Hope you’ve been enjoying Daily Grindhouse’s Giallo Week! For our semi-regular group-question feature, we asked our writers, “What is your favorite giallo movie?” Here’s what happened:
STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER is a favorite of mine. Sensuous and frightening.
I’m going to have to go with the granddaddy of them all: BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964). Not only is it visually stunning — par for the course for giallo films, but this might trump them all — it’s also fabulously entertaining. Wonderfully stylized, with an awesome looking villain and a plot that actually makes sense — and has a fairly surprising conclusion. The sequence in the antique shop is absolutely — no pun intended — killer, and its influence hasn’t dulled its razor edge.
BLOOD AND BLACK LACE is mine too, for pretty much the same reasons as Doug. Looking at it, it feels like a sensational Italian movie poster come to life.
Does THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL count?
I always wanted to like giallo more than I have. During my formative years, when I was discovering horror and its many sub-genres, I always found the giallo movies kind of dull, with more in common with detective stories and police procedurals than the monster movies and slashers that I loved. That being said, I really enjoyed THE STRANGE COLOR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS and am very much looking forward to THE EDITOR, as they seem to take the elements I do like from giallo (use of colors, black leather gloves, well dressed Italian men and sexy Italian women) and heighten them to an extreme level. Reading the other pieces on DG this week has inspired me to go back and watch some of my fellow contributor’s picks.
For me it’s DON’T TORTURE A DUCKLING (1972) — it’s got an extra level of Fulci depravity and graphic violence that gives it a frisson of danger and extra-enjoyable helping of sleaze.
The central mystery is pretty good, too, but it’s interesting to see how Fulci carries over many themes — the wrongly-accused (and murdered) outsider, the depraved nymphette — into his horror work later on. Is it the best giallo? Heck no, but it’s my favorite for repeat viewings.
Mine’s PHENOMENA (1985). By the widest possible margin. It’s the only one where a chimpanzee goes from being a mild-mannered lab assistant to a prime suspect in the murders to the hero of the movie.
Second-favorite is probably STAGEFRIGHT, mostly because of what the chainsaw killer wears on his head. Really, all the horror-movie chainsaw-killers everywhere should’ve returned their tools to Home Depot and gone home after that.
I’m going to throw out three titles, all of which I think are incredibly entertaining regardless of your affinity for the genre. The first two actually play at Giallo Fever this week, so it’s nice and timely!
FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET (1972):
When most people think of an Argento giallo, they either go back to his first (THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE) or jump all the way ahead to his ’70s psychosexual impressionistic phase (DEEP RED). The truth is, I like FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET better than either. This is Argento using the base format to experiment extensively; intercut footage of a beating heart in the opening credits; a the tracking shot from one end of a phone conversation to another; a soundtrack that drops in-and-out depending on whether we’re following the victim or the killer. There is also a secondary character who, to me epitomizes the complicated gender and sexual politics of the giallo. Women and homosexual characters are painted in very broad strokes in every giallo, but Argento has a knack for giving them an unexpected amount of agency.
SHORT NIGHT OF GLASS DOLLS (1971):
First, there’s Jean Morel. Jon tweeted the other day that Jean Morel in this movie was kind of a cross between Brad Pitt and Nick Offerman, and I can’t get that out of my head; Morel is probably one of the top five people in film history to ever wear a mustache.
And then there’s Mario Adorf, so frequently typecast as a buffoon or a drunk, but whose talent as an actor prevents him from ever being overlooked. What I love most about this movie, however, is that it works independently as either a (less standardized) giallo or as a pretty compelling crime thriller. The idea of being locked in your own body after people think you are dead is terrifying, and the film is not afraid to run with this idea to some pretty dark places. We had someone ask in the comments which Giallo Fever title they should see if they want to avoid some of the more exploitative aspects of the genre; I think that SHORT NIGHT OF GLASS DOLLS should be everyone’s introduction to the genre.
HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON (1970):
If IMDb is to be believed, then HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON is the film that drove Stephen Forsyth out of the industry. The trivia section of his profile explains that he is a Canadian actor who had grown tired of his Italian roles, so he quit acting to become an artist instead. It’s a shame, really. Forsyth is great as fashion mogul John Harrington, who is attempting to resurface childhood memories through the act of killing his employees and models. HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON, released in 1970, benefits from at least a rough knowledge of the giallo; by then, Bava had made a handful of these films and was obviously trying to deconstruct the genre and find a way to say something new. What results is a mix of self-reflexive comments on maniacs, an entertaining ghost story, plenty of BLOOD AND BLACK LACE-esque mannequin work, and a charming back and forth between Forsyth’s Harrington and the investigating detective, who is convinced that Harrington had something to do with the crimes but cannot prove it (and chooses to poke at him with double entendres instead). It’s by far one of the funniest films in the genre, and a great example of how the giallo would filter the genre through itself in the ’70s.
Attention New Yorkers: FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET plays tonight at Anthology Film Archives in New York City as part of Malastrana Film Series Presents: THE KILLER MUST KILL AGAIN!: GIALLO FEVER, PART 2!
And if you’re a HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON fan, stay tuned to Daily Grindhouse for our exclusive interview with its star, Stephen Forsyth!!!
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