My friend Richard Glenn Schmidt has just published his own, very different study of the giallo... In order to mark the publication of his book, I asked him a few questions and got a few answers... The interview follows.
Troy Howarth: How did you become familiar with the giallo?
Richard Glenn Schmidt: It was through Italian horror. As I was somewhat familiar with the films of Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, and Michele Soavi, it wasn’t long before I got to DEEP RED and read about the giallo genre somewhere online. Next thing I knew, I was getting to gateway films like SEVEN BLOOD-STAINED ORCHIDS and WHO SAW HER DIE?, and it was all downhill from there.
TH: The giallo seems to be a tricky genre to define precisely—some view it as one specific thing, while others have a less set notion of what a giallo should be… What is your definition of the giallo?
RGS: A mystery film, often of Italian origin, featuring murder and a little (or sometimes a lot of) sleaze, filmed in a stylish manner with some painfully cool music playing over the top of it all.
TH: What gave you the idea for your giallo blog?
RGS: Initially, DOOMED MOVIETHON started when I just felt like movie reviewers online weren’t giving my favorite films enough love. Then I started documenting my weekend-long moviethons and I really just had a blast with the site beyond just reviewing a film at a time. Binge-watching gialli was a natural extension of that.
TH: When did you start to think about compiling all of this info into book form?
RGS: While these giallo moviethons started in 2008, it wasn’t until some encouragement from online friends got me thinking of publishing GIALLO MELTDOWN. So sometime in late 2011, I began to stage new meltdowns that would become chapters in the book.
TH: What are some of your favorite gialli? What makes these titles so special to you?
RGS: THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS has always been one of my go-to titles. It’s one that I love showing to people who are new to the genre. I already mentioned SEVEN BLOOD-STAINED ORCHIDS which just blows me away every time. Umberto Lenzi made some great ones! Recently, THE DEAD ARE ALIVE went from being in my top 10 to being in my top 3 favorites. Much of that film embodies “The Vibe”, that ever elusive feeling that gialli give me. There are a few obscure ones that I wish would make it to Blu-ray like EYEBALL (Lenzi again!), EYE IN THE LABYRINTH, THE KILLER HAS RESERVED NINE SEATS, NAKED GIRL KILLED IN THE PARK, THE KILLER IS ON THE PHONE, etc.
TH: How about some of your least favorite?
RGS: I find SEX OF THE WITCH to be a very frustrating experience. Lots of potential and none of the payoff. I really tried, on multiple occasions, to like LA BAMBOLA DI SATANA. It’s just kind of a mess. Same thing with THE KILLER IS AMONG THE THIRTEEN. Too many characters and not much happening! And of course, THE BLOODSUCKER LEADS THE DANCE. It’s a film that I perversely enjoy but is just an embarrassment for both the viewer and the cast, who look utterly miserable onscreen. Poor Luciano Pigozzi looks especially pitiful.
TH: I can definitely relate on those! Did you find putting this material into book form to be difficult?
RGS: Not at all. I’m a voracious reader of books on film so I think I had some idea of how to do it kind of burned into my brain already.
TH: Tell us a bit about the format of the book: is it chronological or alphabetical? About how long is the end product?
RGS: The book is arranged in moviethon order so the films come flying at random. Whatever mood struck me at the time is how the order went. So it’s definitely not your traditional survey of a genre.
TH: What was the hardest part of undertaking this project?
RGS: The hardest part was not sharing this with friends and fans of the website. I’ve had 8 moviethons that compile the latter two-thirds of the book just waiting to be unleashed on the world. The second hardest part was creating the index at the end. My wife suggested I do it and I swear, she must be a sadist. Compiling the index was somewhat akin to elective surgery except not as funny.
TH: You inspired me to do the same with my upcoming Fulci book, so I sympathize! And now that it’s more or less finished—do you have any future book projects?
RGS: I do indeed. Thanks to my poor organization skills, I missed some key titles for Giallo Meltdown so there’s already a sequel in the planning stages. It will be shorter and cheaper but I feel like I have some more giallo watching left in me. Before I even start that however, my horror fiction book that’s been percolating in my brain since 2002 is now on my mind pretty much 24 hours a day.
TH: Tell us how the book can be ordered, and what the price will be… That is, if you have that info worked out already!
RGS: GIALLO MELTDOWN: A MOVIETHON DIARY is available on Amazon and Createspace right now. It’s $16 before shipping. There will also be a Kindle version very soon for $6. Hey, it’s the 90s! I gotta be a part of the future.
TH: Thanks for taking a bit to talk about this project; I’m looking forward to reading it!
RGS: Thank you, sir! It was an honor and a pleasure. You asked all the fun questions.
Want to hear me interview Troy on the podcast? Well well well, listen right here!