Vote for a Giallo for Halloween!

A film viewing and discussion club for Criterion Collection releases.
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Pick a Giallo

Poll ended at Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:33 am

All the Colours of the Dark
5
42%
The Fifth Cord
1
8%
My Dear Killer
0
No votes
The Pyjama Girl Case
3
25%
Who Saw Her Die?
3
25%
 
Total votes: 12

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Mr Sausage
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Vote for a Giallo for Halloween!

#1 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:32 am

In the spirit of domino’s slasher vote last Halloween, I offer here five giallos I’ve curated for the occasion along with my reasons for choosing them. I can’t claim the kind of authority domino brought with his hundreds of slasher viewings. But with seventy or so giallos behind me, I feel I at least know the genre well enough to curate a decent list. I saw no point in listing the old Argento and Bava standbys, but nor was there any point is going really obscure or eccentric. I tried for a balance between films that old hands will have mostly seen, or at least heard of, but that casual viewers will be unlikely to’ve come across on their own. As well, I only picked films that were primarily and unambiguously members of the genre, so no slashers from Italy (Stagefright), mashups with giallo aspects (The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave), or crazy riffs on the genre (Death Laid an Egg), however good they were. And I've kept myself to the golden age of the genre, so no proto-giallos or modern examples. I promise my capsules are less boring than this preamble (and not just c&p’d from the giallo roundups!). Let’s watch some gloved hands stab people:

All the Colours of the Dark (Sergio Martino, 1972)
If the giallo is a genre of style, this giallo here is my choice to represent style over substance in its best aspect: thrilling, involving, and enlivening; representing the perversity of its subject matter in its need to overwhelm your senses. If not as excessive as Argento at his loopiest, its style is still restless and vibrant, the camera always casting about for compositions and rhythms to invigorate its thriller story. In a subgenre where turgid, creaky, workman-like products are routine, a giallo this lively is to be treasured. Even Martino wasn’t able to make another giallo as consistently assured as this one. Plus: that title.

The Fifth Cord (Luigi Bazzoni, 1971)
The giallo is the detective story turned inward. In the traditional detective story, the detective, not being a participant, pieces together the mystery at a remove from her observations of the objects (people, places, things, it hardly matters) that fall under her scrutiny. By making the detective the subject and potential victim from the beginning, the giallo forces a limitation on its detective: that of perspective. Lacking the disinterested and removed perspective of an outsider, the detective is forced to turn inward to address the lack, the flaw, the blind spot in perception that has cast some piece of reality into darkness. The guiding leitmotif of the giallo is, not surprisingly, memory, especially its intersection with dreams, identity, and madness. Bazzoni made several spectacular and vertiginous movies where memory is ransacked until reality and identity crumble, but only here has he made an out-and-out traditional giallo from the material. If the need to fit the markers of a genre holds him back from exploring the outer edges of uncertainty as he did in his masterpiece, La Donna del Lago, Bazzoni nevertheless turns in the best giallo outside of Argento where the act of scrutinizing the smallest, dimly-recalled memory of a half-seen event is so important, so obsessively and anxiously returned to, that eventually everything, life included, seems to depend on it. And shouldn’t it?

My Dear Killer (Tonino Valerii, 1972)
I wavered between this and Fulci’s superb Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, but I’ve made this my choice because I think a list of noteworthies and exceptions ought to be grounded in a pure, skillful execution of the baseline form of the genre. A film where every element is done right. No one part calls attention to itself, nothing demands to be isolated for its particular excellence; it all just fits together as a perfect example of the genre’s tropes done properly and effectively. Valerii has made a reference point for the giallo, and I offer it here as that.

The Pyjama Girl Case (Flavio Mogherini, 1977)
We all know the frustration of seeing film after film in a genre repeat the same tropes, structure, style, and story beats in ever less interesting ways, and yet we know too the pleasure this tedium affords when we encounter at last a genuine surprise. This is a movie that risks alienating the viewer with sloppy narrative coherence in order to deliver a real punch at the end. Mogherini’s giallo seems to be alone in attempting the dual-pronged narrative structure here. If some of the material is tasteless and worth a good forehead smack, it’s all redeemed by the sheer control over the story that the film reveals itself to’ve had all along. This is a risky choice for a discussion because the movie works best in context--not just to appreciate its novelty, but for how other giallos will guide the assumptions and type of guesswork you bring to the movie. I offer it here as something unusual and ultimately satisfying, but that probably works best right after having seen two or three other giallos.

Who Saw Her Die? (Aldo Lado, 1972)
I said in my capsule on the movie in my first giallo round-up that “it's Ennio Morricone's score that really lifts this giallo above the merely competent ones surrounding it and brings out all of the sadness and pain hiding at its centre.” This is indeed a sad and desperate film of a man whose life hangs together only by a single ugly hope: that he’ll find the serial killer that murdered his daughter and get revenge. The a-tonal, sometimes a-rhythmic music that drives the film resembles a Catholic hymn chanted in a madhouse. Morricone’s score, and the emotions undergirding it, play a cracked counterpoint to the steady and controlled style of the movie. I can’t think of a giallo that attempts the particular emotional state of this one, and for that it’s worth seeing and discussing.

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domino harvey
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Re: Vote for a Giallo fo Halloween!

#2 Post by domino harvey » Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:49 am

All the Colors of the Dark: Shameless RB (UK)
the Fifth Cord: Blue Underground R1
My Dear Killer: Shriek Show R1 (OOP)
the Pyjama Girl Case: Arrow RAB / Blue Underground R1
Who Saw Her Die?: Blue Underground R1

Nice selection in that even though I've seen a good share of giallos, none of them have been these! Who Saw Her Die? sounds like it sounds great, so I'll go for that, but I'll add all these to my to-watch queue

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: Vote for a Giallo for Halloween!

#3 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:10 pm

To add to the description of Who Saw Her Die?, this stars George Lazenby only a few years after his single Bond role in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. The film itself is very much in the same 'creepy Venice' territory as Don't Look Now, almost even a strange premonition of the Roeg film!

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Vote for a Giallo for Halloween!

#4 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:16 am

All the Colours of the Dark it is!

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