The goal of this blog is to have a post about every giallo film available in English or subtitled in English. Unfortunately, many films are unavailable and others are only available in un-subtitled Italian.
Each post will start with an infographic that outlines basic information. Here are some rough guidelines for its use:
Title: I'll use the most common English title.
Alternate Titles: I'll list the original Italian title and any alternate titles (such as video release titles).
Director, Year, Run Time: These are pretty much cut-and-dry.
Starring: I'll list about four or five actors who have major roles.
Does the title make sense?: This is pretty subjective. The options are "Yes," "No," and "Sort of." Usually, to make sense, the title must have something to do with what happens in the movie. Often times, though, the title is metaphorical.
Murders: Actually, this should probably say "Deaths" or "Body Count" because I'll include accidental deaths, natural deaths, and suicides. I'll also include relevant deaths that occur before the main action of the story takes place.
Attempted Murders: The key here is the intent to kill. Just stalking someone, trying to scare them, or trying to wound them doesn't count. Accidental near-deaths also don't count. This is the place where I'll list unsuccessful murder attempts.
Fake Murders: Sometimes kill scenes turn out to be part of dream sequences, movies-within-movies, or clever ruses to draw out the real murderer.
Animals Killed: Non-human deaths. Often, filmmakers will have the killer take out a pet or other animal to show just how crazy they are.
Method of Kills: Only the methods of successful murders are listed. Sometimes we don't see the murder take place or the cause of death isn't specified. I'll mark those "unknown."
All-girl school: Perhaps I should have called it an "All-girl institution" because I'll include such settings as modelling agencies, fashion houses, and hospitals. In any case, it has to be populated exclusively by females.
Animal In the Title: Insects and arachnids count, but the animal in question is usually a cat.
Bad 1970's art: It's very subjective, but you'll see. Apartments and houses in gialli are usually decorated with awful, amateurish abstract art.
Bewbs!: It's what separates the classy gialli from the salacious trash.
Gay Character: This includes gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and transvestite characters.
Horribly Racist: Some gialli push at the line of racial sensitivity. Others just blow right past it.
Inept Police: The police in gialli frequently refuse to follow up leads, listen to important testimony, or basically do their job. They can't be bothered with your crazy notions. So stop trying to play amateur detective and let us investigate this case our way.
Killer's POV: Point-of-view shots put us in the killer's shoes. It's a classic move.
Main Character in a Creative Profession: Gialli are populated with all kinds of glamorous, imaginative people: fahsion models and designers, dancers, artists, photographers, writers, musicians, and composers, just to name a few.
Number In the title: These often give us an expectation of the final body count.
Paranormal: Psychics, seances, ESP, telekenisis, ghosts... it comes from the world of Gothic horror and usually adds a level of obscurity and danger. Most of the time, the paranormal element is debunked, but later gialli embrace the unknown as reality.
Plot Makes Sense: Another highly subjective category. If it's a disappointing cop-out ending where the killer has no real motive, I will refuse to check this box. I hate investing in a story only to find out that the killer is just plain crazy and didn't have a reason for killing anyone. Or that only one murder had a motive and the rest were committed to cover it up. Weak.
Priest Is the Killer: It's ridiculous how often this occurs. I'm sure the writers think "the priest is the last person you'd suspect!" but it happens so often in giallo films that they're always our first suspects.
Red Phone: I don't know why this is a thing but it is.
Scene In a Cemetery: Ah, the creepy cemetery scene. Another holdover from Gothic horror.
Spiral Staircase: Another thing that seems to pop up everywhere in these movies. Maybe they symbolize the twisting plot and a sense of mystery. Maybe they're just cool-looking.
Tape Recorder Used As a Mis-Direct: Throwing one's voice via a tape (or record or answering machine) is a handy way to lure someone to their death. Or to distract the killer while you make your escape.
Woman Slapped In the Face: Another thing that happens way too often in these movies.
If I had it to do over, I would have added a few more checkboxes:
Cat: An astonishing number (I'd say most) of these movies have a cat, even if it doesn't figure into the plot.
"Sex Maniac": When the murderer first strikes and people start asking questions, a detective or policeman usually blows it off as "just the work of a run-of-the-mill sex fiend." This is related in a lot of ways to "Inept Police."
J & B Whiskey: The beverage of choice for giallo characters.