Publisher: SCARECROW PRESS
Publication Date: 28th October 2006
Despite ever greater prominence in the age of DVD popular Italian cinema from the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s has still received relatively sparse coverage in the literary world. With the continued rise in the study of cult film (and its acceptability within academic circles) this is an oversight that needs redressing. Aside from a handful of articles (one particularly important one is Leon Hunt’s A (sadistic) Night at the Opera: Notes on the Italian Horror Film from a 1992 edition of Velvet Light Trap) gialli have mostly found themselves discussed as part of auteur driven studies of the most visible directors of the form. But I have long believed that this durable cycle of films is deserving of a multitude of critical approaches, and to file them away as part of some half assed fan worship auteur nonsense does them a great disservice. Mikel J. Koven’s study is important for a variety of reasons. It represents the first occasion that gialli have been treated to a book length study in the English language and Koven’s thesis concerns itself as much with the audience of these films as it does with the formal properties that make the films so distinctive in the first place.
If one forgets the vernacular audience nonsense this book by Mikel J. Koven is an excellent starting point for discovering gialli. Koven refers to numerous titles, offering perceptive and illuminating textual analysis which genuinely does add to the enjoyment and understanding of the example. His cataloguing of the conventions and formal attributes of gialli has been done just as effectively elsewhere, but its nice to have it all contained in one attractive looking volume. My only surprise is that in the four years since this book saw the light of day there hasn’t been several more in its wake. Koven has certainly provided much which can be contested. One can only hope with the continual visibility of these films we will see more intriguing and interesting studies such as this.
© Shaun Anderson 2010