Directed by Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy
Growing accustomed to the all-inclusive Friedberg and Seltzer modern model of parody, Astron-6 (Manborg) has (thankfully) thrown its black-rimmed fedora into the ring with a meticulous mock breakdown of giallo crime fiction that doesn’t feel the need to go for easy laughs that only appeal to the lowest common denominator. With The Editor, Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy have delivered a love letter to giallo cinema so niche that it’s probably a good idea to revisit Argento’s “Animal Trilogy” or even go further back to films like Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace to fully appreciate the attention to detail on display.
The absurd story follows Rey Ciso (Adam Brooks), who loses his fingers in bloody fashion during a freak accident in the editing room. Now haunted by the ordeal, insecurity consumes him as Ciso fears he may not be as gifted at his profession as he once was. A blade-wielding killer steps on set and starts slicing and dicing, leaving the victims fingerless themselves. Naturally, as an investigation heats up, Ciso becomes the prime suspect – and maybe even the main target.
Knowing full well what has come before and whom fans of the genre hold in high regard, the production employs talent like Udo Kier (Suspiria) and composer Claudio Simonetti, whose contributions are too vast to list. Note perfect throughout, The Editor calls up all the right characteristics of giallo, including badly overdubbed ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement), glowing Fulci-esque eyes staring back in the dark, and random acts of slap-happy violence where the man inflicting the damage inexplicably turns on a dime and agrees with the victimized woman mere moments later.
Shiny black gloves, gleaming scalpels, and even German Shepherds are referenced throughout the running time, which will undoubtedly cause even casual horror fans to seek out the sleek, horror noir that The Editor is having so much fun lampooning. The only thing that’s absent is copious amounts of slow motion, glass-breaking face smashing (and it’s a sorely missed opportunity).
That’s the magnificent trick that the film pulls off: It never bullies giallos indiscriminately, it just points out how gloriously ridiculous they often are. A dysfunctional marriage of sorts, the dream logic and surreal quality of giallo match up with the over-the-top, sometimes nonsensical aspects of parody and improv comedy, making the insanity of the genre even more outrageous. It’s finally okay to laugh at these movies instead of putting them up on a pedestal, sometimes unjustifiably.
At one point a character exclaims, “We’re all editors of our own realities.” That’s a good definition of giallos in general and how unaccountably surreal they can be. Interestingly, in making fun of giallo films, The Editor winds up paying tribute. Like a mother watching a child throwing a wild temper tantrum, Astron-6’s send-up doesn’t ever pretend to try to make sense out of giallo films, but it does try to understand them.