When reminiscing about ’70s exploitation cinema and its multitude of subgenres, it’s easy to skip over giallo. The gory Italian crime films, full of switchblade stabbings and gratuitous sex, are pure fun with an artful touch. With their stylized nature and refusal to shy away from violence, these movies are often thought of as the thriller equivalent of spaghetti westerns. Adapted from pulpy paperback books (the term “giallo” is a reference to the yellow color of their pages), their over-the-top titles are often just as fun as the films they describe.
Giallo may not dominate the zeitgeist these days, but somebody had to recognize their artistic significance. Lately, Quad Cinema has been stepping up to do just that. Last year, the New York theater brought six newly-restored giallo films to the big screen. The series was a success, so they’re back for more. Starting this Friday, six more giallo restorations will be screening, with a focus on movies filmed outside of Italy.
The selection of films certainly contains something for any thriller fan to love. The series starts with “The Fifth Cord,” Luigi Bazzoni’s tale of an alcoholic reporter who becomes a police target when his acquaintances start being murdered. “The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion” is a blackmail thriller with a score by Ennio Morricone. “The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire” follows an Irish cop who finds himself in an increasingly complicated mess when he investigates a diplomat for the murder of a young woman.
“One on Top of the Other” is the rare giallo film set in America, and it eschews gratuitous violence for a mistaken identity drama involving strippers and Howard Hughes. Another Bazzoni entry, “The Possessed” is a black-and-white drama about a desperate man searching for answers after the death of the woman he loves. The series concludes with the exploitatively-titled “Strip Nude For Your Killer,” which naturally follows a series of murders at a modeling agency.
A far cry from the yellowed paperback books that inspired them, giallo movies are remembered for their bold use of color and their suspenseful visuals. With this new restoration, they can be seen as was originally intended, reminding audiences why they’ve stood the test of time.
“Fresh Meat: Giallo Restorations Part II” runs from July 19 – 25 at Quad Cinema. IndieWire’s exclusive trailer, made by Tair Shachar, can be watched below.