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The Spaghetti Splatter King: LUCIO FULCI (1927-1996)

You may have heard of him. You may have not. Chances are you have not unless you are into horror flicks. Chances are you have seen or heard of one of his films at some point: Lucio Fulci, the man who made such Italian gore classics such as Zombie, House By the Cemetery, The Gates of Hell and many more.

LUCIO FULCI (1927-1996)
You may have heard of him. You may have not. Chances are you have not unless you are into horror flicks. Chances are you have seen or heard of one of his films at some point: Lucio Fulci, the man who made such Italian gore classics such as “Zombie”, “House By the Cemetery”, “The Gates of Hell”, and many more.

The critics hated him. He was snubbed by the Academy Awards. They failed to give him any recognition at the time of his death. Despite all this, Mr. Fulci did manage to gain a strong cult following, not only in Europe, but in the United States as well. L.F. did not just make splatter films, though. He had made other types of flicks as well. These included a couple of spaghetti westerns in the 60’s, a couple of White Fang movies in the 70’s, and some Hitchcock styled murder mysteries here and there. He showed he had a variety of styles in him and yet there was something distinctive about the way he shot films that made it a “Fulci Film”.

It’s been very difficult digging up the necessary info on Lucio Fulci, since he was somewhat of an obscure figure in the film industry. However, the following information is as accurate as I could find:

Lucio Fulci was born on June 7, 1927, in Rome, Italy. He began his film career in 1952 as an Assistant Director/Writer on the film “Man Beast And Virtue” starring Orson Welles. Fulci continued to write and work as an assistant director on a variety of films until 1959. It was then he got to sit in the director’s chair himself to make both the films “I Ladri” and “Ragazzi del Jukebox”. This launched him as a regular director of European cinema through the 60’s. During this period he made sex comedies, dramas, and westerns. Then in ‘69, he filmed “One On Top Of Another” a.k.a. “Perversion Story”. This was the start of his period of psychological thrillers. This style carried him into the 70’s. However he did not find success until 1979 when he made “Zombie”. The commercial success of this film launched him into his splatter phase, which continued through the 80’s and 90’s, when he gained his broadest cult following. Sadly, on March 13, 1996, Mr. Fulci died in his sleep due to diabetic related illnesses. At the time of his death, he was getting ready to go into production with fellow filmmaker Dario Argento, to direct a remake of the 1953 Vincent Price classic “House of Wax”.

A toast to you, Lucio, for the enjoyment you have given me and others over the years. May you now get the recognition you rightfully deserve as an important filmmaker of our time. Myself, and your other fans shall surely miss you, and your memory will live on with your films!!!

Compiled here is a list of 5 films by Lucio Fulci with brief descriptions of each. This is not the complete filmography of L.F. (due to not enough room to list them all!), but rather my list of 5 films I would recommend to the new comer of the Fulci cinema. He has made many more films of quality within the horror genre. I encourage you readers to check out these and other flicks by Fulci.

1. The Beyond (1981) a.k.a. “The 7 Doors of Death”: Heavily butchered for U.S. release, this film is considered by many to be Fulci’s masterpiece. Katherine McColl stars as “Liza”, a loser from The Big Apple who inherits a backwoods hotel outside of New Orleans. What Liza doesn’t know is, several years earlier a warlock had been crucified and walled up in the basement by the townsfolk for practicing rites out of the fabled book of ‘Eibon’. Now, during general repairs of the hotel, the wall is torn down, and the spirit of the warlock escapes. Oh yeah, the hotel was allegedly built on one of the seven gateways to hell of which the warlock was custodian. Cast: David Warbeck, Al Cliver.

2. City of the Living Dead (1980) a.k.a. “The Gates of Hell”; “Twilight of the Dead”: Released in the U.S. as “The Gates of Hell”, this one is a real stomach churner… literally. In this film, the gates of hell are opened when a priest commits suicide in the Lovecraftian town of Dunwhich. Contains scenes of graphic violence that earned it an X rating at it’s initial release. This was brought on by scenes such as; a woman puking up her guts in full screen, and the sequence with a power drill (I don’t want to give to much away to people who haven’t seen it yet)! Cast: Katherine McColl, Christopher George, Giovanni Lambardo Radice.

3. Don’t Torture The Duckling (1972): Although not a gore fest, I feel this film is worth mentioning due to the fact it proves Fulci was capable of directing other types of films other then the pure gross outs he was known for making. Set in a Sicilian village, young boys, just entering puberty, are being found strangled to death. Murder suspects include the local retard, the town slut, and the parish priest. A nice little who-done-it mystery with some suspenseful moments. Cast: Floranda Bolkin, Marco Porel, George Wilson.

4. When Alice Broke The Mirror (1988) a.k.a. “A Touch of Death”: A real sick one, this is. Lester Parker has a compulsive gambling problem. He is always ending up in the hole to bookies. In order to support his gambling habit, he picks up some real doggy, dog women. The looks of some of these females is enough to make any viewer’s stomach turn. Even still, he romances them, gets them to hand over all their loot, and then butchers them in real sick, imaginative ways that could only have been thought of by Fulci. Definitely not for everyone. Cast: Brett Halsey, Sasha Darwin.

5. Zombie (1979) a.k.a. “Zombie Flesheaters”; “Zombie 2”; “Island of the Living Dead”: This is the flick that gained Fulci a strong underground audience! This Film was originally made as an unofficial sequel to “Dawn of the Dead”, but when released gained a cult following all of its own. Also, not to mention, this flick was one of the most commercially successful Italian horror films of all time. This particular film is probably the best of all the Fulci films made (although not my personal favorite). Cast: Tisa Farrow (Mia’s little sister, by the way), Ian McCulloch, and cult icon Al Cliver.

© Humberto Amador | Originally published in DELUDED FANZINE

 

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