The Case of 22 Neo-Giallos Laying In The Red Silk Midnight With Bloodstained Orchids and Laughing Windows
By: Brad Henderson aka The Giallogist with PhD in Giallogy
Giallo is a dying genre. It was never really successful by any means, but it did gain a huge cult following, inspiring countless filmmakers, and cinematographers around the globe. One of the main reasons the genre died, in my opinion, was because no one tried to reinvent it, leading to a constant barrage of black gloved killers with a Goblin or Goblin-esque score. There wasn’t anything wrong with that by any means, but it’s one of the reasons why the genre went away. You could even say the same thing for the slasher genre...
That said, Giallo never stopped. It continued in the shadows (in small doses) with Argento never quitting the genre that he popularized. In the 90’s Giallo came to a huge halt. Though Argento kept making them, everyone else ceased. However, through the past 20 years a few Giallo films have popped up, and they are either entirely overlooked or not considered Giallo per se. A new subgenre, Neo-Giallo, was created, which categorizes newer films that are Giallo, heavily influenced by Giallo, or use elements of Giallo tropes.
Here is a list of Neo-Giallo that I highly recommend. Some of these are harder to find but most are available overseas with English subtitles.
This film was made in 2015 but has the look and music of something right out of the 70’s. Extremely well-made, brutal, thrilling, and one of the best endings to a Giallo I’ve seen. Look for it on Blu-ray from Unearthed Films.
Two detectives must catch a serial killer, but their only chance to find him, is to solve the case of missing girl who disappeared 15 years ago.
Made in 2011 and shelved for some time, this film is brilliantly constructed and well-crafted. Obviously inspired by Suspira, Masks takes us down a familiar but beloved road. Cult Epics/Reel Gore Releasing finally picked this one up and gave it the treatment it deserved.
In the 70s Matteusz Gdula invented an acting method that was supposed to make every actor "shine". Still, lots of his students die mysteriously and Gdula commits suicide. His method gets banned. Now: Stella, an ambitious, but rather untalented drama student, gets accepted at the "Matteusz Gdula"-school. When she bears witness to some strange occurrences, she gets drawn into the bizarre and deadly web that surrounds the dark secret of the school.
People will argue over this film, but even though it’s a little goofy, the imagery is amazing and definitely inspired by Giallo films. Horsehead is your worst nightmare on acid. It was directed by Bava and Fulci.
Since her childhood, Jessica has been haunted by recurrent nightmares whose meaning escapes her. This peculiarity has led her to study the psychophysiology of dreams and to follow a therapy with Sean, her mentor and boyfriend, to try and understand the origin of her nightmares. Following the death of her maternal grandmother she hardly knew, Jessica reluctantly returns to the family home. She doesn't get along with her mother very well and is not looking forward to seeing her again. Upon her arrival, Jessica discovers that her late grandmother is lying in the adjoining room to her own during the wake. After a rough first night made restless by a strange nightmare in which she meets her dead grandmother, Jessica suddenly becomes ill. Stuck in bed with a high fever, the young woman decides to use her lethargic state to try out lucid dreaming. In order to do so, and on Sean's advice, Jessica breathes a little bit of ether whenever she needs to sink deeper into the other world to try and take control of her nightmares. Jessica then begins to wander in a nightmarish world inhabited by twisted versions of her family members. She gradually improves her skills as a lucid dreamer and investigates to solve the mystery that gnaws her and haunts the family home.
Amer is pure Giallo at it’s finest but with a sexy twist.
Three key moments, all of them sensual, define Ana's life. Her carnal search sways between reality and colored fantasies becoming more and more oppressive. A black laced hand prevents her from screaming. The wind lifts her dress and caresses her thighs. A razor blade brushes her skin, where will this chaotic and carnivorous journey leave her?
The Last Screening (2011)
This is my favorite modern Giallo and one of my favorite films of all-time. It is such a realistic glimpse into the mind and life of a dangerous killer. Rather than following a girl or detective, we follow the killer. The Last Screening is probably the most underseen film on this list and is only available on DVD in Italy. Don’t worry though, it does have English subtitles.
Almost Blue (2000)
A must for slasher and Giallo films. Brutal and terrifying.
A serial killer, called the Iguana, is terrorizing Bologna. He is able to change continuously identity. Grazia is investigating trying to find out the truth about the Iguana.
The Editor (2014)
Another film from Astron-6. Yes, it’s a parody and a comedy, but they are paying homage to the films that inspired them...just a funnier take.
A film editor gets embroiled in a string of murders.
Mark Of The Witch aka Another (2014)
This movie got the shaft. Made in 2014 and finally released in 2016 under Mark Of The Witch, it sits on VOD with low ratings and no buzz. It’s not the best, not the worst, and it’s not a true Giallo, but it is pretty freaking cool in my book and has some traditional camerawork and familiar settings.
A beautiful young woman is driven into a dark underworld of demonic possession, desire, and extreme indulgences when she learns she may be the devil's kin.
Julia’s Eyes (2010)
Such a good and tight flick. Restrained, creepy, and has something for any horror fan.
The story of a woman who is slowly losing her sight whilst trying to investigate the mysterious death of her twin sister.
Bad Inclination (2003)
Hey, they all can’t be zingers. I think you can tell by the uneventful photo that this one is a little more on the soap opera horror style of filmmaking. Still a Giallo at heart, but nothing groundbreaking here.
Ruthless serial killer uses a set-square to murder women. Crimes are investigated by Public Prosecutor Rita Facino but is confronted by strange behavior of people desperate to use the case to further their own ends. Nicole is a lesbian has-been singer pretends to get death threats while the media go mad with speculation.
Last Caress (2010) & Blackaria (2010)
These two films are made by the same team, and both are perfect for any hardcore giallologist. These film wouldn't exist if not for Argento and Bava and use elements from every Argento flick. It even seems that Last Caress is a weird unofficial underground sequel to Blood & Black Lace. These films aren’t for everyone, but I think the hardcore C-movie fans will love them, and Giallo fans will love the references and homages throughout.
The Vanity Serum (2004)
This film is substance over style. The Vanity Serum takes a different turn on the Giallo film and tries to create something new and creative with its script and story. I don’t even want to put the synopsis on this one because it’s a perfect movie to watch with no previous knowledge.
Berberian Sound Studio (2012)
Another film that has an extremely unique plot and also delivers. It’s refreshing to see someone try something so different when stepping into a genre like this. Again, not for everyone but one of a kind for sure.
A sound engineer's work for an Italian horror studio becomes a terrifying case of life imitating art.
Eyes Of Crystal (2004)
Perfect flick? Possibly. One of the best serial killer movies out there with a Giallo spin. The atmosphere in this film is haunting and beautiful with an eerie vibe and staying true to Giallo and the 90s. I know, I know, the 90’s? People shit on the 90’s so much, but some of the best thrillers came out around that time, and this feels like one of them.
While hunting a cultured, intelligent and vicious psychopath, Inspector Amaldi comes face to face with the physical and moral decay of his city as well as the ghosts of his own past.
Tulpa: Demon Of Desiree (2012)
Sexy, sexy, sexy. Mostly uses the style of Giallo to tell a sexy tale. Highly recommended
Lisa Boeri is a successful businesswoman obsessed with her career - on day. But on night, she is visiting private nightclub Tulpa, club where your sickest, most erotic fantasies come true.
Strange Colour Of Your Body’s Tears (2013)
From the directors of Amer comes a follow up that’s even better than their debut. Such a beautiful nightmare, and this duo of directors may even do it better than the grandfathers Giallo.
Following the disappearance of his wife, a man finds himself on a dark and twisted trail of discovery through the labyrinthine halls of his apartment building. Led on a wild goose chase by cryptic messages from his mysterious neighbours, he becomes entangled in a hellish nightmare as he unlocks their strange fantasies of sensuality and bloodshed. The Strange Colour Of Your Body's Tears is a visually dazzling experience from the creators of Amer that takes you on a journey into mystery and blood soaked terror that you will never forget.
Black Serenade (2001)
I’ve loved this film for years, and it’s still hard to believe that it was made in 2000. Super underrated slasher with some Giallo sprinkled throughout.
Students of the university of Salamanca are brutally murdered by a black masked minstrel. Alex, an architecture student who has recently moved to Salamanca discovers a pattern behind the killings; it seems as if the killer strikes regularly after the exams to free the campus from lousy students.
The Three Sisters (2015)
I was fortunate to see this film earlier this year, and I want to get it on everyone’s list ahead of time. Nothing crazy or original but some creative choices with kills and whatnot, making this movie a ton of fun. Also it’s littered with homages, especially a killer one to Deep Red.
The Three Sisters is a thriller film set in Dublin, Ireland. When the lawyer- and brother- of a dying patriarch commits suicide, it sets into motion a chain of murders which tears their family apart.
The Hideout (2007)
It’s crazy that 10 years later, this hasn’t been widely released. I waited for years to see this flick, and when I first saw the trailer I thought it was a film from the 70s. Wonderful little flick that stays true to 70’s Italian Horror with the sense of dread throughout the film. Hunt this one down if you can.
In this mystery-thriller about an Italian woman who moves to Davenport to open a restaurant. After her husband commits suicide, she spends fifteen years recovering at a Minnesota mental hospital. When she builds herself up enough to begin another restaurant, she discovers that a murder took place there fifty years earlier. She decides to investigate and finds a secret plot.
Again, another film that I was fortunate to see at before its release. I dug this film, but I understand why a lot of people didn’t. These types of films are special and are made for specific audience. I still don’t know why it was 3D though. Haha.
Dante is a tailor who after losing his twin brother to death became phobic which prevents him from being in contact with death. Whenever he is in front of a dead body, he experiences a creepy feeling that makes him lose his mind.
Now for my last entry, Sororal. A true and brilliant love letter to Giallo. It’s crushing that this was never released and was instead just shelved. Way too many films are lost because no one buys them up to distribute them properly, or they are bought up and shelved because companies can’t market them. Then we never hear about them again. Unfortunately, this film is unavailable, but hopefully one day...