Giallo is a contentious genre. Part lurid crime thriller, part gory horror, part sleazo-sex flick, the distinctly Italian film field can be tough to pin down, and each of its hardcore fans probably has his or her own idea what qualifies. Author Troy Howarth (with ample help from guest essayists Ernesto Gastaldi and Roberto Curti) does what he can too pin down what, exactly, a giallo picture is and isn’t over the first 40 pages of his movie guide So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films Volume One. Then we’re in the deep end with a glut of reviews that waste no time courting controversy. Two films in and its The Three Faces of Fear (aka: Black Sabbath), included because the least-celebrated tale of Mario Bava’s horror portmanteau, “The Telephone”, passes the litmus test.
I’m certain Howarth will afford the rest of that film all-due attention when he and co-conspirator Christopher Workman get to the sixties-centric volume of their Tome of Terror horror movie guide series. So Deadly, So Perverse kind of functions as a companion to that series. Its extra space devoted to extended essays aside, it follows the same format as Tome of Terror with its tech specs, astute and lively reviews, detailed histories, above-and-beyond historical and biographical tidbits, and abundant illustrations. It differs from the first volume of Tome of Terror in its across-the-board depth. There are no two or three paragraph write-ups. Howarth examines every inclusion thoroughly, probably because there are fewer instances of lost films when dealing with giallo than 80-year-old horror movies. I personally don’t have as much interest in giallo as I do in 80-year-old horror movies, but I still found it hard not to get caught up in Howarth’s enthusiasm and came away from So Deadly, So Perverse with another dirty-laundry list of nasty movies to see. Get it on Amazon.com here: