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Tag: Lucio Fulci

Zombie Flesheaters

by on Mar.03, 2010, under Daily Review

Hot on the heels of the Argento/Romero Zombie masterpiece which was ‘Zombie: Dawn of the Dead, Fulci makes a claim for the horror throne with this, the first of his Zombie quinology. But this is a very different film to what was happening is Pittsburgh. Fulci’s film is mostly set on a dusty exotic island, maybe set pre-Romero with an interesting introduction to where this plague originated.

The film starts with a yacht drifting towards Manhattan, floating past the Staten Island ferry. After checking it over, the coast guard find a hungry bloated rotting corpse, eager for a snack. And so it begins: The first infection to reach the USA. Meanwhile, a journalist, Peter (Ian McCulloch) teams up with Anne (Tisa Farrow) in search of her father, Dr Menard working out on a remote tropical island. On arrival, they discover all is not as it seems in this beautiful place with news of Dr Menard desperately in search for a cure to an epidemic, sweeping the island causing the dead to return from the grave.

Fulci’s zombies are outstanding creations and a huge improvement of Dawn’s blue faced flesh fiends. Here, they look like they’ve been rotting for some time. During a fight scene, one zombie has his leg scratched and the flesh just peals away. There’s a great bite to the neck which gets the blood flowing and then there is the stunning scene with a splinter of wood impaling a woman’s eye then snapping off, ripping the eyeball out. It’s an incredible effect, care of Giannetto De Rossi which really works well, looks great and has the audience squirming. The effect is also emphasised by the brilliance of editing and strong cinematography, shot beautifully, it makes watching uneasy, as it looks so go, but subject matter makes you want to look away.

What else? A shark fight with a zombie, yes, underwater. You don’t get to see this sort of thing every day. It’s impressive.

The acting is good, as expected from Farrow, McCulloch and Al Cliver, but the direction is mostly off target with long sequences of the film having characters bumbling about the island doing unrealistic things whilst being chased by shambling corpses and it’s a shame, as this could have been the zombie film of reference.

The soundtrack is also quite something else. Long time Fulci contributor, composer, Fabio Frizzi once again creates an amazing atmospheric score, using all sorts of cunning electronic tricks.

This is Fulci’s legacy. It’s a great film, a great zombie film, but it’s not his best in my opinion. It’s the full article really as an answer, or re-poste to Dawn and it carries with it a history and reputation, which precedes it. Ground breaking in it’s day, with incredible gore which still stands up against today’s offerings, but be prepared for a film with some issues with pace and script.

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Murder Rock

by on Feb.27, 2010, under Daily Review

How surprised am I with this movie? It’s a great flick. I was expecting something very different, but what we have here is a subtle Fulci film. Very few scenes of violence and even smaller amounts of gore… well.. in fact none, apart from a few piercings. The film is set in a school of dramatic art and dance, focusing on an elite team of dancers working with top choreographers. For the first ten mins of the film, I actually thought I’d slipped the Flashdance disk in by mistake, with hardbodies in leotards flinging from one side of the screen to the other. We soon get into the bones of this film with the first murder. A black leather gloved killer, knocking the victim out with chloroform before using a fancy hat pin to pierce the breast, straight through the heart. A plot device and totally original for what could have fallen in to the usual who done it category.  From there on in, girls are dropping all over the place, in order of talent. Who is the murder? What is their reason? With many jealous students and teachers, in this highly competitive world, any one of them could be the killer.

Olga Karlatos is stunning in this film, such screen presence and character, playing the dance academy tutor; her moments on screen are intense. Pair that up with the mighty ray Lovelock who plays a ‘down on his luck actor,’ the chemistry here is magnificent. Hats off to Fulci for beautiful direction, neatly crafted and brilliantly shot scenes. Cosimo Cinieri is also amazing here as the hard boiled police chief on the case.

It’s a fine film, witch pairs the energy of Flashdance with the cinematography of New York Ripper, without the over the top violence, opting for a subtler Hitchcock approach. A perfect piece of Giallo. A final note must be made to credit the amazing talent of Keith Emerson for recording a great 80’s groovy score with some memorable pop hits.

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Door into Silence

by on Feb.26, 2010, under Daily Review

This is not the usual Fucli film, unlike anything else I have ever seen made by the legend. Id’ even go as far as to say this was filmed mainly by his daughter, Camilla as there is little to tie this Lucio as far as style, look, feel and concept, although some obvious signature zooms are dropped in for credence. Fulci was a sick man when this film was made, and although credited under a pseudonym as writer, I’d even question this, with Fulci maybe offering a brief concept for the plot which was adapted by Camilla et al.

 The film follows Melvin Devereux (John Savage) who, after the funeral of his father, spends most of the film following a crazy hearse and bumping into a strange ‘Mysterious’ woman (Sandi Schultz) in the Deep South America. Through various encounters, Melvin struggles to gain cohesive reasoning for actions, bumbling from one crazy encounter to the next without any real flesh to the scenes.

The twist at the end is far to long coming and could have been seen within the first ten minutes of this film. For any Fulci fan, this film is worth a look, otherwise, it’s slow, obvious and torturous to watch.

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Liza (Demonia)

by on Feb.25, 2010, under Daily Review

500 years ago, a superfluity of Sicilian Nuns was thought to be in league with the Lucifer, crucified in the most horrendous of ways. When a team of archaeologists begin an excavation on the site, the evil spirits of 5 of these Nuns are released, seeking vengeance and revenge for the wrongs done against them. One of the team Liza (Meg Register) discovers a secret tomb with crucified Nuns all over the place. She’s haunted by dreams and tries to get to the bottom of what happened, but the local community are not forthcoming. Liz begins the experience the supernatural with her soul sympathising and synchronising with one of the ghost Nuns. It’s not long before her team and the village locals start dropping like flies in all sorts of grisly manner.

Once again, Fulci shows strong character in his direction with a great cast to support. Brett Halsey is again, superb here. Al Cliver’s performance is solid as always. Carla Cassola (The Sect) is also believable here as the Medium, offering the insight to the terrible deeds against the Nuns. But it’s Meg Register that carries the bulk of the film and does a great job.

My only grip here would be pace. It’s a bit slow on the start up; it takes a good 40 minutes to really get going. But once Lilla (Cassola) has explained the back story, the film picks up and gains pace. The tale of the Nuns is quite a disturbing one, and some of the visuals are quite graphic, especially the burning baby! Lilla’s downfall is also an interesting scene with Fulci making use of cats (once again) as a faithful familiar to the evil doings, removing the Medium’s eyes. The scene is memorable to that of Manhattan Baby which uses taxidermist birds for the same device.  

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Manhattan baby

by on Feb.24, 2010, under Daily Review

Proffessor George Hacker is on an excavational field trip in Egypt with his family. Whilst uncovering a tomb, an evil spirit is released possessing Hacker’s young daughter Susie, whilst Hacker was blinded by a blue light. Back in New York, the family are recovering as Hacker gets his sight back, but strange things begin to happen with death close behind.

This is a great film which emphasises Fulci’s talent. The plot is strange and mysterious with an ethereal threat from the desert. Both Egypt and New York are filmed beautifully, yet totally natural making the viewer feel they are part of the film. The Shots are all well constructed with a great vision, which makes full use of the glorious widescreen. It’s also great to see a very strong cast working hard within the boundaries of this film, which has a classic late 70’s feel about it. Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, Exorcist etc. The colours are soft and diluted which gives a natural feel; plenty of dusty sunlight through windows, back lighting actors, slightly bleaching out faces. Very nice.

The main cast, the Hacker’s are all very good. George, (Christopher Connelly) is convincing as the father and archaeologist. His Wife, Emily played by Laura Lenzi is outstanding here and it’s a shame she didn’t really make many other films. (Is she the Daughter of Umberto?) The two kids, Suzie and Tommy, played by Brigitta Boccoli and Giovanni Frezza are cracking child actors. Incredibly relaxed and natural in front of the cameras. Frezza also seen in House by the Cemetary and Boccoli makes the film her own, a true star in the making with real presence.

Let me also mention the score. Fabio Frizzi is a master of dramatic, cool and funky music which fits in so well with this film. Eerie in places, groovy in others: Superb.  

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When Alice Broke the Mirror

by on Feb.23, 2010, under Daily Review

This is a real gem. Fulci creating a mixed genre piece, black comedy horror with a top quality cast of Italian gore veterans, it’s an intriguing film. Lester Parson (Brett Halsey) is a crazy man. Womaniser and gambler, he picks his women from the lonely hearts column and chooses only those on the rich list. Wooing romantically and drowning them with fine wine, before butchering their bodies using various weapons of choice. All is going well until a tramp notices the ungodly deed and resorts to blackmail.  The police are soon on his trail and his luck is fading on the poker table.

Halsey has been in every US TV show of the 80’s. Bionic Woman to the Fall Guy, Love Boat to Fantasy Island. He’s got real charm and charisma and takes the lead role with real zest. The supporting cast include Ria De Simone (Bruno Mattei’s Women’s Camp 119), Zora Kerova (New York Ripper, Anthro and Ferox) and Al Cliver (Flesheaters, Murder Rock, Devil Hunter). A real quality cast.

This is a quirky, kooky movie. Its comedy is as much a strength as the over the top gore which is also played for laughs, despite its gruesome grisliness. It’s great to see Fulci toying with this combination which he does so well without neglecting his beautifully framed cinematography. Well worth a look.

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House of Clocks

by on Feb.22, 2010, under Daily Review

Made for Italian TV, this is not one of Fulci’s finer moments but don’t write it off, as the plot is interesting in a surreal kind of way. The running time could have benefited from being trimmed down to the 70 minute mark, if only to allow the viewer a snappier experience. But when I say made for TV, this is not the usual average TV viewing and it’s still a Fulci film and therefore, blood and gore go with the territory

The story involves three crooks who break into an old manor house in the countryside. The residents, an elderly couple have an obsession with clocks which fill the house; every room. When the blundered robbery goes wrong, the elderly couple end up murdered, but with the help of their mystic magical clocks, they can control time and it’s not long before the crooks find themselves victims of revenge, or maybe their own insanity.

Much of the film is beautifully shot, especially after the halfway mark and the clocks begin to reverse and this is really where the film picks up and the grabs the viewer with some real intensity. There is a great atmosphere which Fulci manipulates for haunting effect. The earlier sequences are straight to the point, steady and solid with little character, and I’d suspect this to be the work of assistant Director Michele De Angelis.

The acting is not too bad to be honest, with the older couple knocking out a truly creepy performance, and the crooks playing dumb victims, but they are puppets in the bizarre Fulci world which they are dropped into. Fulci veteran, Al Cliver steals the show for me as Peter, the gardener.

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New York Ripper

by on Feb.21, 2010, under Daily Review

This film is a perfectly crafted piece of American heritage and a dutiful contribution to the horror genre. It can be described as sleaze, but this would be an understatement and also, to pigeon hole what is an accurate recording of the history of New York, or more accurately, the rise and fall of 42nd street at it’s most seedy and unpleasant. It’s also probably the most beautiful shot film using New York as a fine back drop, really showing off the city at it’s best and worst, but most realistic, casually using iconic landmarks to ultimate effect with glorious cinemascope cinematography.

And then we have the violence. It’s about as vicious as you can get without stepping into the realms of outrageous. I mean to say, this is as gruesome as can be taken to fit in with a realistic plotline, being that of a serial killer with an eye (and a blade) for the girls. Flesh is sliced in every direction in brutal full screen violence; no body part is left unscathed. Some scenes are about as obscene as could be filmed, others are a thing of beauty. (i.e. the effects are as realistic as could be expected for the time and place), my favourite being a knife slice to a girls leg. Subtle but looking as perfect as a slice could be.

The killer uses a neat duck quacking voice to terrorise and tease the local police who are fed one red herring after the other, finding a trail of carved up women along the way. Legendary.

The acting is also pretty good. Some are more animated than others but over all, it’s a well balanced cast. Notably Jack Hedley as Inspector Fred Williams. Alexandra Delli Colli offers a great performance as the nymphomaniac wife and also a young Barbara Cupisti. Fulci himself has a supporting role which is fun.  Antonella Interlenghi is brilliant though, and there are some stunning cinemagraphic moments, especially a huge close up of her face which spans the full screen.

The other great film about this film is the soundtrack. It’s amazing, funky, sleazy with spats of jazz and electro, from Francesco De Masi.

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