"THAT SOUNDS LIKE '75 GOBLIN MUSIC ALRIGHT" 'GIALLI' DOUBLE FEATURE!Dario Argento's DEEP RED (1975, 127 min.) at Brooklyn's Nitehawk Cinema.I've seen and enjoyed "Deep Red" quite a few times, but never felt the need to own it on home video. Which is precisely why I jumped at the chance to rewatch it for Junesploitation! on the big screen. And while the people I saw it with broke into too many fits of uncomfortable laughter (David Hemmings's uncalled-for sexism toward not-taking-his-shit Daria Nicolodi will bring that out of a beer-sipping Brooklyn midnight crowd), I can appreciate Argento's inspired bits of artistry (extreme close-ups of pins, camera angles that magnify tension, etc.) co-existing with some rather wacky shit (Gianna's car malfunctioning and forcing Marcus to look like a midget, that runaway garbage truck hook, etc.). Once you've seen it once the mystery of who the killer is feels perfunctory, but there's always that amazing Goblin score that paved the way for future (and better) Argento collaborations in "Suspiria," "Tenebre," etc. Recommended.Sergio Martino's THE SUSPICIOUS DEATH OF A MINOR (1975, 100 min.) on Amazon Prime for the first time.Released five months after "Deep Red" in Italy, I'm convinced composer Luciano Michelini saw Argento's movie and outright stole a few Goblin tunes for his work on this half 'gialli,' half 'poliziotteschi' hybrid. The apparent random stabbing/beating death of underage prostitute Marisa (Patrizia Castaldi, a dead ringer for 70's Barbra Streisand) is investigated by deep-undercover Inspector Germi (Claudio Cassinelli), who recruits unaware-he's-a-cop assistance from moped-driving pickpocket Giannino (Adolfo Caruso) to crack an ongoing epidemic of organized prostitution. Germi, whose methods are looked down by his superiors and the DA, stumbles onto a motherload when an organized ring of kidnapping-for-ransom criminals share the same hideout with the pimps he's after.I honestly expected a lot more sleaze and/or violence from the director of "Torso" than what I got here. There are a few nasty stabbing kills, but for the most part this is a cop-gone-rogue 'poliziotteschi' that even has room for running comedic gags (Germi constantly breaking his eyewear) and an impressive car chase that often veers into "Benny Hill"-style hijinks. Even the main assassin (a hired goon who wears reflective glasses) feels like someone out of "The Terminator," especially when he keeps on killing despite getting boiling water thrown in his face. Cassinelli gets more appealing and likable as the story progresses, which helps blunt the dullness whenever the filmmakers get preachy about Italian society's ills. Whether you watch this for Giallo! or Cop! day (it works great for both), "The Suspicious Death of a Minor" is classic Italian exploitation cinema all the way through. Recommended.
House With Laughing Windows (1976)This movie hit all my sweet spots. In terms of a gothic looking church, creepy town and the whole notion of creativity and insanity. And presenting a deranged reality through art. Which is kind of what Giallo often feels like it is doing or at least trying to do, however sensational. So, yes I very much like this movie.
The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970)This has one of the best opening kill sequences of any giallo I've seen. I absolutely love it, and it sets the main character in a path to solve the mystery. Also featuring one of the best conclusions. This is a great giallo, and one of my favorites. No surprise it inspired dozens of imitators.
Your Vice Is a Locked Room, and Only I Have the Key (1972)Edwige Fenech is absolutely stunning in this, as usual. A bizarre and twisty giallo about a drunkard of a writer, his miserable wife, and his niece who comes to visit. Throw in a horde of drunk and drugging hippys, a series of murders, a dirt-bike riding milk man, a cat named Satan, and Edwige seducing everyone she meets. Seems to draw inspiration from several Poe stories (I won't mention titles at the risk of spoiling any surprises). Gorgeous cinematography as well in this excellent giallo.
haha Edwige Fenech sure doesn't have to work hard to seduce people. ;)
Blood and Black Lace (1964, dir. Mario Bava)Good movie! This is the classy side of Giallo before things got really crazy and sleazy. But of course you all know that, because I was way behind on seeing this movie. I liked it, but it does lack a likable/interesting protagonist, and doesn't have the insanity to fall back on that later entries have. This film is all about the atmosphere. Colors, fashions, and constant jazz music. You'd have to be dead not to appreciate all that stuff.
Maybe my favorite.
Nice! I gotta go Tenebrae, myself.
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970, dir. Dario Argento, first time viewing)I can’t say much about it. It has taken me 3 or 4 watches of any Argento movie before I can really grasp it and form an opinion. There’s a lot going on here, so I’ll echo what everyone else has said about it: it’s a pretty amazing directorial debut.
CAT O’ NINE TAILS (1971) Dario Argento swung for the fences in this early effort. It’s more of a corporate espionage thriller with some slasher elements. Maybe a little too long and overflowing with too many characters and too much plot, but there’s some fun to be had along the way. I especially liked the car chase, which had me wondering what might have been if Argento had ever done a full-on action movie. Bonus #Godzillasploitation: GODZILLA’S REVENGE (1969) Here we go. This is the infamously bad one about the little kid who fantasizes about traveling to Monster Island and having fun playtimes with the monsters. It’s not so much a bad movie as it is just plain dumb. This movie is a rite of passage -- you haven’t really had the Godzilla experience until you’ve seen it.
StageFright (1987)Evil Eye disappeared off Shudder so I had to audible to the only Giallo on there I hadn't watched yet, and it was pretty good. The plot is fairly straightforward for a Giallo: escaped serial killer terrorizes the cast actors who are working on a stage musical. No crazy plot twists or anything. One the killing starts, that's the plot from there on out. A few good kills and a creepy owl costume make it worth watching.
A Blade in the Dark (La casa con la scala nel buio) (1983, dir. Lamberto Bava)All the hallmarks of a giallo are here: a murder mystery, an outsider as protagonist, gore, nudity, plenty of red herrings, strange plot twists, and psychosexual overtones. Apparently, Bava was an AD on Argento's Tenebre just before starting work on this film, and the influences show. Excellent movie. Watched on pristine Blu-ray.Primal Impulse aka Footprints on the Moon (Le orme) (1975, dir. Luigi Bazzoni)Very little death and violence here, but it's an Italian mystery film and the trailer calls it a giallo, so I'm going with it.A woman has a weird recurring nightmare about an astronaut left stranded on the Moon. One morning she wakes up having forgotten the last two days, and is compelled to visit a small town where everyone seems to know her even though she doesn't know them.A fun little mystery that takes its time and builds an atmosphere, then goes to a crazy place at the end. I have no idea what that ending meant, but I loved it! The movie also features Klaus Kinski (in a very small part), which is always a plus. Watched on a bad quality 4:3 cropped DVD from a 50-movie boxset.Both movies have something (though very little) to do with tennis, so TENNIS-SPLOITATION!!! I know what I'm doing.
That took a lot of balls, Mikko… or maybe just a pair. ;-)
"Body Puzzle" 1992, Dir. Lamberto Bava. Not the most dynamic film I've seen this month. It ranges from excellently done (the opening, a few of the murders) to piss poor (everything else). Having said that, I still had a blast and I'm glad I caught up with it because servicable Italian horror trash is better than no Italian horror trash.
The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971)I am going to assume Italy had some gorgeous lady factory in the 60s and 70s. Sure, we have made beautiful blondes and brunettes but what about red heads? No problem! Evelyn is a dead red head and Alan is not taking it very well. So it's off to the looney bin! When he's feeling a bit better, he brings home some ginger prostitutes to whip. Is he too far gone? Is someone else pulling the strings? Are red heads inherently evil? Tune in next week for Sunday Afternoon Giallo!
All the Colors of the Dark (1972)You know those scenes in Rosemary’s Baby where we’re inside Rosemary’s dreams and seeing all the dream-imagery that she is, like JFK and other random strangeness? Imagine those scenes stretched out to feature length but replace Mia Farrow with Edwige Fenech and JFK with a bright-blue-eyed stalker and you have some idea what awaits you here.I don’t know that this fits the definition of a traditional giallo, but there is a prominently-placed bottle of J&B at one point and I think that alone is enough to qualify it. Some of the imagery is very unsettling and the whole thing has an ethereal appeal (just like Ms. Fenech herself...I mean goddamn) that makes it compulsively watchable even if it doesn’t make a whole lot of logical sense.
Strip Nude For Your Killer (1975)The pro-choice giallo.After a model dies during a back alley abortion, people associated with her start being killed off by a motorcycle helmet wearing murderer. Two photographers try to unravel the mystery.Very fitting for our current political climate.
Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972, dir. Sergio Martino)I always knew this was an awesome title but now I know it's almost as awesome a movie.What a cool flick. The elevator pitch is it's a Giallo with some Edgar Allen Poe sprinkled in, and that's rad as hell. The characters are interesting, though often unlikable. The performances are actually pretty strong. Edwige Fenech really brings the movie to life when she enters it, but Anita Strindberg should not be overlooked. She's great here. Then it's just got some really messed up sexuality, and cool death scenes. I dug it a lot. It's definitely very different for this genre.
Opera Dir. Dario Argento. 3rd watchNot my favorite Argento but the master is putting in some work here. Some amazing shots in an otherwise underwhelming film. (and annoying as hell, honestly. Sorry). Eyeball scenes and kills are great though, of course.
Inferno (1980) Dir. Dario Argento I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. I can't wait to watch Mother of Tears now. Right, guys? ...guys?
Blood and Black Lace (1964)I was way overdue to watch this giallo classic and it blew me away.A black-clad, blank faced killer, wonderfully lit murder set pieces, impeccable style, and just a fantastically crafted giallo from Mario Bava. Nearly every frame seemed to drip with decandence and I loved it.
Cat O' Nine Tails (1971)I'm normally not a fan of Giallo films, but if one person out there perfected them, it was Dario Argento. This one in particular could have been a little shorter, maybe by 15 or 20 minutes, but the story never slows down, always keeping the mystery interesting. This is something that I unfortunately cannot say about other Gialli. I think that's the proper pluralization. I'm not Italian, so give me a break.
Also, Argento once called this his least favorite of his own films. Has he seen Dracula 3D?
Opera (1987)Argento was the master of style. And I have always loved how it's his style that pushes and moves his movies forward. I tend to let them just wash over me. This might not have been as consistant as my favourite Argentos, but when it hits it's highs it's incrediable, especially the beginning building up to Betty's first performance. How Argento goes really lose with the POV. It's almost like it's Argento's view of how movies are constructed and seen, especially with the sage and sympathic director. Again it's a movie I going to watch multipal times and appreciate more and more.
STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER (1975): Edddwwwiiigeeee Feeennneeeccchhhh
It’s awesome that this day is turning into one big appreciation of Edwige Fenech.
Short Night of Glass Dolls (1971)How do you solve a murder when you've already been pronounced dead? You remember really hard while you lay there motionless. My guess about the title is it means the body is fragile and needs to be sacrificed. That is more than likely completely wrong.
Blood and Black Lace (1964)Gorgeous movie (Arrow did a great job on the blu-ray) with a decent story - I think I've officially come to really enjoy this genre and I can see why this is considered one of the best.
Tenebre (1982)I watched this for the first time for Junesploitation 3 years ago. I remember liking it but not anything about. I thought since my wife liked Suspiria, she might like this. She was very bored. I can't say I blame her. There are some great moments but mostly people talking to each other with terrible dialogue. Which is a giallo staple but just didn't work for me this time. I'll probably give it a shot in another couple of years. I still think it's worth checking out for the kills and the camera work.
The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion (1970, dir. Luciano Ercoli)One of the all-time great giallo titles makes for one the all-time decent giallo movies. It's got twists and beautiful people, but lacks much of a mystery or any interesting murder sequences. There are better examples of the genre, but I had never seen this one.
The New York Ripper (1982)The New York Ripper, by director Lucio “oh, if you thought thought my movie where the guy pleasures a woman with a saxophone was sleazy, just you fucking wait” Fulci sure is something else. Grimy and incredibly gory, but somehow really beautiful as well (there’s a shot in a train station that knocked me out). Not much of a mystery but this needs to be seen.
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970, dir. Dario Argento)(Watched on the correct Junesploitation day but review recorded later, for posterity's sake)Having loved so many Argento films, I decided to go back to the beginning, which I had never seen before. It was a cute little thriller, not my favorite of the genre, but definitely showcased what Argento and so many others would riff off of for years to come. The mystery was kind of interesting to me, which cannot necessarily be said for many of the comparable giallo movies I've seen, but the seedier murder aspects did not live up to what I have come to expect. Also, I cannot go on without acknowledging the incredible score by the master Morricone. It wouldn't be the same without his touch, and his influence on similar movies to come is obvious. All in all, definitely worth it, but not my favorite.