Thursday, 6 September 2007

Greece and the giallo - a question

If the number of old videos with Greek subtitles out there is anything to go by, gialli seem to have been especially popular with Greek audiences. If there's anyone reading this from Greece, or with experience of the Greek home video market, is this the case? If so, why? Or is it just a skewed perception that comes from my not being aware of a wider range of product and having other Greek set and / or co-produced euro-cult films like Anthropophagous and Emanuelle Queen of Sados in my collection?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't know about Greece, but plenty of Gialli and other euro-cult films were also released on video in Australia. I think this has more to do with both countries being comparatively small and not very interesting for major distributors (even today Melbourne and Sydney only have 1 or 2 Arthouse cinemas each and anything outside of the box office top 20 is fairly hard to see (no Australian amazon or ebay either)).

Kevin Coed said...

But.... there is an Australian Ebay - www.ebay.com.au

Jared said...

From the evidence I've seen Greece seems to have had a pretty huge video boom during the 80s, with lots of cheap-o, probably "fly-by-night" labels putting out tons of low-budgets thrills from all over the world. I assume they put out these kinds of films because the rights were pretty cheap compared to US or upscale European stuff.
You find lots of Italian movies in general, not just Giallos - Spaghetti Westerns, cop thrillers and erotic comedies are all well represented too. Of the most interest to me, is that Greece seems to be one of the few countries Turkey and India sold movies to during this time. It's somewhat difficult to find any videos of movies from those countries outside of their respective motherlands.

Anonymous said...

I'm Greek and jared has it quite right, except for the part on Turkey and India.

I'm not aware of any Turkish films for rent in the VHS era (there's not exactly love lost between the two countries but there is much trade so I wouldn't be surprised if I was wrong on this one). India on the other hand was just a trick they tried when the VHS boom started dying down (much due to the advent of private TV - state TV was the only fare before and it wasn't very big on movies for the common man; still isn't). Bollywood didn't save the rental shops, anyway, and so the Indian films stayed on shelves for a rather short time (compared to everything else).

On the original question: Italy is right next to Greece and if you consider that all other neighboring countries were either disintegrating communist regimes and/or overtly hostile, it's obvious where we bought stuff, including films. Comparative to Greece, Italy is quite a big and self-sufficient country (whether that is about cars or about culture).

Also, Fumetti were quite popular at the same time as Giallo (in Greece), even the very violent ones which actually gave the name to the film genre, so I guess there were a lot of people that digged the whole blood & sleaze thing.

Two interesting point:
- slashers from European countries other than Italy never made to Greece as VHS. I've never seen a Jess Franco film in VHS, for example. American stuff like Friday the 13th was all the rage, on the other hand.
- although almost every famous giallo made to the Greek VHS market (and they were damn popular) but almost none made it to cinemas.

random-greek-guy said...

...it was easy, it was cheap - they went and did it...
As Jarred correctly said / guessed, there was a huge boom of videostores in mid80s in greece, lasting until early 90s roughly...pretty much the cheapest method for the masses to have fun in their spare time.

Private television stations only became a reality in...1989, until then, there existed only 3 state-controlled tv channels (which were rather conservative in their content for the most past of it at least...)
5-6 satellite channels )eg.TV5 france, RaiDue italy) had started slightly earlier, during summer '88..MTV Europe first started being broadcasted here in December '88 if i recall correctly.

All in all, in terms of access in 'cultural' material from abroad, be it films or music, greece was quite a bit behind compared to other western EU countries...things started evolving rapidly by early 90s. In a sense, you could say we were somewhat stucked in the middle of the 2 cold war blocks...no hard / official censorship (like east), yet certainly not 'real' access though (as the west had or at least could had).

I do remember myself quite a few of Turkey films on vhs in early 90s in the videostores, in their own separate section always, yet no one ever went close and/or rented them...
As it was correctly described above, this had to do with the relationships between the 2 countries not being exactly the friendliest ones...and also, because such films (usually cheapo 3rd grade melodramas) were considered to be totally anachronistic aesthetically (and well, they were, heh...).
Especially when people here (since semi-stuck among the 2 blocks as described above), were literally thirsty for the more 'glamorous' aesthetics of more advanced western countries. Ie. turkish films were considered kinda of a view in a country in a much more worse shape than us...and obviously no one wanted to know / be reminded of such in a somewhat developing country (as we felt that greece kinda was at the moment...)

random-greek-guy said...

...in regards to Italy / giallo: yes, since nearby, they were in a sense our main providers...kinda of our "entry" to the more advanced modern western civilization / aesthetics during 80s. UK (due to students & merchants as well going there etc) would probably be the 2nd one...
And a vast majority of giallos / spaghetti westerns etc probably were released in vhs here in a "as is" basis...ie. without any royalties having being paid. Someone got a copy, made anything from say 50 up to 200 (semi-professionally) duped copies, distributed them around the country, and the vast majority of them ended in the trash can as soon as the videostores shut down in mid90s...you would literally find piles and piles of old vhs in the garbage until say late 90s (if only they knew better with ebay's explosion afterwards, heh!)
For the by far vast majority of the audience here, 'giallo' itself was an unknown term: there only existed "police stories" (aka poliziotteschi), and just thriller / horror films...

Hope that was helpful and shed some light...keep up the good work :-)