Monday, 18 May 2009

Giallo score thoughts

On the basis that "many eyes make all bugs shallow," here are my thoughts on Chris's Giallo Score project, for you to comment on / add to / critique.


Possible criteria and scores, and comments on and modifications to existing scores:


Spanish director - 7 points
Many gialli were Italian-Spanish co-productions; some also saw the Spanish side of the production predominate. This would, I think, allow for films such as the Paul Naschy vehicles A Dragonfly for Each Corpse, The Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll and Seven Murders for Scotland Yard to be recognised as closer to the giallo than otherwise comparable Anglophone productions such as Don't Look Now and Dressed to Kill.

Black gloves - 10 points
Reduce this, in conjunction with:

Distinctive costume - 10 points
The killer wears at least two out of three of a (dark) raincoat and fedora, and a (light or dark) mask.

Golden age (1970-1975) - 5 points
A slight change in the year span, to end with Profondo Rosso

Silver age(s) (1963-1969 or 1977-1982)
The film was released in either of these periods, the former beginning with The Girl Who Knew Too Much and the latter ending with Tenebre and The New York Ripper.

Accidental / purposeful death
Where would Cat o' Nine Tails fit here? Is it a one, a ten, or an eleven? Or Profondo rosso? How far is self-defence causing death purposeful?


Urban location - 3 points
The giallo is essentially an urban genre. Adding this would, I think, allow for further distinctions between Italian urban (8 points); non-Italian urban (Seven Yellow Silk Shawls, 3 points); Italian rural (Don't Torture a Duckling, House with the Windows that Laughed; 5 points) and non-Italian, rural (the odd slasher-ised 80s entry like Deodato's Body Count; 0 points) to be drawn.

Contemporary setting - 3 points
Some Italian horror films set in the past, such as Freda's Hichcock diptych and Margheriti's Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye, could be considered gialli as they avoid the supernatural. This might allow the contemporary counterparts such as The Night Evelyn Came out of the Grave and The Red Queen Kills Seven Times to be recognised more.

Nude scene
Tits, tits and ass, full frontal as 1, 2, 3 points? 1 point for a sex scene?

Morricone / Nicolai - 2 points
What happens if a film is scored by Morricone and conducted and/or arranged by Nicolai? Might this be worth four points?
One point for each of Stelvio Cipriani, Goblin, Gianni Ferrio and/or Piero Umiliani?


Animal or Death in the title - 1 point
Also one point for a number - Six Women for the Killer, Nine Guests for a Crime, Cat o' Nine Tails etc.

More than one killer or accomplice - 1 point
Perhaps a bonus points for three plus killers and accomplices, as in the 1972 Delirium and A Bay of Blood.

The Fall - 1 point
At some point someone dies by falling from a considerable height.

J&B - 1 point
J&B whisky is displayed prominently

Punt e mes - 1 point
Punt e mes is displayed prominently

The priest or fake priest - 1 point
There is a priest and/or fake priest, who may be a red herring or a killer

Dolls or dummies - 1 point
At some point dolls or dummies are prominently featured

Glamour and models - 1 point
One of the characters is a model and / or a studio or fashion house is featured

Gay / Lesbian characters - 1 point
There is at least one character who is gay or lesbian.

West German co-production - 1 point
For Argento's giallo-krimis and others circa 1970-72


Style bonus
Increase from 10 to 15 or 20 points, to allow for more recognition of those films that may not check all the boxes, but are nevertheless definitive, such as Profondo rosso.

Influence bonus
Increase from 5 to 10 points, to help ensure Blood and Black Lace score higher than the late-60s Lenzi films, even if Bava's influence was perhaps indirect, filtered through Argento.


Anonymous said...

haven#t had a chance yet to think about the list, but one thing that bothered me is 5 points for an Italian location. Not only does 5 points seem far too high to me, I'd also argue that it should be an "exotic location" that should get the movie some points instead (I'm thinking 2), seeing that travel and being a foreigner/outsider are very frequent Giallo elements.

Some other thoughts:

-it make make sense to emphasize the past more in the "motivation section" - rather than have three or four criteria, I'd rather go with a single one, something like "past actions, deeds, or relationships catching up with the protagonists".

- purposeful death seems like an odd choice to me, resp. one I can't recall having seen all that often, but maybe I just haven't seen enough Gialli yet.

-odd clue should be worth more than just 1 point

- I wouldn't use Golden Age (especially not as a criteri worth 10 points). What makes being from the Golden Age valuable are arguably the tropes contained in movies from that period, however, those can be judged on their own and I find it somewhat unfair that a movie could lose a substantial amount of points merely by having the misfortune of having been made a year too late or early.

Otherwise I mentioned some points in my initial reply to the first post.

Fun project, hope my response is somewhat helpful.

Chris said...

just wanted to thank keith and everyone here for their insightful comments. it's exciting to see people taking an interest in this project. i have made some revisions to the score and welcome additional comments/ideas.

to anonymous:

i agree with your "exotic location" idea...i'm thinking Lenzi's "Paranoia" in Majorca.

for purposeful death, perhaps the label is misleading. consider the ultimate demise of the killer in Argento's "Bird", Fulci's "New York Ripper" (hopefully not giving too much away for those who haven't seen either of these). regardless of how the killer dies however, it is important that they avoid being captured by the authorities.

Johan Melle said...

This is very, very interesting work here! My compliments.

I don't have a lot to add but I noticed that there's 3 points for "mistaken identity". It might also be worth a point or so if it is the protagonist himself who is put under suspicion by the police as this seem to happen very often.

As for the golden age of the giallo being from 1970 to 1975, I can't fully agree on this. I certainly see the reasoning in how the golden age ends with Deep Red but IMO the peak year for the giallo was 1972. At that time we started to see a few crime/mystery hybrids like Who Killed the Prosecutor and Why, and Shadows Unseen, and by 1974, the giallo was more or less dead as the attentiond had shifted to full-fledged crime/police flicks. Deep Red revived the interest somewhat but not to the same heights as in the 1970-72 period. Just my opinion :)

Chris said...

I'm tending to agree with the "Golden Age" criticism. I think we all have a tendency to put Profondo Rosso at the top of every Giallo list and us it as a benchmark for judging all other Gialli. But in surveying the genre as a whole, the "Golden Age" should denote the time when most of the Giallo were produced. Using the Giallo Project @ (praise the gods for this site!), close to 40% of all the films were produced between 1970 and 1972. Perhaps this should be called the Platinum Age :)

Anonymous said...

I still don't understand why the "Golden Age" has to be included in the projet, resp. why it should influence the overall rating to such a large degree. All the possible reasons can be accounted for in other ways (fashion, style, plotline, etc.) and I think there's a fairly good chance that the inclusion of "prime periods" will only distort the eventual rankings. Tenebrae is in my top 5 Gialli list for example, but would have almost no chance to even make the top ten, if the "Golden Age rule" is applied, whereas substandard examples of the genre (e.g. Devil with Seven Faces") would end up with a far better rating than they really deserve.

Anonymous said...

Just a suggestion: is it possible to turn this into a "sticky" thread (assuming the project is still going on)? I'd imagine there might be more potential readers with interesting ideas, but it's hard to find the post when it is buried in the archive.

K H Brown said...

Good idea - can anyone tell me how to make a post sticky?

Chris said...

hi all. just a quick update that i have revamped the score criteria based on everyone's helpful comments and am now doing research (you gotta love when watching Gialli is considered research) to test the new scoring system against real world data. ultimately the project will morph into it's own web site and i will be sure to let everyone know when it launches. until then i will send keith the revisions to the score and some examples to post here.

btw, keith, i don't know if you can sticky a blog post. that sounds more like a feature of a msg board. you could however, edit the blogger template and add a link to a blog post that will always show in the same place. HTH