East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Other People’s Pulp: Krimi, Giallo & Slasher (Part 4), a Guest Post

91Last installment of this lengthy but fun overview of the connections between Krimi, Giallo and Slasher movies.
The previous three episodes can be found here, here and here.
And we are about to close with a bang.

But before the bang, I must once again thank Lucia Patrizi for her contribution, and wish you all a happy reading.

Last time we discovered Mario Bava‘s Reazione a Catena

And yet, if analyzed in depth and compared to the Giallos by Argento (and in part with those by Martino), it is easy to notice how little of the formula is maintained, and what seeds of the future Slasher movie it carries within its frames.

So, let’s do it!
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Other People’s Pulp: Krimi, Giallo & Slasher – a Guest Post (Part 2)

91Last week, we started discussing the strange legacy of the pulps, of German Kriminalfilm and of Italian Giallo on the development of slasher movies.
Lucia Patrizi, webmistress of the blog Il Giorno degli Zombi1, horror expert and an accomplished writer on her own right, is giving us a preview of her forthcoming essay on slasher cinema.
In case you missed the first installment, you can find it here.
Nowe, it’s time to meet the Master – and see how Mario Bava created a whole new genre of cinema.


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Italian style

toppi11Many years ago I met a guy that was an excellent comic artist, in a sort of “classical” Japanese manga style.
And I mean, he was really good.
So one day he picked up his portfolio, bought a ticket to Tokyo, and did the tour of the comic publishers there, showing his stuff around.
And the Japanese publishers were absolutely impressed.
There was just a little glitch – they had buildings full of people doing exactly that kind of artwork.
“This is very good,” they said, “but can’t you do something… Italian? Like I dunno, Pratt, or Toppi, or Crepax…”

I thought about this story last week, when the usual “Italians should write Italian stories in Italian” popped up on the web, as it usually happens once every two or three months.

I am in a pretty awkward situation. Continue reading

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Creative Task – Ulysses, The Odyssey and me

Homer was also called Melesigenes (son of Mele...

Homer was also called Melesigenes (son of Meles) by the name of the brook which flowed by Smyrna, and today, through İzmir. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first story that really struck me was probably the Odyssey*.
Not in its original version: the Homer poem was adapted in a number of forms and media, and I guess I first found a simplified illustrated version among my uncle’s old books, in my grandmother’s attic.
A “boys library” book from the fifties of some sort.
I was six, and I was learning to read.
A TV adaptation was produced and broadcast in Italy in 1968, featuring some state-of-the-art SFX (for the time), and co-directed by Italian fantasy cinema giant, Mario Bava; I probably caught a rerun in ’73 or ’74, more or less while I was reading it in school – this time in a comic-book adaptation.
And later still I finally read some of the original, again as part of the History and Literature curriculum in school.
So, let’s say that between the ages of six and twelve, I was exposed to multiple re-tellings of the same story.

And the story is straightforward and well-known – a veteran of the War of Troy, Ulysses is on his way back home to Ithaca, together with his crew and companions. He faces a number of challenges, often being himself the instigator of the problems he is going to face. He meets mythical creatures and strange phenomena, he seduces and is seduced by dangerous women, he faces and defeats various enemies, he finally comes home to reclaim his own.

Ulysses at the court of Alcinous

Ulysses at the court of Alcinous (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The story is episodic, and part of it is narrated in the first person as a flashback by Ulysses himself.
The Odyssey is also used as a classic example of the so called Monomyth, or Arch-plot – not that I cared much as a kid.

What captured me as a kid and still stays with me today is the fact that Ulysses is an explorer – a man of intelligence and cunning, not just a muscular hero. His problems often arise from his cunning and his curiosity – a dumber hero would probably never get caught in some of the situations Homer describes.
Ulysses is not a martial hero, and while being an action character, he speaks for the intellectual thrills of adventure, for the fascination of the unknown, as much as he does for the more traditional challenges involving brawn and bravery.
To a rather solitary kid in a large industrial city, the adventures of Ulysses spoke loud and clear.

Then there is the world in which Ulysses moves – a world in which human intelligence is matched against supernatural occurrences, capricious gods, strange creatures.
It’s a fantasy world (or, at the time of Homer, a science fiction world), and yet it is superimposed on a real geography, a real history.
It’s a strange world, but one that to a kid – or an adult – is extraordinarily exciting.


As a kid, being able to read about cyclops and sirens, about ghosts and gods, and yet find books with photographs of the treasures of Troy, maps of the Greek isles in which the places mentioned by Homer could be found, was an exploration in itself.
And I think in the end being exposed to such a massive dose of Odyssey in my early years led to a number of personal choices in matters as different as deciding my course of studies, setting my reading tastes, and finally influencing my writing.

* It’s a close thing with the Arabian Nights, which was heavily featured in my childhood, in the form of bedtime stories, coloring books,  and assorted media adaptations. But I guess the Odyssey came first and struck deeper.