Sense of Wonder: Cinefantastique catches Giallo Fever

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This morning we posted three reviews by Keith Brown, who runs the excellent Giallo Fever website (whose motto is “Taking Eurotrash seriously…but not too seriously”). The proximate cause for this excursion into horrifyingly violent crime thrillers of the Italian variety (known as gialli in their native land) is the recent DVD release of BLADE OF THE RIPPER. Also, we have long been wanting to review Dario Argento’s latest effort – which, not coincidentally, is titled GIALLO (2009). And we decided to throw in Lamberto Bava’s A BLADE IN THE DARK (1983) for good measure.

Although Cinefantastique is focused on keeping up with what’s new in the genres of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, we do occasionally like to look back on classic and cult films of yesteryear, offering the occasional “theme” days when we shine a light on a particular director, era, or star – just because it’s worthy of attention. Italy’s giallo genre has always been a bit on the fringe for American viewers, but it is of interest to our readers (who probably know that the word is Italian for “yellow,” a reference to the lurid yellow covers of murder-mystery novels in that country).

This particular theme day has a slightly deeper significance for me, because it underlines a question about the nature of Cinefantastique Online as we move into the future: namely, exactly how much are we supposed to cover – and in how much depth? There are various genres that one could use to analyze this question, but the gialli drive home for me, perhaps because they emerged in full force at the same time Cinefantastique magazine was born. In fact, the very first issue of Cinefantastique contains a review of Argento’s THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (1970), which launched the trend.

Back then, these films (if they were lucky enough to get released in the U.S.) did not merit much attention in the press. Local papers might review them when they showed up at the drive-in, and the Hollywood trade papers would usually give them a mention. But in terms of  a nationwide consumer publication, Cinefantastique was about the only one that bothered to keep track of work by the likes of Argento and Mario Bava.

However, due to the space limitations of a print publication, that attention was often limited to capsule reviews, squeezed into  back pages. It may have been possible to be proud of this minimal coverage when there was little if any other alternative; however, in today’s Internet world, it is sobering to note that there exist websites like Giallo Fever, which cover sub-genres in such depth that simply posting the occasional capsule review is a bit like dribbling a few water droplets on the dry sand, when merely a click away there is an entire ocean available. Realistically speaking, where do you expect the tourists to go for a swim?

In this virtual landscape, doing the bare minimum is hardly enough. We want to offer our audience the best there is, not merely a few scraps. But how much can you do before the sheer mass of information overwhelms the senses of those simply seeking the latest sci-fi film review or news of when their favorite show is coming back on the air?

I suspect our future will involve dividing Cinefantastique into separate websites for horror, fantasy, and science fiction, possibly with sub-sites that focus on particular franchises or sub-genres. Ideally, the casual fan would be able to visit some central hub and find those items that interest him or or her, while the hardcore fanatic would be able to dig deeper, finding every microscopic detail on the topic of Japanese giant monsters, or Italian zombies, romantic vampires, or the relative merits of hobbits in Middle Earth versus young wizards in Hogwarts.

How we achieve this remains to be seen (something along the lines of the Huffington Post, perhaps, or maybe a main site with a series of sub-domains). Whatever the case, we hope you follow along with your Sense of Wonder intact as we march into the future.

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About the Author

Steve Biodrowski

Cinefantastique's Los Angeles Correspondent from 1987 to 1993 and West Coast Editor from 1993 to 1999. Currently the webmaster of Cinefantastique Online, I also run a website called Hollywood Gothique that covers Halloween Horror and Sci-Fi Cinema Events in the Los Angeles area.

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