I Survived Eli Roth’s Bar Mitzvah

  • videoarchives
  • November 1, 2022

October has come and gone, and it’s time to wrap up the Video Archives Podcast series on American Giallo. But it’s not over yet – Eli Roth is back on the After Show, to talk about his favorite video stores (and how it felt when they closed down), as well as tell the story of the time he met Roger. We also have more moments from Quentin, Roger and Eli’s discussion, talking about Alfred Sole’s other films and just what makes a giallo a giallo. I have more American giallo candidates and movie theater memories on Counter Talk today, so let’s get started…


On the last After Show, Eli opened up about his first VHS memories – today we’re continuing that interview, as he reminisces about VHS-era staples like Kim’s Video, and the coolest bar mitzvah gift ever. But the conversation gets elegiac at points too; Eli, Roger & Gala talk about the decline of their favorite stores, and how Gala felt when the movie theater in her hometown shut down. It was a lovely talk that got me thinking back to my favorite movie theaters that have come and gone. Like the Laemmle theater tucked into a corner of the long-gone Westside Pavillion mall, where I saw many of my first arthouse films, and went on my first high-school date. We saw Y Tu Mamá También because I thought a foreign film sounded sophisticated – was that too steamy for two 15 year olds? Possibly! Hell of a movie though, and I owe a debt to that tiny specialty theater that probably didn’t get enough mall traffic to survive for exposing me to some fantastic films.

Former home of the Laemmle Samuel Goldwyn Pavilion Cinemas

Now that we’ve finished the American Giallo series - do you think the Video Archives crew picked the right four movies? What other American films qualify as giallos that were left off? On the After Show, Eli made his case for why The Fan (which we nearly covered instead of Happy Birthday To Me) is *not* a giallo, and Quentin argued that Visiting Hours with Michael Ironside just might be. But a number of film writers online have advocated for some other possibilities as well.

At Dread Central this month, Tyler Doupe’ also picked the four films he thought were American giallos – Dressed To Kill, Alice Sweet Alice, Happy Birthday To Me…and Body Double. Yes, Brian De Palma is represented twice, with another film that draws liberally from his beloved Hitchcock (this time riffing on Rear Window and Vertigo instead of Psycho). The Giallo Files blog suggests there are only two true American giallo films – Dressed To Kill and Scream! They posit “Wes Craven’s meta-horror movie insistently refers to itself as a slasher movie but it is, in all other respects, a giallo” – I would argue Scream’s status as an outright comedy outweighs its giallo bonafides.

Taste Of Cinema put together an entire Top 10 list of American giallos, including the four Video Archives picks and Body Double, but also Cruising and Klute (cited as “almost giallos” on the podcast), The Editor, Basic Instinct and Friday the 13th (which I’d call more of a slasher with a twist ending). An excellent list, but is this stretching the definition too far?

My favorite suggestion, however, comes from Fangoria, where last year Zach Vasquez argued that Jane Campion’s In The Cut is an American giallo film. Featuring Campion’s expressive camera and a story with a non-cop sleuth protagonist and psychosexual dream logic plotting, it just might fit the bill better than any film since the 80s. What do you think – what American giallo contenders did we miss?

Today’s a big day for Quentin Tarantino fans – his long-awaited first work of nonfiction Cinema Speculation is out today! Built around his memories of key films of the 1970s, this is a colossal work of film theory, film criticism, and personal history all at once. Buy your copy now, and if you have the chance, you can see Quentin reading excerpts from Cinema Speculation live in select cities across the country.

There’s also new Video Archives merch, just in time for the holidays! By popular demand, we have T-shirts with the full color logo, plus tumblers, shot glasses, hoodies and more…go to Podswag.com and search for “Video Archives” to get gifts for you and yours.

Listener Cam C is a happy Video Archives customer - he says “This photo was taken tonight at a Cineplex movie theater in Edmonton, AB Canada. I attended a 30th Anniversary screening of Reservoir Dogs with my son and girlfriend. Wearing, of course, my Video Archives T-shirt. A great time was had. Keep on making great shows. I’ll keep listening.”

And that does it for American Giallo! Next week, we’re switching up the Video Archives format again to discuss one film and one film only, and it’s a doozy. You won’t want to miss this episode – in the meantime, keep spreading the love on Twitter and Instagram (and TikTok, and everywhere else), rate and review us on Apple and Amazon, and come back next week!