Growing up in a large [and loud] Italian family, I remember my excitement when I first learned of the huge influence the culture has had on the horror genre. Learning, at a young age, that there were Italian filmmakers creating some of the most memorable films the genre has seen was something of great pride for me. Naturally, when I heard of a new documentary that takes a closer look into the evolution of the giallo film, I knew I had to get my hands on it. That documentary is the new Severin Films release, All the Colors of Giallo.
The term “Giallo” translates, literally, to the word “yellow.” Now, if you are a fan of the giallo genre, this is not the first time you’ve heard this. The old crime novels and magazines of the 1930’s, produced in Italy and other European countries, were printed with yellow covers. On the yellow cover was a circular image depicting a scene from that particular story.
These old crime magazines were actually influenced by the German krimi, which were also pieces of crime literature that were in heavy circulation from various publishers during the 1920’s, 30’s, and onward (more can be learned of the German krimi on Disc 2 of Severin Film’s new 3-disc set, which also features over 90 minutes of trailers).
The first filmmaker to take the idea of these printed mystery and suspense stories was a man by the name of Mario Bava. Fans are most likely to remember Bava’s Black Sunday or Black Sabbath, but his most influential film to date is arguably A Bay of Blood. This film is said to have heavily influenced the American slasher genre and the rest is history after that.
There were a whole slew of filmmakers in Italy who came after Bava, even including his own son, Lamberto, another famous director of Italian horror cinema. Chronologically, however, the next, most important figure to come from this scene was none other than Dario Argento.
With his ‘animal trilogy’ consisting of The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, The Cat O’ Nine Tails, and Four Flies on Grey Velvet, Argento would lay out what would become the blueprint that would continue to define the giallo genre.
As explained in All the Colors of Giallo, Argento instilled the following themes, to be copied by countless filmmakers to come afterwards — the use of the point-of-view camera shot, the black gloves being worn by the killer, the heavy use of blades as the weapon of choice, and the use of shadows to conceal the killer, who seemingly could pop out of nowhere.
It is this formula that filmmakers for the next two decades would continue to use in order to have their own success in the mystery thriller films of the 70’s and 80’s.
Because of the continued success experienced by Dario Argento, another up-and-coming director was able to capitalize. Although Lucio Fulci had already directed Perversion Story before Argento’s first feature film, the new rise of the giallo genre now allowed Fulci to gain his own notoriety amongst audiences.
All the Colors of Giallo is a wonderfully put together documentary about the important history of horror cinema in Italy and its ever-reaching audience.
There is much to be said about this style of filmmaking, as it dates back almost 100 years, and documentary director Federico Caddeo has done a great job amassing interviews with some of the most influential people of its storied history.
The documentary features on-screen interviews with Umberto Lenzi, Sergio Martino, many actors involved in the films that round out the genre, and of course the maestro himself, Dario Argento. There is even archival audio interviews with Lucio Fulci, a man from whom I’ve taken by last name for Repulsive reviewing purposes.
Not only does the home release of All the Colors of Giallo feature this newly produced documentary, but it also contains many more amazing bonus features.
After you watch the 89 minute doc, there is plenty more to dive into. Severin Films has collected over four hours of trailers. If that doesn’t get you into the mood for an Italian horror marathon, then perhaps the bonus CD soundtrack will get the job done.
One of the most memorable elements of any giallo film is undoubtedly the soundtrack. With their intense exaggerations of all sound effects and perfect timing, the score of the these films is just as important, if not more so, than the stories themselves. Be sure to pop the bonus CD soundtrack into any CD player (people still have those, right?) and listen to all of the legendary giallo themes.
If you’re a fan of Fulci, Argento, Bava, or the myriad of those who came after them — Aldo Lado, Sergio Martino, Umberto Lenzi, Lamberto Bava, Antonio Margheriti — All the Colors of Giallo is a documentary you don’t want to miss out on. It is available now on Blu-ray from Severin Films, so pick up your copy today!
I give this whole package 5 black gloves out of 5!