Even horror fans of an older vintage like me came to find out about giallo films at a later date; sure, certain big juggernauts would make their way through, like Deep Red and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, but at the advent of home video, they were mainly outliers. As DVD blossomed, many more were rescued and rediscovered by a whole new generation (and the ones before that missed them) clamoring for creative kills wrapped in (sometimes puzzling) whodunit packages. Now that a blood river’s worth of titles have been rereleased, it’s time to try and pool them together and take a vantage view of their place in the horror landscape. Enter Federico Caddeo’s All the Colors of Giallo (2019), a great overview for newbies and vets alike, overflowing with three discs of crimson wonder by Severin Films.
Yes, several books have been written on this (predominantly) Italian sub-genre and this isn’t the first documentary done, either, but Severin has created an experience with this package, one that submerges the horror fan in not only the sights of giallo films, but the sounds, too.
Narrated onscreen by film historian Fabio Melelli, All the Colors features interviews with most of the well-known purveyors of the sub-genre, such as Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava, Lucio Fulci (in archived audio only), Sergio Martino, Umberto Lenzi, and several lesser-known artists, with a strong lean on screenwriters like Ernesto Gastaldi (Death Walks on High Heels), who all offer invaluable insights into giallo’s structure and themes. All of this is in Italian with English subtitles, so your undivided attention is necessary (which it should be anyway, right?).
Melelli tells of giallo’s birth, from the Italian paperbacks where the sub-genre obtained its name, through the German Krimi films of the late ’50s/early ’60s based on Edgar Wallace stories, up to and including its upward ascension during the ’70s and its fall into pure luridness in the ’80s. It’s all here, told by the people involved, with a great deal of good humor and wit.
If there is any fault to be found with the film itself, it would be in its relative brevity (89 minutes) and tangential anecdotes provided by some of the actors themselves; not that they aren’t welcome, but they do veer the doc off course a little from giallo’s impact on the genre. Had the film been longer, those reminiscences wouldn’t seem to be competing for screen time, and a lengthier runtime would have allowed the filmmakers to show how giallo and its makers have impacted the horror world today. A Part 2 would be more than welcome, and is strongly encouraged.
So you’re finished with your horror lesson, and you’re rightly wound up to inject all the giallo you can. This is where Severin Films comes in; perhaps their biggest release in terms of extras, All the Colors of Giallo has three discs' worth of black-gloved goodies:
DISC 3 (CD)
This is simply not a one-sitting experience to ingest, at least not for me; if you have the time, more power to you. Even when you’re finished, there’s so much re-watchability built in: four hours of giallo trailers, 90 minutes of Krimi trailers, the hilarious commentary of Kat Ellinger and the expert witnesses who help to flesh out previous points from the main documentary. Whether you’re new to the sub-genre or soaked up to your eyeballs, All the Colors of Giallo has you covered; just hold on to Severin’s glove and you’ll be fine…
Movie Score: 4/5, Disc(s) Score: 4.5/5