Reviewed by: Sarah Artt

As with most giallos, Argento's latest feature begins in the rarefied realm of high culture and quickly descends into the depths of the lair of the token homicidal maniac/sex fiend/devil worshipper.

We begin at the opera, where two bored Japanese tourists decide to abandon their investigation of the finer performing arts for the delights of eurodisco and the paramours of a single evening. When Keiko is picked up by what will henceforth be known as the Minivan Taxi of Doom, (I wonder if the Zafira PR people mind?) we know that our nubile heroine is not long for this world. However, when our killer kidnaps fashion model Celine (Patasky), we also see that he subdues his victims with what looks like a shot of Botox (how fitting!). Celine's sister Linda goes to the police about her missing sibling, and they quickly dispatch her to the resident obsessive, Enzo Avolfi (Brody). Enzo in his basement fortress of solitude has more than a whiff of Fox Mulder about him: the walls are covered with crime scene photos of graphic sex murders and Enzo himself is cold, taciturn and monk-like.

Copy picture

Meanwhile, back at the lair of Peg-Leg McPsycho (Brody in a hilarious double role), we see him abusing solvents and chopping more bits off his latest victim while Celine writhes on the floor in her faux Pucci ensemble, using her considerable verbal insult skills to ward him off.

As is often the case with Argento films, Giallo is beautifully shot and red objects weave in and out of the mise-en-scène to remind us of the blood that is rarely on screen but always implied: a scarlet shopping bag carried by Enzo, red pillars in the killer's underground lair and finally the red walls and flowers in the restaurant where Enzo explains his ultimate motivations to Linda. It is in this scene that Brody stops trying to fight it and accepts the kind of picture he's in. One word can be used to describe both the murders enacted on the bodies of the screaming, cowering beauties and the acting in this film: overkill. But it is a hilarious and somewhat knowing form of overkill and there is much to delight the giallo aficianado here.

That said, I don't think Argento goes quite far enough. It would have been intriguing to see more of an exposure and questioning of giallo's conventions, rather than a stylish attempt at a contemporary remake of what is essentially a genre closely linked to a particular Italian era (the heyday of the original giallos is the late Fifties to early Seventies, running parallel with the emergence of the Italian New Wave and those directors now considered the masters of Italian cinema, such as Fellini and Visconti).

With gestures to past giallo classics such as Blood And Black Lace, as well as to Micheal Powell's Peeping Tom, Argento's Giallo will be a delight for fans of this once obscure genre that has undoubtedly gained a wider following through the DVD re-release market. However, those who have enjoyed the satirical elements of Wes Craven's Scream series or Sam Raimi's recent gross-out horror comedy Drag Me To Hell may also find much to please them.

Reviewed on: 29 Jun 2009
Share this with others on...
As a killer stalks and kidnaps beautiful young women, how far will the local detective have to go to stop him?
Amazon link

Read more Giallo reviews:

Keith Hennessey Brown ****

Search database:

Related Articles:

A frightfully good mix