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Jan 31, Please visit my website for more details!! Species I especially like drawing!! May 7, A few c o m m e n t s on the organization of this book: the first chapter, " W h a t Is Giallo? T h e second chapter, " T o ward an Understanding of Vernacular C i n e m a , " is a methodological chapter: here I discuss the c o n t e x t of the study of Italian c i n e m a and how such studies tend to ignore horror cinema, how journalistic film critics deride these films as "incompetent," and how such criticisms reveal more about the reviewers' own prejudices than any problem with the film.
As a counter to t h e middle-class bias inherent in the giallo's omission from the academic study o f Italian c i n e m a and t h e poor press these films tend to get, I argue for studying these films by approaching them as vernacular c i n e m a. Together the first two chapters are largely contextual; I am trying to lay a cultural foundation for the later chapters' study of the films themselves.
Based on these textual analyses, I begin to hypothesize what such moments might mean culturally, specifically for vernacular audiences. In my conclusions to each chapter, I begin to point to where these discussions intersect with the critical theories of our disciplines. I apologize in advance if my analyses tend to be overly descriptive, but due to the unfamiliarity of many of the films under discussion, I felt that such foci were required. Finally, as a conclusion, I recontextualize the giallo in terms of how it influenced the N o r t h A m e r i c a n slasher movie of the late s and early 1 9 8 0 s.
It is also worth noting how the giallo influenced the slasher film then reinfluenced some Italian horror films in the mids. Acknowledgments I would like to thank my colleagues at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, who have supported and encouraged my research into this bizarre subject: Ioan Williams and M a r t i n Barker b o t h actually believed I could pull off this book.
T h a n k s also to Mick Mangan, now at the University of Exeter, who came back from Italy with a Mondadori edition of an Ed M c B a i n novel to inspire my work in gialli.
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T h a n k you to Kevin Donnelly and Kate Egan, who made some useful suggestions early on in this research. T h a n k s also to K a t e Woodward, whose i n n o c e n c e I helped to corrupt by showing her some of these movies, particularly Dario Argento's Opera. T h a n k s should also go out to my colleagues at large, S t e v e n Jay Schneider, Xavier Mendik, and especially my fellow explorer of vernacular c i n e m a , S h e i l a Nayar. A shy t h a n k you as well to Richard Dyer, who suggested I continue with this research; your encouragement meant a lot to me.
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T h e research for this book has taken several years to complete, but I would not have been able to complete this at all without the support from the U n i versity of Wales, Aberystwyth, Department of T h e a t r e , Film and Television, which granted me two semesters sabbatical leave to complete the project; diolch yn fawr! I would also like to thank the British Academy, which awarded me an Overseas C o n f e r e n c e G r a n t in 2 0 0 3 so I could present a preliminary version of chapter 7 at the Perspectives on Contemporary Legend Confere n c e in C o r n e r Brook, Newfoundland.
Based on these conference papers, an alternative version of this chapter was published in Midwestern Folklore 3 0. Also, an earlier version of chapter 3 was presented at the 2 0 0 3 European C i n e m a Research Forum conference at the University of Bath, and was eventually published in W e n d y Everett and A x e l Goodbody, eds, Revisiting Space: Space and Place in European Cinema Bern: Peter Lang, 2 0 0 5 , 1 1 5 - 3 1 ; thanks to Wendy and A x e l for their work on the volume.
Special thank you to A l a n Simpson at the Sex, Gore, Mutants website— probably the best horror fan site in cyberspace www. A n d to Adele Hartley at Edinburgh's "Dead by Dawn" film festival, the best damn film festival in the world! Special thanks also to Harvey Fenton at F A B Press—probably the best publisher of horror and extreme c i n e m a fanoriented materials; without FAB's books, this study could not have been done. Very special thanks to Kelly Jones, whose support, encouragement, coffee, and proofreading skills I could not have done without.
Now if 1 c a n just get you to watch o n e of these movies. A n d finally to my wife, G i a n , and son, Isaac: your support, love, and affection gave me the strength and encouragement to persevere with this work. T h a t my now five-year-old can talk intelligently about Dawn of the Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a bit worrying, but I assure S o c i a l Services he's never seen one of these movies! He does do a terrific zombie impersonation, however. G i a n , my love and best friend, your idea to demand a first draft of this manuscript as a Christmas present was inspired and with only six more hours till midnight—I might just make it!
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T h a n k you for everything. Several years ago, I produced a lengthy article on the relationship b e t w e e n contemporary urban legends and the slasher films largely produced in Canada and the U n i t e d States in the later s and early 1 9 8 0 s. In the " S c o o b y D o o " slasher films, however, the killer is revealed to be h u m a n and using some kind of killer-legend to distract from their own motives. T h e s e slasher films are, in reality, gory murder mysteries, where t h e " g a m e " for t h e audience is to a t t e m p t a hypothesis as to w h o m t h e killer may be out of a set group of people.
But almost immediately after submitting that final edit of the paper, I c o n t i n u e d thinking about the relationship b e t w e e n t h e giallo and the slasher m o v i e and realized my term " S c o o b y - D o o " m o v i e was inaccurate: this particular form of slasher was a c tually N o r t h A m e r i c a n gialli. My intention at the time was to continue my research into the slasher film, and in preparing that research I wanted to firm up the c o n n e c t i o n between the slasher and the giallo. To do this, I sought out an article or two that defined the giallo, as genre, and gave some reference to the defining characteristics of these films.
T h e giallo at this stage in my research was highly peripheral to my study.
Unfortunately, no such articles or pieces of research could be found. Disappointed and discouraged, I decided that I would have to write those articles myself; but as I dug deeper and deeper into this genre of Italian vernacular filmmaking, I identified increasingly significant issues that had not b e e n discussed within film studies—that were not only essential to a discussion of the giallo, but to a larger form of c i n e m a language that oft e n falls below the radar of most "serious" film watchers. T h i s was back in 2 0 0 2 , and for the next three years I found myself exploring the labyrinthine world of the Italian vernacular c i n e m a of the 1 9 7 0 s.
T h e s e are the results of that exploration.
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First, before discussing the giallo film as vernacular cinema, some definition of the genre itself is required. T h e word giallo simply means "yellow" and is the metonymic term given to a series of mystery novels that the Milanese publisher Mondadori began producing in the late 1 9 2 0 s. T h e s e paperback novels, often translations of English-language novels by writers like Arthur C o n a n Doyle, Ngaio Marsh, A g a t h a Christie, and Edgar W a l l a c e , were presented with vibrant yellow covers.
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A few years earlier, Mondadori had achieved success with a series of romance novels published with bright blue covers, and so their "giallo" series was an extension of this color-coding of popular literature. T h e "giallo" series is still going strong, with Mondadori continuing to publish gialli paperbacks with vibrant yellow covers.
Very quickly other Italian publishers joined in on the demand or at least availability of mass-market murder mystery novels. Dozens of competing series were produced, all using the term giallo, further defining the literary genre within an Italian c o n t e x t. A quick perusal of a list of those books published in the s and early s reveals that Edgar W a l l a c e seems to have been o n e of the most popular authors—certainly translations of his novels are plentiful in the various series, followed closely by Agatha Christie, C o n a n Doyle, and Dorothy Sayers. T h e term giallo acts as a metonym for the entire mystery genre: in a British or N o r t h A m e r i c a n bookstore, if we wanted to W h a t Is Giallo?
In spite of this, or maybe because of it, filmmakers tended to overlook the giallo as potential source material. Fascist cinema tended to prefer the facade of sophistication in the so-called " W h i t e Telephone" films. Literally the first giallo film was made under Mus2 solini's nose toward the end of Italy's participation in the S e c o n d World War. Luchino Visconti's Ossessione 1 9 4 2 , although mostly heralded as the first neorealist film, since the film is loosely based on James M.
Perhaps sig3 nificantly, Visconti did not read C a i n e either in the original English or in an Italian translation, but in French; the novel was given to him by J e a n R e n o i r Liehm 1 9 8 4 : 5 2.
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T h a t being said, perhaps it is ironic that, although the script for Ossessione passed by Mussolini's censors untouched, Vittorio Mussolini, II D u c e s son, was said to have been appalled by the film, and officially it was condemned by the government L i e h m 1 9 8 4 : 5 7 - 5 8. W h a t is significant for this current discussion of Ossessione in respect to the giallo is that part of the filmmaker's mandate was to "reopen Italian film to foreign influences and to re-establish c o n t a c t s with the world culture disrupted by the fascist isolationism" Liehm 1 9 8 4 : So most histories of giallo cinema, such as are available, c o n t e x t u alize the genre within the history of Italian horror cinema, rather than the crime film, with Mario Bava unofficially credited with inventing the giallo as a cinematic genre.
T h i s invention can be said to have occurred through two specific films. Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much La Ragazza che sapev troppo 1 9 6 2 established the giallo films' narrative structure: an i n n o c e n t 4 Chapter One person, often a tourist, witnesses a brutal murder that appears to be the work of a serial killer. He or she takes on the role of amateur detective in order to hunt down this killer, and often succeeds where the police fail.