The Girl Who Knew Too Much (REVIEW)

Mario Bava’s 1964 film “The Girl Who Knew Too Much” is widely credited with being the movie that launched the Giallo craze of the 1960s and 70s. Bava even gives a nod to the yellow-covered Italian crime novels that gave the genre its name by having titular girl Letecia Roman be an obsessive fan of the books in the film. Roman plays an American girl who travels to Rome to care for an ailing aunt. Her first night in Rome plays like a propaganda film intended to dissuade Americans from travelling to Europe. After a run-in with a drug smuggler on the plane, she arrives at her aunt’s house just in time for the old lady to die. As she walks to a nearby hospital to alert the authorities, she is mugged and knocked unconscious. She comes to long enough to witness what appears to be a murder on the Spanish Steps. When she reports the crime the next morning, the police believe she was hallucinating due to the fact that there is no body to be found and no evidence of a murder. The fact that a shady figure came along and revived her with a shot of whiskey just before the police arrived also doesn’t do much for her credibility.

Deep Red (REVIEW)

Ethics and movie reviewing can be uneasy bedfellows. I think this is mostly because we all start developing tastes well before we start in depth critical thinking about the construction and overall effectiveness of the films we watch. And though all of us may try to fall back on some techniques of objective critique, it can be difficult to apply what you know about film theory to a film like John Mikl Thor's “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare”. That said we all have some thumbnail idea about what makes a film worthy and rules that help us to determine that.

Don't Torture a Duckling (REVIEW)

“Don’t Torture a Duckling” is the story of Accendura, a remote village in Central Italy that is beset by a rash of child murders. The police race against the growing rage of the community to find a killer in a town of myriad secrets. Accendura’s residents are closed off and superstitious, augmenting Catholicism with provincial spirits and the charms of a local shaman. The influences of early seventies Italy on the closed world of Accendura comes mostly in the form of hookers, outcasts, and in the middle of this crisis, a band of soulless reporters.

What Have You Done to Solange? (REVIEW)

In 1972, director Massimo Dallamano teamed up with cinematographer Aristide Massacessi (aka Joe D’amato) to make “What Have You Done to Solange?” Dallamano was an accomplished cameraman in his own right, having shot Leone’s “A Fistful of Dollars” and “For a Few Dollars More”. Directorially he had a made a name for himself 3 years earlier with the infamous “Devil in the Flesh (aka Venus in Furs)”. Ultimately though, Solange’ would prove to be his best known and most highly regarded work.

A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (REVIEW)

Lucio Fulci is probably most famous for his role as accelerant in the Italian gore arms race of the late 70’s and early 80’s. If Argento and Umberto Lenzi were Kiss and Alice Cooper then Fulci was Gwar. His signature works of grue abandoned logic and cohesive narrative in order to push the splatter factor past revulsion to near parody. Films like “Zombi 2”, “City of the Living Dead” and “The Beyond” sought out increasingly severe and unconventional ways of getting entrails, connective tissues, and the four humors onto the screen by the bucketful.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (REVIEW)

A young girl enters an old Roman apartment building in the middle of the night. The lobby is empty and the elevator is broken. She starts cautiously up the stairs and the lights go out. She continues onward with only the glow from her cigarette lighter to guide her through the darkness. At the top of the stairs a killer lies in wait… Not the most original sounding set up for a kill sequence. However, any material in the hands of Dario Argento is bound to come out sideways, backwards or upside down and it will inevitably be much more interesting than a simple synopsis would suggest.

Hatchet for the Honeymoon (REVIEW)

“A woman should live only until her wedding night, love once, and then die.” So says the unerringly evil inner voice of John Harrington, the lead character and bride-to-be-murdering madman of Mario Bava’s “Hatchet for the Honeymoon”. Needless to say, Johnny is a twisted cat. But his murderous bent has a mysterious root; a root that John is convinced becomes a little more exposed each time he kills.

Argento's "Giallo" Has a Trailer

Here's the official English language trailer for Dario Argento's "Giallo". The film, written by Jim Agnew and Sean Keller, is an homage to the subgenre which it takes its name from, and stars Elsa Patakay and Oscar winner Adrienne Brody.

This is Argento's first film since "Mother of Tears", a curiously awful movie that has made me wonder if Argento hasn't completely lost the magic he once had as a horror director. I'm not sure this trailer has my hopes up, but maybe that's the way to go into Argento films from now on. Keep the expectations low and hope he returns to form.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much (REVIEW)

Black gloves, black raincoat, beautiful but unstable women, more red herrings than a Finnish wedding reception, metaphorical animal titles, Haute Couture, J&B whisky, and a slightly naive protagonist caught in a killer’s path. If this is ringing a bell then chances are you have seen at least one giallo in your lifetime. ‘Giallo’ is of course, the generic term given to a spate of hundreds of violent whodunit films to come out of Italy between 1963 and present day (though the heyday was the 60’s and 70’s).

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This week we discuss alchemy, camera technology, a first time guest host joins the show, and we review "As Above, So Below".  


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