The Rage Within (1969)
In this month’s episode of Fragments of Fear, we return to the Italian thrillers of the late 1960s, looking at Franco Rossetti’s The Rage Within. Released in 1969, at the height of the student protests, we examine how the political volatility of the late 1960s manifests throughout the film - assessing if the purported ideologies of the main characters are wholly honourable. Adapted from Alberto Moravia’s short story, “Crime at the Tennis Club” we look at how Rossetti translates Moravia’s themes of Roman existentialism to the 1960s through various familiar giallo thematic tropes such as blackmail, jealousy and double crossing. We also analyse what The Rage Within says about the widening chasm of the generational divide in the 1960s and explore this concept in relation to the relationships between the central characters.
The Rage Within (1969)
Cross Current (1971)
In the latest episode of Fragments of Fear, we take a look at Tonino Ricci’s 1971 giallo Cross Current. An example of an Italian Spanish co-production, Cross Current was released during the boom period of the giallo and exhibits elements of the Les Diaboliques influenced sexy Italian thriller of the 1960s alongside the more psychological Argento styled thriller. Throughout the episode we examine the effectiveness of these elements and explore the execution of the film’s many twists and turns. We also take a look at the film’s cast of seasoned euro cult actors and the motivations of their characters alongside our usual examination of the film’s production history, design and set pieces.
Plot of Fear (1976)
Delving once again into the genre’s post golden period, in this month’s episode of Fragments of Fear we take a look at an example of the giallo poliziotteschi hybrid in Paolo Cavara’s politically charged E tanta paura aka Plot of Fear (1976). In our dissection of the film, we explore Cavara’s background as the originator of the Mondo film and take a look at how the creative freedom afforded to him in Plot of Fear led to a complex, deconstruction of the giallo utilising elements of the poliziotteschi and American led conspiratorial thrillers of the era. Other themes explored in the episode include Plot of Fear’s satirical leanings, the concept of surveillance led paranoia, political injustice and decadence and perversion.
The 1980s heralded in a new era for the giallo and Carlo Vanzina’s 1983 thriller, Mystère is indicative of a marked change in the Italian thriller during the decade of excess. We take a look at how the cultural shift in the 1980s manifested in the stylings of Carlo Vanzina’s contemporary giallo, examining the film’s influences from Roger Moore era Bond to Jean-Jacques Beineix ’s 1981 thriller, Diva. In our discussion of Mystère, we examine the film’s tonal shift from giallo to espionage thriller, its depiction of prostitution, 1980s yuppified glamour and Carole Bouquet’s enigmatic performance as the morally ambiguous Mystère.
Death Carries a Cane (1973)
For the latest episode of Fragments of Fear we turn our focus once again to the golden period of the genre with Maurizio Pradeaux’s 1973 giallo, Death Carries a Cane - a formulaic giallo indicative of the trend for Argento styled thrillers in early 1970s Italy. Analysing the film’s merits, we discuss the effectiveness of its humour - touching upon the role of comedy in the giallo - and examine how it impacts on Death Carries a Cane’s characterisation. We also muse on the film’s Argento inspired set pieces and brief similarities with Luciano Ercoli’s Death Walks films including the multiple shared cast members. Finally, we assess the effectiveness of Death Carries a Cane’s ending and the alternative explanation given for the film’s events in the German version.
The Muder Clinic (1966)
In the latest episode of Fragments of Fear we once again return to the 1960s, delving into the genre’s Gothic strain with 1966 Gothic giallo hybrid, The Murder Clinic. Discussing the intersection between the Gothic and the giallo, we examine the effectiveness of this melding of genres ruminating on how the Gothic influenced the more contemporary styled gialli of the early 1970s. We also discuss the impact of Mario Bava’s Blood & Black Lace on The Murder Clinic, assessing changing trends in Italian horror and thriller cinema during this volatile period. Turning our attention to notable figures in the genre, we look at those instrumental to The Murder Clinic from the illustrious career of genre defining writer Ernesto Gastaldi to the colourful yet tragic life of lead actor William Berger.
In this month’s episode of Fragments of Fear we revisit the genre’s post golden era examining Duccio Tessari’s 1974 giallo Puzzle. Arguably the lesser discussed giallo of Tessari’s foray into the genre, we make the case for why Puzzle is an essential title for fans of the giallo. From the film’s sympathetic characterisation, courtesy of Senta Berger’s exceptional leading performance, to its exploration of Hitchcockian style themes of fractured and mistaken identity, Puzzle is an effective thriller that eschews the genre’s tropes in favour of a more heartfelt styled mystery. Emotive and engaging, Puzzle is a captivating slow burn giallo that places its characters at the heart of its mystery. We discuss why these elements make Puzzle an effective, albeit, different entry in the giallo cannon. Theme music performed by Ozarks. Hear more at castleozarks.com.
The Crimes of the Black Cat (1972)
Entering into the giallo’s golden period, Fragments of Fear takes an in-depth look at Sergio Pastore’s The Crimes of the Black Cat (1972). Heavily indebted to the early gialli of Dario Argento, we take a look at the way in which the new Italian thriller influenced The Crimes of the Black Cat and the ways in which Pastore incorporated Argento like flourishes into his film. We also take a gander at The Crime of the Black Cat’s sympathetic approach to its female characters, the giallo’s predilection with the fashion house and the film’s shocking Psycho inspired crescendo.
So Sweet... So Perverse (1969)
In this month’s episode of Fragments of Fear we take our first foray into the work of prolific Italian genre film director, Umberto Lenzi, delving into the second of his gialli with American actress Carroll Baker; Così dolce, Così perversa aka So Sweet… So Perverse (1969). We discuss one of the most influential but unsung figures of the giallo; Luciano Martino, examine the various strands of the 1960s giallo and look at the core themes at the heart of the film from its erotic nature and changing gender politics to Lenzi’s critique of class and portrayal of the ennui of the bourgeoise.
In the inaugural episode of Fragments of Fear, we discuss Armando Crispino’s deliriously innovative 1975 giallo Macchie Solari aka Autopsy. Wavering between science-fiction tinged surrealism and a detached almost documentary like style, Crispino’s Autopsy is a somewhat experimental take on the giallo that plays with the genre’s form to deliver a fascinating and unrelenting character study of a woman plagued by personal trauma set against a backdrop of mysterious suicides in sun drenched Rome.
Join us as we dissect the genesis of Autopsy, female neurosis in the giallo and the relationship between sex and death in this overlooked yet pivotal entry in the giallo cannon.