In 2012, Giallo Fever hit New York City for the first time ever. Alessio Giorgett, Yunsun Chae and Alessio Grana, film programmers and fans of Italian genre film, debuted the Malastrana Film Series at the Anthology Film Archives; over a one week period in September, Malastrana strung together some of the greatest psychosexual thrillers ever produced in Italy. Films such as DEEP RED, DON’T TORTURE A DUCKLING, and THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE were brought back to the screen in their original 35mm formats. Audiences were treated to genre steadfasts John Saxon, Suzy Kendall, and Mario Adorf; soundtracks featured famous Italian composers such as Ennio Morricone, Riz Ortolani, and the prog-rock band Goblin.
And now, almost three years later, Malastrana Film Series is at it again. From March 20th-29th at the Anthology Film Archives and Nitehawk Cinema, Giallo Fever, Part 2 will feature twelve additional gialli, including films from genre favorites Mario Bava, Dargio Argento, and Sergio Martino.
Daily Grindhouse’s Matthew Monagle spoke to Alessio from the Malastrana Film Series, to get an idea of what gives the giallo its enduring appeal and what fans might expect at next week’s film series.
The last time we saw the Malastrana Film Series at Anthology, you were giving us a great selection of poliziesco (police thriller) films. Had you always planned for a Giallo Fever! Part Two?
Yes. While we always wanted to do an Italian Crime Series, we were initially thinking of doing it after a Giallo Fever Part 2. But while selecting films for Giallo Fever, a lot of crime film prints popped up and we decided it might be more interesting to do something different first. And put some more time between Giallo Fever 1 and 2.
What advice would you give people unfamiliar with the giallo? What are your favorite aspects of the genre?
It really depends on where people are coming from. Giallo can attract horror/thriller fans, but because of their specific aesthetics, it can be enjoyed by a more general audience who appreciates the films of 1960s and 1970s European Cinema. My advice to a complete novice would be to go in with an open mind, and not with preconceived notions about the genre, expecting to find the same elements in each film. They are all a bit different from each other.
The giallo soundtrack has also gained popularity with independent record labels. What makes these soundtracks so much fun? Any particular standouts this time around?
To m,e soundtracks and even poster art really stand out in those years in general. What makes it stand out is that most of that music was made by A-list composers such as Morricone, and they are just timeless pieces. At the time, these films weren’t just genre films but also money makers so a lot of major talents, whatever composers, cinematographers (like Vittorio Storaro), etc. worked on them. This time around, besides the prolific Morricone (FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET), we also have Goblin’s classic themes from TENEBRAE, Bruno Nicolai’s ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK, Guido And Maurizio De Angelis in TORSO, and Piero Umiliani in PARANOIA.
I know the technical side of things has always been a challenge. In the past, you’ve navigated multiple versions of 35mm prints and projected your own English subtitles. Any particularly memorable challenges for Part Two?
We had some logistical challenges as always and we are still doing live subtitles for the Italian prints. But nothing as challenging (knock on wood) so far as with the The Italian Connection, where some films were pretty rare and we had to create English subtitles from scratch. We still have raritie,s such as the beautiful looking FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOON this time, but it is at least distributed in Europe. It’s also hard to know exactly what condition/cut of the print we are getting until it arrives at the theater a few days before the screening. In general, though, we are getting a little more experienced when reading into a print condition.
There have been a handful of horror films in the last five years that draw on the giallo for inspiration (THE STRANGE COLOUR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS, BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO, THE EDITOR). What do you think of their return to popularity?
I think it’s great. It’s a deserved recognition, and ironically, they are mostly non-Italian films. It’s interesting to see how those films re interpreted the genre in their own way, for better or worse. But I hope it’s only the beginning. Malastrana Film Series itself and the idea of Giallo Fever were actually born while conceiving a giallo-inspired film which we hope will see the light of day at some point. But if we ever get to make it, I think it would be very different from the ones you just mentioned.
You’ve done the giallo, you’ve done the poliziesco… any other types of film (Italian or otherwise) you’d like to share with New York? Will there be a Part Three?
There are definitely a lot of Italian (and European) films that we would like to show, and we are finding more and more prints as we go along, which only makes us want to do more. We have a couple of series ideas we are working on, but since this is a completely nonprofit endeavor, we have to take it one at a time. As far as Giallo 3, again, let’s see how Giallo 2 will go first! While putting Part 2 together, we thought it would be the definitive one, but if we can find some more titles on 35mm we like, besides the ones we know already, then why not! But it can’t just be “fun” — it has to be a great line-up!
Here’s the full schedule for next week’s bloody extravaganza, and finally, here’s the trailer made especially for the event…
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Tags: Aldo Lado, Anthology Film Archives, Bruno Nicolai, dario argento, Ennio Morricone, Giallo, Giallo Week, Giulio Questi, Guido & Maurizio De Angelis, interview, John Saxon, Lucio Fulci, Luigi Bazzoni, Mario Adorf, mario bava, Matthew Monagle, New York City, Nitehawk Cinema, Piero Umiliani, Screenings, Sergio Martino, Suzy Kendall, Umberto Lenzi, Vittorio Storaro