Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Some Essential Gialli

Hey, y'all.  I dunno why but I'm anticipating somebody might be interested in gialli after reading my screenplay synopsis in class.  So I'm reposting my intro/description to gialli from my first post and writing a list of some to check out.

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. 

Available on Netflix:

Films by Dario Argento:

The Bird With The Crystal Plumage
Cat O'Nine Tails
Four Flies on Gray Velvet
Door Into Darkness
Deep Red
Phenomena (NOT the John Travolta movie)
The Stendhal Syndrome
The Card Player
Do You Like Hitchcock?

By Lucio Fulci:

Dont Torture A Duckling
The Psychic
Perversion Story
The New York Ripper
Lizard in a Woman's Skin

Other notable gialli on Netflix:

The Case of the Bloody Iris
All the Colors of the Dark
Blood and Black Lace
Hatchet for the Honeymoon (also available via streaming on Netflix)
Twitch of the Death Nerve (AKA Bay of Blood)
The Black Belly of the Tarantula
The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave
The Red Queen Kills Seven Times
What Have You Done To Solange?
Who Saw Her Die?
The Bloodstained Shadow
Seven Bloodstained Orchids
A Blade in the Dark

If you have a region-free player, check out:
Plot of Fear
Eyes of Crystal
Iguana with the Tongue of Fire
The Vanity Serum
The Perfume of the Lady in Black
Sleepless (The one on Netflix is Full Screen.  Artisan sucked).

Also, if you have a player that does PAL-NTSC, go to www.ZddVisualMedia.com and scope out their selection.  Some of their gems include:
Nothing Underneath
Death Occurred Last Night
Eye in the Labyrinth
The Weapon, The Hour, and The Motive
The Police Grope Around In The Dark
Death Laid An Egg
Eyes Behind The Wall

Just a word of warning.  If you're anything like me, gialli are like Pringles.  Once you pop, you can't stop.

And if you're new to Italian Lemonade, welcome!


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