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Giallo films

Italian horror - Dario Argento - Mario Bava - Lucio Fulci - Ernesto Gastaldi - giallo - giallo fiction - pulp - Italian film - thriller

The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971) - Sergio Martino


The film genre that emerged from these novels in the 1960s began as literal adaptations of the books, but soon began taking advantage of modern cinematic techniques to create a unique genre.

Giallo films are characterized by extended murder sequences featuring excessive bloodletting, stylish camerawork and unusual musical arrangements (most notably by Ennio Morricone and his musical director Bruno Nicolai, and later on with Dario Argento's collaborations with the band "Goblin"). The literary whodunit element is retained, but combined with modern slasher horror, while being filtered through Italy's longstanding tradition of grand guignol opera.

As well as the literary giallo tradition, the films were also initially influenced by the German "Krimi" phenomenon - originally black and white films of the 1960s that were based on Edgar Wallace stories.

The very first film which created the giallo as a cinema genre is La ragazza che sapeva troppo (The Girl Who Knew Too Much) (1963), from Mario Bava. Its title referred to Alfred Hitchcock's famous The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), again establishing strong links with Anglo-saxon literature and cinema. In Mario Bava's 1964 film, Blood and Black Lace, the emblematic element of the giallo was introduced: the masked murderer with a shiny weapon in his black leather gloved hand.

Soon the giallo became a genre of its own, with its own rules and with a typical Italian flavour: adding additional layers of intense colour and style. The term giallo finally became synonymous with a heavy, theatrical and stylised visual element.

The genre had its heyday in the 1970s, with dozens of Italian giallo films released. The most notable directors who worked in the genre were Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci and Pupi Avati. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giallo [Jul 2005]

Notable Giallo Films

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giallo#Notable_Giallo_Films [Aug 2005]

Giallo cinema of the 60’s & 70’s

The Italian cinematic legacy extends beyond what some people would call serious films. Bengt Wallman celebrates Italy's premium exploitation genre: the "Giallo"

I know Uppers readers will agree that Italy is the premium film country in the world. Subsequently there is no need for me to go into the wide range of exceptional films or Italian art house directors that since the birth of cinema have entertained and marvelled the world. Few will disagree when you say that directors like Antonioni, De Sica and Fellini has shaped the medium we know as motion picture. Furthermore there is no one in their right mind who will not understand the impact and revolutionary effect the Italian neorealism had on film making all over the world. In a nutshell, when it comes to fine films; Italy über alles.

However a fact often overlooked is that Italy’s cinematic legacy extends beyond what some people would call serious films. The Italian back catalouge of exploitation cinema is possibly unequalled in the world. There are numerous genres of interest, there are cannibals, zombies, westerns, mondo, nunspolitation...the list just goes on and on. But undoubtedly the most interesting of them all is the Giallo genre. - A genre whose impact on both the thriller and horror film cannot be underestimated. Directors like Mario Bava and Dario Argento modernised the thriller and together with Briton Hitchcock must be hailed as the most important to the genre throughout time. [Published 23 July 2002]--Bengt Wallman, http://www.uppers.org/showArticle.asp?article=395 [Dec 2004]

Blood and Black Lace (1964) - Mario Bava

Blood and Black Lace (1964) - Mario Bava [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Though the original Italian title translates to "Six Women for an Assassin," the American title, Blood and Black Lace, is far more evocative of the psychosexual nature of this elegant slasher picture. The thin plot concerns a respected Italian fashion house, a murdered model, cocaine, and a tell-all diary that seems to implicate just about everyone connected with the house of style. The disappearance of the diary initiates a wholesale slaughter of the remaining models. Mario Bava's stylish exercise in mayhem lovingly delivers every elaborate killing with dreamy assurance. As the stalker, a faceless figure wrapped up in a trench coat, makes a move for his next gorgeous victim, Bava's prowling camera snakes through sets, rushes down hallways, and generally takes off like a low-budget Hitchcock flick on speed. By contrast, Bava runs through the police investigations with a perfunctory air--the lifeless scenes, which aren't helped by the flat English dubbing, feel like he's marking time between the murders--and when the identity of the black-clad killer is revealed it almost seems beside the point. As the narrative melts into a near abstract display of choreography and color (with an often troubling misogynist edge), exposition and psychological explanations seem oddly out of place in this elaborate dance of death. As a traditional thriller it lacks any genuine thrill, but as a piece of cinematic spectacle it has moments of dreamy, disconnected beauty. --Sean Axmaker for Amazon.com

Isabella (played by Francesca Ungaro), a young model is murdered by a mysterious masked figure at a boarding house run by Max Marian (played by Cameron Mitchell)and his lover Countess Cristiana Como (played by Eva Bartok). When Isabella's boyfriend is suspected of the killing, her diary, which apparently has some incriminating evidence linking her to the killer, dissapears, the masked killer begins killing off all the models in and around the house to find the diary. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_and_Black_Lace [Jul 2005]

see also: 1964 - giallo - Mario Bava - Italian Cinema

More giallo films

  1. Giallo Collection [Amazon.com]
    This "giallo" collection, (giallo, meaning "yellow", being the color of the covers of classic Italian, mystery, murder, sleaze, novels, back in the 60's and 70's. My grandfather had many, bringing them back from this great country of Italy, from which he was born.) is a classic, in every sense of the word. Although others that shared their comments on this page, concerning these great movies, may differ a little, in what was the best of the best, in their choice. I'm sure I can speak for most, if not all of them, that we all agree that this is a great package deal. These are all great, classic giallos of the genre. But certainly, not as graphic, or gory, as some fans of this great genre have come to expect, from the likes of The Maestro, Dario Argento, or the great Mario Bava. They all seem to rely more on suspense, and the suspense of the unknown. Which can be just as frightening in it's own right. Take the advice from the other comments you may have read on this page. It's more than worth it. --Francis DeMarco via Amazon.com

  2. The Girl Who Knew Too Much / The Evil Eye (1963) - Mario Bava [Amazon.com]
    Nora Davis (Leticia Roman) jets away to Rome to vacation with Edith, an old friend of her family. Unfortunately, her trip is anything but relaxing On the first night, Edith dies--and as Nora runs into the night for help, she becomes an eyewitness to murder as she sees a woman stabbed to death on the Piazza di Spagna! Being a young woman with an insatiable appetite for murder mysteries, Nora can't get anyone to believe her story, but with the help of the attentive Dr. Marcello Bassi (John Saxon), she learns that a murder did occur on that very spot--10 years earlier--when Emily Craven fell victim to the "Alphabet Murderer"! What did Nora Davis really see, and who is stalking her through Rome? Could it be the Alphabet Killer, looking for Victim D? Mario Bava's "The Girl Who Knew Too Much" is a stylish homage to the "Americans Abroad" thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock. Originally released in America (in greatly revised form) as "Evil Eye," Bava's innovative thriller is presented here--for the first time--in its original director's cut. --via Amazon.com

Case of the Bloody Iris (1972) - Giuliano Carnimeo

Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer? /Case of the Bloody Iris (1972) - Giuliano Carnimeo [Amazon.com]

see also: Edwige Fenech - Italian horror

The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971) - Sergio Martino

The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971) - Sergio Martino [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH Scream queen, Edwige Fenech, (ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK, THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS) stars in this violent masterpiece, the first giallo film directed by Sergio Martino (CASE OF THE SCORPION TAIL, TORSO). Fenech portrays Julie Wardh; a restless woman embroiled in a horrifying mystery that threatens to drive her to the brink of madness...or worse. Which of the men in her life is the vicious serial killer and will Julie become his next victim? Erotic, stylish and at times excessive, THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH remains one of the most celebrated and influential giallo of all time and has been high on the list of most wanted DVDs by collectors and passionate fans of the genre. Written by acclaimed screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi (THE 10th VICTIM, TORSO), this intricate thriller also stars giallo regulars George Hilton (THE SWEET BODY OF DEBORAH, THE KILLER MUST STRIKE AGAIN), and Ivan Rassimov (Mario Bava's SHOCK, EATEN ALIVE). The haunting and mesmerizing sound track by Nora Orlandi (KILL BILL: VOL. 2) --via Amazon.com

see also: Italian cinema - Edwige Fenech

Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) - Sergio Martino

Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) - Sergio Martino [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Sergio Martino (19 July 1938 Rome, Italy) is an Italian film director, notable for his contributions to the giallo genre. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergio_Martino [Jan 2006]

Product Description:
Director Sergio Martino and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi are at it again with YOUR VICE IS A CLOSED ROOM AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY, a gore-soaked psycho-thriller in the severed vein of their classic gialli STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH, THE CASE OF THE SCORIPION’S TALE, TORSO and ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK.

Luigi Pistilli (THE GREAT SILENCE, BAY OF BLOOD) is a burned out novelist haunted by the memory of his dead mother and making life miserable for wife Anita Strindberg (THE CASE OF THE SCORPION’S TAIL, A LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN). When the failed writer’s mistress is found slashed to death, the crime initiates a series of bloody slayings that drive the protagonists to the brink of insanity… and murder.

Edwige Fenech (STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH, SECRETS OF A CALL GIRL) and Ivan Rassimov (DEEP RIVER SAVAGES, EATEN ALIVE) co-star in this atypical country-set giallo, which owes more than a passing debt to Edgar Allan Poe’s "The Black Cat" and anticipates the hyper-stylized madness of Dario Argento’s PROFONDO ROSSO and Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING.

Photographed in lush widescreen by Giancarlo Ferrando and blessed with a trippy score from Ennio Morricone conductor Bruno Nicolai, YOUR VICE IS A CLOSED ROOM AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY is rife with essential 70s cinema elements: substance abuse, gratuitous sex, infidelity, incest, hippie love communes, dirtbike racing… and homicidal murder, Italian-style.

Throw away those grainy, incomplete bootlegs and substandard import DVDs. NoShame Films presents YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED DOOR AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY uncut in a pristine, widescreen, 16x9 presentation re-mastered from the original negative for the first time in America. --via Amazon.com

Bruno Nicolai
Bruno Nicolai (1926 - 1991) was an Italian composer of soundtracks for alternative cinema, theatre and TV, formed at Santa Cecilia Conservatory.

He also conducted many of Ennio Morricone's works along with Nino Rota and Luis Bacalov ones. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruno_Nicolai [Jan 2006]

See also: giallo film - Italian cinema - 1972 - Ernesto Gastaldi - Edwige Fenech

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