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Arts & Culture

Create Your Own Film Class With Series Devoted To Hitchcock, Giallo

Masked killers are a key element in giallo cinema. Here is one from "Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key."
AGFA
Masked killers are a key element in giallo cinema. Here is one from "Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key."

Two film series complement each other with some film history in October

Create Your Own Film Class With Series Devoted To Hitchcock, Giallo
GUEST: Beth Accomando, KPBS Cinema Junkie Podcast Host

Just in time to start the Halloween season, tube film series beginning in's indigo celebrating Masters of the thriller. One pagers a series of films from the Alfred Hitchcock and the other, maybe more of an acquired taste, the alarming and some might say garish excesses of giallo thrillers. Joining me is Beth Okamoto who says Hitchcock and giallo may have more in common than you think. Welcome back. Thank you. Why do they have more in common than we think ? What is great is that it allows people to see something they are familiar with and to parent up with something they may be unfamiliar with which are the Italian giallo films. Giallo is heavily influenced by Hitchcock and the fact that his stories deal with murders and based in literature. There is this interconnection between those that I think is nice. San Diego filmgoers will have a unique opportunity to set their own little film course in film history. What the series will allow you to do, you can watch a giallo and a Hitchcock film for four straight weeks. That will allow you a chance to see exactly the things that you will see in Hitchcock and pop up in giallo and how the Italians bowl out of control. Hitchcock is control. The Italians are over the top and design. They are wildly different and yet you see the same in both. Let's start with Alfred Hitchcock. What does Hitchcock -- what does "Hitchcocktober" serve up ? These are his best titles. It opens with "North by Northwest", which is a classic scenario but it includes "Vertigo". This was not wildly successful when it first came out in 1958 . It has recently dethroned Citizen Kane. It is at the top of the list. It is this gorgeous kind of perverse film in which Jimmy Stewart falls in love with a woman who commits suicide and then he tries to remake another woman in her image. Here is a scene where he has tried to turn Kim Novak into the woman he previously love. You should be back. I told her that. I told you that. We tried it. It just did not seem to suit me. Please, Judy. That part of "Vertigo", the transformation into the woman she originally was. The film is like a dream. It is like a fever dream and the colors are so vivid and gorgeous. That is a thing, the sense of color. It is a rare film for Hitchcock. It is not like his others and that is what makes it special. A different film is "Psycho" . What is significant about this film? That marked a turning point in horror. One key thing is that Hitchcock shocked audiences. I do not realize people can see how shocking that was. He focused on a serial killer and he drew on real crime. He created a film that jolted audiences. One of the most memorable things is Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. He talks about his mother. It is not as if she were a maniac, a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you? After all the films that have come after "Psycho", I find this film endearing . It is so brilliant. [ laughter ] How did it influence giallo cinema. We saw the first one come out in 1963 and you see the same focus on the grisly crimes, especially grizzly Millers and a focus on Siri or killers. They also draw on the sense of dread and engaging the audience in that kind of a story. These films also drew on elements from France like the sense of lurid violence and disturbing things and it drawls on Edgar Allen Poe.'s -- "Psycho" is the bridge and it leads us to contemporary films. Tell us about giallo. I work with film geek San Diego and I am a volunteer programmer. We could not resist the fact that there are four newly restored 4K digital prints of a number of these giallo films. We wanted to bring them in. It will kick off with what have you done -- "What Have You Done To Solange?". One thing you'll notice is the title are crazy. You have trendy wine. -- "Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key". [ laughter ] "Hitchcocktober" kicks off Tuesday. The giallo film series starts October 8 at the Digital Gym Cenema . I have been speaking with Beth Okamoto. Thank you so much. Thank you.

October and Halloween are just around the corner and that means some fun film programming. Angelika Film Center hosts its month-long Hitchcocktober fest while Digital Gym Cinema features "A Giallo Affair," a giallo film series.

San Diego filmgoers have a unique opportunity to treat themselves to a personal course in film history by sampling films from two local venues.

October is the month that Angelika Film Center always devotes to the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. This year its Hitchcocktober series will highlight five classic titles beginning with "North By Northwest" on Oct. 3 and continuing with "Notorious" (Oct. 10), "Vertigo" (Oct. 17), "Rebecca" (Oct. 24), and "Psycho" (on Halloween night).

The line up showcases Hitchcock in peak form ranging from his first Hollywood feature "Rebecca" to his shocking 1960 film "Psycho" that laid the groundwork for all the slasher/serial killer films of the '80s.

Hitchcock's films were also highly influential on a genre of Italian cinema known as "giallo." A series of four newly restored 4K digital transfers will be showcased in October at the Digital Gym Cinema and co-sponsored by Film Geeks SD, which I co-program for. The giallo showcased will be "What Have You Done to Solange?" (Oct. 8 and 9), "Don't Torture A Duckling" (Oct. 15 and 16), "Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key" (Oct. 22 and 23), and "Death Laid An Egg" (Oct. 29 and 30).

Most people are familiar with Hitchcock, but fewer people know about giallo cinema. So this month filmgoers have a perfect opportunity to see some classic Hitchcock and then watch some giallo to see how Hitch influenced this Italian genre.

The word “giallo” translates literally as “yellow,” but it became synonymous with a particular style of literary thriller that got its name from the cheap yellow covers of the novels published in Italy in the 1950s and ’60s.

Like film noir before it, giallo has its roots in literature and crime fiction. Giallo also turns to France to draw on the Grand Guignol style of theater for a healthy dose of lurid violence and disturbing themes. You’ll also notice the influence of Edgar Allen Poe, Gothic horror and Alfred Hitchcock in creating an atmosphere of dread and psychological horror.

Anthony Perkins stars as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's seminal film, "Psycho" (1960).
Universal Pictures
Anthony Perkins stars as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's seminal film, "Psycho" (1960).

"Psycho" in particular, with its focus on a serial killer, would help set the themes for Italian giallo and its fascination with gruesome murders. "Psycho" represented a shift in cinema as it killed off its star less than a third of the way into the film and let the psychologically deranged killer take center stage. It was a film that drew on real-life crimes (Ed Gein in this case) as a source of inspiration.

But perhaps it's "Vertigo," with its strange dream state imagery, that proved the stronger stylistic influence. Giallo cinema loves to focus on serial killers as "Psycho" did, but the Italians added their own over the top sense of style and audacious sense of design to the formula to create something new. The visual style of giallo cinema calls to mind a fever dream and in that sense, it is very much akin to Hitchcock's "Vertigo."

These two film series allow you to watch a giallo and a Hitchcock film back to back for four straight weeks. That provides a rare opportunity to not only see the films on the big screen where they belong but also to see how Hitchcock's influence was felt overseas.