Released in 1958, Return of Dracula comes many years after the Dracula craze in particular and the Universal monsters in general had been relegated to the past in favor of atomic terrors and science fiction. Long enough, I suppose, that someone was thinking it was time for a revival.
A crumbling ruin. A mist-shrouded forest. A lone samurai making his way home late at night meets a seemingly defenseless young woman. So begins the horror of Kaneto Shindô’s tale of ghosts, vengeance, and the wrongs visited upon women by entitled men.
At the end of Beyond the Black Rainbow, directed by Panos Cosmatos, a period of quiet contemplation is required to begin unpacking everything one has seen during the preceding 110 minutes. The surreal swirl of stark futurism, psychedelia, and neon indulgence is…pleasantly overwhelming? Comfortably disturbing?
Twists are heaped upon perversions until the whole thing threatens to collapse into one giddily irredeemable pile of filth that happily violates any taboo of which it could think, and then finds a way to make it all weirder still.
There is a deep vein of cynicism running through the center of Lucio Fulci’s Don’t Torture a Duckling (aka Non Si Sevizia un Paperino). The same can be said for the vast majority of the man’s work. His filmography is littered with the bodies of people snuffed out in manners most gruesome.
As with his previous film, Miraglia takes the modern setting integral to the spirit of gialli and dresses it up in a bit of old-fashioned Gothic spookiness by, once again, setting a portion of it in a moody Gothic estate full of dark secret passages and dungeon chambers.
Sergio Sollima didn’t direct very many films. His career is split fairly evenly between theatrical and televised fare. Devil in the Brain is not what anyone would consider a technically outstanding movie, but it is solid in its craftsmanship.
The Sister of Ursula is like watching a Jess Franco film without that director’s flare. Contemplate that one on the Tree of Woe. Sex scenes, the Italian coast, outlandish murders — everything about The Sister of Ursula seems to operate under the directive of “Well, this should be good, but we’re going to mess it up.”
With Eye in the Labyrinth, Caiano demonstrates a sure hand in orchestrating his players, staging the action in striking tableaux, and allowing his creative muscles to stretch.
Hatchet for the Honeymoon is not the kind of film to watch for a kill count or ingenuous murders. It is the kind of film to watch for paranormal and sartorial phenomena, ghosts, discotheques, mysterious deaths, horrifying old toys, and the narration of a “paranoiac.”
Creating an emotional attachment to the characters and a sympathetic reaction to the violence against them isn’t a giallo priority. Who Saw Her Die? is the rare giallo that attempts and succeeds this, thanks to a committed performance by former James Bond, George Lazenby.
When it comes to truly loathsome characters in a giallo, few can match Giuliano Carnimeo’s The Case of the Bloody Iris, a film in which pretty much everyone is hateful, stupid, or more often, hateful and stupid.
The Bloodstained Butterfly is the odd giallo where the police seem dedicated to their job. Although it boasts the elaborate murders and cast of red herrings one expects from the genre, it also surprises by spending at least as much time on police procedure, forensic science, and courtroom maneuvering.
Forbidden Photos concerns itself with only one murder, rather than a series of them, which might, for some, put it at a distance from the giallo genre as a whole. If you are someone who comes to giallo cinema primarily for its stylized violence that will likely be the case.
Alan is a handsome aristocrat who enjoys velvet jackets, cravats, and murdering strippers. He marries a woman in hopes she will curb his homicidal outbursts, and his creepy estate is soon haunted by the ghost of his former wife.
All the Colors of the Dark works within the confines of the giallo, but it takes the genre further afield than had previously been explored, resulting in a dizzying psychedelic combination of straight-forward stalker/murder mystery, hallucinogenic psycho-sexual exploration, and straight up occult/devil worship horror.