If we were gonna describe Giallo movies with in a few words, we'd say the same thing we do about your sister: “Hot. And. Stupid.” Giallo as a genre gets called stuff like “beautiful,” and “shining,” and “stylish,” sure. But it also gets called “sleazy,” “cheesy,” and “that didn't actually make any sense, what the hell?”
In a lot of ways, watching Giallo is like watching that Donald Trump asshole guy speak: you never know if it's going to be a demented, freaky mess like Twitch of the Death Nerve (1972) or a linear, scripted screed about murder and preposterous intrigue like The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Ward (1971).
Another thing they all have in common is just how garish and over-the-top they can be – again, kinda like Trump. These suspenseful, often super political murder mysteries tend to be graphic, violent, and totally nuts. The explicitness of the sex and murder varies wildly between movies: it could be tame and mostly heartwarming like The Cat Of Nine Tails (1971). Or... it could be brutal, raw and pornographic, like The New York Ripper (1982). Some shit never changes though: it's always gonna be sexist, anticop, colorful, stylish and weird as all hell.
Movies of the Giallo era get pretty out there in their storylines. Sexy, Hitchcock-y whodunits like Death Walks On High Heels (1971) share shelf space with tense, terrifying slaughterfests like Opera (1987). But that doesn't mean there's not an assload of common tropes: you'll see black leather gloves, a masked killer, really pretty cinematography and J&B scotch – we promise. There'll probably be tons of gratuitous nudity and a bangin' soundtrack too, but not necessarily every time.
This genre's best known for its hip, 70s stylishness, dramatic lighting, and just the mostridiculous killing ever. But it's just as well-known for it's total nonsense plots and terrible writing: legendary Gothic director Mario Bava took an early turn at Giallo with Blood and Black Lace (1964) – definitely no masterpiece of suspense or storytelling but man, it's pretty, it's cool and it's fun. Even the classics like Deep Red (1975) and Strip Nude For Your Killer (1975) don't, like, make a ton of sense.
Giallo movies are pretty much exclusively from Italy in the 70s and 80s. It's not like it's a dead style or anything, films like Berberian Sound Studio (2012), The Strange Color Of Your Bodies Tears (2013), and the criminally underrated Amer (2009) are still being made, and we're pretty sure none of those are even Italian. Do you have a favorite Giallo? Did we not mention it here? Is it Suspiria (1977)? Suspiria totally isn't a Giallo, dude. Go ahead and check through our library – as always, rate what you've seen, watch what you haven't, and let us know what we're missing on Twitter.
Giallo Horror Movies
Blood and Black Lace
Released: 07 Apr 1965 |
Director: Mario Bava
Italian thriller about a shadowy killer in black murdering fashion models through brutal methods.
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
Released: 12 Jun 1970 |
Director: Dario Argento
A witness of an attack, a writer becomes stalked by a serial killer.