With the recent remake of Suspiria, I’ve been rewatching many of my Italian Giallo films. Although this distinct film style originates in Germany, it was the Italians who really took it away, and in no short thanks to Maria Bava and his film The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963) – a not so subtle nod to Hitchcock. The word “Giallo” translates as “yellow” and was inspired by popular paperbacks that were Italy’s version of American pulp. These murder/mystery novels often featured lurid covers with women being terrorized by a masked killer. Though the stylish influence of Giallo films can still be glimpsed today. e.g. The Neon Demon (2016), their finest examples were in Italy from the mid ’60s to mid-’80s. Rather than just go back and watch my favorites such as Deep Red (1975), The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), Tenebrae (1982), and New York Ripper (1982) I decided to track down ones I’d never seen before. Thanks to Arrow Video and their recently restored issue of Mario Bava’s colorful follow up to The Girl Who Knew Too Much, 1964’s Blood and Black Lace.
I recently watched VHS Massacre: Cult Films and the Decline of Physical Media; an entertaining documentary that delves into the loss of hard copy films in favor of streaming services. Having been a teenager in the ‘80s, the film struck a chord as I’d witnessed the rise of VHS tapes first hand and was an avid collector myself. By the ‘90s, I had a custom VHS shelf that took up the better portion of my basement wall.
Having graduated Class of ’89, the early ‘90s heralded my transition into adulthood. Although I had a job and was attending community college, those hedonistic days were also spent partying and having drunken horror movie marathons with friends. Although we may not have had any trouble staying dry, the same couldn’t be said for our entertainment. The golden age of slashers seemed to disappear as fast as our teens with trips to the video store yielding fewer and fewer results. Needless to say, any ‘80s-style horror stragglers were a welcome sight and today’s SteelBook Spotlight is a prime example. Whether the film’s charismatic masked killer or its “movie within a movie” homage to ‘50s sci-fi films, Popcorn made for an unexpectedly fun night back in 1991. And now, nearly three decades later, it’s been given an upgrade.