{Blu-Ray Review} David Sodergren takes a look at Forgotten Gialli: Volume 1 from Vinegar Syndrome

Forgotten Gialli: Volume 1

This limited edition and painstakingly crafted boxset (designed by Earl Kessler Jr.) is limited to 5,000 units and is only available at VinegarSyndrome.com!

Reviewed By David Sodergren

Vinegar Syndrome has quietly become one of my go-to labels for physical media. Founded in 2012, they started off releasing low-budget and incredibly obscure sleaze titles, but over the years have broadened their remit to include a lot more horror. This year sees the release of FORGOTTEN GIALLI Volume 1, their long-awaited boxset of — guess what? — incredibly obscure giallo films.

If you don’t what a giallo is, you can refer back to my Introduction to the Giallo articles on this very site, but honestly, if you’ve never seen one, be aware that this set would be an odd place to begin. These titles are not particularly representative of the genre, and are chiefly of interest to die-hard fans of Italian and Spanish thrillers.

The first thing to mention is that, as usual, Vinegar Syndrome have done a stellar job with this release. The transfers on all three films are spectacular, better than some of the Argento and Fulci titles currently out there. This is, I believe, the first time on disc for all three films, and they look absolutely stunning, with razor-sharp images and natural grain, and come packaged in an attractive box.

But let’s face it, that’s all secondary to the films themselves, so why not dive in, starting with Leon Klimovsky’s TRAUMA (1978)

Trauma is the first of two Spanish thrillers in the box, and is a very late entry in the giallo cycle. In fact, it was the final feature from horror specialist Klimovsky, who had worked a lot with the iconic Paul Naschy over the years, as well as directing a personal favourite, The Vampires’ Night Orgy. Trauma will certainly never be regarded as one of his best, but it’s a mostly entertaining sleaze-fest.

The plot concerns a writer who travels to a country inn to work. He resembles Patrick Moore, so please be aware that when I tell you everybody in this film has a nude scene, I mean everyone, The Gamesmaster himself included. While staying at the inn, a series of brutal razor slayings beset the inhabitants, all of whom are horny like only 70s Euro-horror characters can be. There’s a small role for Jess Franco regular Antonio Mayans, which is always a pleasure, and the killings themselves are pretty nasty, particularly those that take place outside in broad daylight.

However, it’s worth noting that a large portion of the film is devoted to the faltering relationship between the writer and the female owner of the inn. They spent a lot of time having stilted, flat conversations that lead nowhere. The first fifteen minutes especially will send most normal viewers running for the hills, or at least the fast-forward button. But bear with it. Klimovsky liberally sprinkles the trashier elements in at regular intervals, which helps keep potential tedium at bay.

Spanish gialli were rarely as stylish and baroque as their Italian counterparts, and Trauma is no exception. It looks nice, sure, but don’t go in expecting sweeping camera moves and slick lighting. Fans will surely enjoy it, though, and it’s a treat to see such a rare film receive as lavish a restoration as this. Speaking of the Italians, it’s time to move on to the next film in the box, Helia Colombo’s THE POLICE ARE BLUNDERING IN THE DARK (1975)

The Police Are Blundering in the Dark is a poorly constructed, shoddy mess, but don’t let that put you off. It’s a film of two halves, or rather, one half and two quarters.

The first twenty minutes move like gangbusters. There’s a brutal, excitingly shot murder in the countryside, then some sinister shenanigans in a rural bar, followed by a nude scene that lasts so long, it goes beyond gratuitous and into the realm of the absurd. The perennially naked lady is violently offed, and by this point you probably believe you’re in the presence of a sleazoid trash classic along the lines of Strip Nude For Your Killer or Eyeball.

Like those films, it’s kinda cheap looking, as if the whole enterprise was hastily thrown together over a long weekend, but the enthusiasm is contagious, and I found myself thoroughly enjoying the wacky goings on. Then the next forty minutes happen, and by happen, I mean what-the-giddy-fuck-is-going-on. Absolute total nonsense follows, as we are introduced to a bunch of hugely unlikable characters staying in a villa. These assholes love to sit around a table and chat, then reconvene in the lounge for more chat, only to retire to their rooms to keep the interminable chat going. Look, I’m not averse to some dialogue and plot and exposition, but this is crushingly dull. There’s no style, no pizzazz, no nothing.

Even the introduction of sci-fi elements — in the form of a camera that can photograph people’s thoughts, an idea even Argento in his mid-80s pomp would dismiss as too silly — fails to raise much interest, and never pays off in a satisfying way. It’s a total momentum killer, and rather unforgivable. According to the superb audio essay from Rachael Nisbet, the film was shot in 1972, which means the giallo had been in full bloom for several years, so there’s no excuse for the lacklustre pacing. The makers have seen these films, they know what works — so why did they not pace things out a bit better?

Thankfully, with twenty minutes to go, the film remembers what it is, and suddenly wakes up, throwing a bunch of murders and topless women at the screen with joyfully reckless abandon, while careening towards its loopy climax.

The Police Are Blundering in the Dark is a more conventional giallo than Trauma. The soundtrack in particular feels more in keeping with the genre, a mostly lush orchestral affair, and the villa itself is a suitably grand location. At the risk of repeating myself, it’ll be a real treat for fans to finally see this one, though newcomers will be left scratching their heads. Now, let’s head back to Spain for Javier Aguirre’s THE KILLER IS ONE OF THIRTEEN (1973).

The Killer Is One Of Thirteen is the odd-man-out of the set, eschewing the more exploitative elements of the previous films, with no nudity, and a full hour before the murders even begin. However, where the first two films stumbled with poor pacing, this one avoids those problems with a smart script, memorable characters, and an all-star cast of giallo veterans.

Patty Shepard vamps it up as the head of the household, bringing together those she believes responsible for her husband’s murder. It’s a riff on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, which I have never read, so I can’t say how faithful it is. But who cares, when Jack Taylor is swanning about with that moustache of his, playing a shamed artist? Or what about Paul Naschy, in a small role as a mechanic? Don’t worry, Naschy-fans, he still finds time to get his obligatory topless scene. Did he have it written into his contracts in the 1970s? Probably.

But the absolute star of the show is Simon Andreu, having a ball playing a horny Lothario, eyeing up — and feeling up — most of the ladies in the cast. What a difference a strong cast can make! The direction, from Javier Aguirre, is also rather assured, with a beautiful opening, the camera tracking through the grounds of the villa as Alfonso Santisteban’s excellent score plays.

The first hour is all setup, but it’s rarely dull. The mystery is intriguing, and despite the enormous amount of characters, they are well established, their traits quickly defined. Then in the last thirty minutes, it goes mental, with a series of murders, the cast dwindling. Out of the three films in the set, this is the longest, and has the least sex and violence, but it’s easily my favourite.

So is the Forgotten Gialli boxset worth getting? For fans of the genre, absolutely. All the films have something to recommend, and are worth watching. If your only experience with the giallo is Tenebre, then you’d be better off picking up some of the more popular titles first. But horror fans are a peculiar lot — we love to collect, we love to watch everything, and I can’t imagine too many Italian horror connoisseurs who can pass up the opportunity to watch three films previously only available in muddy VHS, remastered and restored to this high standard.

As a bonus, all the discs are region free, so you’ve no excuse not to pick this one up. Vinegar Syndrome have more gialli promised for this year, including the magnificently daft The French Sex Murders — a giallo starring a Humphrey Bogart lookalike — and hopefully Volume 2 of the Forgotten Gialli series. I’ll be picking them all up.

Forgotten Gialli: Volume 1

The giallo remains one of the most popular sub-genres in Italian and Spanish film history. But for all of the well-known and classic films the genre has spawned, so many others have been nearly impossible to enjoy since their theatrical debuts. This first entry in our ‘Forgotten Gialli’ series presents three rarities, two from Spain and one from Italy, none of which have ever been legally available in the English speaking world.


Daniel, a writer seeking seclusion to work on his new book, finds himself stranded at a rural bed and breakfast run by a strange and prudish young woman and her ailing, wheelchair-bound husband who remains shut in his room all day. However, as night falls, a psychotic, razor-wielding killer begins stalking the bed and breakfast, brutally slashing the throats of its most sex-crazed guests, whose bodies and luggage then mysteriously disappear the following morning…

A satisfyingly trashy low-budget Spanish giallo which inadvertently also ranks as one of the country’s earliest proto-slashers, León Klimovsky’s (The Vampire’s Night Orgy) TRAUMA aka Violación Fatal is filled with gratuitous sex and nudity, along with bloody killings. Barely released outside of Spain, Vinegar Syndrome presents TRAUMA on Blu-ray, in a brand new 2K restoration of its camera negative and in its longest version ever presented on home video.

Directed by: León Klimovsky
Starring: Ágata Lys, Heinrich Starhemberg, Ricardo Merino, Isabel Pisano
1978 / 87 min / 1.85:1

• Region Free Blu-ray
• Newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 35mm original negative
• Original Spanish language sound with newly translated English subtitles
• Historical commentary track with European cult cinema author Troy Howarth
• Promotional image gallery


A recent widow has invited a group of family friends to her large and secluded country home. However, what the guests don’t know, is that the reason they’ve been assembled is because their host suspects one of them might be her husband’s killer and she’s intent on uncovering the identity of his murderer. As the guests begin to suspect each other, revealing long kept and sinister secrets in the process, an unknown, black-gloved killer begins bumping them off in a variety of nasty ways.

A unique Spanish take on Agatha Christie’s oft-adapted novel, and giallo source material favorite, And Then There Were None, exploitation auteur Javier Aguirre’s (Count Dracula’s Great Love) THE KILLER IS ONE OF 13 is uncharacteristically literary-in-structure, but never skimps on its requisite bloodshed. Featuring some of Spain’s top genre film stars including Patty Shepard (Rest in Pieces), Jack Taylor (Female Vampire), and Paul Naschy in a supporting role, Vinegar Syndrome brings THE KILLER IS ONE OF 13 to Blu-ray, newly restored in 2K from its original negative and available in North America for the first time in any format.

Directed by: Javier Aguirre
Starring: Patty Shepard, Simón Andreu, José María Prada, Jack Taylor, Paul Naschy
1973 / 95 min / 1.85:1

• Region Free Blu-ray
• Newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 35mm original negative
• Original Spanish language sound with newly translated English subtitles
• Historical commentary with author and Editor-In-Chief of Diabolique Magazine Kat Ellinger
• Promotional image gallery


A young nude-model is violently stabbed to death with a pair of scissors. It soon emerges that three other women have already fallen prey to this unknown maniac, and that all three victims have a single and unique connection: they all served as models for an eccentric photographer named Parisi. When another young woman with a date to be photographed is murdered, her journalist boyfriend decides to investigate the crimes and quickly finds himself mixed up with Parisi, who reveals that he’s working on a camera capable of photographing people’s thoughts!

The only film credit from ‘one-and-done’ director, Helia Colombo, THE POLICE ARE BLUNDERING IN THE DARK is a satisfyingly sleazy and decidedly oddball giallo rarity, filled with bloody killings, plentiful nudity, wild plot twists, and plenty of general weirdness. Unseen outside of its native Italy, Vinegar Syndrome presents THE POLICE ARE BLUNDERING IN THE DARK in a fresh, 2K restoration of its original negative and in its first official home video release anywhere in the world.

Directed by: Helia Colombo
Starring: Joseph Arkim, Francisco Cortéz, Gabriella Giorgelli, Elena Veronese
1978 / 87 min / 1.85:1

• Region Free Blu-ray
• Newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 35mm original negative
• Original Italian language sound with newly translated English subtitles
• Historical audio essay with film historian and critic Rachael Nisbet
• Promotional image gallery

This limited edition and painstakingly crafted boxset (designed by Earl Kessler Jr.) is limited to 5,000 units and is only available at VinegarSyndrome.com!

David Sodergren

David Sodergren lives in Scotland with his wife Heather and his best friend, Boris the Pug.

Growing up, he was the kind of kid who collected rubber skeletons and lived for horror movies.

Not much has changed since then.

His first novel, The Forgotten Island, was published on October 1st 2018. This was followed by Night Shoot, a brutal throwback to the early 80s slasher movie cycle, in May 2019.

2020 will be Sodergren’s biggest year yet, with two new horror novels being published. Dead Girl Blues is a slasher-noir mystery, and it will be followed by a return to full-blown supernatural horror before the end of the year.

You can follow David on Twitter @paperbacksnpugs

To find out more about David please visit his official website www.paperbacksandpugs.wordpress.com

Find David on Instagram here

Dead Girl Blues

When a young woman dies in Willow Zulawski’s arms, it sets in motion a chain of events that will push her to the brink of madness.

A mysterious video is the only clue, but as Willow digs deeper into the murky world of snuff movies, those closest to her start turning up dead. Someone out there will stop at nothing to silence her.

After all, when killing is business, what’s one more dead body?

Part noir mystery, part violent slasher, Dead Girl Blues is the latest twisted shocker from David Sodergren, author of The Forgotten Island and Night Shoot.

You can buy Dead Girl Blues from Amazon UK & Amazon US

The Forgotten Island

When Ana Logan agrees to go on holiday to Thailand with her estranged sister Rachel, she hopes it will be a way for them to reconnect after years of drifting apart.

But now, stranded on a seemingly deserted island paradise with no radio and no food, reconciliation becomes a desperate fight for survival.

For when night falls on The Forgotten Island, the dark secrets of the jungle reveal themselves.

Something is watching them from the trees.

Something ancient.

Something evil.

You can buy The Forgotten Island from Amazon UK & Amazon US

You can read the Kendall Review for The Forgotten Island HERE

Night Shoot

A group of desperate student filmmakers break into Crawford Manor for an unauthorised night shoot. They have no choice. Their lead actress has quit. They’re out of time. They’re out of money.

They’re out of luck.

For Crawford Manor has a past that won’t stay dead, and the crew are about to come face-to-face with the hideous secret that stalks the halls.

Will anyone survive…the NIGHT SHOOT?

A delirious homage to the slasher movies of the 1980s, Night Shoot delivers page after page of white-knuckle terror.

You can buy Night Shoot from Amazon UK Amazon US

You can read the Kendall Review for Night Shoot HERE

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