As I mentioned in last week’s article on April’s Movie of the Month, Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace, there’s a finesse to gaillo movie titles that was somewhat lacking in the genre’s Bollywood equivalent Veerana (a title that roughly translates to “Creepy Forrest”). The giallo title is a beautiful, needlessly complicated art form that requires at least six or seven syllables to properly breathe. As the genre’s pioneer, Mario Bava was prescient in many ways and the beauty of his films’ titles is certainly among them. There’s no denying the inherent draw of movies with names like Blood and Black Lace, The Body and the Whip, Planet of the Vampires, and Knives of the Avenger. That’s not to say that longer, more complicated titles always indicate higher quality giallo movies. My favorite films by Dario Argento are Opera & Suspiria, not Four Flies on Grey Velvet & The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. There’s just an undeniable poetry & sense of one-upsmanship with the more complicated titles that feel unique to the genre.
Keeping the poetry of these titles in mind, I attempted compile a poem composed almost entirely of titles of giallo films I have never seen, but admire for their names alone. I have added a few words here or there to make some sort of sense out of madness, but most of the words are drawn directly from the titles in the sequence they appear. Enjoy!
Your vice is a locked room
and only I have the key. We kill
the fatted calf and roast it in the black
belly of the tarantula, my sweet. So perverse, my lizard
in a woman’s skin. Strip nude for your killer. Bring
a hatchet for the honeymoon, a dragonfly
for each corpse, a black veil for Lisa.
The bloodsucker leads the dance
in the house of the yellow carpet. Death walks
on high heels in the house with laughing
windows. The Devil has seven faces, seven blood
stained orchids. The flower with the petals of steel, the twitch
of the death nerve, forbidden photos of a lady above suspicion.
The night Evelyn came out of the grave, the young,
the evil and the savage committed the crimes of the black
cat. It was on the short night of the glass dolls, five dolls
for an august moon. The weapon, the hour, and the motive
cast a bloodstained shadow on all the colors of the dark.
The case of the bloody iris was cracked by the perfume
of the lady in black, who asked that we don’t torture
a duckling. Can I get you anything, my nine
guests for a crime, my iguana with the tongue
of fire, my man with icy eyes? No thanks,
coffee makes me nervous. Now smile
before death & watch me when I kill. Naked,
you die, reflections in black, nothing
underneath. The killer reserved nine seats.