Old 03-22-2013, 03:52 PM
House of the yellow Carpet (1983)

Iīve said it before and Iīll say it again: The term "giallo" is often quite misused. At least in my opinion the best works in this field donīt actually feature black gloved assasains, proto slasher violence and gratious nudity. The great Mario Bava wasted no time in spoofing that entire concept in his seminal A Bay of Blood despite having basically founded the genre with The Girl who knre too much and Blood and black Lace just a few years earlier. Dario Argento might have done some of the best and most popular movies that actually fit the description above but sought to change up the formula at least after Deep Red. While many italian thrillers have resurfaced on DVD and thank Ganesh for that most DVD companies actually took the safe route and released movies that are strictly in line with the influencial Bava and Argento works, Iīm talking films like The black Belly of the Tarantula, Death walks at Midnight or Umberto Lenziīs Seven Blood-Stained Orchids. Fun examples of the genre but basically just copycats of better films. There are many, many gems in the history of euro-cult that basically go totally against the aformentioned stereotypes and havenīt found their way into the digital age, aside from the grey market. Which brings me to House of the yellow Carpet, a movie made rather late in the cycle (1983). Not only does it holds up the giallo flag high (right down to the title) itīs also easily one of the most genuinely original giallos Iīve seen.

Our protagonists are a young couple. Their relationship seems easy-going but thereīs jealous tension underneath the silent waters. One faithful saturday morning, when Franco is out trying to get his deported car back from the police office, Franca is visited by an odd man who claims he wants to buy that yellow carpet theyīre selling via newspaper adds. Once let inside the apartment, the guy turns out to be a complete nutbag, taking Franca prisoner in her own home and muttering about having killed his wife.

House of the yellow Carpet isnīt your typical home-invasion movie. The potential for going into a sleazy direction is definitely there (after all itīs about an aging raving lunatic who traps a young woman in her own house and makes her through all sorts of mental torment) but the movie doesnīt go into that at all. Thereīs no gratious nudity or violence to be found although it features some of both. The fact that these indigrents come in relatively small dosis make them more effective in the context of the story. Rather than wallowing in bad-taste aesthethics once itīs rolled out, this carpet turns out to be a fascinating puzzle full of suprise twists that are plausible and made believeable through the stellar acting of all participants. As mentioned before, stalk and slash fans will come out of this disappointed. What classifies this movie is a giallo next to itīs italian roots is that it has a compelling mystery (you wonīt know what is going on until late in the film) with a big emphasis on style and psychological themes. The protagonists live pretty close by their counterparts in Argentoīs Four Flies on Grey Velvet, their home is an ugly futuristic nightmare made real-estate, I didnīt doubt for a second that noone would hear Franca scream. Also there is black italian humor galore, just thinking about the line about "experimental psychotherapy" cracked me up just now. And the conclusion echos some Bava influence since itīs ironic and double-edged.

I already mentioned that the acting is high-class on this movie and the dubbing is mercifully mostly on point. Since there are only a small number of actors in the script at all - which by the way was adopted from a stage play named "Theatre at Home" (something which is a first for a giallo, I think) House of the yellow Carpet woudlnīt be worth much with sub-par performers. Given the stagebound roots of the story, every character is eccentric and reckognizeable I was especially intrigued by actress Melina Vukoticīs movie-persona. Director Carlo Lizzani has more than 70 directional titles and a career spinning from 1948 to 2011. The man is no slouch and he keeps the script together very good, making the most out of the limited resources (the whole film takes place almost entirely in one location). The camera work and overall stylishness is not as overtly visual as in Argentoīs or Bavaīs work but the subdued approach to this fits this film like a glove.

A great little film that deserves a good digital treatment, Iīm sure this would make itself an audience within and outside of euro-cult circles. As it is Iīm gonna have to hang on to my crappy bootleg, hoping that one day DVD publishers see the light.
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Old 03-23-2013, 07:04 PM
You're right, there is more to "giallo" films than the frequent black-gloved killers and extreme violence. Any giallo, with or without those elements, is usually drenched in mystery, a see-through one that's very bloody, or even better a more dramatic take with less violence and more attention to believable details in the story. One with a good layerd-out story and a somewhat black-gloved killer is "What Have You Done to Solange?." And another with a believable and simple premise is "Macabre" from 1980 by Lamberto Bava. It primarily concerns a woman who has lost a loved one and maybe her sanity as well. There are a small number of supporting characters and it mainly takes place in an apartment building. It is less about violence and more about a mystery and the longing for passionate love. Yet, it does retain a thrilling edge. It sounds like you know your giallos well and may have seen that. And I think we've spoken about "What Have You Done to Solange?" before. This new film you mention sounds interesting and worth picking up. As you suggest, there must be several lesser known giallo films yet to released on DVD. And "A Bay of Blood" a.k.a. "Twitch of the Dead Nerve," I've been trying to find that somewhere for a reasonable price.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 03-23-2013 at 07:08 PM..
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Old 03-25-2013, 07:31 AM
Good point on What have they done to Solange - this is indeed a good example for a crossover between traditional giallo and author mystery. Iīve never really thought of Macabro as a giallo but considering my own wimpy thesis above I donīt really know why anymore The kind of yet to be rediscovered movies Iīm thinking of are more along the lines of Footprints on the Moon or Death laid on Egg - powerful films in their own right.
I also find it of note that most of the italian thriller made at the end of the sixties (like Paranoia by Lenzi or Fulciīs One on Top of Another) donīt really fit the common expecation for a giallo at all. And they get slumped in that definition too.
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:13 PM
It's possible my own defintion of the giallo films might be off, but I was under the impression that one ingredient that is always present is a mystery of some kind. And that would apply to "What Have You Done to Solange?" and "Macabre." I have seen "Paranoia," and agree, there is far less of a mystery to qualify it as a giallo. To get more of the lesser known giallos and so-called giallos from the 1960's and to 1980's on DVD would be something.

Last edited by Duke Nukem; 03-27-2013 at 07:17 PM..
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