Thursday, July 6, 2017

GIALLO - Recent reviews so far





I've been watching a TON of gialli lately. I figured I'd lump all the links to what I've reviewed so far into one page to keep track of them.

ENJOY!

STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER

One of my favorite that encompasses TONS of gialli tropes...STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER! A rather nasty sounding title, but a fantastic film...PACKED with J&B references! :)
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2016/10/strip-nude-for-your-killer.html


A great, slow burn.
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-house-of-laughing-windows.html


PERFUME

Strange mind games.
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-perfume-of-lady-in-black.html






"So bad, it's good." :)
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2017/06/a-blade-in-dark.html



BLACK BELLY of the TARANTULA
Creepy and fun.
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2017/06/black-belly-of-tarantula.html


More mind games with Mimsy Farmer. Totally insane.
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2017/06/autopsy.html


Classy and cool.
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-fifth-cord.html


Engaging, strange little tale.
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-bloodstained-butterfly.html


DO YOU LIKE HITCHCOCK?


This was made in the "Remember when Argento made great films?" era, but I have to say that I really enjoy it. It's solid and interesting and well made. Well worth a viddy!
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2016/11/do-you-like-hitchcock.html



"There were also many lovely WTF?! moments that I found endearing"
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2016/10/seven-deaths-in-cats-eye.html

 

DEEP RED
Another WAY up on my TOP OF GIALLI list. A fantastic film by the masterful Dario Argento!
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2016/10/deep-red.html


I'm sliding this nutty film onto the giallo list, but it's more slasher. And, it's full of crazy.
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2016/10/pieces.html


T and A and Blood. Another classic giallo.
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2016/10/torso.html



CAT 'O NINE TAILS
A fantastic mystery. And, yes, also from Argento!
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2016/09/the-cat-o-nine-tails.html


Another "SO BAD IT'S GOOD"    Yikes. :)
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2016/09/nightmares-stage-fright-1980.html


Loose plot and acting, but a highly entertaining mystery with some stunning visuals.
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-killer-reserved-nine-seats.html


This film nails the giallo world. A fun and hilarious giallo spoof of sorts. Well worth the watch if you are a gialli fan and are familiar with the giallo world.
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2016/04/the-editor.html




STENDHAL SYNDROME
More Argento goodness with the lovely Asia Argento. A tight, Hitchcock style mystery.
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-stendhal-syndrome.html



Another favorite of mine. While not strictly giallo in nature, there are gialli elements in here for sure. The visuals are a delight.
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2015/01/amer.html

This one gets beat up a lot with the "style over substance" argument, but I found it to be utterly engaging, unique, and strange in a wondrous way.
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-strange-color-of-your-bodys-tears.html

 The Bava classic - a must see!
 http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2013/10/a-bay-of-blood.html

Another brilliant gialli classic from Argento. Grand!
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2013/10/tenebre.html



SUSPIRIA
Tops in giallo loves, SUSPIRIA hits the paranormal side of giallo. And it does it marvelously. It's a beautiful nightmare.
http://horrorsho.blogspot.com/2012/11/suspiria.html


A comedic moment from STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER

Saturday, July 1, 2017

XX

>> AS SPOILER FREE AS I CAN BE <<
 

I was finally able to sit down and watch XX - the film shouted about A LOT before it came out.
"LOOK! A film with nothing but FEMALE DIRECTORS!"

I TOTALLY get it, but it made me sad to think we live in a world where we need to do this sort of thing. A world where it's not just DIRECTORS WHO ARE GOOD. I think it's a sad state of affairs, to be honest. It's another sign that humans are still fighting ridiculous battles that really should have left us ages ago.

Know what's NOT ridiculous however? This film. XX was a fun and entertaining watch that I really enjoyed. 

This anthology had five main stories directed by five different directors:

Roxanne Benjamin ... (segment "Don't Fall") (screen writer / Director)
a writer and Director on SOUTHBOUND and a Producer on the VHS series. 

Karyn Kusama ... (segment "Her Only Living Son") (screen writer / Director)
Director of Aeon Flux, Jennifer's Body, and a few episodes of Man in the High Castle

St. Vincent ... (segment "The Birthday Cake") (as Annie Clark) (screen writer / Director)
relatively new to the game, really. Mostly known for her St Vincent music work
Jovanka Vuckovic ... (segment "The Box") (screen writer / Director)
writer and Director of several shorts and former Big Wig and writer over at FANGORIA magazine.

The film went with a somewhat chilling little Brother's Quay-like stop action creepfest as it's wrapper instead of having another story wrap the whole of it. This really worked for me. It was fun to see the little strange narratives play out in between the stories.

The stories themselves were solid overall, though I think only on of the segments was classic "HORROR" while the others were more...disturbing than anything else. Again, well done and engaging - they all really held my interest.

Maybe this was the "female" feel of the story writing and direction? I'm not sure. All but one of the segments was very "female-centric" as far as the main character and their journey. Well...all of them had that, really. It's just that one of the destinations was...more feral than the others. :::grin:::

I don't even want to go into story lines for this spoiler free review. That would ruin some of the stories for sure. I'm just going to say that I loved something about every story and that the acting was strong in every one as well. 

I was happily surprised to see Melanie Lynskey in here. Fantastic and interesting as usual.

I also enjoyed seeing Angela Trimbur. I saw her DANCE LIKE NOBODY'S WATCHING segment and I have to say that I have a little crush on her. :::sigh:::  :)

I think your best bet for watching this film is going into it expecting something more along the lines of "chilling" rather than "horrifying" for the most part. The stories are strong, the acting is grand, and the direction is interesting in every case. I wish i purchased the VOD version as soon as it was available instead of waiting so long. I would not have been disappointed.

Currently available on NETFLIX.










Saturday, June 24, 2017

The House of the Laughing Windows


The House of the Laughing Windows (1976) is a fun little film and so engaging and well done that my wife (NOT a horror fan at all) was not only watching, but very interested. This is always a badge of honor for a horror film in our house. It's a major accomplishment.

This is another slow burn nugget recommended by GIALLO_GIALLO on Twitter. And, I'm so happy he mentioned it. I really enjoyed it!

The story is a little gothic number about Stefano who visits a small town to restore a painting that was found in a church. The artist was rather famous in his own way - known as an artist who could really capture pain and sorrow. As Stefano slowly reveals the painting as he restores it, he also starts to unravel a mystery in the town.


The slow nature of the film really allows you to sink into it and it's characters. I was really invested in Stefano's journey and the people he meets along the way. This was do to the acting of Lino Capolicchio. He does a great job in the role.  Francesca Marciano is great as Stepfano's girlfriend, Francesca. Everything comes together is a fantastic and awful way. hehehe



Pupi Avati's (Revenge of the Dead) direction is pretty good, but it's really the writing that brings it all together. The mystery elements devised by Antonio Avati and Pupi Avati was what made this film stand out as a grand giallo offering.




If you're in the mood to sink into a good giallo mystery that doesn't focus on too many violent elements or gore, definitely check out THE HOUSE WITH LAUGHING WINDOWS. It's a great little tale!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Perfume of the Lady in Black





The Perfume of the Lady in Black ( Il profumo della signora in nero) from 1974 is a wild little tale of madness and deception. Poor Mimsy Farmer plays Silvia Hacherman and is put through a series of horrid events, frights, and visions in the same way she was tormented in Autopsy. But, who...or what...is driving her to the brink of madness?






This is a really slow burn, but the story is pretty strong. And Mimsy does "I'M LOSING MY MIND!!!" well, too, so the acting is somewhat believable. However, some may see the film as something that would have made a fantastic NIGHT GALLERY offering - coming in at 25 to 40 minutes instead of it's 1 hour 43 minute run time. I had it on in the background while working on low level production tasks, so it sped by for me! Might be a good way to watch if you have something like laundry folding to do.




However, things do pay off, so I think this odd little offering from Francesco Barilli (Hotel Fear) is well worth a watch with the lights down low. It's a strange film with echos of films made around the same time like DON'T LOOK NOW, MESSIAH OF EVIL and SISTERS. It takes it's time and tells a pretty good tale and there is enough atmosphere and unanswered questions scattered through the film to keep it interesting.


Check it. 

(( Special thanks to GIALLO GIALLO for the recommend on Twitter! ))










A Blade in the Dark

A BLADE IN THE DARK (La casa con la scala nel buio) from 1983 kinda falls into the "so bad it's good" territory. It's really not a great film, but I had fun watching it and thought I'd give it a little shout out here. 

The plot is super simple. A music composer is put up in a villa to score a horror movie. The woman making the movie visits every once in a while as does the "wacky neighbor" and even more wacky girlfriend....and some other people that are lingering around. And, yup...people start to get bumped off one by one and the bodies are disappeared. 

For me, I pretty much knew exactly where this was going at the first kill. By the second, I had no doubt in my mind. Towards the end, I had my wife giggling as she half paid attention and I called out exactly what was going to happen right before it happened. 

 


It's ham fisted and basic, but it had a sort of charm to it. It's a competent film and looks very nice indeed, but the plodding, lumbering plot and set pieces are painful for the most part. There are some great gialli moments that are well worth the viddy. Some of the more tense moments are handled really well. It's just the jumbled, forced filler around these moments that tend to be hard to sit through. 

Lamberto Bava's direction was grand, but doesn't have the fun, kinetic qualities DEMONS and DEMONS 2 had. The writing of Dardano Sacchetti and Elisa Briganti  was really the real killer here. hehehe  Odd, too - I love HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, ZOMBI, DEMONS, and THE BEYOND. Sadly, A Blade in the Dark leans more towards MANHATTAN BABY's drifting plot lines.

Worth taking a look if time allows.




Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Black Belly of the Tarantula







While this isn't the strongest giallo I've seen, BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA's main concept is super nasty.






A killer is using a paralyzing agent to "freeze" his victims before cruelly stabbing them. Yes, they are paralyzed and awake as he carves into them. Giancarlo Giannini plays the detective on the case - Inspector Tellini.

Nasty business.



There are many stylish elements in the film and the Argento and Bava influences are very evident.  I believed the story was rather strong for the most part, but in looking over other reviews, it seems to garnish some hate for some reason. I'm not sure why. People were growling about wanting their time back and how the twists were silly. However, I'm of the opinion that these just are not giallo lovers and they don't get the gag.



This isn't a "straight slasher". It's a giallo and a good one at that. A fun crime drama mystery with some great set pieces, cool style,  and a solid story!





I watched SHORT NIGHT OF THE GLASS DOLLS afterwards and heard a very similar soundtrack along with the lovely Barbara Bach's lovely face. Ennio Morricone used a similar "breathy breathing woman" for the soundtrack to each film.  Maybe he crafted both scores at the same time to expedite the situation....and payments. :)










Monday, June 19, 2017

Autopsy





Ok, Armando Crispino, what were you on when you and  Lucio Battistrada wrote AUTOPSY back in 1975?! hehehehehehe   This, too, is on my FAVE GIALLO FILMS LIST, but not for the same reasons THE FIFTH CORD and STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER are. This falls under the WTF?! catagory where you watch, giggle, and mutter What the F$%&?! under your breath while smiling.







Mimsy Farmer (Four Flies on Grey Velvet) plays Simona Sanna - a doctor whose a pro at autopsies. I think. Yeah...sure...let's go with that. :::grin:::  It's REALLY hot in Italy and, subsequently, a bunch of people are committing suicide. Because....I guess that's what you do in the heat. And....solar flares. Or not. Moving on. She's starting to see things. Like her cadavers getting up and making love. It happens. She has a boyfriend played by Ray Lovelock (The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue) who I've knighted "THE MOST PATIENT BOYFRIEND ON THE PLANET". He's constantly trying to make love to Simona only to have her stop midway due to some random flash of a dead person that sends her racing away screaming. He's a good spot about it and just tells her everything will be alright. (...then he plunges his goods into a bucket of ice water for the fifth time....)  Then there's a priest.....or is he.....with anger issues. A pervy groundskeeper....with anger issues. Even a DOG with anger issues. Basically, everyone including the dog seems like a complete loon.



So, is Simona crazy, or is someone trying to driver her mad? And....why? And....who?

Really, none of that mattered tome at all. I just loved watching everyone FREAK OUT in every scene! hehehehe  Simona and her visions of death. A priest beating the hell out of the groundskeeper. The groundskeeper perving on Simona...who subsequently yanks up her dress screaming, "YOU WANT AND ENCORE?!" and storming off. It's a good thing it's supposed to be hot - poor Mimsy seems like she's constantly having wardrobe malfunctions.


The film is BONKERS and the wondrous ending made me super happy. I think this would make a fantastic group watch as long as the folks involved had a wacky sense of humor. The performances and while plot twists and characters make this a really enjoyable watch.  I have Armando Crispino's other film THE DEAD ARE ALIVE on deck. I'm hoping for more silly madness! :)


Nasty bit of business



The Fifth Cord





THE FIFTH CORD (Giornata nera per l'ariete) from 1971 is one of my new favorite giallo films. (This blog is rapidly becoming a giallo blog!)  Like STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER, it represents things all giallo films should have. Featured here are beautiful women, a strong crime mystery element, a dashing investigator, and of course J&B whiskey which is a personal favorite of mine now that I've seen it in so many films. :::grin:::





The plot is classic gialli. A woman is killed and the search is on for her killer. But then more and more bodies start piling up and the search becomes more frantic as the awesome Franco Nero's drunk reporter character tries to solve the goings on before more deaths occur.


Nero is great in this. I've been a fan for a while and really need to track down more of his performances. He's like the Italian Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry era. Something like that. He has this machismo that always has me thinking, "I really should aim to be more like Nero in life." heh


But, the wondrous Silvia Monti really set me spinning here. She's striking. She has that classic Italian beauty that makes her look like she's been crafted out of bronze. But...I digress. :) She's fantastic in the film and the tensions between her and Nero are fun to watch play out.


The pace of the film and the writing really keep this film rolling along. Characters are introduced in interesting ways and, as the events play out, I was really making an effort to figure out was was going on and why. It didn't disappoint!

Luigi Bazzoni's direction was super solid. I was actually rather surprised to see that he only had 12 film credits to his name - two of which were shorts and 5 others documentaries. He seemed to really know his stuff. I need to seek more out.

The film has a great style to it overall. Things are very interesting visually, but not over the top and overdone. It just seemed like there were some real thinkers on set and that they wanted to take some risks and make an effort to make something that stood out.

And they did! THE FIFTH CORD is well worth a viddy!






Friday, June 16, 2017

The Room at the Top of the Stairs




From IMDB:
"A young artist feels overshadowed by a charismatic and dangerous girl she's never met." (I removed the second line of description because I think it gives too much away) 

Another interesting SHUDDER short film offering THE ROOM AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS (2010)  had me staring, wondering, and interested. Write/Director Briony Kidd told an interesting story for sure. I'm just wondering if the nuanced tale and acting was a tad too subtle. Not sure a bigger push would have made this a better film or if it would have just taken it into a silly area that was too heavy handed. It's interesting to think through. I wonder if that came up in the scripting process.



The film is REALLY well shot and the acting is super solid. The 15 minutes is paced expertly and shows off Kidd's talents on both the writing and directing fronts is a very professional way. The story had me hooked and I was very interested in where it was going. And, best yet, when it got there, I wasn't disappointed. I loved that it wasn't heavy handed, now that I think about it. The subtlety was warranted and left me with a little smile playing on my lips. :)

The film's lead Fiannah de Rue is grand. She really owns the role and plays shy and curious without forcing things into over dramatic territory. I need to check out some of her other films for sure.



I hope Briony Kidd has a feature film brewing!