An unboxing and review of three Italian gems in honor of Arrow releasing their second box in the Giallo Essentials series
Arrow Heads — UK-based Arrow Films has quickly become one of the most exciting and dependable names in home video curation and distribution, creating gorgeous Blu-ray releases with high quality artwork and packaging, and bursting with supplemental content, often of their own creation. From cult and genre fare to artful cinema, this column is devoted to their weird and wonderful output.
As Arrow Films commonly does, they recently packaged several gems together to create a very desirable and enjoyable package for film collectors to salivate over… this time a trio of solid entries into the world of the Giallo film from the classic period. While not their first collection in the Giallo Essentials collection, this second set includes a set of film at least as impressive as the first box, with equally fantastic artwork and features as the previous.
GIALLO ESSENTIALS VOLUME 2
The set includes three films — Strip Nude for Your Killer, What Have They Done to Your Daughters?, and Torso — each with their own case, reversible artwork, and Blu-ray discs packed with multiple versions and features. The three individual films fit snugly into a wonderfully crafted box with artwork designed by Haunt Love, which in turns fits into a windowed slip cover of its own.
As with Arrow’s other releases, a lot of time and effort is put into commissioning fresh artwork and designing a look that is both fresh and encapsulating of the films’ overall tones and styles. Each film’s artwork is unique to the film, while also fitting with the overall packaging of the set and the overall aesthetic of Arrow’s products — an aesthetic that keeps Arrow Heads like us coming back for more.
The Individual Films
STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER
Above you see both sides of the Strip Nude for Your Killer individual packaging, with the Arrow artwork in the first picture and their retooled version of original artwork in the second. Both look great and feature the same blurbs and content listing on the back side.
This disc includes:
- Commentary by HORRORPEDIA.com’s Adrian J. Smith and David Flint
- Sex and Death with a Smile, video essay by Kat Ellinger on giallo icon Edwige Fenech
- A Good Man for the Murders, interview with actor Nino Castelnuevo
- The Blonde Salamander, interview with actress Erna Schurer
- The Art of Helping, interview with assistant director Daniele Sangiorgi
- Jack of All Trades, interview with actor and production manager Tino Polenghi
- Two versions of the opening scene
- Original Italian and English theatrical trailers
- Image Gallery
The inclusion of multiple audio tracks and subtitle tracks makes this disc (and all the the discs) truly invaluable as a Giallo fan. Finding good copies of gialli in various forms is a rarity and we, as fans of the subgenre, are often saddled with whatever is available. This set refuses to force that evil upon us and allows us to watch with whatever Italian/English configuration we please.
The film looks as good as it ever has and sounds great too. Fans of the subgenre that haven’t yet experience Andrea Bianchi’s story about murder, lust, abortion, jealousy, and forbidden love are in for a treat. While not the best of most influential title in the set, Strip Nude for Your Killer is notable as Bianchi is an essential name in the 70s and 80s Giallo cycle, even if often grouped in with the second tier of notable directors in the subgenre. Additionally, Edwige Fenech is featured prominently and her unique talent and beauty are a hallmark in the gialli of this era.
WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS?
Like with Strip Nude for Your Killer, the individual packaging for What Have They Done to Your Daughters? features the Arrow artwork on one side and a reworked version of the film’s original artwork on the other. Both include the iconic imagery of the film’s killer in the full leather body suit and shielded motorcycle helmet.
This disc includes:
- Commentary by giallo expert Troy Howarth
- Video essay by Kat Ellinger, editor-in-chief of Diabolique Magazine
- Eternal Melody, interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani
- Dallamano’s Touch, interview with editor Antonio Siciliano
- Unused footage
- Alternate English opening titles
- Italian theatrical trailer
- Image gallery
The inclusion of an alternate title sequence is a fun inclusion, but it’s easy to see after one viewing why they other title sequence is considered canon… as it just works better. The film itself isn’t always one that is heralded in discussion of Giallo, but the killer is unique and certainly has been used as inspiration for many in the years after this film was released. Director Massimo Dallamano made his name in the decade prior to this film as a cinematographer and, in turn, this film surely shows his strong eye for cinematography. Albiet, what the film features in great landscapes and well framed shots throughout, it lacks in realistic effects — including some of the fakest dead bodies the subgenre can boast.
A unique difference between this film and many other Giallo films is that it’s more a hybrid of Giallo and Poliziotteschi than it is a pure Giallo — albiet the two surely overlap in other titles and are not entirely dissimilar. The Poliziotteschi films are a specific brand of Italian crime films that includes a good deal of what we now refer to as “police procedural” and feature far more car chases, gun fights, and action movie tropes than the more horror focuses whodunits in the purer Giallo films.
If this is a new one for you, keep in mind the plot surrounds an underage prostitution ring, so it’s not incredibly easy to stomach at times. The unrealistic dead bodies help in that regard, but the recordings of young girls with perverted older men are pretty rough to hear at times. I guess we can always just keep repeating, “it’s only a movie”.
Torso is, quite likely, the most known, influential, and “important” piece of this trio of films. It’s widely considered an early slasher or proto-slasher and definitely helped create some of the tropes that would go one to develop into what we now know as the slasher film. The reversible artwork is pictured above.
This disc includes:
- Commentary by critic Kat Ellinger
- Interview with co-writer/director Sergio Martino
- Interview with actor Luc Merenda
- Interview with co-writer Ernesto Gastaldi
- Interview with filmmaker Federica Martino, daughter of Sergio Martino
- 2017 Abertoir International Horror Festival Q&A with Sergio Martino
- Interview with Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film
- Option to view the film with the alternate US opening title sequence
- Italian and English theatrical trailers
There are lots of reasons this is a notable Giallo film and important entry in this set. Quentin Taratino, Eli Roth, and many others have cited it as a big influence on their films and on the modern horror genre. It’s also notable that it’s directed by Sergio Martino, one of the most notable and important directors in the Giallo scene. While maybe not as creative in its story beats, kills, or levels of sleaze as some of Martino’s other works, it’s still an important one — especially in its connection with the creation of the slasher genre.
The notes on the set, explain that there is a brief bit of the original cut of Torso where English audio is unavailable, but the disc other allows for multiple cuts to play with multiple audio options:
The English audio track on the original cut of Torso has portions missing, which were either never recorded or have been lost. These sequences are presented in Italian subtitled in English.
The film is my favorite of this set and objectively seems to be the most important one in terms of the impact of the Giallo cycle on the modern horror genre. Additionally, those unfamiliar with Martino may find it a good gateway into his catalog, as it features some of the comforting tropes of the slasher genres and a bit less sleaze than Martino is known for. That’s not to say this is a family film, though — there is still plenty here that’ll keep you from wanting to watch this with your kids or your grandma. Of course, this really goes for the whole set, it’s not really the best choice for family movie night… but that’s not we’re looking for in a set of Giallo films, right?
You can grab your copy of Giallo Essentials Volume 2 from Arrow today.
[Pictures courtesy of Brooke Harlan]