Giallo comes in many colors, including black, white, blue and red. But the word Giallo is Italian for “yellow”. Term dates back to the early 1930’s when an Italian publisher started printing translations of classic English thriller authors like Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, and Raymond Chandler, among others. These pulp novels were all printed with yellow covers, those spawning the “giallo” genre of crime fiction. Eventually, the genre and the giallo label made it to the movie theaters. Generally, the first giallo movie is identified as The Girl Who Knew Too Much in 1963. The movie was directed by Mario Bava (of Bloody Sunday fame). Bava would also direct Blood and Black Lace and establish many of the stylistic features considered to be standard in giallo genre, like masked killers, bladed weapons, black gloves, and glamorous women (usually the victims). These movies are also famous for their psychophonic musical scores, vivid colors, and radical, stylistic camera techniques.

These “spaghetti thrillers” are most often Italian productions, though others–mostly notably Spain–have contributed to the genre. Giallo also may crossover with movies in the German Krimi and, to a lesser extent, French fantastique genres. American film fans are easily confused by such things anyway.

Our first foray into Giallo expands the color scheme somewhat. Giallo movie titles often employ the use of numbers, colors, flora and fauna. Each movie in this Triple Feature includes a color, though never yellow. That would just be just too much on the nose.

And they were all yellow.

For all its giallo trappings, Black Belly of the Tarantula is, above all else, a straight ahead crime thriller. Giancarlo Gainnini is every bit the leading man; he carries this movie well with a gorgeous supporting cast that includes Barbara Bouchet, Barbara Bach, and others. This is a great movie for any thriller fan, giallo aficionado or the casual viewer who has never heard the term “giallo” before in their life. “The Best Giallo Ever Made”? Probably not, but still very good.

Paul Naschy contributes the script and plays the lead in this giallo entry from Spain. Other than Naschy himself, there are few familiar faces and the plot is a little uneven. Still, by the wildly twisting ending, Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (ak House of Psychotic Women) does a good job resolving all the threads they dangled in front of us. This giallo entry is a bit darker than most, but it piles on a nice amount of sex and mayhem to make it all work. Dark, yes, but still enjoyable.

Emilio Miraglia only made maybe a dozen movies and just two giallo, but The Red Queen Kills Seven Times is nevertheless recognized as a great example of the genre. Behind that success is an adept movie score from Ennio Mariconne and standout (yet flamboyant) performances from the leading ladies, Barbara Bouchet, Marina Malfetti, Sybil Danning, and Pia Giancara. While easy on the eyes, the7 are also far more than eye-candy  The Red Queen is a brightly lit, well made, psychodelic giallo hit.

More Italian Thrillers