Questi Laid a Fragrant Egg + Buh-Bye, 2020

December 30, 2020 | By

It’s perhaps fitting that my last review of this bonkers year was for the most bonkers giallo I’ve ever seen, Giulio Questi’s Death Laid an Egg (1968), a once forgotten but now infamous oddity in both the giallo genre and cinema bizarre.


‘This egg… smells of… death!’


Death is also the first review I’ve tackled after a long gap – the 2009 version is now extensively revised, updated, and expanded, since the new Blu-ray from Cult Epics massively eclipses the old Japanese DVD from eons ago.

The last month and a half have been bonkers. Actually, quite terrible. No more terrible than the average person’s experiences since the COVID-19 pandemic began back in March, but 9 months that featured a hard lockdown / no contact / no seeing / no touching / no travelling / no cinemas & concerts / no multi-person visitations / no birthdays / no dinners / no coffees / and no relaxing in the park among many during a pretty spring, and pleasantly mild summer was a heck of a trial.

We aren’t living in ‘challenging’ or ‘extraordinary’ times, but a dour, depressing, emotionally wrenching, spiritually exhausting period that seems to have no end, with daily case and death counts rising again – Toronto and Ontario as a whole saw another inevitable record peak today, and we’ve yet to see the results of those who mass-gathered for Xmas, those are returning from out-of-country holidays (like this taxpayer-funded simpleton), and those who will break rules and exit 2020 / enter 2021 with a Bang! en masse.

The supposed gains in freedom and emotional relief in summer were a cruel tease, and businesses are once again disappearing from local streets, a huge pool of staff & owners are losing their livelihoods, and many businesses shutter forever.

Cinemas are again closed in Ontario, and after being held back and postponed for months, major feature films are slowly creeping out in venues outside of the big screen big sound experience for which they were designed.

Indie cinemas are largely boarded up, and some, like Ottawa’s beloved Bytown Cinema, will permanently closed Dec. 31st after offering wonderful programming for genre connoisseurs.

Home video remains a rare venue where indie labels continue to release titles they’ve licensed and prepped for mass distribution via online and classic bricks & mortar shops, but there’s a great unknown as to when things will return to some kind of normal.

Normal may be mid-summer, a year, or a couple of years from now, but few of us will emerge without some scars of being locked up, distanced, isolated, or affected at arm’s length or directly hit by the bug itself. The emotional and psychological toll will be subversive yet massive, seething below a surface of thin calm or numbness.

The visual, aural, and written dramatizations of what we’ve seen and experienced during this awful period in human history will be time capsules of a pandemic that was professed by disease cowboys years ago.

When the first Ebola epidemic broke in the late 1980s, a wealth of non-fiction books poured out, and the warnings were clear: the ease of transmission by hopping on an international flight ensured effective containment was impossible. Governments should have plans & intense emergency drills in place, and drug companies need to invest in new vaccines and treatments as more common bugs were mutating and building resistance to our most powerful drugs.

It’s no surprise, then, that one of the most streamed films during the first weeks of the North American lockdown was Contagion (2011), a cautionary tale of how fast a bug can spread, and how it can change the way we socialize, as normal contact and activities are walled off.

There’s no single reason why it took 6 weeks for me to start typing again, but each week was often shrouded in a fog of variable density; of energy and focus ebbing to hugely unproductive lows; and an environment with toxic elements that were bad in March, got worse in November, and will most assuredly will reach new lows during the coming months as we scrape through another lockdown – and perhaps a full hard-on in January.

In March and April we’ll once again see spring’s colours return, and regardless of mass-vaccination, we’ll still keep a safe distance with masks, and regard any approaching figure on the sidewalk as a disease vector. Squirrels and birds, however, no problem.

This blog has minimal edits because it’s not possible to craft some clever, fluid narrative where there’s a bright light at the end. We hope things will improve, and we hope whatever aspects of normalcy that do return in 2021 will remain for a foreseeable extended period, and allow us to rebuild vital aspects of our social fabric, but here, and now, it’s best to just let thoughts splat and dribble a little on the blog page, though there is a conclusion at hand.

This wretched year is almost done, and some of the most vile figures in politics are on their way out. There’s a lot of pent-up stress and outrage and confusion which hungry creative minds are aching to shape into some representation of singular and shared experiences, and a gold mine of energy that may well lead to an explosion of new projects, careers, & life possibilities.

2021 may see the launch of some dynamic ventures to advance art forms, and signal a flood of creativity.

I’m tackling my goals one at a time, starting with an old routine – writing, reviewing, and reacquainting myself with the sometimes ridiculous genres I love – and new challenges, which will including voice work, custom analogue video effects, and a few interconnected projects.

I’ll highlight some baby steps as they happen, but for now, let’s start with the strangest and most wonderful giallo ever made, the crazily titled Death Laid an Egg, directed by Giulio Questi, and written with the film’s brilliantly modernist editor, Franco Arcalli.

And Buh-Bye, 2020. Don’t let 2021’s doorknob square you as you’re put out to pasture.

Thanks for your patience,



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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