The Editor

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Astron-6 are a bunch of Canadians who knock out intelligent entertainment with a twist. They’re on a giallo tip with The Editor, and really the only thing you can say against it is that there’s probably too much of a good thing.

It’s not really a horror film, though there’s plenty of splatter in it. No scares, in other words. That’s not the intention. They’re comedians, Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy and the cohort of creatives around them, or pranksters at the very least. A send-up of the sort of movie that wowed Italian audiences from the 1960s onwards (and went on to wow foreign audiences who could be bothered with subtitles), The Editor lovingly spoofs the work of the likes of Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci and Umberto Lenzi.

Giallo means yellow in Italian, though the dominant colour is usually red – bright, throbbing red – and its extremely stylised looks make it a target for Astron-6 and other would-be worshippers. But it’s not as easy as it looks to be this consistently stylish.

Plotwise, this is a variation, kind of, of The Berberian Sound Studio, which saw Toby Jones playing a sound man on a giallo movie finding that the on-screen antics were beginning to bleed over (appropriate use of term) into the off-screen world.

Here it’s an editor, Rey Ciso (co-writer/director Brooks), who finds himself at the mercy of the unspeakable as the very grisly giallo movie he’s working on starts to intrude murderously into his working life. As a bit of comic background we discover that Rey has a wooden hand, because troubled central characters with a complicated past are part of the giallo deal. 

The backstory is nonsensical but makes all the sense in the world if spoof is the aim, and it is. On top of loose plotting and non-sequitur dialogue, bad dubbing, bad facial hair and crappy English subtitling are part of the fun, taking their place alongside preening males, naked females, dream sequences, explicatory flashbacks that don’t explain anything, incipient madness, psychedelic dream sequences, religious ritual served up with a smattering of Latin, split screens and the sound of swishing blades way too loud in the mix. And an almost obligatory appearance by Udo Kier.

Bella (Samantha Hill) screams in the edit suite
Bella (Samantha Hill) in the edit suite

Astron-6 have a lot to fit in and they set about their task like fanatics. What little story there is can be summarised as follows: a murder takes place and macho hirsute cop Inspector Porfiry (co-writer/director Matthew Kennedy) arrives on the scene and tries to batter his way towards a successful investigation with his fists. When he’s not blundering around missing obvious clues he’s schooling soft male actors on the way to treat a woman (meanly). He’s “like a young Donald Sutherland” a priest at one point winks at the screen.

As well as digs at giiallo’s excessive gendering of roles, there are other jokes for the cognoscenti, like the fact that Rey Ciso lives in the D’Argento building, and as well as Kier putting in an extended cameo as a demented doctor, there’s the wantonly hot Paz de la Huerta hanging out of her clothes. Will she/won’t she take them off? Naked women draped all over the place is one of the running jokes that Brooks, Kennedy and co-writer Conor Sweeney (who plays a studly though insecure giallo actor) pepper their film with and if you get bored at any point you could do a lot worse than ranking the racks on display – there are a few.

Good? Yes. I laughed out loud a few times, smiled quite a lot and watched most of it with a smirk on my face. The deaths are gruesome, ridiculous and funny. The soundtrack is a glorious, brilliant giallo pastiche, though the name Claudio Simonetti is also in the credits, so I wondered if there had been some repurposing of authentic soundtrack by the venerable Goblin (Simonetti is a member).

In short, if you know what The Black Belly of the Tarantula is or can’t get enough of The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, Deep Red or The Beyond, or just like a laugh, pull up a seat… 

The Editor – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

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© Steve Morrissey 2024

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