Michael Hartford

writer, photographer, programmer, dad

Tag: giallo

The Case of the Bloody Iris (Why Are There Strange Drops of Blood on Jennifer’s Body?)

Jennifer is a fashion model on the run from her estranged husband and a sex cult. She moves into an apartment building with a friend where two women were recently murdered, one in the same apartment. Murders continue as a killer stalks Jennifer.

This is probably about as pure a giallo as could possibly exist: beautiful victims, stylish settings, many red herrings and misdirections (at least three potential suspects crop up besides the actual killer, two of whom meet their own demise), and a good deal of blood. Giallo fans will recognize many of the actors, and will not be terribly surprised at the outcome. Credulity is stretched to the breaking point (right after we see Mizar [Carla Brait] beat the crap out of a big guy without breaking a sweat, we see her go down to the stalker’s single karate chop to the neck?), but if you suspend your disbelief and go along for the ride, this is a fun movie. (Well, except for the raging misogyny and not-too-subtle racism that crops up throughout; it is definitely a product of its time and place.)

Strip Nude for Your Killer

After a fashion model dies during an abortion, people linked to her modeling agency start to die at the hands of a heavy-breathing killer dressed in black leather.

This is a paint-by-numbers giallo, with plenty of blood, boobs, red herrings, and scenery-chewing over-acting. The male lead is incredibly creepy, and incredibly lacking in self-awareness; the female lead, played by Edwige Fenech, is smart and savvy except in her choice of romantic partner (see above creepy male lead). It teeters on the precipice of being a sex farce, but manages some moments of real tension (as when Magda is alone in the photography studio). It’s not a great introduction to giallo–“Tenebre” and “Torso” are better movies, and better representatives of unhinged Italian slasher gems–but it’s definitely a much-watch for fans.

Daily Horror Movie: Tenebre

Tenebre

Tenebre

A mysterious killer is slashing the people around an American writer in Rome in ways that are reminiscent of his most recent bestselling novel.

This is peak giallo: more style than substance, lots of Technicolor blood (SO MUCH BLOOD!), jiggling breasts, a mystery with more red herrings than clues, some insane twists, and no piece of scenery left unchewed by the cast. Over the top and loads of fun in the way that only Italian slasher movies can be.

Daily Horror Movie: Torso

Torso

Torso

Female students at an Italian university are stalked by a mysterious killer. Four of them go to a secluded villa to escape the tension and terror in the city, but (surprise!) the terror follows them.

This movie has it all: Renaissance art history, bell bottoms, miniskirts, Mini Coopers, a hippie drug party, a masked strangler/slasher (five years before and an ocean away from “Halloween”), Technicolor blood, and lots of boobs. The first half is classic “giallo”: there are murders, and clues, and all the clues point to … well, pretty much all the men around the university. When the three friends (plus one, who arrives later) decamp to the countryside, we get a brief sex farce interlude, with the local yokels comically enamored of the sexy urban ladies, some lesbian interludes, and some nude sunbathing. But the last thirty minutes are truly harrowing, as the “final girl” first tries to keep her presence hidden from the slasher, then tries to signal for help in the town, and finally makes a break for it once the slasher’s identity is established.

Giallo movies tend to be a hot mess of blood and sex and plot holes, and this is no exception; but if you take a deep breath and go along for the ride, it’s a great ride, especially the last half hour.

This movie wasn’t streaming on any of the premium platforms (pity!), but I found it on YouTube as a not-bad dubbed movie with a mix of good and bad (mostly bad …) subtitles. My Italian isn’t good (my only successful transaction was negotiating an extra night at a pensione in Florence on my honeymoon about 20 years ago), but my English is good enough to know that there was something seriously amiss in some of the dialogue. Turn on the subtitles for the lecture on Renaissance art at the beginning (there’s actually some good foreshadowing there), and when the doctor is driving with the local woman in his (beautiful!) VW bug, but otherwise ride along with the dubbing and don’t look too closely at anyone’s mouths.

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