All the Colors of the Dark

Continuing our tour through the weird world of giallo…

ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK

Martino’s 1972 giallo All the Colors of the Dark works within the confines of the genre (which was still relatively new in 1972 but, given the fecundity of the Italian film market, already contained quite a few films, established tropes, and expectations), but it takes the genre further afield than had previously been explored, resulting in a dizzying psychedelic combination of straight-forward stalker/murder mystery (the giallo’s stock in trade), hallucinogenic psycho-sexual experiment, and occult horror.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.


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    Red-eye special

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    So, which of these three films of the same title will I be reviewing—

    (A) An Oscar-bait drama about race relations in Los Angles?

    (B) A controversy-bait drama about literal autoerotica?

    or

    (C) A low-budget, Hal Needham-esque, The-Exorcist-meets-The-Amazing-Dobermans horror film about a possessed key-ring?

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    Pretty obvious when I put it like that, huh?

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    CRASH! (1976)

    …in which Charles Band takes his very first baby steps towards a killer doll film…

     

     

     

     

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    Liz Kingsley is the insane genius behind And You Call Yourself a Scientist!


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      Race Revenge: I Spit On Your Grave

      This might not be the movie you’re thinking of…

      I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE

      Cinematic adaptations of books have a long history of being derided by the source material’s author, but few have as dramatic a claim to this dubious honor as this adaptation of Boris Vian’s 1946 novel J’irai cracher sur vos tombes. Vian had been warring with the production team. He was so dissatisfied with the way his material was being adapted that he demanded his name be removed from the film. Despite railing against the film, he was gracious (or morbidly curious) enough to attend the premiere on June 23, 1959. As the now famous story goes, Vian stood up minutes into the screening to shout out his angry disapproval of what he was seeing. He then, suddenly, dropped dead.


      Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.


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        I’ve got good news and bad news

        The Mean SeasonIt’s kind of mystifying that The Mean Season eventually becomes really dumb and weak after starting off extremely smart and strong.

        Keith Bailey is the proprietor of The Unknown Movies Page.


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          Happy Valentine’s Day: Strip Nude for Your Killer

          Nothing says romance quite like the sleaziest giallo of the 1970s:

          STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER

          Signature murders include the stabbing of a woman who, upon realizing a prowler may be in the house and all her co-workers are getting murdered, investigates while completely nude except for a pair of clunky platform clogs; and then there’s the one where, after charmingly attempting to rape a co-worker before going impotent, we get ample shots of an enormously fat man in his sagging tighty whities and black dress socks, clutching a deflated blow-up doll in one hand and a kitchen knife in the other while he cries uncontrollably. Tasteful!


          Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.


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            Giallo Prime Time: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

            We covered some of the early proto-giallo. Now it’s time to get into the full swing of things.

            THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE

            Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, is the Goldfinger of giallo. Goldfinger wasn’t the first James Bond movie, but it was the one that synthesized all the elements into what was recognizable as the iconic “James Bond film.” It became and, in fact, remains, the template for subsequent Bond adventures and for what people stereotypically think of when they think of a James Bond film. In much the same way, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is the film in which all of the raw material pioneered during the 1960s was forged into the finished formula that would define giallo throughout the 1970s and beyond.


            Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.


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              Nothing to shout about


              ScreamersThe newly shot footage Roger Corman added to the Italian movie Island Of The Fishmen to make Screamers helps, but it’s not enough.

              Keith Bailey is the proprietor of The Unknown Movies Page.


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                Tinto Brass Meets Antonioni in Swinging London

                DEADLY SWEET

                Before Salon Kitty redirected his career toward sex films and before Caligula became the most infamous movie in the world, Tinto Brass was just another idealistic young director looking to capture the zeitgeist of the 1960s. His 1967 film Deadly Sweet was inspired and influenced by Antonioni’s Blow-Up but also markedly different. For one, it lacks that film’s sense of disillusionment. It also lacks that film’s self-control. Deadly Sweet is experimental but still commercial. Bleak but still bubbly and colorful. Tinto Brass seems to think that Swinging London is still, you know, swinging.


                Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.


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                  Blow-Up

                  The next in our two-month long spotlight on giallo…

                  BLOW-UP

                  On the surface, Blow-Up is a simple enough film about a fashion photographer popular among London’s hip Soho crowd. David Hemmings stars as the photographer, Thomas. Though successful, his life is directionless and shallow. Similar people, artists who seem to have no meaning or desire for meaning in what they do, surround him. When he’s not earning a living shooting waifs for fashion spreads, he wanders the streets of London in search of art with some sort of meaning. He never finds it, or really, seems to look particularly hard. While wandering through a park snapping candid shots of people, he accidentally photographs a murder. He doesn’t realize this until later, when a frantic woman (Vanessa Redgrave) shows up demanding he turn the film over. This is the plot that serves as the basic description for the film, but anyone who goes in expecting a thriller is going to be either pleasantly surprised or severely disappointed.


                  Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.


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                    Out of the shadows

                    Various lists indicate that—even leaving remakes, re-titlings, translations and straight-out rip-offs out of the equation—there have been something like 150 recorded instances of two films carrying the same title.

                    So that’s not so rare. What is rare, however, is both films in any given pairing achieving the same measure of ongoing success. Almost always, in the end one of the two will position itself in the public consciousness as “the” film of that name. Mention Independence Day to someone, for example, and “small-town drama” probably isn’t the first thing that will spring to mind.

                    Here at the B-Masters, however, “obvious” is a dirty word. So join us as we take a look at some films that live in the shadow of their title-twins—and which tend to cause confusion, cross-purpose conversation, and finally a cry of—


                    It’s NO, NOT THAT ONE—all through February at the B-Masters’ blog!

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                    Liz Kingsley is the insane genius behind And You Call Yourself a Scientist!


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