There's nothing to watch, but there's plenty to look at
The Italian slasher genre of giallo filmmaking is often as stunning in its wardrobe styling as it is in its gore. Centring around a series of themes such as murder, intrigue, witchcraft, lesbianism, the occult, bondage, and betrayal, the movies are good dirty fun. And like most Italian films from the late 60s and early 70s, the babe factor is high.
Some of them may be lacking in plot or substance, but they make up for it loads with it comes to style. Ornate eye makeup, serious hats, black masses, elaborate parties.... And these are just a few in a genre that has so many amazing treats to offer. Here's style highlights from some of my favorite giallos. I didn't include any of Argento's films as that territory was already aptly covered in the Film Issue.
Blood and Black Lace has a pretty perfect plot for a style piece. Made in 1963, it's an early Bava film that centers around a serial killer who one by one starts killing off a group of models. The only clue to the killer's identity is in the diary of the first girl killed, and of course everyone who ends up with the diary is handily slayed. Imagine that. The opening credits are a perfect snapshot of the costuming, although I must say, considering these are "Italian models," the hot chick vibe is a little mellow.
The red mannequins are the perfect symbiosis of beauty and gore.
A picture-perfect drowning victim.
The costumes are pretty much the only awesome thing about the reasonably sucky Baba Yaga. But a menacing lesbian witch who parties with a doll (who of course becomes human) clad in bondage gear ain't bad. Throw in a bad wig and some steamy photo shoots and you've got a visual treat even if the story is fully lacking. Based on a comic book, Baba Yaga is a fairly goofy tale of a female fashion photographer who falls under the spell of a witch.
Honestly, this montage shows you about all you need from the movie.
Some of the costumes in the film's photo shoot scenes.
And the real star, the bondage doll who became a real live girl.
Martino's stunner, All of the Colors of the Dark, is a mind-fuck with lots of eye makeup. This film stars big-eyed cult babe turned producer, Edwige Fenech. Featuring Satanic cults, lost pregnancies, infidelity, murder, mind control, and a pretty hilarious black mass, this is my kind of movie. While I think the bizarro occultists could have looked even cooler, all in all it's a pretty heady view.
The eyes that launched and thousand video store clerk fantasies
Even public transportation looks sexy through an Italian lens.
A relative of All the Colors of the Dark is another Martino flick also starring Fenech called The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh. Basically a murder story interwoven with the tale of an ambassador's wife fetish for the rough stuff, the movie seems higher in nudity than costumes, though there are some amazing party scenes. And Fenech is pretty talented at looking great all the time.
None of the other films come close to matching the bizarre beauty shown in Lucio Fulci's A Lizard in Woman's Skin. The lead actress, Florinda Bolkan, is one of my favorites. My obsession with her started when I saw her in the loosely classifiable as nunsploitation classic Flavia the Heretic. She has a beautifully icy face that is built for terror. Add some lesbian obsession, murderous hippies/artists, questionable sanity, and a Biba shopping bag and you've got style heaven. Not only is Bolkan dressed amazingly in every shot, with the most beautiful coats and hats, but the wild ginger hippie chick is seriously psyched out spooky chic.
Bolkan looking seriously amazing.
Killer hippie or just a painter?
Bone structure + same-sex erotics + and fur = stunning
Now that's one hell of a crime scene.