Giallo Essentials: Yellow Edition – Volume Two (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Dec 20, 2021
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
  • Bookmark and Share
Giallo Essentials: Yellow Edition – Volume Two (Blu-ray Review)

Director

Massimo Dallamano, Sergio Martino, Andrea Bianchi

Release Date(s)

1974/1973/1975 (December 21, 2021)

Studio(s)

Arrow Video
  • Film/Program Grade: See Below
  • Video Grade: See Below
  • Audio Grade: See Below
  • Extras Grade: B+
  • Overall Grade: A-

Giallo Essentials: Yellow Edition – Volume Two (Blu-ray Disc)

Buy it Here!

Review

Having released a number of giallo films on Blu-ray over the years, Arrow Video has now taken the opportunity to repackage some of those releases in the Giallo Essentials boxed set, the second volume of which features the films What Have They Done to Your Daughters?, Torso, and Strip Nude for Your Killer.

WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS?

During the giallo explosion of the late 1960s and early 1970s, filmmaker Massimo Dallamano made a number of sophisticated crime films that covered familiar subject matter, but did it in more of an envelope-pushing way than most, particularly when it came to stories about young, underage women having sex and the atrocities that were committed against them. He had already made the readily familiar What Have You Done to Solange?, but returned to make the second in a proposed trilogy of films with What Have They Done to Your Daughters? (aka La polizia chiede aiuto).

Police commissioner (Claudio Cassinelli) and district attorney (Giovanna Ralli) are attempting to discover the identity of and catch the person behind the murders of various local young women. They soon determine that these young girls are part of an underground prostitution ring, which leads them down darker and more sinister paths than they originally thought. Featuring brief appearances by Farley Granger and Marina Berti, it's a disturbing but engaging journey into a truly corrupted world.

What Have They Done to Your Daughters? is impeccably well-shot, utilizing handheld cameras effectively before the steadicam was introduced a year or two later. It's also a hybrid of giallo and poliziotteschi, which is odd since they so often go hand-in-hand with each other. It tends to focus more on the police procedural side of things and less on the violence, making the bloodshed all the more potent when it does occur. It's a very blunt film, not shying away from intimate details about the victims. You’re also not likely to find a killer in Italian cinema dressed in a leather motorcycle suit and helmet armed with a meat cleaver. Unfortunately, Dallamano’s planned trilogy wasn't to be as he died tragically in a car accident a couple of years after the film’s release.

What Have They Done to Your Daughters? was shot by cineamtographer Franco Delli Colli on 35 mm film, finished photochemically, and framed at the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Arrow Video’s Blu-ray is sourced from a 2K restoration of the original camera negative, which was provided by Camera Obscura. Grain levels are mostly solid, even throughout the opening and closing titles, while depth and detail are boosted. Despite a few daytime shots appearing a bit anemic, the color palette is often strong with bold uses of red and green that really stand out. Flesh tones are natural and black levels are deep and inky with excellent shadow detail. Everything appears vibrant and clean with a few random moments of minor instability.

Audio options include English and Italian 2.0 mono LPCM with optional English subtitles for the Italian track and English SDH subtitles for the English track. The opening and closing titles will reflect which version of the film you choose. There's no major difference between the two other than the fact that the English track is slightly louder. Dialogue is a bit loose when it comes to sync, as to be expected, but it’s discernible. The film's score, including its memorable opening number, also benefit from the boost in clarity. Both tracks are free of any distortion or dropouts.

The following extras are included:

  • Audio Commentary by Troy Howarth
  • Masters & Slaves (HD – 19:44)
  • Eternal Melody (HD – 49:39)
  • Dallamano’s Touch (HD – 22:22)
  • Hardcore Footage (HD – 5:05)
  • English Titles (Upscaled SD – 3:09)
  • Italian Theatrical Trailer (HD – 3:55)
  • Image Gallery (HD – 35 in all)

Another excellent audio commentary by author and film historian Troy Howarth is provided, entertainingly covering an enormous amount of detail about the film and the people who made it. Masters & Slaves: Power, Corruption and Decadence in the Cinema of Massimo Dallamano is a video essay written and narrated by writer and podcaster Kat Ellinger about director Dallamano, his work, and its various facets. Eternal Melody features an interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani and Dallamano's Touch features an interview with editor Antonio Siciliano, both covering their careers and their work with Dallamano. Presented without sound is a few minutes of mysteriously unused hardcore sex footage that may or may not have been shot for the film by Dallamano (which even the film's editor is unsure of). Also included is a lower resolution set of English opening and closing titles, the film’s Italian theatrical trailer, and an Image Gallery containing 35 stills of posters, lobby cards, and the soundtrack’s cover art. Not carried over from German Region B Blu-ray releases of the film are the German and English theatrical trailers.

FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO/EXTRAS: B/A/B+/B+

TORSO

Sergio Martino’s Torso (aka I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale) is a film with a categorical bent towards giallo, primarily due to having a masked, gloved, knife-wielding antagonist whose identity isn’t revealed until the film’s finale. Even so, it’s not traditional in that it isn’t about a detective, author, or artist of some sort attempting to discover a murderer’s identity. It has elements of that, but once its final half hour begins, it becomes more of what we think of as a slasher film, and an effective one at that.

An unknown killer is stalking and murdering women, mutilating their corpses after strangling them with a red scarf, a key item which links to more than one suspect. Feeling overwhelmed by all of the violence around them, four women decide to take off for a villa in the hills in order to get away from it all. However, their holiday home is no safe haven as the killer isn’t far behind and will soon be paying them a visit.

What’s interesting about Torso is that its first half is fairly generic stalk and slash material with little to no substance and an abundance of nudity. It’s sort of lurid with no clear direction, but at the same time, it’s impeccably well-made, even setting up scenes that will take place later on. The final sequence of events at the villa are quite gripping, seemingly given more careful consideration as they’re far more effective than anything that comes before. Featuring Suzy Kendall from The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Tales That Witness Madness, it’s a suspense-driven series of set pieces that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Torso was shot by cinematographer Giancarlo Ferrando on 35 mm film, finished photochemically, and framed at the 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Arrow Video’s Blu-ray is sourced from a 2K restoration of the original camera negative. There are four versions of the film to choose from via seamless branching: the original Italian version, a hybrid English/Italian version, an English version with the title Carnal Violence, and another English version with the title Torso. Both the Italian and Hybrid versions are 94 minutes, while the Carnal Violence and Torso versions are 90 minutes, the latter utilizing low grade VHS and print materials to recreate its opening sequence, which is unique to this version (and also identical to one of the film’s US theatrical trailers). The primary source for all of these versions is the new restoration, aside from the Torso version’s opening. It’s a sharp-looking transfer overall, with excellent grain management and amazing depth and detail. Everything is stable and clean with strong color reproduction and perfect contrast. Black levels are deep with nice shadow detail and there are next to no instances of leftover damage.

For the audio, there are Italian and English mono LPCM tracks for their corresponding languages (the opening and closing titles will reflect which version of the film you choose). In the English/Italian hybrid, some scenes were either not recorded in English or the materials have been lost. In those cases, the Italian audio is substituted with subtitles in English SDH (an option for all versions). The Italian audio is clean and clear with plenty of presence. Dialogue is a bit loose against the picture but discernible, while sound effects and score have good separation. The English audio is from an obviously much lower source as it’s far too quiet and narrow, but its inclusion is welcome nonetheless.

The following extras are included:

  • Audio Commentary by Kat Ellinger
  • All Colors of Terror (HD – 34:02)
  • The Discreet Charm of the Genre (HD – 34:53)
  • Dial S for Suspense (HD – 29:16)
  • Women in Blood (HD – 24:59)
  • Saturating the Screen (HD – 25:04)
  • Sergio Martino Live (Upscaled HD – 47:00)
  • Italian Theatrical Trailer (HD – 3:08)
  • English Theatrical Trailer (HD – 3:06)

Kat Ellinger, who is a big fan of Sergio Martino, provides an audio commentary, delving into Martino’s work and his approaches to filmmaking, including on this film. All Colors of Terror features an interview with co-writer and director Sergio Martino, The Discreet Charm of the Genre is an interview with actor Luc Merenda, Dial S for Suspense features an interview with co-writer Ernesto Gastaldi, and Women in Blood offers an interview with Federica Martino, filmmaker and daughter of Sergio Martino. Saturating the Screen showcases an interview with author Mikel J. Koven, who goes over the film and other giallo films in detail (I personally wouldn’t have minded an accompanying audio commentary on the film by him). Sergio Martino Live features a Q&A with the director at the 2017 Abertoir International Horror Festival. Also included is the Italian theatrical trailer and an English theatrical trailer under the title Carnal Violence.

Torso is also one of those films that’s been released on DVD and Blu-ray several times in different territories. As such, there’s plenty of bonus materials that are absent. Missing from Blue Underground’s Blu-ray release is an interview with Martino, Eli Roth’s introduction to the film, the US theatrical trailer, 2 TV spots, a radio spot, and a poster and still gallery. Missing from the Shameless Blu-ray release is Dismembering Torso, another interview with Martino. Missing from the X-Rated Region B German Blu-ray release is an alternative sequence without the tinting and 2 German video openings. And missing from the Alan Young Pictures Region 0 DVD release is an audio commentary with Martino and critic Giona Nazzaro, as well as an introduction by Martino.

FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO/EXTRAS: A-/A-/B+/B-

STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER

When it comes to giallo, there’s a wide gamut of titles that range in quality and authenticity, from the artfully-mounted to the down and dirty. Strip Nude for Your Killer (aka Nude per l’assassino) falls into the latter category. One of the sleaziest to come out of Italy (never receiving a release in the US until the mid-2000s), its story about a group of models and photographers being bumped off one by one by an unknown assailant is one of the more tasteless yet enjoyable efforts from director Andrea Bianchi (Burial Ground).

Strip Nude for Your Killer is truly all over the map, often forgetting what it’s supposed to be about and going off on tangents with characters that are of little to no consequence. For example, a scene of attempted rape by a rather large man is followed by the intended victim eventually succumbing to him after feeling sorry for him, only to reveal that he’s impotent and can only be aroused with the use of a blow-up doll, which he makes a beeline for as soon as she’s out the door. In other words, there’s nothing remotely politically correct about the film.

Muddying the waters even further is the lead protagonist (Nino Castelnuovo), who is so unlikable at times that you begin to wonder why we’re supposed to be rooting for him in the first place. By the time we reach the end of the film and he comes to the rescue to stop the killer before they can murder anyone else, we’re still on the fence about him. After all, how many films, horror related or otherwise, end with their heroes making a crude joke to their lovers by threatening to perform unwanted anal sex in order to avoid having children? I rest my case.

As the title implies, there’s also a tremendous amount of nudity on display, besting even the smuttiest of softcore films. Besides the always ravishing Edwige Fenech frequently losing her clothes, there’s also the gorgeous Femi Benussi, who in one scene walks around completely naked as a long steadicam shot follows her around while she’s being stalked by the killer. Excessive doesn’t even begin to describe it. There’s not a heaping amount of gore during the murder scenes, save for a few choice moments, which are fairly few and far between. But whether it’s the mix of tones, the constant nudity, or the unmotivated character actions, the film still manages to look good, sound good, and move swiftly.

Strip Nude for Your Killer was shot by cinematographer Franco Delli Colli on 35 mm film, finished photochemically, and framed at the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Arrow Video’s Blu-ray is sourced from a 2K restoration of the original 2-perf Technicolor camera negative. Both the English and Italian language versions of the film are included, with the option of viewing the opening scene with or without a blue tint, which was available on certain versions of the film. As with most Arrow Video restorations, it’s dynamite. Grain is well-managed and the overall softness and clarity of the image is film-like with only minor scratches and speckling leftover. Detail is high at all times, even during some of the darker moments where there’s inherent crush on display. Blacks aren’t thoroughly deep, but they appear naturally dark, while the color palette offers a nice variety of strong hues without ever really popping. It’s also a stable presentation.

Audio is provided in English and Italian mono LPCM with optional subtitles in English for the Italian version and English SDH for the English version. The opening and closing titles will reflect which version of the film you choose. Like all Italian films from this era, it was post-dubbed, and other than the differences in languages, there isn’t much of a sonic distinction between the two tracks. Sync is a little loose, as to be expected, but dialogue is clear. Sound effects offer occasional thrust, but others are a tad thin. The amazing blaxploitation-esque score is probably the strongest aspect of both soundtracks, coming through with plenty of potency. Everything is also clean, lacking any instances of hiss, crackle, distortion, or dropouts.

The following extras are included:

  • Audio Commentary by Adiran J. Smith and David Flint
  • Sex & Death with a Smile (HD – 23:02)
  • A Good Man for the Murders (HD and Upscaled SD – 14:32)
  • The Blonde Salamander (HD and Upscaled HD – 18:30)
  • The Art of Helping (HD – 44:18)
  • Jack of All Trades (HD – 21:50)
  • Italian Theatrical Trailer (HD – 3:42)
  • English Theatrical Trailer (HD – 3:42)
  • Image Gallery (HD – 16 in all – 2:45)

The audio commentary with authors David Flint and Adrian J. Smith is an entertaining and enjoyable listen as the two scholars discuss the film reverently while watching it. Sex & Death with a Smile offers a video essay by Kat Ellinger about the giallo genre and Edwige Fenech’s career. A Good Man for the Murders features an archival interview with actor Nino Castelnuovo, The Blonde Salamander offers an interview with actress Erna Schurer, The Art of Helping is an interview with assistant director Daniele Sangiorgi, and Jack of all Trades features an interview with actor and production manager Tino Polenghi. There’s also the film’s Italian and English theatrical trailers, and an image gallery featuring 16 images of posters, lobby cards, and production stills. Not carried over from Blue Underground’s DVD and Blu-ray releases of the film is Strip Nude for Your Giallo, a 12-minute interview with co-writer Massimo Felisatti and actress Solvi Stubing.

FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO/EXTRAS: B/A/B+/B+

The discs are identical to Arrow Video’s previous Blu-ray releases. Each disc sits inside its own clear amaray case with double-sided artwork, featuring new artwork on one side and the original Italian poster artwork on the reverse. Unfortunately, the insert booklets from the previous releases are not included. The cases sit inside a rigid slipcase with new artwork by Adam Rabalais and Graham Humpreys, housed within a yellow windowed slipcover.

For those that missed them the first time around, Giallo Essentials is a great way of picking up several Arrow Video Blu-ray releases at once. It's an excellent set.

- Tim Salmons

(You can follow Tim on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel here.)

Giallo Essentials: Yellow Edition – Volume Two (Blu-ray Disc)

 

Bits Latest Tweets

The Digital Bits
Bits #BD Review – @timsalmons checks out the latest #Bluray #boxset offering from @SeverinFilms – NASTY HABITS: THE NUNSPLOITATION COLLECTION, featuring 4 films new to #Bluray in the US and various bonus materials. @BillHuntBits thedigitalbits.com/item/nasty-hab…
RT @BillHuntBits: Today on The Bits (UPDATED) – Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Trilogy on #4K #UltraHD: No Seriously, Here’s What You…
Surprise! New information suggests that @ParamountMovies's #4K Godfather SKUs are actually 5-disc and 9-disc sets (not 3-disc and 5-disc as we previously believed). We are attempting to confirm with the studio... stand by.