Wednesday, 29 August 2012



As I think we've established, giallo movies are great - at least, the best of them are. They've kind of declined over the years, though, which perhaps isn't a bad thing as they do stand as a very seventies style of cinema; maybe that's why I enjoy them, with their easy lounge scores, period trappings and groovy sets, and the absence of Google, mobile phones and Justin Bieber. Bringing them into the present day somehow doesn't feel right.

Tulpa is a fair attempt at reviving the form and it has to be said that it doesn't entirely work, but for reasons that are less to do with updating the genre than frankly baffling stylistic choices that end up wrecking the film. Company executive Lisa (Claudia Gerini) spends her nights in a basement sex club, until her lovers start being murdered by a mystery killer: one of her boardroom colleagues? Her best friend Joanna, who has the most hilarious English voice dub you've ever heard? Her secretary Gerald? Or the mysterious owner of Club Tulpa himself ("Nobody knows anything about him, except they say he's a hermaphrodite", runs one of the first of numerous facepalming lines of dialogue)?

Undeniably it ticks all the boxes of sex, sadistic violence (the most memorably nasty being a woman strapped to a carousel having her face thrust repeatedly into a clump of barbed wire), and an array of dodgy individuals, any of whom could be the black-coated, black-hatted, black-gloved homicidal maniac. But for some reason, deliberate or not (and I'm inclined to believe it is deliberate), at about the halfway point it seemed to turn into a giallo parody with crunchingly unspeakable dialogue and a performance (or at least the English version of it) that caused explosions of uproarious laughter throughout the cinema.

Apparently there were some inebriated halfwits in the back of the room who'd have displayed precisely the same behaviour in a screening of A Cry In The Dark or something, but even so the Joanna character, and thus the film, was suddenly impossible to take seriously and it just lurched into Golden Turkey territory. Like the awful English version of Mother Of Tears (although that film has numerous other problems which have nothing to do with language), it's hard to believe that no-one spotted this earlier and did something about it like a simple redub with a more appropriate performance.

The thing about gialli is that they do the good things so well that you forgive them the bad; you love them despite the flaws. Many of them have shonky performances and terrible dialogue, but they were accidental while I honestly suspect that in the case of Tulpa it was a conscious decision to invoke the spirit of dodgy Italian horror movies by including these aspects on purpose. But it genuinely weakens what could have been a really decent giallo that revived and rebooted the form for a new generation; instead it feels in the second half that it's taking the piss out of itself and giallo generally. Without that, and it's not an insurmountable fix, it would certainly have played far better. Much of Tulpa I liked and actively enjoyed and it's a shame so much hilarity was gained in translation.


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