Tuesday, November 02, 2010


(2009) **1/2

“Giallo” (Italian for “yellow”) refers to the cinematic sub-genre Dario Argento helped define with 1970's The Bird With the Crystal Plumage. Inspired by pulp mystery novels, these Italian films were popular in the 60’s and 70’s. They’re known for their elaborate and violent death sequences, stylish cinematography, eroticism and unique music. Argento has periodically revisited the genre over the years and the results have ranged from excellent (Deep Red, The Stendahl Syndrome) to mediocre (The Card Player, Sleepless).

Adrian Brody slums it as Enzo Avolfi, a detective hell bent on capturing a serial killer. The madman takes the beautiful women he kidnaps in his taxi to an abandoned building where he relishes in torturing and disfiguring them. Assisting Avolfi with the case is the histrionic sister of one of the kidnapped girls. (Her whining was so irritating that by the end I was rooting for the killer.)

The villain has a great look: a homely face that not even a mother could love, yellow skin and a hopelessly outdated 80’s red headband. Unfortunately the rest of the movie doesn’t quite live up to Argento’s standards. Sure the signature terrible acting is there (only Dario could turn an Oscar winning actor into a stiff) but the artistic flourishes that you can normally count on are few and far between. More troublesome is the paltry body count and (relative) lack of ultra-violence. Regardless, it's a somewhat entertaining fast paced thriller. Argento fans will likely be disappointed and those who aren't yet familiar with his twisted world would be advised to test the waters with The Bird With the Crystal Plumage or Suspiria.

Ironically Adrian Brody’s attempt to stop the release of Giallo was the only publicity it received. Additionally Argento himself was reportedly dissatisfied with the producer's cut of the film and sought to remove his name from it.


JPX said...

Ha! The killer looks like the lead singer of Quiet Riot! I have this in my pile but never got around to it. Based on your mediocre review of the film it doesn't sound like I missed much. I'm glad you checked this out, it just came out. Nice summary.

Catfreeek said...

Woo hoo! Another summary I won't have to write. Agree with you 100% on all points.

Whirlygirl said...

I almost watched it, but then I thought, if I'm going to watch Argento then it should be good Argento. I heard this was lousy and you just confirmed it.

I'm going to go to see the The Bird With the Crystal Plumage in the theater for a buck this month. Woo hoo!!

Johnny Sweatpants said...

I'm jealous Whirlygirl! I guarantee you'll love it. And for only a buck? You can spend the money you save on hot, buttery popcorn!

Whirlygirl said...

JSP, I've already seen it and I love it, and I'm excited to watch it on a big screen. Definitely extra money for popcorn and booze, this place has an extensive liquor menu.