September 10, 2005


Bava followed ‘La Ragazza che Sapeva Troppo’ (The Girl who Knew Too Much). with the highly regarded ‘Sei donne per l’assasino’ (Blood and Black Lace 1964). Colour bleeds from the screen as the celebration of death and couture unfolds violently and surprisingly (for its vintage) graphically. The film also brought the obligatory black rain coat to giallo couture, this demonstrates that all was coming together quite nicely trends had now been defined and set.

As ‘Sei donne….’ Focused on fashion ‘La regazza….’ Focused on vision or as the Italians refer to it ‘testimone oculare’ – the eye witness. When ‘La regazza….’ Was released to a yank audience it was titled ‘The Evil Eye’. Through the eyes we see the state of the mind therefore we had a whole stable of visionary, hallucinatory and disturbingly delirious visions found and used in a sub plot context. This delirium featured in such giallo mipics as Fulci’s ‘Una Lucertola con la pelle di Donne’ (A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin 1971), Lenzis’ ‘Il Coltello di Ghiaccio’ (Knife of Ice 1972) and by the time we arrive at Martinos’ ‘Tutti I Colori del buio’ (All the colours of the Dark 1973) the delirium reaches borderline hysterics as giallo dallies with satanic worship and L.S.D induced trepidation.

The period post ‘Evil Eye’ and ‘Blood and Black Lace’ was a plodding one. Giallo remained lurking in the background overshadowed by the current Italian cinematic trends of the time namely ‘The Spaghetti Western’ and ‘peplum’ (sword and sandal ‘Maciste’ variety). Horror was also very strong at this time especially if we consider the Barbara Steele ‘gothic nightmare’ stable of productions. Giallo didn’t go away it snoozed briefly until the turn of a new decade 1969/1970.

As the trends faded the giallo remained and grew to grand proportions influencing many cultures. It is still contemporarily used - ‘Haute Tension’ (the cringe inducing dumb friendly titled ‘Switchblade Romance’ in the u.k) for example. Unfortunately it does cross over into the mainstream on irregular occasions and becomes vacuous, gore drenched, shite but a few ‘nice surprises’ can emerge. The Italian Hitchcock Dario Argento returns to this genre on numerous occasions most recently with ‘Non ho Sonno’ (‘Sleepless’ 2001) and of sorts in the piss weak ‘Il Cartaio’ (‘The Card Player’ 2004).

Psychoanalysis plays another integral part of giallo, displaying both the ‘analytical scene’ as well as ‘classic symptoms’. This on more than several occasions happens via the conduit of femininity. In Argentos movies almost everytime ‘masculinity’ becomes the focal point.

In Argentos’ films we experience what Freudian terminology would call ‘nachtraglichkeit’ ; this is where the victim of trauma keeps returning to the scene of the crime. This is also known as a retronscription of memory and is represented on screen as a series of flashbacks. It could also be defined psychoanalytically as the ‘compulsion to repeat’.

Mario Caranos’ ‘L’occhio nel Labirinto’ (‘The Eye of the Labyrinth’ 1972) concerns the murder of a male psychoanalyst by the female patient who confuses him with doctor, lover and father. The movie also opens with a cryptic quote from borges, this constructs the triple analogy of labyrinth-mind=narrative before the structuring of the Freudian war horse ‘woman as mystery’.

The female protagonists in giallo usually are under therapy, had therapy or need therapy. The ultimate incarceration of this character is usually played by the exquisitely beautiful ‘Edwige Fenech’, who demonstrates her perfect portrayal of the neurotic enchantress admirably.

By the early to mid 1970's the giallo flourished and distinct linked themes were even more apparent to the viewer.........................................


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