VIVA GIALLO: 10 Favourites for an October Moon
I did a guest post over at Anti-Film School of my Top Five Scariest Italian Horror Films. I yakked about how much I love Giallo and realized I had never really done a top 10 list of my favourites. I am going to use the same criteria as I did for my Anti-Film School list with one title per director so I can insure ten different directors are represented. Viva Giallo!
Deep Red (1975)
Directed By: Dario Argento
He is the maestro of murder, the master of deception, the connoisseur of color-distorters, the sweet whisperer of shadows, the conductor of the constantly moving camera, he is Dario Argento! My first foray into the world of Giallo started right here and I’ve never looked back. Hold on! I look back all the time! I’ve seen Deep Red more times than I can count on my fingers and toes! David Hemmings plays a pianist who lives below the films first victim and witnesses her death. Hemmings is perfectly cast as the pianist. He is not a detective, he’s a musician, and he charmingly trips, falls and bumbles his way through to the films conclusion. Daria Nicoldi does a solid job as an aggressive liberated journalist/reporter who works with Hemmings to solve the mystery. Death doesn’t get more stylish than this!
DON’T TORTURE A DUCKLING (1972)
Directed By: Lucio Fulci
The Godfather of Gore, the narrator of nightmares, the harbinger of horrors, the messenger of the macabre, the shepherd of the supernatural, and the luminary of the lens he is Lucio Fulci! When some local boys go missing and turn up dead in a small superstitious town practically everyone is a suspect. It twists, it turns, and it even shocks! The visuals are quite extraordinary and the performances are great particularly by the talented Florinda Bolkan who plays La Magiara a black magic practicing gypsy. There is an amazing mob scene that leaves me in awe every time I see it. Don’t Torture a Duckling is absolutely one of Fulci’s best and one of the best Giallo ever made!
THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS WARDH (1971)
Directed By: Sergio Martino
The ringmaster of red herrings, the taskmaster of twists, the squire of sexy, the baron of beauty, the superstar of scenery and set pieces, the captain of casting he is Sergio Martino. What is Mrs. Wardh’s strange vice? Mrs. Wardh likes men, and she also likes it a little rough and gets herself into a whole mess of trouble. It features the stunning Edwige Fenech, one of my favourite ladies of Giallo. The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh is sexy, beautiful, mysterious, thrilling, and violent! The finale is a trinity of twists that is oh, so satisfying! Exquisite!
TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE (1971)
Directed By: Mario Bava
Who knows, there might not have ever been a director Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci or Sergio Martino if there had never been a Mario Bava. Mario Bava along with Riccardo Freda and Antonio Margheriti were the igniter’s of the horror inferno that would spread throughout Italy. Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much and Blood and Black Lace are widely acknowledged as forerunners to the Giallo surge of the early 70s. And than there is the crazy convoluted gem; Twitch of the Death Nerve. What a great freaking title! And if I haven’t credited Bava with enough, this film is considered by many to be the first slasher film. It has a massive body count and each death is unique and nasty fun! Twitch of the Death Nerve is an absolutely fantastic looking film with a death around every 10 minutes and more red herrings than you can shake a stick at it! A gothic mansion, a serene bay, and a pile of greedy dead bodies; it is all part of a complete breakfast. Bava-licious!
SHORT NIGHT OF GLASS DOLLS (1971)
Directed By: Aldo Lado
I recently reviewed Aldo Lado’s excellent Night Train Murders, which is more straight up horror than my choice for this list. Short Night of Glass Dolls central character Gregory Moore’s seemingly lifeless body has been found. While his body appears lifeless his mind is working furiously to retrace his steps. We learn along with the character how he came to find himself in this predicament. This bloodless but engrossing tale has great suspense, an intriguing mystery and one hell of an ending! It also has a damn impressive cast featuring Jean Sorel, Ingrid Thulin and gorgeous Barbara Bach. Fantastic stuff!
RED QUEEN KILLS 7 TIMES (1972)
Directed By: Emilio Miraglia
Emilio Miraglia only directed six films and only two of those are horror-oriented Giallo. The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave is pretty fun but Red Queen Kills 7 Times is the masterpiece of the duo. An old supernatural family curse about a red queen motivates the action which is plentiful and fantastic! Jam-packed with steamy Giallo sexpots who look frightfully similar to one another! Red Queen Kills 7 Times is sexy, suspenseful, frantic, the kills are a creative delight and the red queen is a simply fantastic character! Red Queen Kills 7 Times is just a shitload of fun!
SEVEN BLOOD-STAINED ORCHIDS (1972)
Directed By: Umberto Lenzi
Seven Blood-Stained Orchids is bar none my favourite Umberto Lenzi film. A string of suspicious characters, inept cops and a glove wearing maniac coined “the half-moon killer” on account of the souvenir he leaves at the scene of the crime. Great looking cinematography and some imaginative murder scenes; including one of my all time faves that sees an artist killed and their blood mixing with paint. Violence, gore, nudity, above average performances and a bizarre and brilliant soundtrack. Some killer imagery and thrills that are not to be missed.
THE KILLER MUST KILL AGAIN (1975)
Directed By: Luigi Cozzi
To be honest, the only two films I’ve seen from Luigi Cozzi are the sketchy Starcrash and Contamination (which does have its moments). No matter, as he concocted a damn fine Giallo with The Killer Must Kill Again. It’s the story of an adulterer dirtbag who hires a killer to knock off his wife and a young couple that inadvertedly complicate the deal. This is a unique entry in the world of Giallo as we know who has committed the crime from the get go. Great suspense, wicked twists, creative visuals and Antoine St. John is just fantastic as the sinister killer. This guy has a face you don’t soon forget! St. John gets some solid support from Cristina Galbo, Femi Benussi, Eduardo Fajardo and George Hilton. An extremely satisfying Giallo!
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? (1972)
Directed By: Massimo Dallamano
Massimo Dallamano only directed 12 films but he certainly has an interesting resume! The voyeuristic Venus in Furs, his sex-infused interpretation of Dorian Gray and his other brilliant Giallo What Have They Done to Your Daughters? But I am all about the What Have You Done To Solange? Twists and turns, shocking revelations, an outstanding finale and of course a bevy of beautiful ladies! The cinematographer is Joe D’amato who directed Antropophagus. D’amato’s work in this film is quite impressive. The great Ennio Morricone does the score and adds a perfect moody tension. An intriguing, sexy, enthralling mystery.
THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS (1972)
Directed By: Giuliano Carnimeo
I’m not very familiar with Guiliano Carnimeo’s work. He has directed a lot of Westerns; a genre in which I still have much to discover. I have seen only Fistful of Lead with George Hilton, which I enjoyed. The Case of the Bloody Iris illustrates why you shouldn’t move into an apartment where someone was murdered. Why don’t they ever learn? Another one starring the lovely and charismatic Edwige Fenech. A multitude of red herring and one of the wackiest bunch of oddball characters I’ve ever seen in a Giallo. Finding out how this bunch of bananas fit into the puzzle is a ton of fun. The Case of the Bloody Iris is a stylish, quirky, suspenseful Giallo!