Peeping into the Labyrinth: the Giallo & the Neo-Giallo

March 20, 2018 | By

Mario Caiano’s Eye in the Labyrinth / L’occhio nel labirinto is the perfect example of why the giallo can be a divisive genre: it’s Hitchcockian homages are clumsily arranged between narrative nonsense, the dialogue is ridiculous, and no matter what awful & abusive behaviour is inflicted upon the heroine, she’s always fine moments later, shrugging or sleeping off trauma like a minor case of indigestion.

Plot isn’t important, but it is nice when there’s an effort to summarize what the hell we’ve been watching, and Labyrinth does so in the final few minutes to give us a bit of closure before one (or maybe two) final doses of gore – which is fine, because it’s a genre that offers different combinations of elements.

Too much plot might reduce the sexiness quotient, and too little can result in nonsensical padding and kills that happen to fill out the running time to a bit over 80+ mins. Too trippy and too long can make a film a bit arty and interminable, and too abstract without stylish murder montages can be pretentious. Too much dialogue forces one to pay attention, which can be a detriment if stylish kills are hastily rendered and / or too few, so it’s a fine line writers and directors must walk in delivering the right combination to ensure that regardless of the nonsense factor, we all walk away delighted, and without an ounce of guilt.

Caiano manages to pull it off, and for the most part, so does director James Kelley in his neo-giallo What the Peeper Saw / Diabólica malicia, which is a rude British thriller about possible wrong longings between a pre-teen and his Swedish stepmum with giallo elements.

There is nonsense, sleaze, nudity, sun-baked locations, and music by genre maestro Stelvio Cipriani, but once in a while the film clicks into gear and becomes a proper psychological thriller, making it a bit of a frustrating experience because the great scenes hint at what should’ve been instead of a weird & wonky jumble. Peeper has its pros, but like many genre entries, it is a flawed production designed to sell tickets instead of transcend tropes and distinguish itself from the generic.

Coming next: two tales of terror in the subway – Anthony Harvey’s still creepy filming of Amiri Baraka’s play Dutchman (1966), and Larry Peerce’s striking The Incident (1967), new on Blu from Twilight Time.




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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