Thursday, 30 August 2018



If you've been reading this blog for any length of time then you'll know I like a bit of giallo every now and again. Not all of them - like every genre and subgenre there are good and bad and sometimes the bad ones are very bad indeed, and I'd rather watch a good action movie than a rubbish giallo - but the best of them are some of my favourite films and even the second and third stringers usually have something memorable about them. The bonkers plotting, excessive violence, gratuitous nudity, vivid colours and cheesy lounge soundtracks can make for a pretty irresistible cocktail if you're in the mood for it. Attempts have been made to keep them going with films like Tulpa (which didn't really work but wasn't as hilariously terrible as the audience response at FrightFest 2012 suggested), Eyes Of Crystal and the Argentinian Francesca, but the traditional giallo has rather been out of fashion for a while and it seems the only way to bring it back is through nostalgia: meticulous recreation of the style and techniques as well as the genre's most familiar tropes and imagery.

Crystal Eyes (nothing to do with the aforementioned Eyes Of Crystal) is also Argentinian but it has the look, feel and sound of mid-80s giallo: not the Bava and Argento greats of the 1970s, but films like Nothing Underneath, the kind of direct-to-video fare that used to turn up on the rental shelves from Avatar Video. And they've gone to a lot of trouble to replicate that style, to the extent that if you didn't know it had been shot in 2017 then you couldn't tell it from the genuine article by looking. Setting it in the world of fashion and modelling (the stalking ground of so many gialli, from Blood And Black Lace to Strip Nude For Your Killer to The Red Queen Kills Seven Times) gives them the opportunity to go retro crazy with the terrible clothes and hair of the period as well as the electronic score.

A year after the accidental electrocution of colossally bitchy supermodel Alexis Carpenter in a freak champagne accident (giallo has never been the most rigorously realistic genre), her magazine is preparing a tribute to her...but her clothes are stolen and members of the fashion house are being viciously killed off by a masked maniac. Who could be responsible? In the end it doesn't really matter who the killer is: the joys of Crystal Eyes come from the art direction and production design achieved on a tiny budget, and not the smug satisfaction of having beaten Poirot to the correct solution. It works as a mystery anyway, with a few red herrings scattered around that I fell for, but its principal attraction is as a pin-sharp tribute to a genre gone by and on that level it's as much fun as I could have wanted.


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