravitate toward the horror movies.  I still remember my first impression of the Evil Dead 2 box, with the skull and the eyeballs.  It freaked me out, but I couldn't look away at the same time.  Didn't help matters that I was quite the reader already.  I can only imagine Mom's reaction to asking her what "Dead by Dawn" meant.

I'm sure y'all remember your VHS tapes with the slipsleeve boxes made out of the lightweight cardboard.  But 1988 was part of the golden age where many movies still came in the great big plastic clamshell boxes as well.  These boxes were almost as wide as my head, and way out of my reach.  Which, of course, made them more desirable.  To my knowledge, I never climbed a shelf to reach the big ass clamshell copy of Seven Doors Of Death (which you Fulci fans will know as The Beyond), complete with comic book illustrations rather than actual stills from the film.  I'm sure that if I had, Mom or Dad would have told me about it by now.

But there was one video box that always pulled me in like a magnet.  The front of the box had a closeup of a girl, half of her face eaten away.  In her outstretched hand were what to my young eyes looked like thousands of bugs of some type.  Underneath, in yellow font, read the title: Creepers.

I was always transfixed by this box.  I couldn't get enough of it.  I dunno whether I ever asked to rent it, but if I had, the answer was most definitely a no.  Again, fragile little mind.

We moved before I turned five.  City Video of Wyandotte closed a couple years later.  A casualty of the rise of Blockbuster.

Cut to 1999.  My family moves to Ashland, Kentucky.  Home of the Judds.  Neighbor town to the home of Billy Ray Cyrus.  Luckily this was during that period of time when Billy Ray was an Achy Breaky joke and he hadn't thought of whoring out Miley yet.

Every Friday, we would go out to eat at some restaurant right outside of town.  At the end of the plaza was a mom & pop video store.

After dinner, Mom and Dad would take me there and let me loose.  And I went straight to the horror section every time.  Some things never change.  This time, however, I was allowed to rent whatever I pleased.  That, plus a "5 movies for $5 for a week" deal, lead to the palest summer of my existence (I'm still only two shades darker than albino at the moment.  Spray tans make me look like a mad cow, while real tans don't exist for us German Scotch-Irish folk).

Every week, I'd pile five new movies on top of the extra VCR that Dad put in my room.  Not only would they have the original VHS boxes, they also utilized those clear plastic protective boxes that fit overtop of them.  Well, they were clear at one point in time.  After years of use, fingerprints had discolored them and taken away their shine, leaving a rough matte texture behind.

During one of these weekly trips, my eye happened to catch something familiar.  Could it be?  Yes it was.  CREEPERS!

I decided to hold off on it until another day...

Um, HELLO!  Of course I picked it up.

I dunno if I popped it in the VCR immediately or not.  I may have waited until the next day, because I remember it being daytime when I first watched it.

Anyhow, Creepers was a total disorienting fever dream.  A sleepwalking girl that can control bugs, razor-wielding chimps, Donald Pleasence.  Holy shit.

Okay, I know this isn't exactly a textbook giallo.  But it's a giallo nonetheless, and it leads to a bigger story.  Bear with me.

I checked out the credits and saw the name that's stuck with me forever: Dario Argento was the man responsible for all of this madness.  Needless to say I searched him on the IMDB.  With dial up.  That shit required a lot of time to devote.

Unfortunately, the mom & pop store didn't have anything else he had directed.  However, this was also the summer I discovered online retail sites.  And Creepers was available on DVD, under its original title, Phenomena, with 28 (!) extra minutes of footage.  I had to own it.  As well as another movie of his that was on DVD: something called Tenebrae.

I'm so happy I convinced my parents to buy me a DVD player for the Christmas of 1998.  If it weren't for my constant pleading, I might be writing about something completely different right now.

Anyhow, whatever of my allowance didn't go to the mom & pop store got put away.  By the end of the summer, I had both Phenomena and Tenebrae in my grubby, pasty hands.

While Phenomena was a total mindfuck, Tenebrae was a straight-up kick in the face.  With everything filmed in white, with the exception of the blood that (at times literally) sprayed across the walls, I was floored.  This one-two combination turned me into an Argentophile for life.

As time passed, my Dario Argento collection grew.  I got Suspiria on VHS (I tried to borrow it from my grandma, who actually had a copy, to no avail).  On my sixteenth birthday, my parents gave me the cash to buy Bird with the Crystal Plumage.  I miss that VCI disc, with the cigarette burns still intact on the print.  Reminded me of the Ford Tel dollar theater (but that's another story for another day).  Then Deep Red and Inferno came to DVD on the same day.  Phantom of the Opera, Stendhal Syndrome (albeit by Troma), amongst others.  2000 was a good year moviewise.  Too bad a housefire took all these discs away.

After rebuilding my collection of all things Argento, I read up more on the giallo as a whole, and came across the Giallo Collection by Anchor Bay.  Four non-Argento gialli: Who Saw Her Die, Short Night of the Glass Dolls, The Bloodstained Shadow, and The Case of the Bloody Iris, which introduced me to the pure loveliness of Edwige Fenech (who will be discussed at a later time).  While Short Night was more boring than watching paint dry, the others steered me to a new track that I've refused to get off ever since.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, brings us to today.  I've spent many years, and many dollars, tracking down as many gialli as I can.  I own at least 50, and have rented countless others through Netflix/Blockbuster Online.  While I know I will never see every gialli ever made (nor want to, Giallo A Venezia will not likely be in my player anytime soon), I want to see as many as I can.  What can I say?  I love the black trenchcoats and fedoras of the murderer.  Plus the lovely exotic beauties on the screen.  The decor and costumes and pure style of it all.  Oh, to have been in Italy during the 70's and 80's.

I think I'll leave things at that for now.  This was a long write, and I'm sure a long read for you.



My tattoo, an image from the poster for Suspiria.  Yes, I'm that much of an Argento fan.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Welcome to Italian Lemonade, ladies and gents.

I created Italian Lemonade to express my love of all things giallo.

What is a giallo, you ask?  Well, let me tell you.

Back in the day, crime/detective novels were incredibly popular in Italy. Mainly they were penny dreadful cheapies involving murder, sex, femmes fatales, and intrigue. Not too far from noir, but with a style that was clearly its own thing. These novels were published with bright yellow covers. The word for 'yellow' in Italian is 'giallo.' So eventually this genre was known as the giallo.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much, directed by Mario Bava, is regarded as one of the first cinematic rendition of a giallo. It was released in 1963 and owes more to Hitchcock than later gialli.

Later Bava directed the first giallo shot in color: Blood and Black Lace. This film is one of the classics of the genre, and a prime example of how to make a horror film in color (to paraphrase Video Watchdog's Tim Lucas). It's beautiful, haute-couture, candy-colored mayhem.

Gialli didn't really have much of an impact until Dario Argento's directorial debut-The Bird With The Crystal Plumage. The film was such a huge hit that one theater played it in Italy for three years straight. It was even the #1 film in America for a while (Take that, Love Story!).

The Bird With The Crystal Plumage set the standard for gialli: Highly convoluted plots, unconventional camera angles, long drawn out murder set pieces, and beautiful scores (mainly by Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai). Many of these films dripped with style and '70's flair.

Gialli were also known for the bevy of beauties who graced them: Erika Blanc, Barbara Bouchet, Nieves Navarro, and especially Edwige Fenech, the queen of the giallo (Google them).

Gialli have had their ups and downs, with sharp rises in the 80's. Luckily DVD has enabled the world to fall in love with them all over again.
Starting in late May, after I graduate with my associates degree, I am going to put my love of all things giallo through the ultimate test:  I am going to watch a giallo every day for 30 days.
Luckily I won't have to go too far: I have at least fifty in my DVD collection.  If anything, figuring out which ones to watch will be the hard part.  However, until then, I am going on a giallo fast.  I will not watch any gialli until the Month of Mayhem begins.  Which is gonna be hard because I recently purchased at least 20 that I've never seen before (ZDD Visual Media, I will miss ye).
Whenever possible, with each write up of my giallo du jour, I'll post some links that are relevant to each film.  Check them out.  As an associate, if you go there through my blog, and make a purchase, they give me $$$.
So with that, I bid you a good evening.  Next blog, I'll share my earliest giallo memories with you.