Cannibals and other impossible bodies: 'Il profumo della signora in nero' and the giallo film


Heller-Nicholas, Alexandra

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For cult film audiences and academics alike, the Italian giallo film is considered predominantly an auteurist domain, where films by the subgenre's big names - Mario and Lamberto Bava, Lucio Fulci, Aldo Lado, Sergio Martino, Umberto Lenzi, Luciano Ercoli, and of course Dario Argento - have generally garnered the most attention. Translating literally to 'yellow,' the word giallo refers to the yellow covers of the pulp crime novels released by publisher Mondadori during the 1920s, locating the origins of the giallo in the work of authors such as Edgar Wallace. As one of the first giallo films, Mario Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much (La ragazza che sapev troppo, 1962) contains many of the giallo film's signature elements: sex, crime, and most famously a psychotic killer in black leather gloves. But as Mikel J. Koven notes in his book La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film (2006), these generic traits are far from uniform, and a privileging of the most well-known giallo auteurs risks missing the subgenre's thematic foundations.

Publication year


Publication type

Journal article


Scope, no. 22 (Feb 2012)




University of Nottingham


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