Odds and Dead Ends : An introduction to the Giallo

Most people have a fair understanding of the classic slasher flick. Made popular by Halloween in 1978, with predecessors including The Town That Dreaded Sundown, Black Christmas, Psycho etc, the idea of killing people off one by one has been immortalised by the formulae refined by films of this type. However, the slasher film is very closely linked to the Giallo (roughly pronounced jea-low), a type of Italian film which was very popular in the sixties and seventies, and bred a slew of filmmakers still admired and imitated today. This article won’t be a comprehensive discussion of the Giallo, as I’m a fan of the genre and not a scholar of it, but it will hopefully provide an introduction to those not aware of it, and give you a couple of movies to add to the ‘to-be-watched’ list.

Originally, gialli were cheap crime paperbacks, a bit like pulp novels, that were printed by Mondadori and trademarked with an instantly recognisable yellow cover. Hence this gave birth to the term Giallo, meaning ‘yellow’. These were mostly translations of Agatha Christie, Edgar Lee Wallace, Arthur Conan Doyle, and other similar authors. It’s important to make a distinction between the types of crime fiction, however. Gialli focused more on the graphic violence and the sleuths, rather than gun-toting noir police work. As Gary Needham says:

The publication of gialli increased throughout the 1930s and 40s, however, the importation and translation of the 1940s “hard-boiled” detective fictions from the US were prohibited from publication outright by Mussolini on the grounds that their corrupting influence and glamorisation of crime would negatively influence “weak-minded” Italians. (Needham, 2002)

Despite some of the restrictions, the Italians began writing their own gialli, and the literature boomed in the ’30s and ’40s. By the late ’50s, it had started to make its way across to film. The main mastermind behind its initial translation to the screen was Mario Bava, a film legend in his own right. After all, it was his film, Black Sabbath, which gave the band their name, who helped invent and pioneer the Heavy Metal genre of music.

Though he made a splash in ’63 with his film The girl who knew too much, it was his 1964 film, Blood and Black Lace, which really kicked things off. Dispensing with the police-procedural elements of previous films, Bava upped the sex and violence, turning the stalking sequences into major set pieces in their own right. Despite being a financial failure at the time, it has gone on to be critically appreciated and influenced dozens of filmmakers after. It set the template of what was to come after. It also introduced the killer in a black coat with black gloves, very much like Jack the Ripper, which would be the usual getup for Giallo killers as time went on.

A few years later, the most influential Giallo filmmaker would take up the mantle. Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage incorporated a twisted, convoluted plotline with stunning visuals that earned him the nickname ‘the Italian Hitchcock.’ The film was an international success, and still has one of my personal favourite twists of all time. He followed this up with Four Flies on Grey Velvet a few years later, and then release one of his masterpieces in 1975, Profondo Rosso (Deep Red).Deep Red Poster

Around the early seventies, Sergio Martino also released films such as Torso, All the colours of the dark, and the incredibly titled, Your vice is a locked room and only I have the key. Lucio Fulci also breaks onto the scene here, directing films such as A lizard in a woman’s skin and Don’t torture a duckling in the early seventies. I’ve already written an article on Fulci here on HorrorAddicts.net, and I’ll include a link to that at the article’s end.

Because of their frequency of production and release at this time, gialli ended up like the Saw films did, with each film trying to out-do the previous in terms of twists and turns. I recall hearing Luigi Cozzi talk about this in relation to when he and Argento were batting around ideas for a film in which someone foresaw their death, then had to try and explain how it happened without psychic powers. The film, Profondo Rosso, was eventually made without Cozzi’s involvement, but he does own a horror memorabilia shop in Italy named after the film.

The gory death sequences continued throughout the seventies, continuing into Argento’s most famous film, Suspiria, which had a remake released last year. The brutal opening death scene with a body crashing through a stain glass window is as in horror history as Johnny Depp’s demise in the original Nightmare on Elm Street, and Goblin’s score for the film is something you find yourself humming walking down the street. Filled with vibrant colours and haunting imagery, it’s still shocking even today.

By the time the eighties came around, however, the Giallo was beginning to fade. Fulci’s return to the genre after doing his Gates of Hell trilogy were fairly laughable (Murder Rock is just funny, and there’s not a person in existence that can’t think of The New York Ripper without saying ‘quack’. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it and you’ll understand what I mean), and Argento has been making movies to this day, but nothing of any real note after the mid-eighties with Phenomena and Opera. The American slasher had taken the spotlight, and even that was, by the late eighties, beginning to run down its original formula.

These films are still influential, however. The film Abrakadabra, released last year by the Onetti Brothers, is a wonderful homage to the giallo, nailing everything from the groove-rock soundtrack to the quick zooms and grainy footage. Gialli are a wonderful time, those made around the late sixties/early seventies especially, as they have their own unique vibe, shooting style, and soundtracks. Unlike the slasher or the ghost story, it’s something that I highly doubt will ever make a proper return, but will stay immortalised as the brilliant pieces of cinema that they are. Sleazy, shocking, suspenseful; the Giallo is one of a kind.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: KJudgeMental

FURTHER READING ON HORRORADDICTS.NET

Bibliography

A Nightmare on Elm Street. 1984. [Film] Directed by Wes Craven. United States of America: New Line Cinema.

Abrakadabra. 2018. [Film] Directed by Nicolas Onetti Luciano Onetti. Argentina/New Zealand: Black Mandala.

All the colours of the dark. 1972. [Film] Directed by Sergio Martino. Italy: Lea Film.

Black Christmas. 1974. [Film] Directed by Bob Clarke. Canada: Ambassador Films.

Black Sabbath. 1963. [Film] Directed by Mario Bava. Italy/France: Emmepi Cinematografica Societe.

Blood and Black Lace. 1964. [Film] Directed by Mario Bava. Italy: Emmepi.

Don’t Torture a Duckling. 1972. [Film] Directed by Lucio Fulci. Italy: Medusa Produzione.

Four Flies on Grey Velvet. 1972. [Film] Directed by Dario Argento. Italy: Seda Spettacoli.

Halloween. 1978. [Film] Directed by John Carpenter. United States of America: Falcon International Productions.

Lizard in a Woman’s Skin. 1971. [Film] Directed by Lucio Fulci. Italy: International Apollo Films.

Murder Rock. 1984. [Film] Directed by Lucio Fulci. Italy: Scena Film.

Needham, G., 2002. Playing with genre: an introduction to the Italian Giallo. [Online]
Available at: http://www.kinoeye.org/02/11/needham11.php
[Accessed 20 07 2019].

Phenomena. 1985. [Film] Directed by Dario Argento. Italy: DAC Film.

Profondo Rosso. 1975. [Film] Directed by Dario Argento. Italy: Seta Spettacoli.

Psycho. 1960. [Film] Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. United States of America: Shamley Productions.

Saw. 2004. [Film] Directed by James Wan. USA: Twisted Pictures.

Suspiria. 1977. [Film] Directed by Dario Argento. Italy: Seda Spettacoli.

Terror At The Opera. 1987. [Film] Directed by Dario Argento. Italy: ADC Films.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. 1970. [Film] Directed by Dario Argento. Italy: CCC Filmkunst GmbH.

The New York Ripper. 1982. [Film] Directed by Lucio Fulci. Italy: Fulvia Film.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown. 1976. [Film] Directed by Charles B. Pierce. USA: Charles B. Pierce Film Productions, Inc..

Torso. 1973. [Film] Directed by Sergio Martino. Italy: Compagnia Cinematografica Champion.

Your room is a locked vice and only I have the key. 1972. [Film] Directed by Sergio Martino. Italy: Luciano Martino.

Attack of the Killer Donuts – Giveaway!

Those of you looking for the next cheesy Horror B-Movie are in luck. Attack of the Killer Donuts checks off all those boxes.

Over the top acting? Check.
Blonde bimbo? Check.
Crazy mad scientist? Check.
Dangerous chemical? Check.
Crappy job? Check.
Jerk boss? Check.
Gory kill scenes? Check.
Disgusting diarrhea? Check.
Sexual tension between “friends”? Check.
Hot mom teen boys lust after? Check.
Killer food that wants pay back? Check

Johnny and Kayla work at a horrible donut shop for a boss that’s famous for cutting corners. When Johnny’s mad scientist uncle creates a faulty but effective zombie gel and it accidentally falls into the donut fryer, all hell breaks loose.

With C. Thomas Howell (Most notable to us horror fans as the kid who finds a finger in his fries in 1986’s The Hitcher, and our most beloved vamp-loving cop in Kindred: The Embraced) the only recognizable star in the cast, you won’t be watching this flick for star power. What is worth watching is the killer donuts.

There are several great donut attack scenes and when they attack, you might find yourself cheering for the food instead of the humans. The donuts are truly alive and kill with sharp, monster-like pointy teeth. They seem to have militant skills, lining up for attention and ambushing victims with martial stealth. In their dormant state, they look like normal donuts, but when ingested, the humans suffer even more as they are devoured from inside. That’s when the real gross-out factor comes in.

There were some missed moments unfortunately. Sadly no giant donut rolling down the street with savage teeth, trying to kill everyone in its path, but maybe that’s a bit too obvious. I would have loved to hear a remake of the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes song but perhaps royalties were too much for this low budget flick. The dialogue missed some great moments that could have added some Horror Addict interest. I was just waiting for someone to say, “Wait a minute! That’s not just a donut. It’s a cruller!” Cue scream queen.

Despite the overabundance of cheese and some missed moments, I think Horror Addicts will still appreciate the cult classic feel of this new flick.

If you think this sounds like your kind of movie, you can enter to win by Tweeting, Facebooking, or commenting below about your favorite Horror B-movie using the tags #horroraddicts #killerdonuts @horroraddicts13

Giveaway open to residents of the U.S., deadline: December 15th, 2017


ATTACK OF THE KILLER DONUTS | COMEDY – HORROR | English | 86 min. | NR TV-14

IT’S THEIR TURN TO EAT US…

If you like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes… you’re going to love ATTACK OF THE KILLER DONUTS!

A Throwback Retro 80’s Film… Reminiscent of THE BLOB… CULT CLASSIC!

Shot in Los Angeles, ATTACK OF THE KILLER DONUTS was directed by SCOTT WHEELER, who also served as the special effects supervisor and is currently working on a film called Planet Shark. (That film covers familiar territory for Wheeler, who did all the VFX & B-roll for the SHARKNADO film series).

“Teen B-MOVIE — awesome soundtrack!”

— HORRORNEWS.NET

“Entertaining and funny… a really fun watch.”

— HORRORNEWS.NET  3 out of 5 skulls

“If you’ve got love for throwback files of the ‘80’s, chances are you’ll find plenty of value in Attack of the Killer Donuts.”

— ADDICTED TO HORROR MOVIES

“Destined to become a cruller classic.”

— Jordan Mintzer THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Rotten Tomatoes Approved Critic

 

Directed By SCOTT WHEELER

Primetime EMMY Nominee for Outstanding Special Visual Effects “SPACE: Above and Beyond”. Visual Effects Producer for SHARKNADO 5: GLOBAL SWARMING releasing August 2017.  Known for Hallmark Channel TV Movie “Love at the Shore”, MARTIAN LAND, AVALANCHE SHARKS, SINK HOLE, DELTA FORCE, TV mini-series “From the Earth to the Moon”, and TV Series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

Written By NATHAN DALTON, CHRIS DE CHRISTOPHER and

RAFAEL DIAZ-WAGNER (BERNIE WEISS: The Most Interesting Man in Miami)

Produced By RAFAEL DIAZ-WAGNER & NICOLE M. SAAD

Music By JOEL SOMEILLAN

ATTACK OF THE KILLER DONUTS Theme Song performed by SUN GHOSTS.

STARRING:

JUSTIN RAY | KAYLA COMPTON | ALISON ENGLAND

with C. THOMAS HOWELL and MICHAEL SWAN as UNCLE LUTHER

FREDRICK BURNS | PHILLIP FALLON | AARON GROBEN | CHRISTINE NGUYEN

CHRIS DE CHRISTOPHER, MICHAEL GAGLIO, GRANT O’CONNELL, BEN HEYMAN

SHORT SYNOPSIS:

We’ve eaten them for years, now it’s their turn! A chemical accident turns ordinary donuts into blood-thirsty killers. Now it’s up to Johnny, Michelle and Howard to save their sleepy town from… Killer Donuts.

LONG SYNOPSIS:

A chemical accident in a sleepy town turns ordinary donuts into bloodthirsty monsters. Unaware of the donuts’ danger, Johnny, Michelle and Howard sell them to unsuspecting customers. When the donuts start eating their victims, the only way the three friends can save their sleepy town is to track down the Killer Donuts down and destroy them. The final standoff is where it all began: Dandy Donuts.

HorrorAddicts.net 122, Dario Ciriello

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Horror Addicts Episode# 122

Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich

Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

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dario ciriello | glass android | mario bava

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