For those not in the know, “giallo” is a term that (for English-speaking horror fans) usually refers to an Italian genre of violent mysteries and thrillers. The word itself is translates as “yellow,” which refers to the yellow covers of the books that spawned the genre. You see, a company called Arnoldo Mondadori Editore published a line of pulp mystery novels called “I libri gialli” in 1929, which was eventually renamed as “Il Giallo Mondadori” in 1946. The name itself came from the distinctive yellow background used on each book cover. The line sold very well and prompted other companies to start putting out similar novels with such covers. Naturally, film companies wanted to make adaptations of such best-sellers and the giallo film genre was born.
When many horror fans think of gialli, several genre conventions come to mind:
1. Explicit violence and nudity
2. A mysterious killer wearing black gloves (and sometimes a mask)
3. Murders often being investigated by someone who isn’t in law enforcement
4. The films often (but not always) having a bizarre title. Here are some examples:
Four Flies on Grey Velvet
Five Dolls for an August Moon
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key
You might be surprised to learn this, but you can make your own giallo, complete with strange title, without a film crew or budget of any kind! Just head on over to Braineater.com’s Do-It-Yourself Giallo Generator, follow the easy-to-read instructions and you’re all set. Feel free to post your favorite creation in the comments section!
To learn more about giallo, please use the giallo Wikipedia entry as a starting point. Trust me, my brief summary only scratched the surface of the information that link contains.