Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Giallo amateur's tool

If you're interested in giallo, then you can't miss this book, written by Adrian Luther Smith and published in 1999. Gary Needham, who wrote the very good "An introduction to the Italian giallo", participated in its conception.

It's comprehensively reviewing the films that can be related to the genre, and even more (as I could find quite a few which have more than a distant link with giallo).
It's very resourceful, of course, as it provides you with the right shopping-list of films you must see.

But there are two things which I don't agree with:

One is its subtitle "the definitive guide to Italian sex and horror movies".
Giallo is not a sex or a horror cinema genre. Yes it's talking about fears, yes it's talking about perversion. But it is so restrictive to put it into these two very limited categories. The very reason it's called Giallo is because it is a genre in itself: this is the whole challenge of its definition, which can't be this basic. And this is one of the key purposes of this blog.
In my opinion, Michelangelo Antonioni's "Blow up" is more of a quintessential giallo than Lucio Fulci's "The New York Ripper".

And the second thing is that despite giallo being a highly aesthetic genre, the whole graphic design of this book is very poor, using a lot of cheap & tacky VHS covers from the 80s, when the initial artworks of the posters were so often graphically very rich and elegant, great examples of 60s and 70s design. Even the inside template is very mediocre, cluttered and uninviting to the eye.

All in all, great wine, ugly bottle. Giallo deserves to stand out of the z-movie imagery.

Find the book here at

1 comment:

Whiggles said...

I agree with your criticisms of Blood and Black Lace. Although a great reference, its overall presentation is very tacky and it approaches the genre from a "forbidden pleasures" perspective rather than taking it seriously. I really wish more serious critical work would be done on gialli. In September I will be starting a post-graduate course in Film Studies and am considering doing my dissertation (15,000 words) on the giallo genre.