What, Exactly, Is a ‘Giallo’ Film? – 确切地说,什么是“吉洛”电影?

With Italian director Luca Guadagnino's new film Suspiria, based on Dario Argento’s 1977 film of the same name, and last month’s Argento retrospective at Metrograph in New York, ‘giallo’ – Italy’s popular name for thrillers – would seem to be the genre della giornata. Yet with its supernatural core and hyperbolic stylization, Argento's Suspiria barely qualifies as giallo at all. As for Guadagnino's version – pointedly not a remake – it bears as much relation to the genre as the recent faux perfume-ad gialli tributes of director duo Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet.

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What, Exactly, Is a ‘Giallo’ Film? - 确切地说,什么是“吉洛”电影?

Luca Guadagnino, Suspiria, 2018, film still. Courtesy: © MUBI

That said, to pin down the precise nature of the filmic giallo is notoriously difficult. The definition provided by prolific genre screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi – ‘a difficult-to-explain event and its rigorously logical explanation based on the evidence and details provided in the story’ – is as opaque as many of his plots. Yet just as the spaghetti western can be identified by time and place, the giallo can be pegged to early 1970s Europe, and while motivation and behaviour may often beggar belief, apparently supernatural elements will always be a killer’s ruse, or a dream. Likewise, the genre is specifically Italian, although for exoticism’s sake may just as easily be filmed in London as Venice, nationality further obscured by co-productions and dubbing for the international market. In Italy’s film industry, any genre had a limited shelf-life, thus we can speak of ‘classic’ giallo growing out of the gothic horror and proto-giallo thrillers of the early ’60s, morphing into the poliziotescchi and the slasher movie. This evolution took place as the nation’s political climate became more unsettled and film-makers strove to outdo one another’s kill scenes and gore effects, often at the expense of character and plot.

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What, Exactly, Is a ‘Giallo’ Film? - 确切地说,什么是“吉洛”电影?

Mario Bava, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, 1963, film still. Courtesy: Warner Bros.

One giallo staple that Argento’s Suspiria does include is the woman in peril, a direct descendant of the widely-acknowledged progenitor, Mario Bava’s 1963 The Girl Who Knew Too Much. Within the first ten minutes, Bava shows his protagonist reading a book; if the film were in colour, we’d see that its cover is yellow (giallo in Italian). More exactly, it’s one of the pulp paperbacks published by Milan-based Mondadori since 1929, by authors such as Agatha Christie, Edgar Wallace, Donald E. Westlake and Raymond Chandler. These novels gained such popularity that giallo became synonymous in Italy with thrillers in general, and murder mysteries in particular. With this touch, stylish set-pieces, camerawork, and the Hitchcockian tone, Bava staked his territory and presaged a whole cinematic genre.

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What, Exactly, Is a ‘Giallo’ Film? - 确切地说,什么是“吉洛”电影?

Mario Bava, Blood and Black Lace, 1964, film still. Courtesy: Unidis

The director established the real giallo template a year later with his film Blood and Black Lace (1964), in which a group of fashion models are terrorized by a killer with stockinged face, trench coat, black gloves and gleaming razor blade, killing for the sake of a fortune. With a fading English-language star (Cameron Mitchell) and shot in vibrant, stylish colour, these elements of Bava’s film would become hallmarks of the genre; the last, perhaps, an essential. At first, the filmic giallo failed to take off, despite such atmospheric (black and white) efforts as Gastaldi's Libido, and Luigi Bazzoni's The Possessed (both 1965). The genre started to look more lively – and sexy – with the arrival in Italy of US actor Carroll Baker, in the title role of arguably the first giallo of the classic period, Romolo Guerrieri’s The Sweet Body of Deborah (1968), followed by a run of films with Umberto Lenzi, featuring murder and nudity galore.

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What, Exactly, Is a ‘Giallo’ Film? - 确切地说,什么是“吉洛”电影?

Dario Argento, Inferno, 1980, film still. Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

Although Argento would become synonymous with the genre, from Deep Red (1975) onward the supernatural starts to creep into his work, becoming central to the first two parts of his ‘Mother of Tears’ trilogy, Suspiria and the criminally unheralded Inferno (1980). The supernatural has no place in the true giallo, however – they are about the evil done by men, not witches or spirits. Prior to this, Argento was already stretching out, turning the regular thriller plot of Four Flies On Grey Velvet (1972) into a bewildering fever-dream experience for the audience. Such ambition and abstraction – stylization as opposed to stylishness – is atypical of genre cinema, commercial fare designed to entertain, not provoke or interrogate like the existential absurdism of Giulio Questi’s giallo deconstruction Death Laid An Egg (1968) and Elio Petri’s L’assassino (1961, also sometimes claimed as the first giallo) or, unlikely as it may seem, Tinto Brass’s Col cuore in gola (1967). All these films exhibit intellectual and aesthetic preoccupations beyond genre’s traditional scope. Argento’s debut film, however, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage (1970), was solid, stylish genre fare, and a box office hit, and the cash-in race began.

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What, Exactly, Is a ‘Giallo’ Film? - 确切地说,什么是“吉洛”电影?

Massimo Dallamano, A Black Veil For Lisa, 1968, film still 

After abandoning neo-realism in the mid-’50s, the Italian film industry concentrated on chasing trends and cycling through genres – peplum, Eurospy, gothic horror, spaghetti western, Decamerotica – according to public favour. The period when giallo was most in favour lasted roughly from Crystal Plumage in 1970 to around 1975 (notwithstanding those fine ’60s entries). The industry was busy but relatively small, with filmmakers in friendly competition to outdo one another, ready to work in any genre (Argento in this context, along with Sergio Leone for the spaghetti western, was a rare specialist), and more than willing to recycle successful elements of whichever genre they happened to be working. Thus, certain tropes recur: the Bava killer; affluent, stylish, urban people and locations; money-motivated murder, almost always for an inheritance, usually with a sexual angle, and often involving gaslighting; incongruous English-language stars (personal favourite: Johnny Mills in Massimo Dallamano’s A Black Veil For Lisa, 1968); prolix (and frequently irrelevant) titles abounding with Argento-inspired animals, colours, numbers and ‘death’ or ‘killer’ (The Fox With The Velvet Tail or What Are Those Strange Drops of Blood On Jennifer’s Body?); and naked women’s breasts.

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What, Exactly, Is a ‘Giallo’ Film? - 确切地说,什么是“吉洛”电影?

Sergio Martino, The Strange Vice Of Mrs Wardh, 1971, film still. Courtesy: Interfilm

By these standards, it is not Argento but Sergio Martino’s four-film run that constitute the apex of the genre (three with sister-in-law Edwige Fenech, the delectable face of giallo). From The Strange Vice Of Mrs Wardh (1971) to All The Colours Of The Dark (1972), Martino conjures slick, exciting entertainments with twisty plots and beautiful people – a roll call of giallo stars – consistently hitting the expected genre beats. But still not all of them - for example, Martino doesn’t use a foreign star until his next film, with Suzy Kendall in Torso (The Body Bears Traces Of Carnal Violence, 1973). As much as this looks like a giallo, Martino is here veering towards the slasher movie, with plot and character subordinate to the parade of killings. A similar transition is evident in Dallamano’s ‘Daughters’ trilogy: What Have You Done To Solange? (1972) has randy gym teacher Fabio Testi investigating a series of murders to clear his name; in What Have They Done To Your Daughters? (1974), the inciting circumstance has transitioned from private sex club to the more public crime of child prostitution – and concentrates far more on the cop’s investigations than on those of the grieving father. By the time of Enigma Rosso (1978, filmed with singular lack of distinction by Alberto Negrin after Dallamano’s fatal car crash) Testi is a cop himself, and we are in full poliziotesschi territory.

Try as the internet might to reach a definition of giallo, the dividing line between these genres is maddeningly indefinite. Likewise, if we want to include those ’60s films as giallo, what of Visconti’s Ossessione (1943), derived from Mondadori author James M. Cain? Or the nice handful of gialli from Spain and Greece? And what is de Palma’s Dressed To Kill (1980) if not giallo? Even Winding Refn’s Neon Demon (2016) looks a lot like a giallo (Argento’s 2009 Giallo however does not). A loose analogy may be with punk music, if one has it occur specifically in London and New York at the end of the ’70s, with regional variations, throwbacks and precursors. This would make Bava The Stooges but if that feels spurious, I am in the end tempted to think the most reliable indicator is a bottle of J&B whiskey. It’s confounding how often this holds.

Main image: Luca Guadagnino, Suspiria, 2018, fiom still. Courtesy: © MUBI

Tom Newth

Tom Newth is a filmmaker and programmer based in Los Angeles, USA.

Opinion /

Film
Giallo
Horror Films
Tom Newth
Luca Guadagnino
Dario Argento


随着意大利导演卢卡·瓜达尼诺根据达里奥·阿金托1977年的同名电影改编的新片《猜疑》,以及上个月在纽约地铁的阿金托回顾展,“Gillo”——意大利惊悚片的流行名称——似乎是“della giornata”类型。然而,凭借其超自然的核心和双曲线程式化,Argento的怀疑几乎没有资格作为杰拉洛。至于瓜达尼诺的版本——显然不是翻拍——与最近导演布鲁诺·福尔扎尼和赫尔琳·卡特特的人造香水广告致敬一样与该类型有着密切的关系。SpuliRIA1535816155928JPG What, Exactly, Is a ‘Giallo’ Film? - 确切地说,什么是“吉洛”电影?卢卡·圭达尼诺,πSyryIa,2018,胶片静止。礼貌:扑灭穆比,说,以确定精确的性质,电影贾洛是众所周知的困难。由多产流派编剧恩斯托·加斯塔尔迪(Ernesto Gastaldi)提供的定义——“一个难以解释的事件,以及基于故事中提供的证据和细节的严格逻辑解释”——和他的许多情节一样不透明。然而,正如西式意大利面可以通过时间和地点来识别一样,意大利面可以和70年代早期的欧洲联系在一起,虽然动机和行为常常会令人难以置信,但显然超自然因素永远是杀手的诡计或梦想。同样地,这种类型是意大利式的,尽管为了异国情调,在伦敦和威尼斯一样容易被拍摄,但国籍由于合作制片和为国际市场配音而更加模糊。在意大利的电影工业中,任何类型的电影都有有限的保质期,所以我们可以说“经典”的贾洛成长于60年代早期的哥特式恐怖和原贾洛惊悚片,演变成波利兹特斯基和杀戮电影。这种演变发生在国家的政治气氛变得更加不稳定,电影制片人努力超越对方的杀戮场面和恐怖效果时,往往以牺牲人物和情节为代价。STATIC1.JPG WPA6022602IMG马里奥·巴瓦,女孩知道太多,1963,电影仍然。礼貌:华纳兄弟。阿金托《猜疑》中确实包括了一个猩猩的主食,那就是处于危险中的女人,一个广为人知的祖先马里奥·巴娃(Mario Bava)1963年的《太懂的女孩》的直系后代。在最初的十分钟内,Bava展示了他的主角读一本书;如果这部电影是彩色的,我们就会看到它的封面是黄色的(意大利语中的吉洛)。更确切地说,这是自1929以来由米兰的蒙达多里出版的一本由阿加莎·克里斯蒂、埃德加·华莱士、Donald E. Westlake和钱德勒等作者出版的草本平装书。这些小说赢得了这样的声望,贾洛成为了意大利的同义词,尤其是恐怖小说,尤其是谋杀谜团。凭借这种触摸,时尚的定片,摄影作品,和Hitchcockian的音调,Bava押他的领土,并提出了一个完整的电影流派。血与黑花边-1_16779.jpg What, Exactly, Is a ‘Giallo’ Film? - 确切地说,什么是“吉洛”电影? Mario Bava,血与黑花边,1964,胶卷静止。礼貌:Unidis.一年后,导演用他的电影《血与黑花边》(1964)建立了真正的Gillo模板,一群时装模特被一个杀手吓坏了,杀手长着长筒袜的脸、风衣、黑手套和闪闪发光的剃须刀,为了杀人而杀人。一笔财富随着英语明星(卡梅隆·米切尔)的衰退,以及充满活力和时尚色彩的拍摄,巴娃电影的这些元素将成为该类型电影的标志;最后,也许是必不可少的。起初,尽管有盖斯塔尔迪的《利比多》和路易吉·巴佐尼的《占有者》(1965年)等大气(黑白分明)的努力,这部电影还是没能成功。随着美国演员卡罗尔·贝克来到意大利,电影类型开始显得更加生动性感。卡罗尔·贝克出演了有争议的经典时期的第一位女主角,罗莫罗·格雷耶里的《甜蜜的黛博拉身躯》(1968),随后,他又和尤伯托·伦齐(Umberto Lenzi)一起出演了一系列以谋杀案为特色的电影。裸体裸照。MaxReStRebug .JPG What, Exactly, Is a ‘Giallo’ Film? - 确切地说,什么是“吉洛”电影?达里欧阿基多,地狱,1980,电影仍然。礼貌:20世纪福克斯:虽然阿金托将成为流派的代名词,但从深红色(1975年)开始,超自然开始潜入他的作品中,成为他的《泪之母》三部曲的前两部《疑惑》和《罪恶的无名小丑》的中心。埃尔诺(1980)。超自然在真正的吉拉洛中没有位置,然而,它们是关于人类所做的邪恶,而不是女巫或灵魂。在此之前,阿金托已经开始展开,把灰色天鹅绒上的四只苍蝇(1972)的常规惊悚情节变成了观众令人困惑的狂热梦幻体验。这种雄心壮志和抽象——风格化而非风格化——是类型电影的典型,商业票价被设计为娱乐,而不是像朱利奥·奎斯蒂的《吉尔罗解构死亡之蛋》(1968)和艾略奥·佩特里的《L's的攻击》中的存在主义荒谬主义那样挑衅或质问。伊诺(1961,有时也被称为第一个贾洛),或者,看起来不太可能,丁度·巴拉斯的库尔库尔在GOLA(1967)。所有这些电影都表现出超越体裁的传统范围的智力和审美关注。然而,阿金托的首部电影《水晶羽翼的鸟》(1970)票房高涨,票房大涨,票房收入大涨。黑色面纱淋浴.jpg What, Exactly, Is a ‘Giallo’ Film? - 确切地说,什么是“吉洛”电影? Massimo Dallamano,《丽莎的黑色面纱》,1968,电影依旧根据公众的喜好,哥特恐怖,意大利面条,十日谈。Gillo最受欢迎的时期大致从1970年的《水晶羽毛》延续到1975年左右(尽管60年代的入选作品都很好)。电影业虽然繁忙,但规模相对较小,电影制片人在友好竞争中胜过其他制片人,随时准备以任何形式工作(在这方面,阿金托,与塞尔吉奥·里昂一起为意大利面条西部片,是一个罕见的专家),而且非常愿意回收任何成功的元素。他们碰巧在工作。因此,某些比喻再次出现:巴瓦杀手;富裕、时尚、都市的人和地点;以金钱为动机的谋杀,几乎总是为了遗产,通常是有性取向的,而且经常涉及放屁;不协调的英语明星(个人最爱:马西莫达拉马的约翰尼·米尔斯)不是《丽莎的黑色面纱》,1968年;充斥着银色灵感的动物、颜色、数字以及“死亡”或“杀手”的冗长(而且常常不相关)标题(《长着天鹅绒尾巴的狐狸》或《珍妮弗身上那些奇怪的血滴是什么?)还有裸露的女人的乳房。c08d8z5w8aalnvw.jpg What, Exactly, Is a ‘Giallo’ Film? - 确切地说,什么是“吉洛”电影? Sergio Martino,《华德夫人的怪恶》,1971年,电影仍然。礼貌:按照这些标准,构成电影类型顶峰的不是阿金托,而是塞尔吉奥·马蒂诺的四部电影(三部与嫂子Edwige Fenech,Gillo可爱的脸)。从《沃德夫人的怪恶》(1971)到《黑暗的颜色》(1972),玛蒂诺以曲折的情节和美丽的人——一群吉洛明星的点名——不断敲响预期的流派节拍,来演绎流畅、刺激的娱乐。但是仍然不是所有的——例如,马丁诺直到他的下一部电影《苏西·肯德尔在托尔索》(The Body Bears Traces of肉体暴力,1973)才使用外国明星。尽管这看起来像个巨魔,马丁诺还是转向了杀戮电影,情节和人物都服从于杀戮的游行。在西蒙尼·达拉马诺的《女儿三部曲》中,类似的转变是显而易见的:你对Solange做了什么?(1972)兰迪的体育老师法比奥·泰斯蒂调查了一系列谋杀案,以澄清他的姓名;《他们对你的女儿做了什么?(1974年),煽动性行为的环境已经从私人性俱乐部转变为更公开的儿童卖淫犯罪——而且更关注警察的调查而不是悲伤的父亲的调查。到了恩尼格玛·罗索(1978年,达拉马诺致命车祸后阿尔贝托·内格林以奇特的缺乏特色的镜头拍摄)特斯蒂本人就是一名警察,而我们已经完全处于脊髓灰质炎的境地。当互联网可能达到GiAlLo的定义时,这些流派之间的分界是不确定的。同样地,如果我们想把60年代的电影包括进去,那维斯康蒂的《奥塞梯》(1943)呢?还是来自西班牙和希腊的吉利?如果de Palma不是杰拉洛,那么他穿的是什么(1980)?甚至缠绕Refn的霓虹灯恶魔(2016)看起来很像一个吉拉洛(阿根廷的2009个吉拉洛,但是没有)。一个松散的类比可能与朋克音乐,如果一个人有它特别发生在伦敦和纽约在70年代末,与区域变化,倒退和前身。这将使巴瓦的斯托格斯,但如果这感觉是虚假的,我最终倾向于认为最可靠的指标是一瓶J&B威士忌。这常常混淆了这一点。主要图像:卢卡·圭达尼诺,SuriRia,2018,FIOM静止。礼貌:MUBI.Tom Newth.Tom Newth是美国洛杉矶的电影制片人和程序员。吉奥洛恐怖电影汤姆纽斯卢卡瓜达尼诺达里奥阿根廷


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