1. Blood and Black Lace
It may not be the first, but it is the quintessential giallo, establishing many of the hallmark tropes, as well as the tone and style of the genre.
2. The Bird With the Crystal Plumage
The movie that redefined the genre, replacing Gothic gloom with modern style and a youthful, energetic aesthetic. The focus is on a well-crafted script.
3. A Lizard In Woman's Skin
The hippie counterculture of the early 1970's meets giallo style in this giddy, acid-soaked nightmare.
4. Deep Red
The best example of 2nd-generation giallo and the best example of middle-period Argento. Here, giallo comes to full fruition.
A glimpse of the future. Giallo would eventually evolve into the slasher flick and this movie provided the template for the budding new genre.
MY FIVE FAVORITE GIALLI
1. Blood and Black Lace
Respect the classics. Still fun to watch and gorgeous to look at.
2. The Case of the Bloody Iris
My favorite "trashy" giallo with the perfect balance of sex and violence.
My favorite "supernatural" giallo. I will never get tired of all the crazy that this movie packs into 110 minutes.
4. Perversion Story
A low body count and lack of blood can be excused when the story is this well-crafted. It's the best of the "sexy" gialli.
5. Blade in the Dark
It may have been made in the mid-80's on the decline of the genre's popularity, but this is a giallo that will please the purists. And it's easily Lamberto Bava's best movie.
MY FIVE FAVOITE GIALLO CHARACTERS
1. Gille (Sally Smith) in Naked You Die
She's a spunky, fearless college girl who literally jumps into dangerous situations just for the fun of it.
2. Dominique (Susan Scott) in Forbidden Photos of a Lady Beyond Suspicion
Bold, confident, and never the victim. Dominique knows what she wants and she isn't afraid to go after it.
3. Gianni Arrioso (Jean-Pierre Marielle) in Four Flies on Gray Velvet
Sure, he's a professional detective who never solved a case, but that doesn't bother him. On the contrary, every failure just fills him with more optimism.
4. Ted Walden (Luc Merenda) in Puzzle
Amnesia gives Ted an opportunity to re-invent himself and reboot his life. He transforms from a heartless thug into a warm, loving husband.
5. Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nicolodi) in Deep Red
She's a spunky reporter in the mode of Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday, going after leads with a twinkle in her eye and a bounce in her step. Watching her twirl a cigarette in her fingers makes my heart melt.
FOUR ESSENTIAL NON-GIALLO MOVIES
Here are four movies that are not gialli, but have had huge impact on the genre and its development:
Alfred Hitchcock's horror classic digs into Freudian theory and deals with psychological imbalance as the motive for murder, inspiring nearly every giallo in the canon.
This 1955 French thriller, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, is a perfectly-executed murder story where every detail pays off. Two women plan and execute the murder of a brutal schoolmaster while the audience gleefully watches the gears turn.
3. Rosemary's Baby
In Roman Polanski's brooding 1968 opus, Rosemary Woodhouse isn't sure if her problems are real or if she's going crazy with paranoia - a conceit copied by countless gialli over the years. Also, it introduced the idea of a supernatural menace forcing itself on reality as we know it.
4. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
The angular, shadowy visual style of this silent German classic is as important a factor in its storytelling as the plot - a lesson applied to all the best giallo movies.
NOT APPEARING ON THIS BLOG
This is a list of movies that are sometimes grouped in with the genre, but don't meet one or more of the four criteria to meet my definition of "giallo."
The Third Eye (1966)
Death Laid an Egg (1968)
A Black Veil for Lisa (1968)
Satan's Baby Doll (1969)
The House That Screamed (1969)
A Quiet Place to Kill (1969)
Death Knocks Twice (1969)
Orgasmo (a.k.a. Paranoia)(1969)
Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970)
In the Folds of the Flesh (1970)
Kill the Fatted Calf and Roast It (1970)
The Red Headed Corpse (1971)
In the Eye of the Hurricane (1971)
The Cold Eyes of Fear (1971)
They Have Changed Their Faces (1971)
The Devil Has Seven Faces (1971)
Two Males for Alexa (1971)
The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971)
Murder By Design (1971)
An Open Tomb... An Empty Coffin (1972)
Death Smiles on a Murderer (1973)
The Flower With the Deadly Sting (1973)
The Perfume of the Lady In Black (1973)
The Bloodstained Lawn (1974)
The Killers Are Our Guests (1974)
The Killer Must Kill Again (1974)
The Silk Worm (1974)
The House with the Laughing Windows (1976)
Dressed to Kill (1980)
The Scorpion With Two Tails (1982)
The House With the Yellow Carpet (1983)
Stage Fright (1987)
Body Count (1987)
Dial: Help (1988)
Phantom of Death (1988)
Nightmare Beach (1989)
Hitcher In the Dark (1989)
Arabella: The Black Angel (1989)
Body Puzzle (1992)
Stendhal Syndrome (1996)
The Card Player (2004)
Berbarian Sound Studio (2012)
The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears (2013)