Giallo Cinema and Its Folktale Roots

A Critical Study of 10 Films, 1962–1987

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About the Book

The Italian giallo film genre—the equivalent of the American whodunit but incorporating extreme violence and sex—was based on popular British and American fiction of the 30s and 40s, adapted to the explicitly liberal filmmaking of 1970s and 1980s Europe. Seldom released in American theaters, these films were usually distributed as redacted bootlegs, awaiting digital technology to be restored to their original content and pristine visual form.
This book analyzes the censored sex and violence of giallo films, finding in them an inherent beauty and tracing their literary antecedents to the elements of the fairy tale as described by Russian folklorist Vladimir Propp. Each chapter covers a film and its director, from 1962 to 1987. The author argues that despite their formulaic production and designation as “Euro-sleaze,” these films are works of individuality and artistic virtue.

About the Author(s)

Michael Sevastakis has served as a full professor in the communication department at the College of Mt. St. Vincent in Riverdale, New York. He lives in Bronx, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Michael Sevastakis
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 14 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9501-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2418-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Introduction: A Crime Waiting to Be Committed 1

1. In the Beginning Was the Giallo

Mario Bava’s La ragazza che sapeva troppo (1962) 5

2. A Vice in Common

Sergio Martino’s Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh (1970) 26

3. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (and Dream Your Troubles Away)

Lucio Fulci’s Una lucertola con la pelle di donna (1971) 45

4. Murder According to the Good Book

Umberto Lenzi’s Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso (1972) 66

5. His Blindness Is His Sight

Sergio Pastore’s Sette scialli di seta gialla (1972) 87

6. No Irises for Miss Landsbury

Giuliano Carnimeo’s Perche quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer? (1972) 108

7. Jealousy as Cruel as the Grave

Andrea Bianchi’s Nude per l’assassino (1975) 130

8. The Shadow of Guilt

Antonio Bido’s Solamente nero (1978) 151

9. A Night at the Opera … Without the Marx Brothers

Dario Argento’s Opera (1987) 171

10. The Return of the Repressed

Lamberto Bava’s Le foto di Gioia (1987) 192

Conclusion: A Postscript of Sorts, Not a Requiem for a Genre 212

Chapter Notes 217

Bibliography 222

Index 227

Book Reviews

“makes the case for the giallo’s artistic merit”—Flick Attack; “detailed, insightful, and intelligent”—Bookgasm.