31 Nights Of GIALLOWEEN: All the Colors of the Dark (1972)

For tonight's GIALLOWEEN selection...we talk about a director who has been instrumental to what we know today to be giallo. A man who has created some of the best films in the genre. Ladies and Deviants...let's talk about...Mr. Sergio Martino.

Honestly, I didn't discover Martino until much later during my giallo quest. However, I inadvertently stumbled onto one of his films much earlier. In fact, it was a film of his that pretty much shaped my interest in the occult and black-haired girls from a much too young age. I must have been like 10 or so when I first laid eyes on All the Colors of the Dark. My uncle had a copy of it (never asked him how he obtained it) and was watching it in our living room one evening. No one was around...so, I sat next to him and "enjoyed" the images that flickered on the screen.  It was actually rather odd because I remember it specifically being a Spanish copy of the film and managed to only understand it partially...because of my broken Spanish. However, that was not what interested me. What kept my eyes glued to the screen was the promise of more Edwige Fenech and the Satanic cult stuff that, I remember, scared the living fuck out of me. Especially the puppy sacrifice! Still, I held fast and remained there paralyzed on the couch with my uncle, who didn't particularly care about childcare, apparently. Especially given the fact that he explained to me how to inseminate a female in graphic detail around that age...I'll spare you that bit. 

Anyway, the film blew my mind. I didn't really connect the dots back then that this was the brilliant Sergio Martino and the immortal Edwige Fenech...and the absolutely perfect George Hilton. That didn't happen until I witnessed another one of Martino's films a bit later...and then, I came back to All the Colors of the Dark. Funny how that happened. It remains, to this day, an unapologetic favorite of mine. But, then...why would I have to apologize for such brilliance?

The film opens serenely with a time-lapse shot of a tree-covered lake. Such beauty and quiet is then disturbed quite abruptly by a nightmarish collage for imagery that includes a robot doll-like woman, a pregnant woman with an unkempt afro in stirrups, a beautiful dark-haired woman in a bed and a painfully-looking blue-eyed man being all mysterious. Imagery that has stuck in my subconscious for a very, very long time. It is revealed that these were visions of a nightmare that Jane (the striking Edwige Fenech) has been having over and over again. She quickly jumps in the shower with her shirt on...and that imagery has also stuck with me for a very long time. Her love interest Richard (Mr. George Hilton) immediately gives her pills to calm her the fuck down, which pretty much introduces him as a shady kinda douche. Kind of a red herring, if you will. I must say that Edwige has always looked exceptionally beautiful in this particular film. I mean...I realize that she's pretty much amazing in everything that she's in...including recent interviews of hers that I watch on rotation, despite being in a foreign language that I fail to understand. But, I don't know what it is...specifically...but, this is my favorite film of hers, look-wise. Not to mention that she's in constant peril...so, it automatically triggers my instinctive desire of saving her in some way. Punching Richard through the screen and taking her in my arms and running off to a villa somewhere in Florence.

Sorry...sort of drifted off for a moment there. Where was I? Oh...right. So, Jane is having these nightmares...and apparently the best cure for nightmares is Satan. Yes, sir...she is brought to a Satanic ritual in which to rid her of her silly nightmares and make her better again. Only...other stuff happens and things sort of spiral out of control. If you'll notice...I'm being rather coy with the plot here...for not spoiling a thing...because this film is best served now knowing a single thing. Not that knowing a lot going in would help with the confusion once the credits roll...but, still...it is quite an experience to behold unspoiled. Especially since there's just so damn much going on in the film. 

As for the debates about this one being giallo or not. Silence! This is pure giallo. It may not be a conventional giallo...but, this thing has the Italian blueprints of the genre all over it. Especially that climax. That's as giallo as giallo can be, guys. Plus...Martino has always had a certain signature in his gialli...and this one is no exception. And that beautiful score by Bruno Nicolai is one of the best giallo scores ever recorded. So serene during some parts...and frenetic in the next moment. So good. 

I will mention that Ivan Rassimov does his usual Rassimov thing...looking all menacing and terrifying...especially with those obviously fake contact lenses. And, yet...as ridiculous as they may look...it comes off absolutely amazing. There are other familiar giallo staples playing key roles in the film that you'll notice...but, no one is as crazy-looking as Ivan is. Love that dude.

Listen...I realize that Martino has other more memorable and much better films in his catalog...but, this one is so genuinely creepy and crazy that it baffles it's not discussed more and more iconic of a film. Maybe I'm just pulling for nostalgia when I say that it is a beautifully made and horrifically striking film full of some genuinely great performances all around. And, God...that Edwige Fenech is a woman made like no other. While she has more iconic "Edwige" performances in other films. It is this one that made me fall in love with her...and continues to be my go-to when it comes to watching her image flicker on my screen. All the Colors of the Dark  is currently not available on disc...although, you might still be able to snag an out-of-print DVD on eBay for a dumb amount of money. I will say that if you've never experienced the film...it may or may not be available on YouTube somewhere. Just saying. Please. Do yourself a favor and experience this film as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading,

Peter Neal