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The more I delve into the giallo film scene, the deeper I fall in love with the sub-genre. Black Belly of the Tarantula has all the hallmarks of a classic example of the movement with a complex thriller and mystery populated with stylised murders that keeps you guessing to the film’s conclusion. It’s added benefit is that it has a beautiful score from the great Ennio Morricone, providing further substance to the drama as it unfolds.

Italian director Paulo Cavara weaves a cracking tale following Detective Tellini (Giancarlo Giannini) charged with the muder case. The murder in question is centred on Maria, who is killed by an unknown assailant, who is dressed in black and wearign surgical gloves. The killer injects Maria with a chemical that leaves her parlaysed but still conscious while they carry out their deathly needs. Our chief suspect is Maria, husband Paolo, who recently discovered her infidelity

Throughout the film we see Tellini at home discussing the job with his wife and admits that he feels not cut out for the job. This vulnerability that Tellini discloses is part of the film’s appeal, willing to show our protagonist at his weakest and most open allows the audience closer to his character in the process. 

It is when another murder is commited however, that bears no connection to Maria’s death that the case is thrown wide open, and the complexity begins. We also get another insight into the film’s title when Tellini visits a scientist who informs him of a species of wasp that paralyzes tarantulas before eviscerating them.

As the film snakes its way to a satisfying, yet brutal conclusion, the audience is dealt with some highly charged investigation that isn’t afraid to throw a few dead ends into the mix. And like most giallos, BBOTT manages to deliver sublime stylised deaths. Marcello Gatti’s cinematographer captures the visual energy of the piece, lifting the quality of the movie and for me, is one of the better films of its genre and I could happily revisit it again. 

  • Saul Muerte