Today: June 11, 2024


By – Sean Mowle – Giallo is back!

By – Sean Mowle

Giallo is back! So sayeth
FrightFest head honcho Alan Jones in
his introduction to Federico Zampaglioni’s
latest film Tulpa and he’s right in
every sense of the word. For those unfamiliar with the genre, Giallo films were
a vein of Italian modern day thrillers from the ‘70s and ‘80’s revolving around
damn near incomprehensible plots, gory murders (usually perpetrated on attractive
Italian women) and highly stylised cinematography. The genre eventually ran
it’s course, until now…

The beautiful Claudia Gerini
is Lisa, a high powered corporate executive who frequents an exclusive sex club
called Tulpa as her way of winding down from her stressful day job. The club is
run by a mysterious, strange looking guru who advocates freedom of the mind
through promiscuous sex. Allegedly a hermaphrodite (another Giallo box ticked)
he/she ensures that everyone’s identity is kept secret whilst in the cavernous
club and that no-one contacts each other on the outside. Soon however, Lisa
discovers that her sexual partners from Tulpa (and there are several!) are turning
up dead. The film’s other characters are basically there to move the plot
along, act as possible suspects or if you are female, end up dead in various
intriguing ways. The only other characters that you get a feel for are her best
friend, who has the worst English accent since Dick Van Dyke, and one of her
lovers from the club that she tries to warn about what might happen to them. A
mention must go to the club doorman/woman, a huge curly-haired transsexual with
arms that would make Mike Tyson quiver, who ends up in a tense chase scene with
Lisa through the club’s labyrinth of corridors and rooms.

Tulpa certainly ticks all the Giallo boxes. Black gloved hand? Check.
Beautiful women? Check. Inventive, bloodthirsty murders? Check. Goblin-esque
soundtrack? Check. The killer is WHO!?! finale. Check. And, unfortunately,
corny dialogue and suspect acting? Check and double check.

That said, if you’re a fan of the Giallo genre, you’ll be used to all of
the above and absolutely love this film. The bad dialogue (some of it is
excruciating) and ropey acting all add to the unreality of the experience and
the film so reveres the genre that you could easily feel you were watching a
film made in the ‘70s. The set pieces
are stylish and well staged with the opening hotel bondage scene setting the
tone nicely for the rest of the film. Special mention must go to Andrea Moscianese’s wonderful score,
possibly one of the best things about the film, adding immensely to its retro

Like the best Giallo, as a conventional thriller, Tulpa doesn’t really
add up. There are various
sub-plots and red herrings to keep you guessing but none of them are fully
explored. Don’t even bother trying
to guess the identity of the killer before the end, that’s not what these films
are about and you’ll probably drive yourself insane. Just go with it, allow it
to wash over you and don’t expect to understand the logic. If you love your thrillers full of daft
plots, soft-core sex, graphic violence and gore, you’ll have a great time. And
maybe next time, you might think twice about letting your partner tie you to
the bed for a little late night fun….

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