The Lone Granger

No, YOU’RE the idiot. No YOU are. No YOU are.

Poor Farley Granger! In SO SWEET, SO DEAD, he’s a disgruntled detective tracking a serial killer, and no wonder he’s so miserable: he’s a policeman trapped in a film where nobody ever calls the police. A murder victim’s secret lover consults his lawyer: should I contact the police so they can eliminate me from their list of suspects? No no no, advises the professional. A teenager witnesses her neighbour being stabbed to death. She waits until next morning to tell her boyfriend, then says she’ll mention it to her dad later. Her dad the lawyer.

One of the lovers (all the victims are adulteresses) visits his mistress and finds the bath overflowing and the woman dead, and has a tussle with the killer, and then we never hear about him again. Did he call the police? Or did he just have a bath, since it was already run and it would be a shame to waste it?

Even when Farley Granger gets a call from the killer saying who the next victim will be, HE doesn’t call the police. And he IS the police.

In fact, the only people to call the police in this film are a lunatic pretending to be the killer, and the killer.

Argh no what

A lot of gialli seem to be about anomie — it’s a practically an unspoken genre convention to have unsympathetic characters, maybe so we won’t mind seeing them killed? This sordid and inept little film heightens the disaffection until it almost seems meaningful. Everyone is cheating, nobody is a solid citizen. But it might equally be that the film just didn’t have the imagination to come up with anyone other than love rats, cuckolds, a necrophile mortician, and poor Farley Granger.

This is the sort of considerate coroner who will not only examine your murder victim, he will reconstruct the crime right in the operating theatre using his glamorous assistant as victim.

A general’s wife has been murdered, you say? Round up the usual suspects.

“STAY CALM? With that wallpaper?”

There’s no trace of Dario Argento artistic design in this movie. Only Georgio Gaslini’s music impresses — mostly swooning love themes, highly inappropriate, but that’s the giallo for you. Violence being sexualised is basically what it’s for. Gaslini is gaslighting us.

I guessed the ending in this one, but only because the movie kept showing us closeups of the killer’s face, and his stocking mask didn’t disguise his unusual chin cleft. Still, usually the more misogynistic the violence, the more likely the killer will turn out to be a woman — a kind of projection.

Who is murdering the unfaithful wives of the rich? Farley Granger considers a startling new theory. He is shocked – SHOCKED! – at such a possibility.

What, indeed?

I was originally watching this for PROJECT FEAR but it cemented my view that gialli are not horror movies, for all the violence. They might not even be thriller.

7 Responses to “The Lone Granger”

  1. David Wingrove Says:

    SO SWEET, SO DEAD is a simply amazing title! Just saying.

  2. The original is the rather more verbose and spoiler-heavy Rivelazioni di un maniaco sessuale al capo della squadra mobile, although it’s not really an ACCURATE spoiler so maybe that doesn’t count.

  3. Perhaps it plays better in its porn version?

  4. spooby mcglue Says:

    i LOVE farley granger’s gialli – best by far is his weird ageing JD in SOMETHING CREEPING IN THE DARK

  5. There’s a porno version? Hmm, maybe this WAS the porno version? It wasn’t exactly lacking in skin, though it seemed to have a weird idea of what sex is like.

    Have never seen Something Creeping… it has a seance plot, right, so might count more as Euro-horror than this one…

  6. chris schneider Says:

    I’ll still say that, for me at least, for a film to be categorized as “horror” there must be a supernatural element. Call the non-supernatural films “gothic thrillers” or what-have-you, but don’t call ‘em “horror.”

    As for the demoralized characters in this film … I’m reminded of THE TINGLER where, if memory don’t deceive me, Character A doesn’t commit marital murder but Character B *does*. It’s as if everyone, given a nudge, is liable to plant an axe in the cranium of his/her companion.

  7. I think that horror, like comedy, is defined by its TONE. So Frankenstein and Jekyll & Hyde are obviously science fiction in terms of their elements but everybody knows they’re really horror because of their tone.

    Val Lewton would often have supernatural suggestions, but in The Ghost Ship, Isle of the Dead and several others, these don’t amount to much, yet these films are of a piece with Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie.

    Gialli only seem to intersect with horror movies when the intent is to scare. Sometimes they’re just mysteries with strong bloody violence. But Deep Red feels like a horror movie.

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