LUCIO FULCI : BEYOND THE BEYOND! A Critical Reassessment! His 7 Best Films!

The Roman born Director Lucio Fulci when remembered today is primarily remembered for his his schlock and gore filled horror films of the 80s such as THE BEYOND, HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, ZOMBI 3, which is a crying shame, because these were the lowest common denominator films of a filmmaker reduced to making dreck to make a paycheck, rather than his films of the  late 60s and throughout the 70s that can be considered his artistic passion projects.

His film-making and use of the camera in this period was ground breaking and incredibly influential, and his best films remain among the best of their respective genre.

From 1966’s MASSACRE TIME (an early inspiration and precursor to the dove filled blood ballets of John Woo) to 1978s rarely seen SILVER SADDLE, was a twelve year period of unbridled creativity  and staggering experimentation, and contain not only Fulci’s best films, but some of the best films by anyone during the period, and films that stand the test of time.

 

Here without further ado our Fulci’s best films and essential films for any true lover of cinema:

 

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PERVERSION STORY AKA ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER – Don’t let the salacious poster fool you this is a MAGNIFICENT film. It’s a reworking of a more well known film, a classic film by one of the world’s most respected directors, however I have to say… I prefer this Fulci film. It is an unjustly little seen masterpiece, beautifully shot, and deserves a great and feature rich Blu-ray disk. Fulci’s best film.

 

In second place I put PSYCHIC, just adore this film.

 

I follow that up with his LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN and DONT TORTURE A DUCKLING solidly in 3rd and 4th place.

SILVER SADDLE in 5th place, is the best of Fulci’s three westerns which says a lot. As it beats out the praised MASSACRE TIME in 6th place. (FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE does not make this best of list. It’s overlong, and I can do without its denigrated and stereotyped Black character. But its distasteful parts aside, it remains, like all of his wide-screen films… beautifully shot.)

BEATRICE CENCI, in 7th place, is the director’s own favorite film, his attempt to make a serious Fellini level film, and its poor critical and commercial response was a blow the Director never truly recovered from. The film is solidly good if not great. But definitely deserving of a watch. It’s a solid B/B-.

And those are Fulci’s seven best films, and are must watch films for anyone desirous of the best of Euro-cinema of the period.

 

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1966’s Massacre Time – This film was the one to put Fulci on the genre/world map. One of the earliest of the Spaghetti Western craze, and one of the best. This is an ultra violent flick, that shows off Fulci’s adeptness and creativity in staging action scenes. You can definitely see in this film with its gravity defying blood laced shootouts and its prevalence with doves, a clear inspiration and precursor to the later ‘blood ballet’ films of John Woo. Made during the glory days of the spaghetti western genre (roughly 1966 to 1968) MASSACRE TIME stands out as being one of the most extreme of these extremist westerns.

 

More detailed reviews to come next installment!

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2013: Day 12- Remembering Director Lucio Fulci

Rough Draft
UNDER CONSTRUCTION

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Lucio Fulci is remembered today, when remembered at all, by a nuance lacking population for his lowest common denominator gore films such as THE BEYOND and ZOMBI.

But before Fulci, by his own estimation became a maker of z-grade garbage to pay the bills, he aspired to more. He aspired to be a filmmaker.

And I am here to say he was one. And I would go further to say he was a great director. An extremely versatile director, leaving his mark on everything from Comedies to Westerns. However, it was in the new Italian form of thriller, the Giallo that his skills would reach their zenith, and his star shine the brightest.

In his heyday creative period, when the muses of inspiration were upon him (approx from 1966 to 1977), he made seven influential, stylish, challenging and even ground breaking films.

Tempi di Massacro/Massacre Time (Would predate and arguably inspire the dove laden, blood ballets of John Woo)

Una Sull’altra/Perversion Story/One On Top Another (even hampered by a poor title, and an awkward, even clumsy soft-core opening, this reworking of Hitchcock’s Vertigo builds to something great. Beautifully filmed it is Fulci’s best looking film, and is a clinic in style. It is a film I consider even better than its inspiration, and that is saying a lot.)

Beatrice Cenci
A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin
Don’t Torture a Duckling
Four of the Apocalypse
Sette Notte in Nero/Psychic

Fulci Frenzy
Browse and/or buy Lucio Fulci DVDs Here!!!

None of the above films were adequately appreciated upon release. However with the advent of DVD you have the chance to reevaluate Fulci’s largely pre-gore work (before he gave completely into his excesses and the lowest common denominator) and see these films for what they were and are, visually stunning landmarks of a time and a place.

— to be continued

AMER Dvd Review! A modern day Giallo!

AMER- I have been of late so disappointed by highly rated IMDB or AMAZON films (films such as TRIANGLE and A LONELY PLACE TO DIE), that the recently watched film AMER… comes like manna from heaven.

The first feature film of writing/directing duo Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, AMER (2009) is an almost impossibly sensual and sensualist film, that spends nearly all its initial running time in this elevated/heightened nearly psychotic state, that is equal parts arousal and sensory overload.

There’s a story here, but it’s a very thin one that follows our protagonist from childhood to womanhood, and one that becomes more thin as the film progresses, and ultimately takes backstage to a house of mystery, and a young woman who burns like the sun.

It is a very disturbing film, as it deals, under the skin, with themes of compulsion, predation (namely the predatory behavior of men to women), psycho-sexual behavior, and a degree of depravity and submission, all edited to a frenetic, insane, tension aching pitch.

Add to that the look and the soundtrack, which is a love-letter to the giallo, and you have something… that compels. Giallo being a distinctly Italian form of thriller, that traces its flowering most notably to the 70s and 80s films of Dario Argento.

A bastard child of the deconstructive American crime films and horror films of the late 60s and 70s (think PSYCHO meets DIRTY HARRY) and a precursor to the later American slasher films, Giallo is set apart by its preeminence of style, both in terms of visuals and soundtrack, over substance.

Much as film-noir is characterized by daring use of style and visuals and camera angles, to speak on the dysfunction and disillusionment, and moral abyss of a post World War II America, Giallo equally was a filmic response to turbulent political, class, generational and societal fears and concerns in the wake of an age of assassinations, wars, mass murders, and revelations and revolutions of the age of Aquarius, not to mention the conflict of a new sexual frankness in conflict with a still pervasive sexual repression.

In many ways giallo as a genre, was a bunch of kid filmmakers pushing the boundaries of film, and in many ways tapping into their own demons, and a world’s demons. So if you are a fan of films like SUSPIRIA and THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS WARDH you will find much to enthuse over in AMER, a film that is evocative of the giallo, from the soundtrack to the use of primary colors, while being a very unique and singular viewing experience.

Possibly a frustrating viewing experience if your taste does not run to the aforementioned giallo tenet of style over substance. If a movie has to ‘get to the point’ AMER is not the film for you, but if it is the journey well told that entrances…then AMER, will entrance you to the end.

Indeed for me the least interesting part of the film is the black-gloved razor wielding killer in the final act, and moments of blood and gore and the film trying to hew too closely to Argento’s template, but even that, thankfully, gives way to something… unique, and yes both irrational and sensuous.

I can see many people hating this film for its fever dream approach, however it is that approach that ultimately wins me over. I don’t like slasher films, and find gore and torture porn films uninteresting and without merit, not far from true pornography. Yet I find in the giallo, when done well, something that manages to transcend simple exploitation and pandering, and be not unlike art.

AMER is giallo, done well.

I adore, a well composed shot, and being a devotee of the schools of both sensualism and surrealism, I adore the stylistic extremes of this film… and see it being one that is often on rotation in my DVD player. If the filmmakers can resist the easy indulgences of gore and splatter, such weaknesses a little on display in the third act of AMER, and quite pervasive in most of their short films (also included on the DVD), they will be filmmakers to watch. When they don’t rely on the crutch of gore, as in most of AMER, they are mind blowingly good. Grade: B+.

Amer DVD! Price your copy here!

The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh! Best Giallo! Price your DVD here!

Some memorable, one might even say memorial, movie quotes

Okay this gets a bit weirdy and ranty, so if you don’t want weirdy and ranty, skip this post and come back tomorrow when I’ll be discussing the finer arts of moose calling or some-such nonsense. 🙂

Okay… you’ve been warned.


The White Cliffs Of Dover DVD


“God will never forgive us, if we break faith with our dead again”

— Irene Dunne in her favorite film role (I concur) 1944’s THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER, set in a world at war, fighting to end future wars. Hoping the sacrifice of young lives would end there.


Short Night of Glass Dolls DVD

“It’s not Mira. Mira was a rebel. She refused sex and gold when everybody else here was lured with them, We use them as bait the whole world over. Sex and Gold. They are important because they suppress the will to resist.”

–In Aldo Lado’s surprisingly haunting and still relevant 1971 film… SHORT NIGHT OF THE GLASS DOLLS, written in a world beset with wars civil and colonial.

“The oldest person beats the drum, and the youngest go to battle. We will hold the reigns of power in the world as long as there are people willing to be killed, willing to shed their own blood. And nothing must ever be changed.”

— SHORT NIGHT OF THE GLASS DOLLS [for my full review go here]

I like those quotes. Good quotes from good films.

With an election year upon us, I’m always mightily aware of politicians and posturing.

And I’m always distinctly aware, I’ve heard it before.

Every lie before they say it. A memorial of lies one might say.

How about we try this crazy thing, instead of just remembering the ones who have died, always a worthy goal, let’s do our bit and reduce the number of people we send to join them this year, and next year, and the year after.

How’s that for a worthy memorial to war? An end to all current and future war. An end to young people dying for the posturings of old people.

Be those young people American, or Iranian, or Somalian, or Haitian, or Guatemalan…let’s consecrate ourselves to some new way, some better way, some civilized way… to live, that does not involve pitting our young people against each other in conflicts, real life Hunger Games, that they have not the slightest idea of why they are fighting.

So I’m putting on the ballot a new way to fight wars… the big mouths in this country who have a problem with big mouths in another country, the congressmen, the owners of papers, the columnists, the heads of corporations, the religious zealots, and the talk radio idiots, everyone who is quick to have others kill and torture for them… you go fight the war.

Let’s try that.

All in favor, raise your hand. 🙂 .

Let’s let the 20 and 30 year olds stay home, eff their brains out, get back to some of that age of Aquarius loving (before the 80s came to get them on the ‘me’ kick), and let them run the country.

And all you senators, all you justices, all you presidential candidates… you’ve had your time at bat, and you’ve made a perpetually regenerating and increasing mess of it…. so yeah you old, chairman of the board, want to be in charge f**ks, put on some fatigues, fill up that rucksack and you go fight the wars.

But no remote control drone bombing raids, no satellite directed death from above, no weather modification toys, no dropping mines in playgrounds (what kind of animal signs off on that? You do my friends. With every tax dollar you pay and flag you wave. You do, when you say ‘yes sir’ to terms like war power acts, and patriot acts, and laughable misnomers like homeland security… you do, we do. We did. Not anymore), not even any nuclear subs or good old grunts on the ground. No, we don’t give you any of that to wage war with, none of your cowardly, expedient toys to turn countless people into your faceless collateral damage, instead just a cage match with you old, hateful, fat f**ks in a cage with other old, hateful, fat f**ks.

We’ll give you some boxing gloves, maybe even a club or two, and you guys go at it. Work it out. Get along or kill each other, but either way, the world would be a lot better if you old manifest destiny, new world order, ‘woodrow wilson’ idolizing mfers would just die.

Because honestly, you effers have had your day, and all we have seen since the industrial revolution, is more of the same. The rich few get richer, and the rest of the people and the planet, gets raped and used up until we are clinging to a burnt out dying ball of rock.

What is the good of all your imagined power then you dumb f**ks?!!

The world can’t afford doing the same insanity that got us here, to this point, and expecting a different result. In fact that’s the definition of insanity, trying the same thing, and expecting a different result.

So give it to the young.

The world… give it to the young. They might eff up, they might not. They might find a different way, a better way. They’ll at least fall down going forward, going toward something new, which is more than any of you old ingrained effers have done in the last century and a couple decades, of mounting genocide.

Hell, maybe young people, devoid of you old people riding them to ensure they make your comfortable, beloved mistakes, they’ll even make a REAL democracy out of America, instead of a tyranny dressed as capitalism.

And as far as you old dudes and dudettes, you seekers or power and despoilers of wisdom, when you die, which is sad but more than likely a probability, that whole ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’ thing, we’ll grill a hot-dog or hamburger to you on the next memorial day.

Really we will.

Happy memorial day. 🙂

Price The White Cliffs Of Dover

Price Short Night of Glass Dolls

The COMIC STRIP Returns?!!!! THE HOUSE OF DUELING MIDNIGHT #1

Yeah, yeah.. it’s pretty stupid, and horrible. But I have to admit… it made me chuckle. 🙂

As far as why… Well I’ve been meaning to put up a couple strips for a while. And have been trying to network, collaborate with a couple of artists, but I’ll let you in on a secret, artists aren’t really the most reliable bunch for collaborating or networking with… at least the ones I’ve been dealing with.

So rather than wait on people to grow up, I decided to just ‘what the heck’ it, and just go ahead and create and post something that would make me laugh.

Hence this very brief, very juvenile ‘cut and paste’ cartoon courtesy of one of the free cartoon generators out there, The art is crude, but the insane story and words and madness is all me. Hope you enjoyed it. If you do, leave a comment and some likes!

It’s a work in progress experiment, that will improve if you guys will stick in there with me. Thanks!! 🙂

Classic Movie/Giallo Review: Dario Argento’s INFERNO!

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Then I realized my early work did have something special that audiences adored apart from what I humbly thought about them. They occupy a distinguished niche in Italian film history and probably always will.
Dario Argento

After many years of reading about Argento’s INFERNO I finally got around to seeing it. It starts off promising but ultimately meanders its way to an underwhelming, and more than a little amateurish conclusion.

And I say that being a huge fan of Dario Argento’s early work. I think his DEEP RED is a masterpiece and films such as his 1969 debut BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (as masterful a debut as you’ll find, and something of a warmup to DEEP RED), and his subsequent films of the 70s, are close to masterpieces and all deserving of viewing.

However as with many great directors of the 70s, that greatness would not extend into the 80s. In the 1980s director sweethearts of the the age of Aquarius such as Argento, found themselves scrambling to be relevant in an era of Reagonomics and Hollywood Blockbusters and sought to wrangle audiences with gore and excess over craft (And don’t get me wrong there are moments of brilliance in his post 80s work, TENEBRE while flawed, has some really masterfully composed scenes of… tension and horror, and I enjoyed his JENIFER for MASTERS OF HORROR, but on a whole they tend to fail to hold together).

INFERNO is on the cusp of that transition from 70s craft to 80s gore, but its failure seemingly has to be laid more at the hands of just a half-baked film concept/story. First the good: Here as in SUSPIRIA the visuals are great. Argento’s use of primary colors, and the use of architecture and sets, drenches the film in this decadent dream reality. However unlike SUSPIRIA it is hampered by an inferior, and annoying score, and a weak and underdeveloped protagonist (The actor who plays the lead like most of the actors in this film, seemed like he had no idea what to do in-front the camera, and just wasn’t someone the audience could really connect with) and the same for the antagonist, the mother of shadows, who appears in the final act and whose final form is pretty darn laughable. All in all a mess of a movie, that has to be laid at the hands of Argento’s script. Those flaws noted, if you are an Argento fan the film is worth seeing for the visuals alone. C-/D+.

On Aldo Lado’s debut film SHORT NIGHT OF THE GLASS DOLLS


There is a lot not to like about Aldo Lado’s debut film, SHORT NIGHT OF THE GLASS DOLLS.

Price Short Night of Glass Dolls

It’s a very rambling, chaotic, drawn out… and yes… boring viewing experience. It’s a very unsatisfying viewing experience. It’s marketed as a Giallo, but I think that description sets up expectations this film can not meet. What it is is a very subtle drama/mystery with only the merest trappings of the Giallo genre.

That said there is something there.

Something… more… to the film.


It’s first of all beautifully filmed, with a haunting Morricone score. And writer and director Aldo Lado, has something to say… something profound, that stays with you long after the understated mystery is over.

There’s a conversation about youth and old age, and the price of power, and how it is maintained, how empires are maintained that the movie engages in. A conversation that while 35+ years old, told in the age of Aquarius and dressed with theatrics, yet manages to remain timeless… and I feel… far too valid.

And it’s a film filled with allusions, and allegories, tales of beautiful things that were born to fly… but do not.

I was going to purge this film from my collection. Sell it. And I cannot… to anyone else recommend the movie, as anything more than an oddity. But after rewatching it, I think I want to keep it.

For myself, I think it has, however oddly, much to say. And an oddly, addictive way… of saying it. It is the rare film, that… grows on you.

And on top of that I just (as in the middle of this review) watched the Blue Underground/Anchor Bay interview with Aldo Ray that comes with this flick. Great stuff!!

The interview is alternately laugh out loud funny and chill inducing. I have to change my vote and recommend this DVD.

It will not appeal to everybody, especially the first time around, but live with it for a while, and if you’re a little like me, and perhaps a little like the mad director/writer Aldo Lado… it may end up appealing to you. Recommended.

Short Night of Glass Dolls

“Certain economic powers, men, make war. And who is sent to war? Not old people like me. They send young men in their twenties to die and give their blood. Power, whether it is economic or political, maintains itself with the blood of the young.”
…Aldo Lado from the DVD Interview

F’ing line, gave me chills.

Hearing people speak truth to power, always does.