This wonderful photograph was
torn dripping and writhing
(and without permission) from
Video Junkie's tribute to
the Godfather of Gore.
Lucio Fulci (1927 - 1996)
I love all [Fulci's] films. Even in the ones that haven't turned out so well, there's something that I love.
Lucio Fulci was born in 1927 in Rome, and died in Rome in 1996. He was an art critic and medical student before he entered the Experimental Film Studio, from which he graduated in 1948. His early career was as a writer and director of comedies and musicals, including several films with prominent Italian comics Steno and Totò.
In 1966 Fulci made a film of an entirely different nature, a western entitled Le Colt Cantarono la Morte e Fu: Tempo di Massacro/Massacre Time (which Fulci would later cite as a forerunner of his "Artaudian" horror film, L'Aldilà). Three years later he turned to the tragic story of Beatrice Cenci, which had inspired Shelley, Zola and Antonin Artaud before him, and created a film of unusual power and violence. Shortly thereafter, he directed his first giallo (the Italian term for a thriller, taken from the yellow [giallo] covers of pulp mystery books), Una sull'Altra/One on Top of the Other, which was his first commercial success.
Fulci followed his first thriller with an equally successful film, Una Lucertola con la Pelle di Donna/A Lizard in a Woman's Skin(1971). Non Si Sevizia un Paperino/Don't Torture a Duckling came after in 1972, and firmly established him as a major talent in the suspense genre. During the 70's he made films in a wide variety of other genres, including more westerns (I Quattro dell'Apocalisse/The Four of the Apocalypse, Sella d'Argento/Silver Saddle), adventure movies (the two White Fang movies) and comedy; however, his next and favorite giallo, Sette Notte in Nero/Murder to the Tune of Seven Black Notes, was a box-office failure.
In 1979, Fulci was given the opportunity to direct Zombi 2, a film intended to cash in on the European success of George Romero's Zombi/Dawn of the Dead. According to Fulci, his film made even more money than Romero's had, and Fulci was given a contract to make 5 films for the same grateful producer, Fabrizio De Angelis.
The movies which followed, including Paura nella Città dei Morti Viventi/City of the Living Dead, Quella Villa Accanto al Cimitero/House by the Cemetery and especially (...e tu vivrai nel terrore!) L'Aldilà/The Beyond built on the notoriety Fulci had gained with Zombi 2. After this there was no turning back: the violence which had been present in almost all of Fulci's movies since Beatrice Cenci could no longer be restrained. Like Artaud, Fulci would create a Theatre of Cruelty, in which traditional (and to them outmoded) elements such as character, naturalism, linear plots and even believability were put aside in favor of raw, resonant dream-imagery.
After the collaboration with De Angelis had ended, Fulci continued to make violent horror films, usually on a shoestring budget with unsympathetic producers. None of the films of his later years have the power and nightmarish intensity of the films of the early eighties; Un Gatto nel Cervello/Cat in the Brain (1990) and Voci dal Profondo (1991) are considered his strongest late films by many critics. Particularly unfortunate was Fulci's involvement in Zombi 3 (1988), a film which he was unable to complete because of poor health and his total lack of interest in the script. Zombi 3 was completed by Bruno Mattei, a far less capable director, but the resulting mess was released as "a Lucio Fulci film" to lend it credibility.
Fulci's last completed film was Le Porte del Silenzio/Door to Silence, filmed in Louisiana and based on a story from his collection Le Lune Neri (another collection of stories, Miei Mostri Adorati, was published shortly before his death). At the time of his death, Fulci had been asked to direct a new variation on the classic "wax museum" theme, Wax Mask, loosely based on a short story by Gaston Leroux (author of The Phantom of the Opera) and produced by Dario Argento. This project would have been a dream film for many dark-fantasy fans, but in spite of Argento's support, the backers of the film decided to drop Fulci. It has been surmised (by Chas. Balun in his biography, Beyond the Gates, among others) that this final insult may have hastened the Maestro's death. The completed film, directed by Sergio Stivaletti, ws dedicated to Fulci's memory.
(Filmography coming soon)
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