Giallo (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒallo]; plural gialli) is a 20th-century Italian genre of literature and film. Especially outside Italy, giallo refers specifically to a particular Italian thriller-horror genre that has mystery or detective elements and often contains slasher, crime fiction, psychological thriller, psychological horror, exploitation, sexploitation, and, less frequently, supernatural horror elements. In Italy, the term generally denotes thrillers, typically of the crime fiction, mystery, and horror subgenres, regardless of the country of origin.
In English-speaking countries, the term giallo often refers to the Italian film version of the genre, a particular style of Italian-produced murder mystery thriller-horror film that usually blends the atmosphere and suspense of thriller fiction with elements of horror fiction (such as slasher violence) and eroticism (similar to the French fantastique genre), and often involves a mysterious killer whose identity is not revealed until the final act of the film. The genre developed in the mid-to-late 1960s, peaked in popularity during the 1970s, and subsequently declined over the next few decades. (Some examples continue to be produced). It has been considered to be a predecessor to, and significant influence on, the later American slasher film genre.
The term giallo ("yellow") derives from a series of crime-mystery pulp novels entitled Il Giallo Mondadori (Mondadori Yellow), published by Mondadori from 1929 and taking its name from the trademark yellow cover background. The series consisted almost exclusively of Italian translations of mystery novels by British and American writers. These included Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Edgar Wallace, Ed McBain, Rex Stout and Raymond Chandler.
Published as cheap paperbacks, the success of the giallo novels soon began attracting the attention of other Italian publishing houses. They published their own versions and mimicked the yellow covers. The popularity of these series eventually established the word giallo as a synonym in Italian for a mystery novel. In colloquial and media usage in Italy, it also applied to a mysterious or unsolved affair.
In the Italian language, giallo is a broad term that can be translated as "crime novel" including any literary genre involving crime and mystery, with all its sub-genres such as crime fiction, detective story, murder mystery or thriller-horror.
In the movie context, for Italian audiences giallo has come to refer to any kind of murder mystery or horror thriller, regardless of its origin. Thus, American, British or other horror-thrillers such as Psycho, Vertigo, and Peeping Tom are considered gialli.
English-speaking audiences have used the term to refer specifically to the type of Italian-produced thriller-horror films known to Italian audiences as giallo all'italiana.
The film subgenre began as literal adaptations of the giallo mystery novels. Directors soon began taking advantage of modern cinematic techniques to create a unique genre that retained the mystery and crime fiction elements of giallo novels but veered more closely into the psychological thriller or psychological horror genres. Many of the typical characteristics of these films were incorporated into the later American slasher genre.
Critics disagree on characterization of a giallo film. Gary Needham wrote:
By its very nature, the giallo challenges our assumptions about how non-Hollywood films should be classified, going beyond the sort of Anglo-American taxonomic imaginary that "fixes" genre both in film criticism and the film industry in order to designate something specific. ...however, despite the giallo's resistance to clear definition there are nevertheless identifiable thematic and stylistic tropes.
These distinct "thematic and stylistic tropes" constitute a loose definition of the genre which is broadly consistent, though various critics have proposed slightly differing characteristic details (which consequently creates some confusion over which films can be considered gialli). Author Michael Mackenzie has written that gialli can be divided into the male-focused m. gialli, which usually sees a male outsider witness a murder and become the target of the killer when he attempts to solve the crime; and f. gialli, which features a female protagonist who is embroiled in a more sexual and psychological story, typically focusing on her sexuality, psyche and fragile mental state.
Although they often involve crime and detective work, gialli should not be confused with the other popular Italian crime genre of the 1970s, the poliziotteschi, which includes more action-oriented films about violent law enforcement officers (largely influenced by gritty 1970s American films such as Dirty Harry, Death Wish, The Godfather, Serpico, and The French Connection). Directors and stars often moved between both genres and some films could be considered under either banner, such as Massimo Dallamano's 1974 film La polizia chiede aiuto (What Have They Done to Your Daughters?). Most critics agree that the giallo represents a distinct category with unique features.
Giallo films are generally characterized as gruesome murder-mystery thrillers, that combine the suspense elements of detective fiction with scenes of shocking horror, featuring excessive bloodletting, stylish camerawork and often jarring musical arrangements. The archetypal giallo plot involves a mysterious, black-gloved psychopathic killer who stalks and butchers a series of beautiful women. While most gialli involve a human killer, some also feature a supernatural element.
The typical giallo protagonist is an outsider of some type, often a traveler or tourist, and usually a young woman (gialli rarely feature law enforcement officers as chief protagonists, which would be more characteristic of the poliziotteschi genre). The protagonists are generally unconnected to the murders before they begin and are drawn to help find the killer through their role as a witness to one of the murders. The mystery is the identity of the killer, who is often revealed in the climax to be another key character, who conceals his or her identity with a disguise (usually some combination of hat, mask, sunglasses, gloves, and trench coat). Thus, the literary whodunit element of the giallo novels is retained, while being filtered through horror genre elements and Italy's long standing tradition of opera and staged grand guignol drama. The structure of giallo films is also sometimes reminiscent of the so-called "weird menace" pulp magazine horror mystery genre of the 1930–1940s, a genre itself also heavily influenced by grand guignol and related to the original Italian giallo novels.
It is important to note that while most gialli feature elements of this basic narrative structure, not all do. Some films (for example Mario Bava's 1970 Hatchet for the Honeymoon, which features the killer as the protagonist) may radically alter the traditional structure or abandon it altogether and still be considered gialli due to stylistic or thematic tropes, rather than narrative ones. A consistent element of the genre, is an unusual lack of focus on coherent or logical narrative storytelling. While most have a nominal mystery structure, they may feature bizarre or seemingly nonsensical plot elements and a general disregard for realism in acting, dialogue and character motivation. As Jon Abrams wrote, "Individually, each [giallo] is like an improv exercise in murder, with each filmmaker having access to a handful of shared props and themes. Black gloves, sexual ambiguity, and psychoanalytic trauma may be at the heart of each film, but the genre itself is without consistent narrative form."
While a shadowy killer and mystery narrative are common to most gialli, the most consistent and notable shared trope in the giallo tradition is the focus on grisly death sequences. The murders are invariably violent and gory, featuring a variety of explicit and imaginative attacks. These scenes frequently evoke some degree of voyeurism, sometimes going so far as to present the murder from the first-person perspective of the killer, with the black-gloved hand holding a knife viewed from the killer's point of view. The murders often occur when the victim is most vulnerable (showering, taking a bath, or scantily clad); as such, giallo films often include liberal amounts of nudity and sex, almost all of it featuring beautiful young women (actresses associated with the genre include Edwige Fenech, Barbara Bach, Daria Nicolodi, Mimsy Farmer, Barbara Bouchet, Suzy Kendall, Ida Galli and Anita Strindberg). Due to the titillating emphasis on explicit sex and violence, gialli are sometimes categorized as exploitation cinema. The association of female sexuality and brutal violence has led some commentators to accuse the genre of misogyny.
Gialli are noted for psychological themes of madness, alienation, sexuality and paranoia. The protagonist is usually a witness to a gruesome crime but frequently finds their testimony subject to skepticism from authority figures, leading to a questioning of their own perception and authority. This ambiguity of memory and perception can escalate to delusion, hallucination and delirious paranoia. Since gialli protagonists are typically female, this can lead to what writer Gary Needham calls, "...the giallo's inherent pathologising of femininity and fascination with "sick" women." The killer is likely to be mentally ill as well; giallo killers are almost always motivated by insanity caused by some past psychological trauma, often of a sexual nature (and sometimes depicted in flashbacks). The emphasis on madness and subjective perception has roots in the giallo novels (for example, Sergio Martino's Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key was based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Black Cat", which deals with a psychologically unstable narrator) but also finds expression in the tools of cinema: The unsteady mental state of both victim and killer is often mirrored by the wildly exaggerated style and unfocused narrative common to many gialli.
Writer Mikel J. Koven posits that gialli reflect an ambivalence over the social upheaval modernity brought to Italian culture in the 1960s.
"The changes within Italian culture... can be seen throughout the giallo film as something to be discussed and debated -- issues pertaining to identity, sexuality, increasing levels of violence, women's control over their own lives and bodies, history, the state -- all abstract ideas, which are all portrayed situationally as human stories in the giallo film.
Gialli have been noted for their strong cinematic technique, with critics praising their editing, production design, music and visual style even in the marked absence of other facets usually associated with critical admiration (as gialli frequently lack characterization, believable dialogue, realistic performances and logical coherence in the narrative). Alexia Kannas wrote of 1968's La morte ha fatto l'uovo (Death Laid an Egg) that "While the film has garnered a reputation for its supreme narrative difficulty (just as many art films have), its aesthetic brilliance is irrefutable", while Leon Hunt wrote that frequent gialli director Dario Argento's work "vacillate[s] between strategies of art cinema and exploitation".
Gialli are frequently associated with strong technical cinematography and stylish visuals. Critic Maitland McDonagh describes the visuals of Profondo rosso (Deep Red) as, "vivid colors and bizarre camera angles, dizzying pans and flamboyant tracking shots, disorienting framing and composition, fetishistic close-ups of quivering eyes and weird objects (knives, dolls, marbles, braided scraps of wool)..." In addition to the iconic images of shadowy black-gloved killers and gruesome violence, gialli also frequently employ strongly stylized and even occasionally surreal uses of color. Directors Dario Argento and Mario Bava are particularly known for their impressionistic imagery and use of lurid colors, though other giallo directors (notably Lucio Fulci) employed more sedate, realistic styles as well. Due to their typical 1970s milieu, some commentators have also noted their potential for visual camp, especially in terms of fashion and decor.
Music has been cited as a key to the genre's unique character; critic Maitland McDonagh describes Profondo rosso (Deep Red) as an "overwhelming visceral experience...equal parts visual...and aural."  Writer Anne Billson explains, "The Giallo Sound is typically an intoxicating mix of groovy lounge music, nerve-jangling discord, and the sort of soothing lyricism that belies the fact that it's actually accompanying, say, a slow motion decapitation", (she cites as an example Ennio Morricone's score for 1971's Four Flies on Grey Velvet). Composers of note include Morricone, Bruno Nicolai, and the Italian band Goblin (all three of whom are probably best known for their collaborations with director Dario Argento, though they worked with other directors as well). Other important composers known for their work on giallo films include Piero Umiliani (composer for Five Dolls for an August Moon), Riz Ortolani (The Pyjama Girl Case) and Fabio Frizzi (Sette note in nero a.k.a.The Psychic).
Gialli often feature lurid or baroque titles, frequently employing animal references or the use of numbers. Examples of the former trend include Sette scialli di seta gialla (Crimes of the Black Cat), Non si sevizia un paperino (Don't Torture a Duckling), La morte negli occhi del gatto (Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye) and La tarantola dal ventre nero (Black Belly of the Tarantula); while instances of the latter include Sette note in nero (Seven Notes in Black) and The Fifth Cord.
The first giallo novel to be adapted for film was James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice, adapted in 1943 by Luchino Visconti as Ossessione. Though the film was technically the first of Mondadori's giallo series to be adapted, its neo-realist style was markedly different from the stylized, violent character which subsequent adaptations would acquire. Condemned by the fascist government, Obsessione was eventually hailed as a landmark of neo-realist cinema, but it did not provoke any further giallo adaptations for almost 20 years.
In addition to the literary giallo tradition, early gialli were also influenced by the German "krimi" films of the early 1960s. Produced by Danish/German studio Rialto Film, these black-and-white crime movies based on Edgar Wallace stories typically featured whodunit mystery plots with a masked killer, anticipating several key components of the giallo movement by several years. Despite their link to giallo author Wallace, though, they featured little of the excessive stylization and gore which would define Italian gialli.
The Swedish director Arne Mattsson has also been pointed to as a possible influence, in particular his 1958 film Mannequin in Red. Though the film shares stylistic and narrative similarities with later giallo films (particularly its use of color and its multiple murder plot), there is no direct evidence that subsequent Italian directors had seen it.
The first "true" giallo film is usually considered to be Mario Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963). Its title alludes to Alfred Hitchcock's classic The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934, remade by Hitchcock in 1956), highlighting the early link between gialli and Anglo-American crime stories. Though shot in black and white and lacking the lurid violence and sexuality which would define later gialli, the film has been credited with establishing the essential structure of the genre: in it, a young American tourist in Rome witnesses a murder, finds her testimony dismissed by the authorities, and must attempt to uncover the killer's identity herself. Bava drew on the krimi tradition as well as the Hitchcockian style referenced in the title, and the film's structure served as a basic template for many of the gialli that would follow.
Bava followed The Girl Who Knew Too Much the next year with the stylish and influential Blood and Black Lace (1964). It introduced a number of elements that became emblematic of the genre: a masked stalker with a shiny weapon in his black-gloved hand who brutally murders a series of glamorous fashion models. Though the movie was not a financial success at the time, the tropes it introduced (particularly its black-gloved killer, provocative sexuality, and bold use of color) would become iconic of the genre."
Several similarly-themed crime/thriller movies followed in the next few years, including early efforts from directors Antonio Margheriti (Nude... si muore [Naked You Die] in 1968), Umberto Lenzi (Orgasmo in 1968, Paranoia [A Quiet Place to Kill] and Così dolce... così perversa [So Sweet... So Perverse] in 1969) and Lucio Fulci (Una sull'altra [One on Top of the Other] in 1969), all of whom would go on to become major creative forces in the burgeoning genre. But it was Dario Argento's first feature, in 1970, that turned the giallo into a major cultural phenomenon. That film, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, was greatly influenced by Blood and Black Lace, and introduced a new level of stylish violence and suspense that helped redefine the genre. The film was a box office smash and was widely imitated. Its success provoked a frenzy of Italian films with stylish, violent, and sexually provocative murder plots, (Argento alone made three more in the next five years) essentially cementing the genre in the public consciousness. In 1996, director Michele Soavi wrote, "there's no doubt that it was Mario Bava who started the 'spaghetti thrillers' [but] Argento gave them a great boost, a turning point, a new style...'new clothes'. Mario had grown old and Dario made it his own genre... this had repercussions on genre cinema, which, thanks to Dario, was given a new lease on life." The success of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage provoked a decade which saw multiple gialli produced every year. In English-language film circles, the term giallo gradually became synonymous with a heavy, theatrical and stylized visual element.
The giallo genre had its heyday from 1968 through 1978. The most prolific period, however, was the three-year timespan between 1971 and 1973, during which time 65 different gialli were produced (see filmography below). Directors like Bava, Argento, Fulci, Lenzi, and Margheriti continued to produce gialli throughout the 70s and beyond, and were soon joined by other notable directors including Sergio Martino, Paolo Cavara, Armando Crispino, Ruggero Deodato and Bava's son Lamberto Bava. The genre also spread to Spain by the early 70s, resulting in films like La residencia (The House That Screamed) (1969) and Los Ojos Azules de la Muneca Rota (Blue Eyes Of The Broken Doll) (1973) which had unmistakable giallo characteristics but feature Spanish casts and production talent. Though they preceded the first giallo by a few years, German krimi films continued to be made contemporaneously with early gialli, and were also influenced by their success. As the popularity of krimis declined in Germany, Rialto Film began increasingly pairing with Italian production companies and filmmakers (such as composer Ennio Morricone and director, cinematographer Joe D'Amato, who worked on later krimi films following their successes in Italy). The overlap between the two movements is extensive enough that one of Rialto's final krimi films, Cosa avete fatto a Solange? (What Have You Done to Solange?), features an Italian director and crew and has been called a giallo in its own right.
Gialli continued to be produced throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but gradually their popularity diminished and film budgets and production values began shrinking. Director Pupi Avati satirized the genre in 1977 with a slapstick giallo titled Tutti defunti... tranne i morti.
Though the giallo cycle waned in the 1990s and saw few entries in the 2000s, they continue to be produced, notably by Argento (who in 2009 released a film actually titled Giallo, somewhat in homage to his long career in the genre) and co-directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, whose Amer (which uses music from older giallis, including tracks by Morricone and Bruno Nicolai) received a positive critical reception upon its release in 2009. To a large degree, the genre's influence lives on in the slasher films which became enormously popular during the 1980s and drew heavily on tropes developed by earlier gialli.
The giallo cycle has had a lasting effect on horror films and murder mysteries made outside Italy since the late 1960s. This cinematic style and unflinching content is also at the root of the gory slasher and splatter films that became widely popular in the early 1980s. In particular, two violent shockers from Mario Bava, Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970) and Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971) were especially influential.
Early examples of the giallo effect can be seen in the British film Berserk! (1967) and the American mystery-thrillers No Way to Treat a Lady (1968), Klute (1971), Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971, based on an Italian novel), Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy (1972), Vincent Price's Madhouse (1974) and Eyes of Laura Mars (1978). Berberian Sound Studio (2012) offers an affectionate tribute to the genre.
Director Eli Roth has called the giallo "one of my favorite, favorite subgenres of film," and specifically cited Sergio Martino's Torso (I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale) (along with the Spanish horror film Who Can Kill a Child?) as influential on his 2005 film Hostel, writing, "...these seventies Italian giallos start off with a group of students that are in Rome, lots of scenes in piazzas with telephoto lenses, and you get the feeling they're being watched. There's this real ominous creepy feeling. The girls are always going on some trip somewhere and they're all very smart. They all make decisions the audience would make." 
A.S.D. Giallo-Blu Figline is an Italian association football club located in Figline Valdarno, Tuscany. It currently plays in Eccellenza Toscana group B.Carlo Lizzani
Carlo Lizzani (3 April 1922 – 5 October 2013) was an Italian film director, screenwriter and critic.Dario Argento
Dario Argento (Italian: [ˈdaːrjo arˈdʒɛnto]; born 7 September 1940) is an Italian film director, producer, film critic and screenwriter. He is best known for his work in the horror film genre during the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in the subgenre known as giallo, and for his influence on modern horror films, which has led him to being referred to as the "Master of the Thrill" and the "Master of Horror".His most notable films as director are the "Animal Trilogy", consisting of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1969), The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971) and Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1972); the "Three Mothers" trilogy, consisting of Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980) and The Mother of Tears (2007); and the standalone films Deep Red (1975), Tenebrae (1982), Phenomena (1985), and Opera (1987).Elsa Pataky
Elsa Lafuente Medianu (born 18 July 1976), known professionally as Elsa Pataky, is a Spanish model, actress, and film producer. Pataky is known for her role as Elena Neves in The Fast and the Furious franchise. She has appeared in the films Snakes on a Plane (2006), Giallo (2009) and Give 'Em Hell, Malone (2009). She also starred in the Spanish film Di Di Hollywood (2010).Giallo (film)
Giallo is a 2009 Italian horror giallo film co-written and directed by Dario Argento and starring Adrien Brody, Emmanuelle Seigner and Elsa Pataky.
The film was poorly received at the time of its release, and is arguably most-known for Brody's lawsuit against the film for not having been paid.Luciano Martino
Luciano Martino (22 December 1933 – 14 August 2013) was an Italian film producer, director and screenwriter.Neapolitan Mystery
Neapolitan Mystery (Italian: Giallo napoletano) is a 1979 Italian mystery film directed by Sergio Corbucci.Nude per l'assassino
Nude per l'assassino (English: Strip Nude for Your Killer) is a 1975 giallo film directed by Andrea Bianchi. Written by Massimo Felisatti, the film stars Nino Castelnuovo, Edwige Fenech and Solvi Stubing, and features music by Berto Pisano. Nude per l'assassino has received mixed to negative reviews from critics.
After a model dies while undergoing an illegal abortion, a killer disguised in a motorcycle helmet tracks down and kills the doctor involved. Several models and photographers working at the same agency as the dead girl are also murdered, leading two surviving photographers to fear for their lives as they try to track down the killer.
Nude per l'assassino is one of several collaborations between Bianchi, Felisatti and cinematographer Franco Delli Colli. The film has been described as a formulaic giallo thriller, and has been cited as an influence on the development of the American slasher film genre.Riccardo Freda
Riccardo Freda (Alexandria, Egypt, February 24, 1909 – Rome, Italy, December 20, 1999) was an Italian film director. Freda films ranged in various genres from sword-and-sandal, horror, giallo and spy films.Freda began directing I Vampiri in 1956 but left the production midway to have it completed by Mario Bava. The film became the first Italian sound horror film production.Senza sapere niente di lei
Senza sapere niente di lei (internationally released as Unknown Woman) is a 1969 Italian giallo film directed by Luigi Comencini. It is based on the novel La morale privata by Antonio Leonviola. For this film Paola Pitagora was awarded with a Silver Ribbon for best actress.Seven Blood-Stained Orchids
Seven Blood-Stained Orchids (Italian: Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso) is a 1972 giallo film directed by Umberto Lenzi, who also co-wrote the screenplay.Slasher film
A slasher film is a film in the subgenre of horror films involving a violent psychopath stalking and murdering a group of people, usually by use of bladed tools. Although the term "slasher" is often used informally as a generic term for any horror film involving murder, film analysts cite an established set of characteristics which set these films apart from other subgenres, such as splatter films and psychological horror films.Critics cite the Italian giallo films and psychological horror films such as Peeping Tom (1960) and Psycho (1960) as early influences. The genre hit its peak between 1978–1984 in an era referred to as the "Golden Age" of slasher films. Notable slasher films include The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Child's Play (1988), Scream (1996) and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997). Many slasher films released decades ago continue to attract cult followings.The Bloodstained Butterfly
The Bloodstained Butterfly (Italian: Una farfalla con le ali insanguinate) is a 1971 giallo film directed by Duccio Tessari. It was distributed in West Germany as Das Geheimnis der Schwarzen Rose (Secret of the Black Rose) which was the name of the Edgar Wallace story on which the film was based. It starred Helmut Berger and Ida Galli.The Cat (1977 film)
Il gatto (internationally released as The Cat) is a 1977 Italian giallo-comedy film directed by Luigi Comencini. For this film Mariangela Melato was awarded with a David di Donatello for Best Actress.The House of the Yellow Carpet
The House of the Yellow Carpet (Italian: La casa del tappeto giallo) is a 1983 Italian giallo film directed by Carlo Lizzani.The White, the Yellow, and the Black
The White, the Yellow, and the Black (Italian: Il bianco, il giallo, il nero), also known as Samurai and Shoot First... Ask Questions Later, is a 1975 Spaghetti Western comedy film.
It is the last spaghetti western directed by Sergio Corbucci. Differently from his previous western films, this is openly parodic, acting as a spoof of Red Sun. It was generally poorly received by critics. The character of Milian will be reprised by the same actor, with slight changes, in the comedy film Delitto al ristorante cinese.Trebbiano
Trebbiano is an Italian wine grape, one of the most widely planted grape varieties in the world. It gives good yields, but tends to yield undistinguished wine. It can be fresh and fruity, but does not keep long. Also known as ugni blanc, it has many other names reflecting a family of local subtypes, particularly in Italy and France. Its high acidity makes it important in Cognac and Armagnac productions.Verdicchio
Verdicchio [verˈdikkjo] is a white Italian wine grape variety grown primarily in the Marche region of central Italy. The name Verdicchio derives from verde (or "green") and refers to the slight green/yellow hue that wines made from the grape can have.Verdicchio is the principal grape behind two Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) wines produced in the provinces of Macerata and Ancona, Verdicchio di Matelica and Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi. In addition to producing still wines, Verdicchio grapes are also used to make sparkling wine and straw wine.
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