Yep, it's that time again! PULP FICTION time!
So, what's this giallo stuff I'm talking about? Glad you asked! Now, I'm not here to give a dissertation on the meaning and reason of giallo literature and movies. I know most of you are smarter than you look. I'm not going to compare and contrast one director with another. I just want some of the hundreds of people a week who read my post on Marble Hornets to get a taste of something different. And as you know, I've been writing here and there on pulp fiction.
While we were over here in America dreaming of the jungles with Tarzan and Britain was fighting communism with Bulldog Drummond, Italy was producing its own pulp fiction (though a lot of it consisted of translation into Italian of English-language mystery and crime novels) on fairly cheap stock with yellow (giallo) covers. And just the same way that the chicken follows the egg, the giallo book gave birth to the giallo movie.
I will interject that to Italians, giallo means something different than it does to Americans. We would not, for instance, look at film and consider Psycho anything but a high-quality masterpiece of American cinema. So I won't go there. I'll talk about giallo movies from this neck of the woods.
So, if you're an American, what does an Italian giallo have in store for you?
Dario Argento's Opera 1987Damsals, sans braziers. They may scream, they may plead for help in badly dubbed and overdubbed English and it may seem to take them HOURS to die, but they will do it clothed in flimsy lingerie, plunging necklines, or startlingl and unsettling slashes of light.
Mario Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much 1963
The killer. You probably won't see him, but his scenes are extended. The murder scenes are the longest scenes in the giallo film. They usually get no more graphic than a gallon of 1970s scarlet paint splashed across a wall, a back, or a bed sheet, but they're long. And who is this killer? Only time will tell. All you'll know is that he is one of the men (or could it be a strong woman?) who may be sweet on the starlet or trying to solve the murders. Did I mention that there is always a string of them? Murders, I mean.
Umberto Lenzi's Paranoia 1968
Paranoia. And as we all know, just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.
qualify as pulp, aside from the fact that the books were printed on cheap paper? Let's see what we have. Crime? Check. A mystery? Check. Exploitation? Check! Epic battles? Well, yes, in the form of the time-consuming murder scenes. Check! Exotic locales? Well, Check if you consider that you're American and have not likely been to the wilds of Italy where many take place. Heroic adventures? Check! Except the heroes and heroines may not see it as such. A bit more sleezy than we're used to, but pulp nonetheless.
Put all these things in a pot and mix them up and what spills out is a giallo, for better or worse. Mind you, these are not action movies or cop adventures. That's a different story for a different time. For now, if you're interested, and want to expand your pulp experience, take a look at some of these listed here and let me know how you like 'em.
Massimo Dallamano's What Have You Done to Solange? 1972