Not Rated | 95 min | Comedy, Horror, Mystery | 18 October 2014 (USA)
Rey Ciso was once the greatest editor the world had ever seen. Since a horrific accident left him with four wooden fingers on his right hand, he’s had to resort to cutting pulp films and trash pictures. When the lead actors from the film he’s been editing turn up murdered at the studio, Rey is fingered as the number one suspect. The bodies continue to pile up in this absurdist giallo-thriller as Rey struggles to prove his innocence and learn the sinister truth lurking behind the scenes.
Giallo is a genre of film based off of old mystery novels sold in Italy that were much like stories we are familiar with such as Agatha Christie. The word giallo means yellow, the color of the covers for these series of novels. Giallo is a film, plural is gialli. Without going into the full history of the genres titles and evolution, the height of it’s popularity was the late 60’s through the late 70’s, with a few mixed in the 80’s and modern day. These movies in short are mysteries usually involving a murder or murders, have over the top plots that usually have twist or sudden endings, feature a black gloved, shadowy killer sometimes with or without a mask who loves his straight razor or switchblade. They are rarely identified until the final minutes of the film. The movies are gory, usually have poor dialogue and always a very strange assortment of odd characters. They are also know for their stylish camera shots, extreme colors mix with dull colors and soundtracks that you could most likely disco dance to. Sound bizarre? Yes they are and that is why I love them. With a genre full of strange characters, plots and hundreds of stereotypical shots and and content that are usually a staple in every single one of the films, there was eventually going to be a satire/spoof of the genre. Fans could only hope that it would be cared for by those that love the genre. This one not filmed in Italy but Canada…oh Canada…Enter Astron 6 (Father’s Day, Manborg).
Written and Directed by Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy, with Connor Sweeney also a co-writer, and all three starring in the film, it was obvious in the opening minutes that giallo fans were in for a treat. Watching for all of the subtleties, it was apparent that this also had a lot of satire on Italian horror as well, mainly the supernatural type. The mood is immediately set as well as its bizarre characters. Immediately you know there is something strange going on without knowing what it is and that is aside from the story. The story revolves around a movie the characters are filming which is sort of a giallo/horror mix. You start to realize that the characters in the movie they are filming are strange but maybe not as strange as the people filming the movie. There is a murder of a casted character, then another, then another while the production just continues to move along without missing a beat and the Editor splicing in newly hired replacements. Pretty absurd and perfect for where the movie is going. The detectives assigned to the case are on par with the outlandish movie crew and are clueless and borderline Barney Fife. Hilarity ensues with ongoing violence, low IQ cops and a lot of deliberate misleading scenes. I do not want to get too deep into the story or who does what as it is a mystery however I would like to get more into why this movie works so well as a satire/spoof as well as an amazing tribute.
When I first heard about this movie I was both excited and terrified after hearing that it would be a spoof/satire. One of those moments where you think that this could really be good exposure to my favorite genre or it could absolutely destroy what little reputation it has these days while it is in the middle of a resurgence. Then I saw the trailer. I was quite relieved though still unsure. What scared me the most is what route were they going to take with this movie? I certainly was hoping it would be nothing like a Scary Movie type of film where the genre is trampled over with the end result being a 90 minute fart joke. To my relief it was not. I would compare this a bit to Scream where it is satire however in good taste and not taking away from the genre it is spoofing. In Scream they are poking fun at slashers, however we do not see the story, effects or quality suffer… at least for the most part. The Editor managed to give its fans a non stop humorous look at giallo without the movie disrespecting or swaying away from what it is. At the end of the day it is a giallo. The story was well written, of course though with intentional WTF scenes and misleading or unnecessary scenes which were obviously on purpose. The gore was effective and sticky with specifics seen in proper giallo. The music was very good. Turns out the Claudio Simonetti from the band Goblin (Suspiria, Deep Red, Dawn of the Dead (1978), Phenomena) even did a few tracks. There were a lot of genre specific shots such as the many zooms to the characters face and eyes, strange focus in shots, some intentional blur etc. However, it was kept to a minimum where it did not distract too much. If anything I was surprised that the film was very clear and not filmed grainy. I think I would take a half a point off for that but it really didn’t matter too much. The performances of the actors and actresses were all quite well done. Most of them will be unknowns to most with the exception of Paz de la Huerta (Boardwalk Empire, Enter the Void) and the great Udo Kier (Suspiria, Blood for Dracula, Blade) who is no stranger to Italian horror and cinema. I have to say that I was laughing the entire movie while also enjoying all of the content of what this movie was poking fun at.
The fun… just a short list of things that were obvious nods to the genre without spoilers to the story… I made a full list but it is pages long.
- Dubbing of the voices over the film so the words are slightly off.
- The assortment of characters covers all of the typical ones such as a psychotic, a jealous, a vengeful, a depressed, and tons of characters that are oblivious to what is going on.
- Gratuitous nudity in the background during some routine conversations that really don’t matter. You get by the scene and are like whoa what did they say just to rewind and realize it didn’t matter… funny.
- A lot of slapping of characters and women who love being slapped. This is very 70’s and obviously just poking fun at how non pc those older movies were. It is done in a blatant overuse and poke at it.
- Hallucinations. ½ of the giallo genre has scenes like these that go unexplained.
- Bizarre sex scenes with really strange behavior. Very typical. Though cake…
- Tons of red herrings.
- Camera shots that closely mimic some very iconic horror and giallo scenes.
- Characters that are obvious references to characters in other movies… Blind girl with the dog… I swear I thought this was the same the girl in The Beyond…
- Obvious references and tributes to some great movies such as Suspiria, The Beyond, Deep Red, Black Belly of the Tarantula, Demons, Blood and Black Lace, Tenebre and many more.
My advice for watching this if you have not yet been exposed to giallo and Italian horror is just watch and have fun. Don’t get too caught up in the story as you WILL be confused at times. That is a bit of the point. Rather enjoy the content, visuals, sound and comedic value. I am hoping this leads people to giving giallo a try. Maybe it will be just as fun to watch the older movies and find the references as I did finding them in this movie. I really enjoyed this movie and have watch 4 times in 2 weeks. Every time I have watched it I have noticed new things that make my laugh or cheered at the team behind it for their tributes. I thought it would be a bit hard to rate a satire of a genre I take seriously but I have no problem rating this as it stands on its own and does justice to those that made the original giallo films.