Posts Tagged ‘Giallo’

The Editor (2014)

October 15, 2021

Recently, I have dabbled a bit with video editing. Just little YouTube videos but it is a lot of fun. I learned to edit first with audio. I first learned by doing it on reel to reel, literally piecing tracks together. I later learned how to edit on cassette and then on a computer. I cannot imagine the pressure of being a professional film editor. To see the same footage over and over seeing the same people over and over and try to make a coherent story out of mounds of footage. You may never meet the people whose scenes you are cutting together. You may never meet the musicians that did the score or soundtrack. Post production is a heck of a grind. I remember reading stories of Robert Rodriguez sleeping on a couch as he re-edited his first film, El Mariachi. James Cameron went hungry and hallucinated during his first post-production. A lot of movie magic happens in the editing room.

Giallo is a fairly unknown sub-genre of horror in the United States but is much better known in Italy where it flourished. The first recognized giallo film was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock movies. In fact, Hitchcock may have been the grandfather of the subgenre. Giallo movies are identified by distinct characteristics. First, they usually involve gruesome murders done by mysterious disguised psychopaths. The protagonists are often outsiders trying to survive and solve the mystery. They are almost never cops or people of authority. The subgenre often explores madness, alienation, and paranoia. The death sequences are particularly gruesome and gory. These are just some of the elements of a Gialli. Last year I watched one based on Edgar Allen Poe’s The Black Cat. These kinds of movies are stylish and visually pleasing while also containing horrible gore. A great contrast.

The first thing I noticed was the lurid production design, so many interesting colors melding with the shadows. Well, that and all of the nudity. But seriously, the colors are absolutely beautiful even when the images should be terrifying. We also get to see the movie within the movie which is definitely just as pretty and just as bloody. The sets are strange and dreamy, full of manequins. strange props, and far too much smoke even for a movie studio. The gore effects are fantastic and silly and exciting and gross. The effects really surprised me with how effortless they looked and they looked like effects that luminaries like Lucio Fulci, Rick Baker, and Tom Savini would have been proud of.

The acting is absolutley fun as everything is done so melodramatically. It is so obviously bad that it is clearly a great tribute to Italian Giallo B-Movies. Everything is done with an odd dissonance and disconnectedness that sounds dubbed. It is a Canadian film so I assumed that it was filmed in English originally. The movie is led by the titular editor played by Adam Brooks (who also directed). He is a sad sack kind of guy who is dedicated to his work but feels disconnected from reality. Matthew Kennedy is silly and likable as the ineffective police detective assigned to the case. Paz de la Huerta plays the Editor’s comically overbearing wife. Samantha Hill plays the editor’s strange but alluring assistant. Everybody else is just delightfully weird and funny. I was so surprised by how much the movie made me laugh while keeping me on the edge of my seat and grossing me out.

Overall, I really loved this movie. It was a wild story with quirky characters that made me laugh, squirm, and a little bit scared. The visuals were very pretty at times and very gruesome at others. The contrast was great. I recommend this movie.

Stage Fright (1987)

October 31, 2017

90 minutes – Unrated but definitely Rated R for violence, brief nudity, language, and atrocious theater acting.

Stage fright is actually probably my biggest reoccurring fear. Talking in front of people is intimidating for many reasons. The least of those reasons is actually a fear of judgment. I do fear what some others might think when my ideas and personality are coming out of me in real-time. Nobody wants to say the wrong thing to the wrong group of people and feel that negative energy in response. A bigger fear for me is that I might screw up an look foolish which is related to the first fear but a little bit different. Most people are actually forgiving when it comes to verbal flubs or forgotten memorization so it is a somewhat unreasonable fear but it is that fear that keeps our concentration on point. The real fear is of the spotlight. I really do not like it when too many people pay attention to me. As an introvert, that sort of things is draining like being the only one under the desert sun. In a way, I fear success. If I succeed, I will have to do it again. As I have gotten older, I have gotten better at speaking in public and shaking off the fear.

I remember being a theater kid as an isolating experience. Theater is a collaborative art form but you are only collaborative with the other people working on the show you are working on. You spend time together during rehearsals but each person is fulfilling their role so there is not much time for socializing. I started on the crew which feels even more isolating because I spent a lot of time watching the show from an enclosed booth alone or with another person. When I joined the stage management team, there was a lot of time spent alone before or after rehearsals getting the rest of the work done. Time spent sweeping or putting tape on the floor in a completely empty and eerie rehearsal space. More than anything, the theater experience separated me from the world around me. Even when I went out into the real world, it felt alien. Non-theater classes felt different and strange and it was nearly impossible to make friends outside of the make believe fantasy world of theater.

This movie is about a theater group that is trying to put on a production about a masked killer. Unfortunately, there is also a real masked killer walking around. The movie is very eighties with new wave beats and a sweet saxophone. The makeup and costumes are clearly very eighties as well. The show is also supposed to be ‘edgy’ and ‘avant-garde’ which is usually code for ‘too up its own butt’ or ‘just plain bad’ for me. That is fine, I get to sit through the movie and not the play they are making. The movie has great production values. Lighting stands out above everything as everything is lit so well. I’m not sure how intentional it is, but every shot looks very much like theater lighting. Everything is a little too crisp, a little too bright which actually works for this movie especially since most of it takes place in a theater anyway. A new wave/synth soundtrack is very much in line with a lot of horror movies of its day. I also really liked the special effects of the inevitable violence.  They are spot on and beautifully done. Each death is theatrical without being too over the top.

In this movie, we meet probably the world’s cattiest theater group. I have worked with several theater groups and most of them are fairly chill even during crunch time. These people are constantly sniping at each other. In my experience, you were unlucky to get one of these people on your cast but this show has pretty much an entire cast full of unreasonable people. None of them stand out but that is only because none of them are famous and they are equally good at setting up a playground for the killer to play in. The killer is largely silent but he is using the old faithful tool of the slasher film: a mask. Like most, the mask seems silly at first but the killer really makes it work for him. Once the action starts, the cast’s collective IQ drops and death is imminent. While I wish death on nobody, these Halloween months have taught me that they can really try to make it easier to watch people get killed. Watching people lose their minds with fear is really fascinating, at least in this movie.

Overall, I liked this movie. While some parts dragged a bit, there was never a shortage of action. The movie follows two Italian traditions that I am barely familiar with. It is a combination of the Giallo and Italian Horror subgenres. However, it did not feel so simple as that. The movie starts as a slasher movie but the last third of the film becomes more slowly paced and is much more of a tense thriller. While the acting may not be top notch, its melodramatic air definitely makes for a good change of pace for a horror movie.


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