I was revisiting The Case of the Bloody Iris earlier this week and noticed the All Move Guide quote on the DVD cover, that it is "One of the few gialli of the time which is as good at mystery as it is at sleaze."
It got me thinking about the various reasons we have for watching gialli and how important the mystery aspect is: does a giallo need a mystery to work or not, or does it all depend on what else is on offer by way of 'attractions' - the beautiful people; the style; the liberal doses of violence and titillation; the sounds.
I suppose at the wider level, I am wondering about the relationship of narrative and spectacle in Italian filone cinema again, and whether a film that goes too far in one or other direction will fail with some sections of the presumed audience - e.g. in Argento-land whether a Suspiria or Inferno is too overloaded with sensations and a Card Player or Do You Like Hitchcock? too restrained and (seemingly) pedestrian.
It is also one of the things that I wonder about in Koven's vernacular cinema hypothesis, where he suggests that the giallo audience in the terza visione cinema was more like the TV audience, using the less attentive glance rather than the focused gaze, such that the announcing of the spectacular set piece via musical cues or the switch to subjective killer's eye view etc., said when the viewer should pay attention.
I do not have any problems with this per se, more with wondering what comes next: if the narrative aspect is not (as) important to this audience then why not concentrate on the spectacular and, in the case of Argento particularly, what happens when your audience is also in the prima visione.
Is it a matter of few, if any, filmmakers being able to sustain the intensity of the set piece for 90-odd minutes (a common criticism of even Suspiria is that after the first double-murder it has nowhere left to really go - a case of cinematic premature ejaculation, as it were); the cost, in terms of both conventional and psychic economics (it costs more and is too draining on the spectator); or the reluctance of many / most spectators to genuinely submit to / subject themselves to the film and filmmakers' demands, and watch in a manner akin to Betty in Opera without averting their eyes.
So, when you watch an giallo or Italian horror film, what do you watch it for and how do you usually watch it?