Sunday, 4 March 2012

11 Chapter Six: The downfall of the Giallo and it's potential rebirth

As the 70’s came to an end, so it seemed that the era of the giallo was dying off from the international scene; maybe because of producers eagerness to cash on what Argento had started by in the early 70’s it brought about a quick saturation in the market of gialli, this rapid production of trying to replicate the international financial success from the previous films might have created a rather over exposure to an audience that became just too much and the audience for this had grown tired of the style of the giallo and found the rise of the Slasher films from American to cure the itch for exploitive violence and sex demand of what was the drive-in/grindhouse market.

While a few giallo films were made in the 1980s, mostly by Dario Argento himself (Tene-brePhenomena, and Opera), only Lamberto Bava, Mario Bava’s son, was re-ally making gialli anymore, with two films, A Blade in the Dark (1983) and Delirium: Photos of Gioia (Le Foto di Gioia) (1987). Beyond the 1990s and into the new century, Dario Argento is still producing giallo films: Trauma (1993), The Stendhal Syndrome (1996), Sleepless (2001), The Card Player (Il Cartaio) (2004), and Do You Like Hitchcock? (Ti piace Hitchcock?) (2005). (Koven, 2006 p170)

Here Koven is stating that the giallo had already started it’s decline in the 1980s with only a select few directors still releasing the traditional giallo and beyond this into the 1990s and further it was really only Dario Argento who was able to direct giallo in the modern day; this is really only possible because of instantly internationally recognizable name that he has created for himself and a gaining a certain cult following over the years from his strong body of previous titles.

Sporadically, other filmmakers try to produce these old-fashioned-style thriller, with varying degrees of success, either in Italy or beyond. The best of the contemporary gialli, Occhi di cristallo (Eros Puglielli, 2004), which I was lucky enough to catch at Edinburgh’s “Dead by Dawn” film festival in 2005, while available on DVD in Italian, does not offer English subtitles or an Eng-lish soundtrack. It seems that with the exception of new films by interna-tionally recognized masters of the genre, such as Argento, these thrillers seem to be made exclusively for the local, vernacular audiences. And maybe that is as it should be. (Koven, 2006 p170)

Koven seems to be taking the view that while the giallo is still being made to this day, it has become on a much smaller scale and back to the vernacular, where it’s true roots lie. It would seem that he is implying that the giallo has no real significance to an international audience and that it should solely remain in the Italian third-run theatres.

While for a while it might seem that the giallo would just slip away into the memory of cult horror fans; in 2009 a French/Belgium co-production film Amer (2009) came out that paid homage to the giallo genre and in particular it’s three most famous directors; Mario Bava, Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci. The film itself recognized that the gialli narrative wasn’t that well structured and that the dialogue played second fiddle to the visual experience; with this Amer (2009) almost consists of no dialogue.

Clip 5. Amer (dir Cattet and Forzani, 2009)

In this clip of Amer (2009) we can see that it makes such wonderful use of colours and is very reminiscent of Dario Argento’s work and especially Inferno (1980) in the underwater scene that I talked about in Chapter 5; the combination of the bold uses of red, blue and green are so boldly used to create a very atmospheric scene, and with the uses of such a variety of colours the film is able to express the feeling of fear, mystery and the supernatural to the audience through colour.

Clip 6. Amer (dir Cattet and Forzani, 2009)

The clip above of Amer (2009) shows again the desire of fetishism within the genre of the giallo plays such a strong role in the appeal of the giallo to the audience, the scene seems to imply a playful approach to this fetishistic act as during the close up of the woman’s mouth she slowly bites down on the metal seeming on her free will; this can be interpreted as an symbolic act saying that the giallo of the 1970s themselves were seductively playing with the fetishistic murders on screen.

Clip 7. Amer (dir Cattet and Forzani, 2009)

This final clip above from the film Amer (2009) shows it homage to the fetishism again of the giallo and the fashionable killer; seen here donning the infamous black leather gloves; it’s also interesting to note that in this clip the film seems to experiment with the colour blue, where we, as the audience might expect the red, paying homage to the Argento’s fetish of the colour. Instead this use of the cool of the stark blue in the scene I feel represents the naturalistic and ease of approach of the genre back in the 1970s to show such graphic and rather disturbing murder scenes, also could be read as how cool and calm and undeterred approach to the point of view filming of such graphic violence that the directors of the time had; especially with Argento, who as mentioned earlier, donned the black leather gloves himself from behind the camera.

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