Giallo film  

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"Music is key to the giallo film's unique character, from jarring sounds to groovy lounge."--Sholem Stein

"Gialli often feature lurid or baroque titles, frequently employing animal references or the use of numbers. Examples of the former trend include Sette scialli di seta gialla (Crimes of the Black Cat), Non si sevizia un paperino (Don't Torture a Duckling), La morte negli occhi del gatto (Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye) and La tarantola dal ventre nero (Black Belly of the Tarantula); while instances of the latter include Sette note in nero (Seven Notes in Black) and The Fifth Cord.--Sholem Stein

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Giallo films are a genre of Italian cinema that came out of giallo novels. Films known abroad as "gialli" are called thrilling or simply "thriller" in Italy, the first term usually referring to Italian 1970s classics by directors like Dario Argento or Mario Bava.



Giallo films are Italian-made slasher films that focus both on the cruel deaths committed by the killers and the subsequent search of detectives for the said killers. They are named for the Italian word for yellow, "Giallo", the color of which was the background of the pulp novels these movies were initially adapted from or inspired by. The progenitor of this genre was La ragazza che sapeva troppo (The Girl Who Knew Too Much). Other examples of Giallo films include 4 mosche di velluto grigio (Four Flies on Grey Velvet), Il gatto a nove code (The Cat o' Nine Tails), L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage), La coda dello scorpione (The Case of the Scorpion's Tail), La tarantola dal ventre nero (Black Belly of the Tarantula), Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh (The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh/Blade of the Ripper), Sei donne per l'assassino (Blood and Black Lace) and Tenebrae. Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci and Mario Bava were the most proficient directors of this genre.


"Giallo" films are characterized by extended murder sequences featuring excessive bloodletting, stylish camerawork and unusual musical arrangements. The literary whodunit element is retained, but combined with modern slasher horror, while being filtered through Italy's longstanding tradition of opera and staged grand guignol drama. They also generally include liberal amounts of nudity and sex.

Gialli typically introduce strong psychological themes of madness, alienation, and paranoia. For example, Sergio Martino's Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key was explicitly based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Black Cat".

They remain notable in part for their expressive use of music, most notably by Dario Argento's collaborations with Ennio Morricone and his musical director Bruno Nicolai, and later with the band Goblin.


As well as the literary giallo tradition, the films were also initially influenced by the German "Krimi" phenomenon - originally black and white films of the 1960s that were based on Edgar Wallace stories.

The first film that created the giallo as a cinema genre is La ragazza che sapeva troppo (The Girl Who Knew Too Much) (1963), from Mario Bava. Its title referred to Alfred Hitchcock's famous The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), again establishing strong links with Anglo-American culture. In Mario Bava's 1964 film, Blood and Black Lace, the emblematic element of the giallo was introduced: the masked murderer with a shiny weapon in his black leather gloved hand.

Soon the giallo became a genre of its own, with its own rules and with a typical Italian flavour: adding additional layers of intense colour and style. The term giallo finally became synonymous with a heavy, theatrical, and stylised visual element.

The genre had its heyday in the 1970s, with dozens of Italian giallo films released. The most notable directors who worked in the genre were Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci, Aldo Lado, Sergio Martino, Umberto Lenzi, and Pupi Avati.

Notable giallo films


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Giallo film" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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