From 'Blood and Black Lace' to 'Crimson,' These Are the Best Giallo Horror Movies
From Fulci to Bava to Argento, this Italian subgenre has provided horror elements to many classic films.
Horror has many sub-genres. Beginning in the 1930s, horror was filled with gothic and monster flicks. Moving into the 70s, and even into the 1980s, hack-and-slash spree became popular. Over the past decade, supernatural and possession movies have been all the rage. But that's just America. In the 1960s, a genre began to emerge in Italy that, while not quite mainstream, would generate cult affection in America and influence countless future films. That distinction falls into the Giallo subgenre, a genre of horror that mixes aspects of the terrorist with crime and mystery, and often, lots of blood. Here are some of the best Giallo movies that have stood the test of time and are must-sees for any horror fan today.
The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963)
Known as Evil Eye in the United States, this black and white picture is known as the first Giallo film. Directed by one of the greats of the subgenre, Mario Bava, the film begins not only the content of Giallo's episodes, but also their appearance. Later Giallo films were all in color, where they were known for not focusing solely on red The color of blood, but all the colors around it. Bawa doesn't have that option, but he makes up for it by focusing on light and shadow to understand the positives of black and white film. The story is about a woman named Nora (Leetitia Roman), who witnesses a killer murdering his victims in alphabetical order. The story isn't one of the best of its kind, but from a technical standpoint, you won't find it more haunting.
Blood and Black Lace (1964)
The following year, Giallo's godfather, Mario Bava, made this tale of a masked killer murder a model in Rome another classic. Here we get full color, while Bava does what he does best with his drawing talent. He worked as a cinematographer in his early years and made most of the films himself. One of the most frequently used tropes in Giallo has been that of the mysterious killer wearing gloves, which help further conceal their identity. That's where it started. The film is filled with blood, but under Bava's watchful eye, it looks more like art than pure gore. Dario Argento's later style was greatly affected by this.
The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970)
Speaking of Argento, this is where he first appears on the list. If Bava was the creator of the Giallo, Argento was the one who perfected it and made it popular. This was the first Giallo entry to really go viral. It has all the hallmarks Argento is known for, filled with countless vibrant colors, but it's not the blood that makes it so memorable. Here we see a Hitchcockian story about a man and a woman (Tony Musante and Susie Kendall) who begin to investigate a series of murders themselves. That's what makes this movie stand out. Some of the early Giallo films may not always have been great stories, but this one is one of the greatest mysteries in cinema. Argento shows that he can not only scare you, but also make you panic.
Short Night of Glass Dolls (1971)
The Big Three, Bava, Argento and Lucio Fulci, will not be held responsible for the incident. Credit goes to director Aldorado for this classic. With Jean Sorrell playing an American journalist in Europe looking for his missing girlfriend, the article doesn't look like Big name directors get it, but it's just as good. The film stands out for several reasons, from its hauntingly dark themes, to the incredible score by the legendary Ennio Morricone, best known for "Good and Evil". Evil's haunting soundtrack. It goes deeper than most, delves into politics and has to say a lot about the plight of communism. Along with the thrill and the chill comes Giallo, which also has something to say.
A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971)
This is Lucio Fulci's second Giallo film, and a truly surreal one at that. It got a lot of attention for the wrong reasons a long time ago, and the effects were so realistic that scenes of violence against animals led to the crew eventually proving in court that no real animals were harmed. Also what will grab your attention is the amount of sex involved, the episode sees a woman (Florinda Bolkan) start having sex dreams about her neighbor (Anita Strindberg). Of course, the neighbor ends up dead, and our heroine sees the murderer in her dreams. It's an incredibly artistic, dreamlike film with a lot of shock that you don't see, This is par for the sub-genre. It also turns to another part of Giallo's tropes with a more supernatural turn.
Bay of Blood (1971)
Mario Bava returns to the list with his most famous film, a film so influential that "Friday the 13th" blatantly rips off its clever kills. Halloween might be considered the first popular slasher, but not before that. Here you'll see the over-the-top gruesome kills that the masked villain of the 80s was known for, as well as the killer's POV and teens killed in the woods. The plot is a little forgettable, but that's not what you're here for. The inventiveness and audacity of The Killing made it a classic. While Friday the 13th will be backed by Tom Savini, Bawa hired Carlo Rambaldi to bring the death scenes to life. It's no surprise how well it worked, since Rambaldi went on to win Oscars for Alien and E.T. While the plot was a flop, the shocking finale was a knockout.
Don’t Torture A Duckling (1972)
Fulci reappears, with a slightly different plot than most Giallos, as children are killed here. When the town turns on each other, it's up to a couple of cops and a reporter (Tomas Milian) (there always seems to be a reporter in Giallo) to find those responsible. We watched the townspeople fall apart and blame each other, which created a lot of distraction. There is politics about how we treat women and foreigners, the exploitation of children, and religious sins. The music is powerful and almost becomes its own character. Add to that the usually stunning Fulci visuals and you've got a Giallo you'll never forget.
What Have You Done To Solange? (1972)
This is another non-Big Three film, which means it unfortunately didn't get as much attention as it deserved. Directed by Massimo Dallamano, it is the first in his Schoolgirl Crisis trilogy. He would die before being able to make a third movie, but gets credit for writing it. This Giallo will break your heart. Not literally, since there is hardly any blood to be found, but the story runs deep. When a college girl is murdered, a flirtatious teacher (Fabio Testi) is charged with the crime. As more girls are murdered, it's revealed they're all A friend of the missing student Solange (Camille Keaton). The killer is dressed as a priest and we have another Giallo who chooses this form to talk about religion and the sins of Catholicism.
Deep Red (1975)
Perhaps the most famous and best Giallo film is this one by Dario Argento. We got every metaphor. The murderer is a mysterious figure wearing black gloves. (Argento actually portrays the murderer's covered hands in his film.) There's a reporter (Daria Nicoldi, Argento's frequent collaborator and mother of his children) and an assistant (David Hemmings) who investigate the crime together. Giallo regular Goblin has plenty of blood and a soundtrack that's one of the best in its genre. As usual, it's all done with the class-leading visuals that Argento is famous for. Argento didn't create anything new with this, but it's here that he perfected it. If that's not enough for you, Crimson also has some of the scariest doll scenes you'll ever see.
Lists Dario Argento again. There are many of his films that could be included, but this is the only one This was inspired by a truly terrifying time in Argento's real life. After deranged fans sent him death threats, Argento had a brainstorm and wrote the script for this story about a novelist (Anthony Franciosa) trying to track down a murderer based on his writing. As Giallo's popularity and creativity began to wane in the early 1980s, Argento fought back with a solo film, a meta-movie that, while at times a bit eccentric in its plot, was nonetheless notable for its clever kills, great characters, and always , top-notch camera work and a hard-hitting score.