Monday, May 2, 2011

A 21-giallo salute

A creepy, black-clad assailant, a hero, helplessly trapped in an art gallery (twice!), a stuttering, informant/pimp nick-named 'So Long', a loony, loft-inhabiting artist with a strange recipe for stew, a scary looking assassin clad in fluorescent yellow, and an eerie, almost child-like painting that holds the key to a mysterious killer - these are just a few of the memorable things from my favorite film. It seems like only yesterday when I first saw it (insert wavy flashback lines here).

Fearing that if left to my own devices, I would spread Jello on the kitchen floor and set the sofa on fire Cosby-style, my parents carelessly took me with them to my first giallo film at the tender impressionable age of nine. If the movie in question had been The Sister of Ursula, it would have been tantamount to child abuse. Fortunately, the film playing was Dario Argento's The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. It was a film that would popularize the giallo genre, but strangely, it would also break some of the genre's fundamental rules. The film had virtually no nudity or sleaze (one victim wore a somewhat transparent nightgown), there was little on-camera violence and very little blood. Unlike the vast majority of gialli that would follow, Bird was almost family friendly. So in the end, it didn't freak me out, but instead fostered a love of the genre. Even though I was a tad too young to understand everything that was going on in the film, a lot of it stayed in my head over the years. It is, without a doubt, my favorite giallo and one of my favorite films. It's also the only movie I can point to and say 'this movie is solely responsible for my subsequent viewing of one hundred others like it.' 

In honor of the film that kickstarted one of my favorite genres, and to win a bet I made with a co-worker, I'm going to be watching twenty-one giallo movies over the next seven days. Some I haven't seen, some are old favorites. In any event, I look forward to being hip deep in murder and sleaze over the next week. I'll post the films here and comment on the best and worst when I return.

Lunga sangue vivo, nero guanti e tette!

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