As giallo was in full swing by the early 1970’s, fundamental characteristics of the giallo stereotype were now expected by the audience as much as they anticipated the black gloved serial killer………
The eye witness of a crime. These words are used often if one views gialli in it’s original native tongue. ‘Il gatte a nove code’ (‘The Cat o’ Nine Tails’ 1971) made the point of visual failure as a source of knowledge. It creates an ‘aural’ mystery, a restaging of ‘Rear Window’ (1954), including a blind crossword puzzling detective.
Visional dynamics are explored to their nth degree in Argentos’ ‘L’ucello dale piume di Cristallo’ (‘The Bird with the Chrystal Plumage’ 1969). The opening murderous knife attack takes place in a chic Rome art gallery. The gallery is explicitly concerned with clarity and visual maximisation ; the space is minimal preventing any distraction from the gaze other than that of the brutal crime. The doors and veneer are prodigious glass panels, nothing remains obscured, and the area is brightly lit in its entirety. Other gialli foregrounding the eye-witness narrative are Maurizio Pradeauxs ‘Passi di danza su una lama di rasoio’ (Death Carries a Cane 1972), the originator of all ‘The Evil Eye’.
Ocular violence crops up often in giallo moviedom, Lenzis steadfast of such has to be ‘Gatti rossi in un labirinto di vetro’ (Eyeball 1974), Argentos’ ‘Opera’ in 1988. We can also note how many titles were influenced by our peepers , whether the title refers to the owner as victim, killer or sleuth known in Italy as ‘Gli Occhi’. Enzo Castellaris’ ‘Gli Occhi freddi della paura’ (The Cold Eyes of Fear 1971) and Antonio Bidod’ ‘I Gatto da gli occhi die Glada’ (‘The Cats Victims’ 1977). The giallo eye is both penetrating and penetrated.
As one of our screen queens loses her garment to wet a proportion of the audiences’ appetite so the application of a funky outfit is equally anticipated with as much relish by some other.
Outrageous outfits are almost as outlandish as the gory set pieces. Bavas’ ‘5 Bambole per la lune d’agosto’ (‘5 dolls for an August moon’ 1973) has Fenech display such fascinating clobber documenting such a Satsuma/lime existence.
‘Nude per l’assasino’ (‘Strip Nude for your Killer’ 1975) takes place in a fashion house and adds camp to the chaos in abundance. Giving plenty of excuses for sexy chicks to be embroiled in a haute couture horror and sexual violence.
Due to this campness it can at times dilute the shock provided by broken mirrors and broken minds. This same campness can be seen evidently in the ‘sadiconazista’ farces made slightly later in the 70’s. So the audience can easily refrain from taking things a little too serious unless your BBFC or bible basher.
In these three introductions we have only glimpsed into the world of giallo, I could offer you an exhaustive list of recommends and must sees but quite frankly there are too many to choose from and far too many waiting out there to see the light of day. For such an intrinsic element fundamental to the exploitation genre, if done well giallo can be nuggets of priceless gruesome thriller cinema.
So popular the phenomenon became widespread influencing European and Asian cinema, Spains ‘Una libelva para cada muerto’ (A Dragonfly for Each Corpse (1974) Leon klimovsky) and ‘Ojos azules de la muñeca rota, Los’(Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (1973) Paul Naschy), Belgium tried with Guy lee Thys’ ‘Die Potloodmorden’ (The Pencil Murders (1982) ) and even Japanese anime with Satoshi Kons’ ‘Perfect Blue’ (1997) and to a certain extent the u.k’s ‘Killers Moon’ (1978) but this may fall more under the stalk and slash , teens in jeopardy category.
This is all evidential enough I feel, of how important this genre is and long may it continue. It is a tried and tested formula that can be genuinely frightening when orchestrated well needing dusting off now and again as a statement just how far thrillers can go and testament to their versatility andthe exploitation celluloid land is a much better place for it.