Ciao e Grazie!

Well, it's finally happened. After nearly two years of recapping the bloody thrills of the giallo genre, I've finally run out of movies.

98 posts – I would have loved to write just two more to make it an even hundred or, even better, six more to end the project on Halloween Eve, exactly two years from when we started the journey, but the movies have been harder and harder to find and my sources have run dry.  Not that there aren't a lot more out there - I count over 40 titles that I'd love to review, but can't find in their entirety either dubbed or subtitled in English (my Italian is okay, but it would take four hours of pausing and rewinding to fully comprehend a 90-minute movie).

If I do come across one of the missing titles, I'll be sure to add a new entry, but this marks the end of the regular Thursday posts. Here's a chronological wishlist of obscure gialli:

The Hyena of London (1964)
A for Assassin (1966)
The Killer Without a Face (1967)
Double Face (a.k.a. Liz & Helen) (1969)
Your Sweet Body to Murder (1970)
Marta (1971)
The Glass Ceiling (1971)
Tropic of Cancer (1972)
The Two Faces of Fear (1972)
The Weapon, the Hour, the Motive (1973)
Love and Death on the Edge of a Razor (1973)
No One Heard the Scream ( 1973)
Clap... You're Dead (1974)
Five Women for the Killer (1974)
All the Screams of Silence (1974)
The Fish with the Gold Eyes (1974)
The Killer Reserved Nine Seats (1974)
The Hot Lips of the Killer (a.k.a. The Killer Wore Gloves) (1974)
The Killer with a Thousand Eyes (1974)
The Killer is One of Thirteen (1974)
Vice Wears Black Hose (a.k.a. Reflections in Black) (1975)
Evil Eye (1975)
Plot of Fear (1976)
Crazy Desires of a Murderer (1977)
The Monster (1977)
The Perfect Crime (1978)
Carnal Crime (1982)
Murder Near Perfect (1983)
Formula for a Murder (1985)
The House of Good Returns (1986)
The Killer has Returned (1986)
The Monster of Florence (1986)
Obsession: A Taste for Fear (1988)
Murder in Blue Light (1991)
Crime of Passion (1994)
The House where Corinne Lived (1996)
Fatal Frames (1996)
Eyes of Crystal (2004)

I haven't seen any of these yet, so it's possible that some of them aren't gialli at all, but rather Krimi or other crime dramas. If you know where I can find any of them, please let me know!

One of the great things about having a blog on Blogger is that they provide the writer with a variety of statistics, so he or she can follow trends. For example, here's a run-down of the top SEO keyword phrases entered into search engines that led people to this blog (as of this posting):


It makes sense that the name of the blog would come up first, but I'm surprised to see that as many of six people looking up Luc Merenda and ending up here. Or, even stranger, maybe one person searched his name six times. If it was Luc Merenda searching his own name, let me please say hello. Big fan.

Next, let's take a snapshot of you, the audience:

The blog is written in English so it's hardly surprising that the US, UK, Canada and Australia are in the top ten countries that visited the site. But I'm thrilled to see so much interest in giallo movies coming from elsewhere including Turkey, Iraq, Madagascar and Ecuador, who fell below the top ten. I'm a little sad that Italy didn't rank higher.

Finally, by way of a hit count, here's a list of the most popular posts:


Absolutely fascinating. For a while You'll Die at Midnight was the most-viewed post (likely boosted by my incisive breakdown of Lamberto Bava's color motif) but in recent months, So Sweet... So Perverse pulled a commanding lead. Going in, I thought for sure that one of the classics like Deep Red, Blood and Black Lace, or The Black Belly of the Tarantula would be the most popular but a relatively obscure and bloodless Carroll Baker thriller is the most-read-about movie on this site.

Again, the blog isn't over - just the regular Thursday schedule.  If you have access to one of the movies on my wishlist, dubbed or subtitled in English, please let me know in the comments. Until then, thanks for reading!

 

Libido




Libido

"Not like my father! My god! Not like my father!"

As a child, Christian (Giancarlo Gianni) witnessed his father kill a blonde woman before hurling himself off a cliff. Now, many years later, Christian has returned to the house for the first time, accompanied by his wife, Helene (Dominique Boschero), the caretaker Paul (Luciano Pigozzi) and Paul's ditzy blonde wife, Brigitte (Mara Meryl).  Christian's guests are all on edge, unsure weather his return will stir up dark, traumatic memories and slowly but surely, Christian seems to lose his grasp on reality. He sees ghostly figures in the dark, chases phantom footsteps and swears that his dead father is in the house. Is the manor haunted by Christian's father? Or is Christian being gaslighted in an effort to steal his inheritance? If so, who is mastermind behind such a devious plan? 

Libido (not to be confused with the crime thriller In the Folds of the Flesh, which is sometimes also known as Libido) is a very early giallo and one of the first written by Ernesto Gastaldi, the man whose credits read as a list of the greatest gialli ever made and who created the template for the slasher film with TorsoLibido starts as a Psycho-style psychological thriller, introduces elements of gothic horror (thunderstorms, an old castle, muddy footprints, etc.) and finishes with a string of devious cons, double-crosses and mis-directs, ramping up the action all the way to the end. Gastaldi was clearly a fan of Mario Bava but also learned a lot from the French classic Diabolique.

  • You may know Giancarlo Gianni from his roles in Casino Royale and A Quantum of Solace. Dominique Boschero would appear in several other gialli, such as Who Saw Her Die? And giallo superstar Luciano Pigozzi - the "Italian Peter Lorre" - was featured in the classics Blood and Black Lace and Naked You Die.
  • This was the first directorial effort for both Gastaldi and co-director Vittorio Salerno.
  • Please note that the 2nd death listed above - Christian's father - is one that's talked about but not shown.
  • The movie opens with a Freud quote defining the concept of "libido" in clinical terms, but that provocative title doesn't really suit this mostly buttoned-up production.
 What the Hell am I Watching?

Libido may not be very well-known, but it turns out to be a highly influential giallo movie. If you're already a giallo fan, you will be shocked by the opening scene: Christian, as a young boy, is dressed in a short-pants suit with knee socks playing with a mechanical toy that plays a creepy sing-songy tune. He hears a scream and witnesses a murder, scarring him emotionally for the rest of his life.


Sound familiar? There's no way that Dario Argento didn't have this scene in mind ten years later when he wrote the beginning of Deep Red.

Also, the rest of the movie involves a psychologically unbalanced man named Christian who holes up in a cliffside mansion with a blonde woman, an older caretaker and the caretaker's bubbleheaded younger wife.  I'd say that's also a pretty good description of the middle third of Spasmo.

Fashion Moment

Brigitte is young, adventurous, and clueless about social cues, so her fashion sense tends to be a little daring. In one memorable scene, the camera leers as she dances the hula, wearing only black underwear and a feather boa.


Later, Helene's eyes nearly pop out of her head when Brigitte reveals this tiny pusstcat bikini.


But she does glam it up later with this elegant evening look.



As a side note, here's the musical toy that sets Christian off. He says it's Jiminy Cricket, but there's no way that's not Mr. Peanut.



New York Ripper



New York Ripper

Don't accept rides from anyone with two fingers missing on his right hand, okay?

A serial killer is on the loose in New York City and Lt. Frank Williams (Jack Hedley) is on the case. The victims are all beautiful young women, but that seems to be the only factor they have in common. As the bodies pile up in the morgue, the killer grows bolder, calling Lt. Williams before each murder and taunting him with a squeaky Donald Duck voice and quacking noises. Could the deranged killer be Mickey Scellenda (Howard Ross), a brooding eight-fingered man? Could it be jealous husband Dr. Lodge (Cosimo Cinieri)? With the help of psychology professor Dr. Paul Davis (Paolo Malco), Lt. Williams must find the answers before the duck-voiced killer strikes again!

New York Ripper isn't Lucio Fulci's best movie (that would be supernatural thriller L'Aldila), it's not his best giallo (that would be Perversion Story) and it's not the most fun to watch (that would be Murder Rock), but it's the Fulci-est Fulci movie ever, featuring all his signature moves: beautiful women in mortal jeopardy, lots of blood, close-up gore, zoom-ins on peoples' eyes, the killer's POV, Donald Duck, creepy and inappropriate sexual encounters, eyeball injuries, a gritty setting, helpless police, and a plot that hinges on a childhood trauma. This movie was made at a time when traditional gialli were being eclipsed in popularity by slasher films and Fulci gives his audience what they want, with slow-motion, blood-soaked shots of razors cutting off a woman's nipple and slicing through her eyeball. The plot may not make sense, but gore fans will cheer.

  • The movie starts with a standard Law & Order opening. A man is going about his day, walking his dog along the river when he stumbles across the first body.
  • Fulci makes a cameo as Lt. Williams' police chief.
  • There's a scene of a cool radio DJ warning people about the killer on the loose between songs and asking him to "leave those ladies alone." The way it's shot and acted, it seems to be an obvious homage to the DJ in The Warriors.
  • Fulci also seems to be paying homage to Bava and Argento when he lights the third murder scene in saturated greens and reds.
  • Killer's POV is a pretty standard giallo move, but I can't recall seeing Police POV before New York Ripper. 
  • You may remember Andrea Occhipinti from his starring role in the great Blade in the Dark.
What the Hell am I Watching?

In a weird subplot, Jane Lodge (Alexandra Delli Colli) keeps getting herself into more and more dangerous sexual situations, recording them on a mini tape player, and giving them to her husband to listen to. She doesn't seem to enjoy doing it, and it's implied that she's making the tapes to aid her husband's sexual disfunction. In the weirdest and most disturbing scene, she flirts with and is assaulted by two guys in a pool hall.

Fashion Moment

There's not a great shot of it, but I love Fay's (Almanta Suska) white cashmere scarf and the way it's elegantly draped over her shoulder in the subway scene. Great hair, too.