Fragments of Fear

A podcast co-hosted with Peter Jilmstad focusing on the discussion of the lesser known and under appreciated gialli. Available to stream on your preferred podcast provider. You can also access exclusive bonus episodes via our Patreon - we'd love to have your support!

In the inaugural episode of Fragments of Fear, we discuss Armando Crispino’s deliriously innovative 1975 giallo Macchi Solari aka Autopsy. Wavering between science-fiction tinged surrealism and a detached almost documentary like style, Crispino’s Autopsy is a somewhat experimental take on the giallo that plays with the genre’s form to deliver a fascinating and unrelenting character study of a woman plagued by personal trauma set against a backdrop of mysterious suicides in sun drenched Rome. 

Join us as we dissect the genesis of Autopsy, female neurosis in the giallo and the relationship between sex and death in this overlooked yet pivotal entry in the giallo cannon. 

In this month’s episode of Fragments of Fear we take our first foray into the work of prolific Italian genre film director, Umberto Lenzi, delving into the second of his gialli with American actress Carroll Baker; Così dolce, Così perversa aka So Sweet… So Perverse (1969). We discuss one of the most influential but unsung figures of the giallo; Luciano Martino, examine the various strands of the 1960s giallo and look at the core themes at the heart of the film from its erotic nature and changing gender politics to Lenzi’s critique of class and portrayal of the ennui of the bourgeoise.  

Entering into the giallo’s golden period, Fragments of Fear’s December episode takes an in-depth look at Sergio Pastore’s The Crimes of the Black Cat (1972). Heavily indebted to the early gialli of Dario Argento, we take a look at the way in which the new Italian thriller influenced The Crimes of the Black Cat and the ways in which Pastore incorporated Argento like flourishes into his film. We also take a gander at The Crime of the Black Cat’s sympathetic approach to its female characters, the giallo’s predilection with the fashion house and the film’s shocking Psycho inspired crescendo.

In this month’s episode of Fragments of Fear we revisit the genre’s post golden era examining Duccio Tessari’s 1974 giallo Puzzle. Arguably the lesser discussed giallo of Tessari’s foray into the genre, we make the case for why Puzzle is an essential title for fans of the giallo. From the film’s sympathetic characterisation, courtesy of Senta Berger’s exceptional leading performance, to its exploration of Hitchcockian style themes of fractured and mistaken identity, Puzzle is an effective thriller that eschews the genre’s tropes in favour of a more heartfelt styled mystery. Emotive and engaging, Puzzle is a captivating slow burn giallo that places its characters at the heart of its mystery. We discuss why these elements make Puzzle an effective, albeit, different entry in the giallo cannon. 

In the latest episode of Fragments of Fear we once again return to the 1960s, delving into the genre’s Gothic strain with Elio Scardamaglia’s 1966 Gothic giallo hybrid, The Murder Clinic. Discussing the intersection between the Gothic and the giallo, we examine the effectiveness of this melding of genres ruminating on how the Gothic influenced the more contemporary styled gialli of the early 1970s. We also discuss the impact of Mario Bava’s Blood & Black Lace on The Murder Clinic, assessing changing trends in Italian horror and thriller cinema during this volatile period. Turning our attention to notable figures in the genre, we look at those instrumental to The Murder Clinic from the illustrious career of genre defining writer Ernesto Gastaldi to the colourful yet tragic life of lead actor William Berger. 

For the latest episode of Fragments of Fear we turn our focus once again to the golden period of the genre with Maurizio Pradeaux’s 1973 giallo, Death Carries a Cane - a formulaic giallo indicative of the trend for Argento styled thrillers in early 1970s Italy. Analysing the film’s merits, we discuss the effectiveness of its humour - touching upon the role of comedy in the giallo - and examine how it impacts on Death Carries a Cane’s characterisation. We also muse on the film’s Argento inspired set pieces and brief similarities with Luciano Ercoli’s Death Walks films including the multiple shared cast members. Finally, we assess the effectiveness of Death Carries a Cane’s ending and the alternative explanation given for the film’s events in the German version. 

The 1980s heralded in a new era for the giallo and Carlo Vanzina’s 1983 thriller, Mystère is indicative of a marked change in the Italian thriller during the decade of excess. We take a look at how the cultural shift in the 1980s manifested in the stylings of Carlo Vanzina’s contemporary giallo, examining the film’s influences from Roger Moore era Bond to Jean-Jacques Beineix ’s 1981 thriller, Diva. In our discussion of Mystère, we examine the film’s tonal shift from giallo to espionage thriller, its depiction of prostitution, 1980s yuppified glamour and Carole Bouquet’s enigmatic performance as the morally ambiguous Mystère. 

Delving once again into the genre’s post golden period, in this month’s episode of Fragments of Fear we take a look at an example of the giallo poliziotteschi hybrid in Paolo Cavara’s politically charged E tanta paura aka Plot of Fear (1976). In our dissection of the film, we explore Cavara’s background as the originator of the Mondo film and take a look at how the creative freedom afforded to him in Plot of Fear led to a complex, deconstruction of the giallo utilising elements of the poliziotteschi and American led conspiratorial thrillers of the era. Other themes explored in the episode include Plot of Fear’s satirical leanings, the concept of surveillance led paranoia, political injustice and decadence and perversion.

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