Monday, February 13, 2012

You've Got Yellow On You: How Many Naked Italians Does It Take to Screw In A Projector Bulb

I full well realize that we are talking about a genre that has a clever name and really encompasses a broad array of films, but some of the movies I watched this week had me doubting the validity of the challenge altogether. Even though there are miles to go before I sleep (butterfly) I’m getting a little tired of watching movies that start off with extreme promise by include a kill sequence or credit sequence that has exceptional merit only to have that movie turn into complete Euro Trash. While I have very little against Euro Trash I do have something against watching over 200 films of it within a year’s time at least not this year… the Jesus Franco challenge sits before me like an Alligator in front of the exit.  

Imagine for a second that you have decided to watch every film of the Italian comedy variety. While in all actuality this may be impossible let’s just say for argument’s sake that this is a reasonable request. Something in the neighborhood of 200 films. You watch nearly 30 of them and realize that you are not in fact watching delightful screwball comedies of the 1980’s, but in fact have delved into movies that more or less resemble Corky Romano at every turn. These films, while having star power and the occasional one off chuckler are chock full of trip and fall laughs, knock knock jokes and obvious twists of ironic fate. Would you want to continue your quest to view all 200 plus films?

That’s where the challenge comes into play. Not all these movies are Argento or have Morricone steering the score. Very often we’re dealing with movies that are only moderately influential in the genre; that embody only the very base elements of the genre. Sure, I’d like to stare at naked Italian women all year long, but I want to be tested. I suppose this is why I enjoy the zombie, cannibal films of Italy so god damn much. They have guts for at least a recordable percentage of the film. This week made me realize that although I was not a big fan of A Blade in the Dark, the kill sequence in the bathroom had merit. It was a big enough gross out to be memorable especially within the confines of this slow moving genre. I suppose the key thing to remember here is that MOVIES DON’T KNOW WHAT GENRE THEY’RE IN! Lesson learned.

Again, it’s been a busy week and had some reviews to do outside of the challenge, but we should be focusing on more genre features the coming week.  

The Girl Who Knew Too Much – The whole thing had me thinking David Lynch must have dropped quite a few coins at his local Italo-theater. Lots of bright contrast in the black and white film. While the plot was far from Lynchian the film style and blown out B&W had me thinking Eraserhead. You’ve got some pretty unevolved music at this point. It’s an early piece of borderline giallo done by Bava. That means that it doesn’t necessarily comply to tropes of the genre, but introduces a few potential players. Hey, there’s John Saxon! The whole thing left me feeling very My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. I enjoyed the burial scene shot from inside the grave. This feels more like the linkage between film noir and giallo. The question on everyone’s mind is, “What does modern medicine say about ectoplasm?” The world may never know. Interestingly enough this movie also comes up as the Evil Eye on IMDB. How confusing is that!?

Cold Eyes of Fear – the artwork associated with this one had promise. Started off with a great score and a plot that had every intention of evolving into a fine piece of giallo. Unfortunately the film subdivides around thirty minutes in an becomes an unyielding assortment of subplots with bad dubbing. At least there’s a bottle of J N'B used as a weapon. 

In the Folds of Flesh – Another early piece of giallo or psychedelic era movie making that is transitioning into the thriller genre. The music feels very much like a traditional American thriller rather than identifying with the Italians. You know quite a bit of the gialli I have watched thus far have included some element of psychedelic imagery. Woman in a Lizard’s skin was almost purely psychedelic. These images usually come in the credits or when the director is trying to convey a feeling of insanity or disorientation.  Sergio Bergonzelli may just be the Herschel Gordon Lewis of giallo pictures. There’s exceptionally bad dialogue and worse screaming. The bloodlettings are terrifically funny. This one is way too young to be a true entrant into the giallo genre even though its from 1970. 

Evil Eye – I adore giallo when it pairs off with the subgenre of occult pictures. Covens make good bad guys having multiple heads like hydras and they kill in mysterious ways. I wish this film could have gotten itself out of the birthday suit subgenre that it seemed to be stuck in. Sure, we all love a fair amount of naked hotties running around our Italian movies, but let’s not do that at the expense of actually telling a narrative or trying to create an atmosphere of mystery. Evil Eye came as a double feature alongside The Black Candles. Its part of a series set up to be displayed as Grindhouse double features with trailers in between and for that I am eternally grateful to this film. The movie itself was barely more than a skin flick (as was the Black Candles). Great packaging. Lousy movie.  

-Dr. Terror 

Note: Next week we should be looking at the House with the Laughing Windows and Hitch-Hike. I’ve always been intrigued by the artwork associated with House with the Laughing Windows and David Hess is in Hitch-Hike. This promises to be a good week in yellow.

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