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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Giallo Collection
The Giallo Collection
Starz / Anchor Bay // Unrated // June 25, 2002
List Price: $59.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted June 27, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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giallo (yellow): A wave of suspense/horror/mystery Italian (and some Spanish) films that became a prolific genre, mainly throughout the 70's. The term refers to the pulp mystery paperbacks (printed on cheap, quick to yellow paper) that inspired these films. For the layman, the giallo genre is basically the updated and mutated cousin of film noir, containing all the darkness, atmosphere, unsavory characters, and suspense of film noir often combined with healthy doses of exploitation nudity, violence, and general creepy unsavoriness... Anchor Bays Giallo Collection features four of these classic films, some of them for the first time on US Home Video, and the collection contains one film, Case of the Bloody Iris, exclusive to the box set.

Who Saw Her Die? (1972 aka. The Child): Venetian sculptor Franco (George Lazenby) is ecstatic to take care of his visiting daughter, Roberta. But unbeknownst to both of them, his daughter is being stalked by a mysterious killer. One day while Franco has a tryst with his girlfriend and Roberta is playing with the neighborhood kids, the killer manages to strike and take the young girls life and dump her body in the rivers of Venice. Understandably distraught and disappointed with the police investigation, Franco begins to search for any clues that will lead him to the killer. But, he quickly finds that clues say the killer may be connected or among his circle of affluent artistic friends.

Fantasitc giallo. Like the best giallo, the actual mystery machinations of the plot (who is the killer?) take a secondary role to the stylish visuals and atmospheric sequences. The main drive is the character and suspense, the beautiful women, the driven father, and the list of weird suspects, with perfectly timed thrills. It is also a very timely tale- Franco leaves his daughter alone, playing with the neighborhood children, with no fear she would be abducted or harmed in their neighborhood. It instantly made me think of the Smart family that has been in the news, their daughter abducted from their million dollar, seemingly secure, home. And, last week a child drowned in a local pool with five lifeguards on duty and a crowd of parents and other kids mere feet away in the pool. Anyway, great film in every aspect, one of my favorite gialli.

Co-Starring giallo regular Anita Strindberg from Eye of the Black Cat, Lizard in a Woman's Skin, and Case of the Scorpion's Tail. Even young Roberta is played by an Italian horror suspense familiar, Nicoletta Elmi from Profondo Rosso, Who Can Kill a Child?, Bay of Blood and The Night Child. Who Saw Her Die? also has the team up of two Bond actors- the great character actor Adolfo Celi from Thunderball as well as Danger: Diabolik!, Italian Connection, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man, and brief Bond, George Lazenby from On Her Majesty's Secret Service, as well as the HK crossovers A Man Called Stoner, Queens Ransom, and The Man from Hong Kong.

Movie (4/5) Picture (4/5)- 2.35.1, 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen. This very clean dirt and scratch free print shows the standard softness, grain, and muted color, signs of age that are natural, expected, and forgivable. Other than that there are some minor instances of edge enhancement, but overall a fantastic print of the film. Sound (3/5)- Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono English dub. The dub is a little weak in certain spots, just low, no distortions, but thankfully the disturbing Ennio Morricone score is clear and powerful. Extras (3/5)- 5x7 Theatrical Poster Replica--- 24 Chapter Selections--- Trailer--- Aldo Lado Filmography--- Death In Venice (11 min), a new, perfect, precise, featurette interview with Lado about the film. Replay (4/5)

The Bloodstained Shadow (1978 aka. Only Blackness): Burned out Professor Stefano takes a leave from his studies and returns to Venice to recuperate from his stress. But dormant memories begin to resurface and when his brother, respected priest Father Paulo, witnesses the murder of the towns medium, Stefano finds himself embroiled in a curious and deadly mystery. His brother begins to receive threatening messages, so Stefano investigates the mediums unsavory clients, who also begin to turn up dead. Could the clue to it all be these strange memories that have begun to haunt him?

Antonio Bido's second giallo, the first being Cat With the Jade Eyes, is a solid improvement, though a formulaic giallo, right down to its Goblin arranged score. The lurking killer, faded memory, a painting as a clue, imagery of dolls, a town of eccentrics, the psychic medium, the religious overtones, had all become standard giallo devices and been seen in other films, most notably Profondo Rosso. But, despite its co-incidental resolution and humdrum conclusion, it succeeds in its well paced unraveling, competent direction, and neat suspense sequences.

Movie (3/5) Picture (3.5/5)- 2.35.1, 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen. The sharpest picture of the four films in this collection, but it does show some age damage with some small spots, dirt, and erosion, but it is fairly minimal and not tremendously distracting. Like the others, some minor edge enhancements, and softness, grain, and muted color that is just a product of its age. Sound (3/5)- Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono English dub. Pretty good dub, moderately clear overall. Extras (3/5)- 5x7 Theatrical Poster Replica--- 28 chapters--- Trailer--- Antonio Bido Filmography--- Solamente Bido (13 min), new interview with Bido about the film. Replay (3.5/5)

Short Night of Glass Dolls (1971, aka. Paralyzed): The setting is Prague. American journalist Gregory Moore (Jean Sorel) is found laying in a courtyard, eyes open, presumably dead, but he still has a conciseness trapped inside his frozen shell. Although it shows little/no signs of life, his body doesn't grow cold, so the puzzled doctors try to ascertain if they can revive him. Meanwhile, within his lifeless remains, Gregory's mind wanders, recalling the events that lead to his comatose state... It began with the disappearance of his love, Mira (Barbara Bach), and as Gregory and his reporter friends follow Mira's trail, they are lead to a bizarre, secret sect of the cities wealthiest, oldest elite. Gregory desperately tries to recall the details and prays that the doctors will revive him so he can get revenge and bring Mira's (and possibly his?) killer to justice.

While Aldo Lado's debut film as a director succeeds in concept, it falls short in terms of thrills, one of the essential elements of any giallo. The real suspense of the film isn't served up until the final third and even then the sequences are brief. Beautiful, understated, and eerie, but brief. The bulk of the film is mired in procedural investigating, the lifeless body of Gregory recalling his detective work while the doctors try to solve the puzzle of whether of not he still has restorable life within him. It is a great concept (remids me of something Cornell Woolrich would write), but unfortunately it also lessens the suspense since we know his outcome. The film, unlike other giallo, never puts him in any real danger until, of course, the finale when we see how he came to be in this state and what eventually happens to him. Plus, Sorel comes off like a poor mans Franco Nero... The real saving grace is Bido's surreal Bunuel-like direction and several neat, memorable scenes like Gregory in the morgue, the discovery of Mira's body, and the old, white, twisted faced relics of the secret sect.

Movie (3/5) Picture (4/5)- 2.35.1, 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen. Once again, this very clean dirt and scratch free print shows the standard softness, grain, and muted color, signs of age that are natural, expected, and forgivable. Other than that there are some minor instances of edge enhancement, but overall a fantastic print of the film. Sound (3/5)- Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono English dub. Like Who Saw Her Die?, another dub with a couple of weak, muffled spots, particularly on the voice of Gregory's gruff reporter friend. Extras (3/5)- 5x7 Theatrical Poster Replica--- 25 Chapter Selections--- Trailer--- Aldo Lado Filmography--- Strange Days of Short Nights (11 min), great interview with Lado about the film. Replay (3/5)

Case of the Bloody Iris (1972 aka. Erotic Blue, What are those Strange Drops of Blood doing on Jennifer's Body?): There is a killer on the loose in the city, and beautiful model Jennifer (Edwige Fenech) is being stalked. It doesn't help matters that Jennifer and her roommate are living in the apartment of one of the killers previous victims. Could this mysterious stalker be one of their increasingly peculiar neighbors? Or could it be her ex-lover/husband/cult guru, who keeps accosting her? Could it be her new beau, Andrea (George Hilton), an architect who set them up in the apartment? He seems an unlikely suspect since he gets faint at the sight of blood, or could that infirmity be a lie?

Now this is what its all about- pure pulp fun. Unlike the other films, it has no aspirations of having an underlying message about pedophelia, politics, or religious allegory. Case of the Bloody Iris is simple, wonderfully kooky suspense. Giuliano Carnimeo's (aka Anthony Ascott) trippy direction is full of plenty of 70's style, loose camerawork, zooms, askew camera angles, colorful sets. The lovely Edwige Fenech (a slutty Euro Audrey Hepburn from All the Colors of the Dark, Eye of the Black Cat, and Mean Frank and Crazy Tony) is a great victimized heroine. George Hilton is a bit of a dullard, he was much more commanding in his Spaghetti Western roles, including few under Carnimeo's direction like Man Called Invincible, Fistful of Lead, and The Moment of Killing. Luckily, Giampiero Albertini (A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die, Return of Sabata) who plays the stamp collecting, wise ass cop provides a much better semi-hero/comedic relief. With a funky score by Bruno Nicolai and tight, appropriately pulp scripting by Ernesto Gastaldi, writer of Cynic, the Rat & the Fist, Case of the Scorpion's Tail, My Name Is Nobody, and Torso, and lines like- "You are an object and you belong to me. From the day of our celestial marraige you belonged to me!"... it is a full bag of fun giallo entertainment.

Movie(3.5/5) Picture (3/5)- 2.35.1 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen. Like Bloodstained Shadow, this print has a few signs of wear and tear, some age damage like softness and occasional dirt and erosion, but color and contrast are fine. Considering the genre, more than acceptable print and transfer. Sound (3.5/5)- Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono English dub. Probably the strongest audio of all the films in the collection, clear dub, clear music, very good. Extras (2.5/5)- 5x7 Theatrical Poster Replica--- 25 Chapter Selections--- Trailer--- Alternate Stabbing Scene--- Anthony Ascott filmography. Replay (4/5)

Conclusion: Fantastic buy for fans. Anchor Bay should be commended for releasing these films, giving proper respect and producing good, affordable, clean editions of such genre material. Lets hope there are more Giallo Collections in the future and of the same (or even better?) quality.

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