Blu-Ray Review: Giallo Essentials – Black Edition

The often maligned and overlooked sub-genre of giallo is experiencing something of a renaissance, with a whole new generation beginning to appreciate these stylish and bloody soap operas. With plenty of lurid death scenes and ample nudity, it’s easy to see why it might catch the eye. However, as many films are quite difficult to source, most people tend to watch the same handful. In Giallo Essentials – Black Edition, Arrow brings together three less known examples.

Smile Before Death

After the death of her wealthy mother (Zora Gheorgieva), Nancy returns to Rome. She has been abroad at boarding school and hadn’t seen her for years. Soon to inherit, she’s greeted by a step-father (Jenny Tamburi) she’s never met and her mother’s friend Giana (Rosalba Neri). Nancy soon smells a rat. While you can probably guess the rest, Silvio Amadio’s film is very clever and keeps the plot twisting and turning until the very end.

The Weapon, The Hour, The Motive

Don Gorgio (Maurizio Bonuglia) is a popular priest who teaches at a convent. Alongside Orchidea Durantini (Bedy Moratti), who also looks after a young orphan Ferruccio (Arturo Trina). When the religious man is murdered, Inspector Boito (Renzo Montagnani) is brought in to investigate. It’s a slick and stylish thriller where death lurks around every corner. Francesco Mazzei’s film might not cover much new ground but keeps you guessing about what’s coming next.

The Killer Reserved Nine Seats

Wealthy Patrick Davenant (Chris Avram) invites a group of friends, family and former lovers to his villa to see the old theatre which lies within. Shortly after, the group are locked inside and start to die, one by one. It becomes evident that someone is exacting retribution for a historic grudge. Giuseppe Bennati’s film dabbles with the unlikely and ludicrous, but is an effective slasher with a captive audience.

Special features:

  • Brand new 2K restorations from the original camera negatives of Smile Before Death and The Weapon, the Hour, the Motive
  • 2K restoration from the original camera negative of The Killer Reserved Nine Seats
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of each film
  • Original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks on Smile Before Death and The Killer Reserved Nine Seats
  • Original lossless mono Italian soundtrack on The Weapon, the Hour, the Motive
  • English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks
  • Rigid box packaging with original poster artwork in a windowed Giallo Essentials Collection slipcover
  • Reversible sleeves for each film featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais, Peter Strain and Haunt Love

Disc One: Smile Before Death

  • Brand new audio commentary by authors and critics Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
  • Original Italian and English front and end titles
  • Smile of the Hyena, a brand new video interview with Stefano Amadio, film journalist and son of director Silvio Amadio
  • Never-before-seen extended nude scenes, not used in the final film
  • Image gallery

Disc Two: The Weapon, The Hour, The Motive

  • Brand new audio commentary by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
  • A Man in Giallo, a brand new video interview with actor Salvatore Puntillo
  • Front and end titles for the lost English-language dub
  • Image gallery

Disc Three: The Killer Reserved Nine Seats

  • Brand new audio commentary by author and critic Kat Ellinger
  • Hanging with Howard, a video interview with actor Howard Ross
  • Writing with Biagio, a video interview with screenwriter Biagio Proietti
  • Italian theatrical trailer (in Italian and English)
  • Image gallery

First Pressing Only: Individual illustrated collector’s booklets for each film, featuring new writing by Rachael Nisbet, Barry Forshaw and Peter Jilmstad

Giallo Essentials – Black Edition is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on 1 August.

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