Release Date(s)2019 (January 29, 2019)
Studio(s)Freak-O-Rama Productions (Severin Films)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: A+
Throughout the years, many book publishers and home video companies have produced a multitude of novels, essays, documentaries, featurettes, and audio commentaries featuring historians and filmmakers from all over the world discussing the giallo genre. Indeed, you can throw a stone in any direction and land upon something that will likely enlighten and educate you on the subject. Freak-O-Rama Productions, a company that specializes in these sorts of things – having worked on over 350 (and growing) DVD and Blu-ray releases across the globe – have taken it upon themselves, in conjunction with Severin Films, to produce a new documentary on the subject entitled All the Colors of Giallo.
Chances are good that if you’ve bought a title from Severin Films or Arrow Video in the last ten years or more, you’ve likely seen a featurette or two from Freak-O-Rama Productions. What makes them so special is that they are an overseas company that, unlike their American counterparts, often have direct access to many filmmakers from other countries (principally Italy, France, and Spain) and manage to get a variety of interviews for a lot of different releases. All the Colors of Giallo is a direct extension of all of that.
For 90 minutes, we spend a great deal of time with film historian Fabio Melelli, talking about the genre and its many facets, but we also get to hear from some of the people who worked on these films, including screenwriters Ernesto Gastaldi, Biagio Proietti, and Dardano Sacchetti; actor George Hilton; actresses Daria Nicolodi, Barbara Bouchet, Nieves Navarro (AKA Susan Scott), and Edwige Fenech; and directors Umberto Lenzi, Lamberto Bava, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci (in audio form), Luciano Ercoli, and Sergio Martino.
The discussion often leaps from subject to subject, dipping into the origins of giallo, the American films that influenced Italian filmmakers at the time, and presses on into the heyday of the genre. Much time is devoted to the works of Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Umberto Lenzi, and Sergio Martino, among others. There are some nice moments throughout, such as when Dario Argento speaks about his doubts about The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and how the film was received in different cities, or when Barbara Bouchet speaks about a particular relationship between her co-stars that was a little more than professional.
Almost entirely Italian (with provided subtitles), the biggest fault of the documentary, at least for me, is that there is no real concrete narrative, just subject matter. Most of the interviews play out with very little editing – only to show footage from trailers or to cut to an alternate angle of the interview participant. The information is wealthy, but the presentation is quite lax, feeling more like a long-form featurette than a documentary. That said, one can tell that All the Colors of Giallo was still quite a large undertaking, and just having some of these people, many of whom rarely appear in any of the extras for these films, is a real treat.
The Blu-ray presentation of All the Colors of Giallo is more than satisfactory. The interviews are shot primarily in HD, with a couple of others sourced from lower quality elements. Everyone is well-lit and everything appears clean and clear. The quality of the trailers wavers sometimes, including some that are in extremely poor shape, but all of the footage flows fairly well aesthetically.
The audio is presented in Italian 2.0 DTS-HD, with occasional bits of English here and there, and optional subtitles in English SDH. There’s never a problem with sync as far as the subtitles are concerned, and the most impressive aspect of the audio is the occasional use of score. It tends to leap out of the speakers whenever it’s given the chance. The interviews are never unintelligible and there’s no real sound design in place, but everything is as it should be. There are also no dropouts or instances of clipping, but there are occasional moments of hiss when it comes to the trailer footage.
This 3-Disc set is also loaded with extras. Disc One (a Blu-ray containing the documentary itself), features The Giallo Frames, a 20-minute interview with the editor of Giallo Pages, John Martin. It acts a sort of primer for the next item of interest: Giallothon, which is 4 straight hours of giallo film trailers (82 in all actually) with “Play All” and “Choose Trailer” options and optional audio commentary by author Kat Ellinger, who makes for a great audio companion through this massive archive of titles. They include The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Blood and Black Lace, Libido, The Embalmer, The Murder Clinic, Deadly Sweet, Death Laid an Egg, Naked You Die, The Sweet Body of Deborah, A Black Veil for Lisa, Deadly Inheritance, Paranoia, One on Top of the Other, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Five Dolls for an August Moon, Hatchet for the Honeymoon, Death Occurred Last Night, The Weekend Murders, The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, The Cat O’ Nine Tails, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (AKA Schizoid), Cold Eyes of Fear (AKA Desperate Moments), The Designated Victim, In the Eye of the Hurricane, Slaughter Hotel (AKA La bestia uccide a sangue freddo), The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail, The Fifth Cord, The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire, The Black Belly of the Tarantula, The Bloodstained Butterfly, Short Night of Glass Dolls, Death Stalks on High Heels, The Devil with Seven Faces, Four Flies on Grey Velvet, The Dead Are Alive, My Dear Killer, Seven Blood-Stained Orchids, All the Colors of the Dark, What Have You Done to Solange?, Amuck, Who Saw Her Die?, The French Sex Murders, The Case of the Bloody Iris, The Crimes of the Black Cat, The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, Knife of Ice, Don’t Torture a Duckling, Tropic of Cancer, The Killer is on the Phone, A White Dress for Marialé, Torso (AKA Carnal Violence), Death Carries a Cane, Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye, Spasmo, The Killer Reserved Nine Seats, The Girl in Room 2A, What Have They Done to Your Daughters?, Puzzle, Death Will Have Your Eyes, The Killer Must Kill Again (AKA The Dark is Death’s Friend), Autopsy, Eyeball, Deep Red (AKA Profondo Rosso), Strip Nude for Your Killer, The Bloodsucker Leads the Dance, Strange Shadows in an Empty Room, The House of the Laughing Windows (AKA The House with the Laughing Windows), Nine Guests for a Crime, Watch Me When I Kill (AKA The Cat’s Victims), The Psychic, The Pyjama Girl Case, Hotel Fear (AKA Pensione Paura), Enigma Rosso (AKA Rings of Fear), The Sister of Ursula, The Bloodstained Shadow, Killer Nun, Giallo in Venice, The New York Ripper, Tenebre, and A Blade in the Dark.
On Disc Two (a DVD), there’s Kriminal! Trailers, an additional 91-minute trailer compilation (32 in all) with optional English subtitles and a “Select Trailer” option. Titles include The Fellowship of the Frog, The Crimson Circle, The Terrible People, Der grüne Bogenschütze (AKA The Green Archer), Dead Eyes of London, Das Geheimnis der gelben Narzissen (AKA The Devil’s Daffodil), Der Fälscher von London (AKA The Forget of London), The Strange Countess, Das Rätsel der roten Orchidee (AKA The Puzzle of the Red Orchid), The Door with Seven Locks, Das Gasthaus an der Themse (AKA The Inn of the River), The Squeaker, The Black Abbot, The Indian Scarf, The Phantom of Soho, Room 13, Mark of the Tortoise, The Curse of the Hidden Vault, The Mysterious Magician (AKA Der Hexer), Das Verrätertor (AKA Traitor’s Gate), Neues vom Hexer (AKA Again the Ringer), The Sinister Monk, The Hunchback of Soho, Das Geheimnis der weißen Nonne (AKA The Trygon Factory), Die blaue Hand (AKA Creature with the Blue Hand), Der Mönch mit der Peitsche (AKA The College Girl Murders), The Monster of Blackwood Castle, The Hand of Power, Der Gorilla von Soho (AKA Gorilla Gang), The Man with the Glass Eye, Das Gesicht im Dunkeln (AKA Double Face), and Angels of Terror. Also on this disc is The Case of the Krimi, a 24-minute interview with film historian Marcus Stiglegger in which he explains the origins of the krimi genre and its ties to the giallo.
And finally, Disc Three is a CD soundtrack entitled The Strange Sounds of the Blood Stained Films, which is a curated collection of 20 tracks from various composers and giallo films. It includes the tracks Nightmare from the film The Young, the Evil and the Savage by Carlo Savina, Suor Omicidi – Seq. 5 from the film Killer Nun by Alessandro Alessandroni, Sitar in Blues from the film One on Top of the Other by Riz Ortolani, Notte Di Giorno from the film A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin by Ennio Morricone, Lo Strano Vizio Della Signora Wardh – Seq. 31 from the film The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh by Nora Orlandi, La Lucertola from the film A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin by Ennio Morricone, La Coda Dello Scorpione – Seq. 1 from the film The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail by Bruno Nicolai, Poisoned Claws from the film Seven Shawls of Yellow Silk by Manuel De Sica, Placere Sequence – M36 from the film Amuck by Teo Usuelli, Il Sorriso Della Iena – Seq. 1 from the film Smile Before Death by Roberto Pregadio, Perche’ Quelle Strane Gocce Sul Corpo Di Jennifer? – Seq. 1 from the film The Case of the Bloody Iris by Bruno Nicolai, Perche’ Quelle Strane Gocce Sul Corpo Di Jennifer? – Seq. 5 from the film The Case of the Bloody Iris by Bruno Nicolai, Sabba from the film All the Colors of the Dark by Bruno Nicolai, Voce D’Amore from the film The Cat in Heat by Gianfranco Plenizio, Tony’s Magnum from the film Strange Shadows in an Empty Room by Armando Trovajoli, Incubi Ricorrenti from the film The Bloodstained Shadow by Stelvio Cipriani, Suor Omicidi – Seq. 1 from the film Killer Nun by Alessandro Alessandroni, New York... One More Day from the film The New York Ripper by Francesco De Masi, The Ripper from the film The New York Ripper by Francesco De Masi, and Sounds in the Night from the film The Great Swingle by Carl Savina.
Severin Films’ presentation of All the Colors of Giallo is certainly a gigantic undertaking and, indeed, might take one a couple of days to sort through. It’s a wealth of material, especially for giallo fans who want to totally stuff themselves on everything they can. With a nice documentary and a boatload of juicy extras, including an excellent CD soundtrack, it’s a dynamite release overall. Highly recommended.
– Tim Salmons