Introduction to Fulci: Marek Z explores the zombie films of The Italian Godfather of Gore.

BY MAREK Z.

 

fulci gun

“I am the Italian cinema’s last zombie”

(Lucio Fulci, 1996)

Hack, Misogynist. Genius. Master of gore, the director Lucio Fulci (1927 – 1996) seems to invoke a myriad of opinions in reference to his style, personality and arguably competence. It is interesting to note, that when Fulci horror regular Catriona MacColl was asked if he was a hack or genius by Fangoria magazine back in 1998 she replied a “bit of both”, perhaps further highlighting the mixed views held about the man.

While to those initiated in the ways of his films, they represent something much more than the usual fare, be it through their fantastic use of extreme imagery (Zombie Flesh Eaters and The New York Ripper) and the psychedelic (A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin) all the way to the almost transcendental (The Beyond), non-linear, atmospheric and quasi-religious (all of what would become known as the Gates of Hell trilogy), it is because of the differentiation contained within his films that people are still discussing them decades later.

However, not everyone is a Fulci fanatic or even that familiar with the man’s work, and what we have here is a blaggers guide to the zombie output of the great man. Please note that this will just be an overview to the man himself and the relevant films, as detailed analysis (and details of the key kills) has been eschewed as to not unwittingly provide any spoilers which may otherwise ruin your enjoyment of the films when you watch them, if you want more detailed analysis there are plenty of critical essays online that will go into minute detail about each film but I would recommend that you become familiar with the films first to maximise your enjoyment.

E tu vivrai nel terrore!

A young Fulci with fellow maestro Mario Bava.

A young Fulci with fellow maestro Mario Bava.

The Man
Born in Rome on 17 June, 1927, Lucio Fulci initially started out studying medicine although his passion for the creative arts took over and saw him gain employment as an art critic. From here he attended the Experimental Film Centre in Rome and at the time would have been taught by luminaries’ such as Michelangelo Antonini (Blow-Up, La Notte) and Luchino Visconti (Death in Venice, Ossessione) with it being rumoured that Fulci was actually admitted to the Centre after insulting Visconti over Ossessione (1943). Whether or not this is true is debateable especially as the rumour can only be traced back to Fulci himself in an interview with the French magazine ‘L’Ecran Fantastique’.  A translation of the interview can be found online here.

After graduating Fulci initially started out as a screenwriter, waiting eleven years before receiving his break into directing with the unsuccessful comedy I Ladri aka The Thieves (1959), starting a career which would eventually see him hop from one genre to another building an ever diverse body of work.

Despite his journeyman status, certain influences began to come through, such as that of the French writer Antonin Artaud, although arguably this influence was more philosophical in outlook rather than practical. As a result, one might argue that any influence that had not directly influenced his zombie films themselves are therefore largely irrelevant in our context, but that approach would be short sighted and overlooking the atmospheric and religious elements as well as the subtext that helped make what would later be dubbed as the Gates of Hell trilogy so vital.

Further support of this underlying influence can be traced back to 1969 where Fulci actually directed a version of Beatrice Cenci  aka The Conspiracy of Torture which utilised elements from Artaud’s short lived 1935 play.

For many horror fans however, Fulci’s career did not really start until later that year with Una Sull’Altra aka Perversion Story but it was  in 1971 with the release of his psychedelic giallo A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin that the filmmaker really begins to become of interest to the majority of his modern audience,with the filmin true controversial Italian style seeing the director caught up in a criminal enquiry in order to prove that certain scenes were fake, of particular note a scene featuring disembowelled dogs, this film, arguably is the true starting point for the combination of surrealism and horror (to a certain extent) within Fulci’s films. He would later go on to film further acclaimed gialli in the form Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972) and Sette Note In Nero aka Seven Notes in Black (1977).

After a brief stint predominantly making TV programs, Fulci signed on for what was meant to be an action adventure horror by the name of Nightmare Island (Island of the Living Dead), with the title copyrighted in 1978 reducing but not removing any allegations that this film would be a direct rip off of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead which was released the same year, and in fact Romero had visit Fulci’s home city of Rome to work on the script and negotiate the European version with fellow director Dario Argento.

This film would later be retiled Zombi 2, with Romero’s Dawn of the Dead having initially been released in Italy under the time Zombi, the producers had hoped this unofficial sequel title would help boost ticket sales and interest. However, in the UK (and also the US) we know this film by the much more fantastic and exploitative title, Zombie Flesh Eaters, as the original title would not make sense outside of the Italian market.

The movies:

Zombie_Flesh_eaters

Zombie Flesh Eaters
In his interview with L’Ecran Fantastique, Fulci describes Zombie Flesh Eaters as being “based on sensations, (which) hinges on fear, and, of course, horror” which is at noticeable odds with Romero’s Dawn of the Dead basis that being a satirical look at capitalism and human co-operation. In addition, Zombie Flesh Eaters would pay more credence to the original voodoo influence and original zombie films such as I Walked with a Zombie, Voodoo Island and Hammer’s Plague of the Zombies than Romero’s Dead series ever did.

Interestingly, Fulci wasn’t the first choice to direct the film (imagine how different not just Zombie Flesh Eaters but Fulci’s remaining career would have been if the first choice had been available) and would go on to shape his career.  Furthermore, under its original guise of Nightmare Island, the film was originally conceived as a mixture of adventure and horror before morphing into the final product, in which we can still see the retained elements of the initial adventure script.

Starting aboard an abandoned sail boat as it drifts, aimlessly into New York harbour, the seemingly empty vessel is boarded by two patrolmen. One goes downstairs into the boat, discovering the filthy maggot infested living conditions which Fulci delights in showing us, repulsing us, before shocking us with the introduction of the first zombie. A distinctive monstrous corpse erupts from the cabin attacking the inquisitive patrolman before lurching back up the stairs to his colleague, who shooting at the creature knocks him down into the murky sea and indicating the beginning of the end.

The main plot line itself follows Anne Bowles, (Tisa Farrow, sister of Mia) the daughter of the owner of the abandoned boat team up with inquisitive reporter Peter West (played a determined not to be bald, post-Survivors Ian McCulloch) as they seek to discover what happened to Anne’s father and just why his boat was found abandoned.

Their initial investigations point them towards the island of Matool thanks to the help of holiday makers / explorers Brian Hull (Al Cliver – The Beyond) and Susan Barrett (Aureta Gay) via a short trip to sexploitation as Susan decides to go for a naked scuba dive en route, seeing more than she had ever imagined. To say anymore would be ruining this experience for those of you who are yet to see the film, but needless to say it is not one that you would forget even just for the sheer audacity of the shot and it must go down in zombie cinema history as one of the most iconic, something of which this film would have more than entrant. In fact if you haven’t seen the film yet stop reading and watch it now, you won’t regret it and if you do know what I mean what a fantastic scene right?

But back on track, finally reaching Matool, our gang encounter Bowles Snrs. friend, and the island doctor, the strange Dr Menard (Richard Johnson) who, with his hands full asks the group to go further into the island to his home to check on his wife and from here on, our unlikely group of heroes truly begin their adventure into the world of the living dead.

There is so much to recommend about this film, from the iconic shots and brutal violence, to the way in which Fulci shows almost utter disdain for the flesh without a soul, a waste product, simply a conduit for the soul which can be discarded or even corrupted to extremes.

The zombies themselves differ significantly to all that come before them, building on this almost religious aesthetic these zombies show the decay and the corruption manifests itself through their maggot infested, skin peeling rotting bodies (and eye sockets) and although affectionately known as flower-pot zombies, there is nothing cute about these monstrosities, a true credit to the Fx legend that is Gianni De Rossi.

However, do not go into this expecting some sort of existential revelation or theoretical debate set to an analogy of the zombie apocalypse, as this film contains extreme gore, repulsion and outrageous scenes in the vast majority for their own sakes and to entertain purely and simply. No other agenda really existed for Fulci and perhaps even less so for the producers who spotted a gap in the market and went to exploit it much like the film would exploit other taboos and crassly attack the sensibilities.

A true case of everything coming together from the well-crafted and adventure driven script by Sachetti and his wife Elisa Briganti, the glorious score by Frizzi, fantastic make up and effects De Rossi et al. and Fulci’s eye for a creative and memorable shot, all combining to make what some might call the best representation of the zombie genre, eclipsing even that in which it sought to emulate.

Undoubtedly as Jamie Russell argues “much of the credit for Zombi 2‘s success belonged to make-up artist Gianetto De Rossi” who brought a new found level of realism and disgust to the zombie, far away from the general blue face’s that Savini effectively utilised in Dawn of the Dead. The look created by Di Rossi helped match the extreme levels of brutality desired by Fulci and the (arguable) philosophical opinion that the body is a waste product for the soul and that the undead are that, a decaying putrid mass or organic tissue, and really help deliver on the ugly, brutal and direct UK release name Zombie Flesh Eaters.

Despite having done the make up on the highly respected The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue, it wasn’t until his work with Fulci that things began to escalate for Di Rossi who stated to Alan Jones in “Morti Viventi: Zombies Italian-Style (2000) that “nobody took any real notice until my work with Fulci” although Di Rossi goes on to be modest about the style in which his affectionately known flower pot zombies would be formed, claiming he “just smeared clay on whoever’s face was in front of me and, and by accident, it turned out to be the perfect look for the film.”

Made on a reputed budget of less than $500,000 the film exceeded everyone’s expectations to become a worldwide hit and is recorded to have made more than $3 billion dollars (since release), resulting in the entire Italian film industry to take note and kick start the wave of Italian splatter horrors that would come from it.

Although despite its appeal to the fans, many critics did not and still fail to see the appeal with some claiming it “plods along, completely devoid of brains or suspense” (Bill Landis) or simply as “tiresome” as Kim Newman would call it, a genre expert but one whose credibility seems to have started waning in recent years. These objections to Fulci and his films would be something that the filmmaker would encounter on a regular basis regarding his horror output, with many critics seemingly ignorant of the man’s background or more diverse body of work. One might also question if these more well-known critics even care for the zombie genre at all, and therefore judge their comments as ill-informed or perhaps even redundant.

The majority of the money made by the film came from the newly emerging home video market, with the legendary (but now defunct) VIPCO releasing it uncut in the UK, 18 months after it’s Italian release. For obvious reasons it was the first of three Fulci zombie films to be placed on the video nasties register  and numerous cuts of the film exist with thankfully longer and longer versions of the film making its way to market since the early 90s.

The film is still being re-released to this day, with my personal recommendation being the two-disc Blu-ray version released in 2013 by the UK label Arrow Video which is arguably the best version with some fantastic extras.

Avant-garde gore!

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City of the Living Dead
The first of the unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy, saw Fulci embracing surrealism back into his films, was City of the Living Dead, which marked a stark departure from the adventure driven style of Zombie Flesh Eaters, entering what one could argue being more a Lovecraft inspired gothic atmosphere and less coherent style (in fact the films key events even take place in the Lovecraft created fictional town of Dunwich cementing the influence).

In his interview with L’Ecran Fastastique, Fulci even touches upon this stylistic change as he discusses that he had “given up on horror for horror’s sake” and had “wanted to make a nightmare film where horror is ubiquitous, even in apparently innocuous forms.” and it is safe to say that he succeeded in both this and his next two zombie inspired films.

This film stars the fantastic Christopher George (Graduation Day, Pieces) alongside Fulci veteran Catriona / Katriona MacColl (The Beyond, House by the Cemetery) and brief roles for horror stalwart Giovanni Lombardo Radice (Cannibal Apocalypse, The House on the Edge of the Park, Cannibal Ferox) as well as the highly rated future director Michele Soavi (Dellamorte Dellamore, Demons, The Church)

Kicking off in the Lovecraftian town of Dunwich, a priest hangs himself thus opening up the gates of hell into this world. At the same time a medium, Mary Woodhouse, witnesses this horrific event through the spirit world and the sheer terror that overcomes her causes her to die before spilling the beans to anyone. It from here that investigative reporter Peter Bell (Christopher George) takes an interest in the story and upon visiting the grave of Mary realises that not everything is as it seems as Mary wakes up in her coffin, thankfully in shallow grave part dug by a member of the Cannibal Holocaust documentary makers, allowing Peter to use a pickaxe and break his way though, in what MacColl has described one of the most difficult (and terrifying) scenes that she has ever had to do, causing her to disobey Fulci’s instructions to keep her eyes open while a pickaxe comes through the coffin lid right at her. Further crazy requests by the director saw the character Rosie, puke up her innards which in actual fact were real animal entrails which had to be put in her mouth and then vomited out. Thankfully for the actress after a brief while a puppet mouth was used. It is situations like this that helped earn Fulci a reputation for being difficult and demanding with his actors.

Whether it was meant to be serious or not this film is hilarious, fun, and dare I say romp to save the world despite the bleak feeling that runs throughout and is a definite must watch for all Fulci, fans. Even though not a zombie film in either the traditional or Romero sense, and a marked departure as mentioned from Zombie Flesh Eaters, the film shows the way Fulci was heading into more atmospheric and perhaps even esoteric (in terms of meaning) territory where the zombies are the physical manifestations of evil set to a beautiful, foggy and dark gothic atmosphere.

“Well, I don’t believe in the Twilight Zone, so I guess I’ll call the sheriff on this matter” – Gerry is a bit sceptical about the spooky goings on in the film.

In this arguable golden age of Fulci, the director was extremely busy also making the Poe inspired Il Gatto Nero aka The Black Cat (1981) before returning to zombie territory with The Beyond and House by the Cemetery, also in 1981.

TheBeyond

The Beyond
Also known as Seven Doors of Death, in a more bloodless version, this film has, arguably the largest cult following of the three, even saw popular filmmaker Quentin Tarantino arrange a limited cinema re-release in the United States.

However, despite all this, some might say it is the least accessible of Fulci’s zombie output, due the lack of a clear coherent (purposeful) structure leading some critics to bemoan it as uneven, nonsensical or just plain rubbish. However, as explained by Fulci himself in the L’Ecran Fantastique interview this is “an absolute film, with all the horrors of our world. It’s a plot less film. There’s no logic to it, just a succession of images.” As such, in this explained context it is an exceptional movie, filled with iconic images and a dark, bleak atmosphere discussing what is in the beyond and what the meaning of life is, if there is anything at all.

The story begins at the Gateway Hotel in New Orleans, 1927 when an accused warlock tries to tell an angry mob that the hotel is in fact built on top of ‘one of the seven doors of evil’, not falling for this old rouse the mob crucify the man and brick him up in the hotel basement. Quite why they chose to build a basement in the swamplands of New Orleans is anyone’s business, but thankfully the film does not deal with the no doubt tricky paperwork and high insurance premiums that the owners would undoubtedly face for this property.

Fast forward a fair few decades to 1981 and an unexpected inheritance for Liza Merrill (Catriona / Katriona MacColl) when she discovers that she is now the sole proprietor of the hotel and sets about renovating the property….with supernatural and grizzly consequences.  Unsure as to what is happening, Liza befriends a local blind woman, Emily (Cinzia Monreale – The Stendhal Syndrome) and the town doctor John McCabe (David Warbeck – Black Snake, The Black Cat) but while she is busy investigating and socialising the town is being taken over and attacked by mysterious murders and events.

Similar to City of the Living Dead, these are not your usual zombies but rather reserve the plot convenience ability to almost teleport to where their victims are when shambling around doesn’t cut it, and further similarities involve their preference for brutal murder rather than flesh eating although not wanting to break with tradition too much, the old classic bullet to the head will do the trick against these spectral ghouls.

This film causes the viewers to ask a lot of questions both about the film and the topic and as such deserves its cult following, for the more the viewer invests the more they get out and in that respect Fulci has created a thoughtful classic but for the rest of us we can simply sit back and enjoy the gore if we want to.

On its release in the UK, this film received an X rating with 1 minute 39 seconds removed, while further submissions in 1987, 1992 and 2001 saw the film approved with no cuts to the submitted version but had ended up being put on the video nasties list with The House by the Cemetery and Zombie Flesh Eaters, finally being removed in 2001. However the film was not so lucky everywhere managing to get banned in both West Germany and Norway.

Of particular note regarding this film is the claim that the zombies were only added at the request of the films distributors, and this certainly ties in with the interview Fulci gave in the L’Ecran Fantastique where he talks about creating an absolute horror film, yet fails to mention zombies at all. We can only speculate what the film would have come out like had Fulci retained full creative control over the whole process.

Returning briefly to the point of certain critics who criticise the lack of (a strong) story, Fulci would add in the interview that they “have not understood that it’s a film of images, which must be received without any reflection.” and that anyone can understand a basic narrative driven film but The Beyond, and also Argento’s Inferno are absolute films as they contain much more to be interpreted.

house by the cemetery

House by the Cemetery
Allegedly inspired by The Turn of the Screw, this is the last in the unofficial trilogy, this film features perhaps the most iconic zombie of Fulci’s since Zombie Flesh Eaters (the initial fat zombie and old worm face respectively), in the form of the grotesque Dr Freudstein (named as a mix of Dr Freud and Dr Frankenstein).

Kicking it off with the murder of two illicit lovers but an inhuman assailant we quickly discover that there is something sinister in this house and we are not talking about the decor. Cut to New York City, where else, where we discover Norman Boyle (Paolo Malco – Demons 3, The New York Ripper) is to move to the Freudstein house in order to continue the work of his mentor Dr Peterson, who recently passed away. While preparing to move his wife Lucy (Catriona / Katherine MacColl) and son Bob (Giovanni Frezza – A Blade in the Dark), Bob befriends a young girl called Mae who warns him about the old Freudstein place, but unable to convince his parents the family moves in regardless, and once there strange murders and some even stranger dialogue occurs. Can Norman Boyle solve the strange secret that house possesses and can he do it while continuing his research on the gloomy subject of suicide?

Again, this film is not your typical Romero style zombie fare, with Freudstein being the only zombie, and even then not a zombie in the sense that you may be expecting but rather as a man if you will, who uses his victims to help renew his own body’s cells, this killing to survive. Although looking at his skin, he might want to visit a dermatologist as what he is doing clearly isn’t working. It does appear oddly that the Freudstein character itself is an afterthought to the idea of a murderous Doctor in the house as his actions appear sometimes illogical or random (not to mention the numerous plot holes and consistency issues) which is quite odd considering it was written by the dream team of Sachetti, Fulci and also Mariuzzo but thankfully while it raises some questions it does not detract from the enjoyment of the film or the most important part – the violence.

This film certainly has violence, although the initial 1981 version submitted to the BBFC required one minute 26 of cuts in order to receive an X rating, although seven years later in 1988 on its first video release further cuts were made and later four minutes and 11 seconds were required to be removed in order to secure an 18 certificate, and you can imagine that relates a lot of imagery. Although that appeared to not be enough for Mary Whitehouse et al. and the film eventually, along with The Beyond and Zombie Flesh Eaters ended up on the banned video nasties list, which it was removed from in 2001 suffering only 33 seconds of cuts. But spare a thought for the poor Norwegians who saw the film banned outright from the off.

Back to my earlier reference of plot holes and continuity, according to Fulci this was intentional as the film was supposed to be without structure or traditional narrative or plot but rather a series of images and themes, and also potentially homage’s as in one scene Mae while rescuing Bob quotes from Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, and also circumstantial there are too many references and coincidences in Fulci’s work to doubt his intentions and talent regarding structure and technical knowledge.

Overall thoughts on this film appear mixed, from a beautiful poetic and atmospheric piece of work, in fact Catriona / Katherine MacColl used similar words when describing the lasting popularity of Fulci in a 2009 interview with Callum Waddell,  with Fulci shunning traditional film making narrative discussing childhood and mortality to a disjointed, poorly constructed mess serving up only graphic violence and contempt for the general paying public, both opinions can be valid and both are subjective to the viewer’s own tastes and perhaps knowledge of cinema and Fulci himself.

Myself, I lean (obviously) more to the former idea with the hidden depths covered by the brutal and sensationalist violent overtones in the movie, meaning that you need to pay attention and read between the lines regarding the film to get the most out of it, but that as a horror fan you can also sit back with a beer and enjoy the most absurd elements as well. Fulci wasn’t making fine art, he wasn’t making a film to change the world but simply to scare you, to make you think and have a different perspective.

Although, in the issue of objectivity the screen writing could have been informed as the usual red-herrings Fulci peppers his films with here are more whale sized, such as when did the good researcher visit the town before with his daughter (admittedly if they heard Bob speak they could have confused him for a her) and does that indicate Mae was his daughter? This element is left, like so many others unexplained but is that a sign of laziness or an experiment in misdirection gone too far?

There is a lot to recommend about this film but equally it might not be the best starting point for someone new to the genre or Lucio Fulci himself. It is worth a watch but perhaps go in chronological order during your own personal Fulci film fest.

A tale of two cities

All of Fulci’s unofficial trilogy was shot on location in the United States (often without a film permit) with the majority of interiors being shot in Rome and this certainly helps explain the short period between the three films but also helps set the tone as the viewer can actually believe the action is taking place in these cities or towns as opposed to trying to find a European city to fill in.

Cashing in on past glory

Zombie_Flesh_Eaters_2

Zombi 3 (1988)
Post-Sachetti,Fulci’s career seemed to tail off and thankfully this relates (partly) to only one zombie film, Zombi 3 (1988), not to be confused with Zombi 3: Da dove vieni? (1974) which is in actual fact Let Sleeping Corpses Lie / The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue simply repackaged. Just to add to the plethora of titles, in the UK this was released more sensibly under the name Zombie Flesh Eaters 2.

Made approximately nine years after Zombi 2 / Zombie Flesh Eaters the film, set in the Philippines’ is largely forgettable and in true Italian style a mere cash-in, but this time without the script or cast quality of Zombi.

Although this film should only partly be included in a Fucli biography as he is thought to have directed only around 60% of it before Bruno Mattei (although uncredited) came in to add some scenes and finish the movie after its run time, and quality fell woefully short. To be fair to old Lucio though, he was meant to have been extremely sick during the filming and when looked at in context of his declining health overall it is a surprise that he agreed to make the film at all, and so it is no wonder that he couldn’t make the best of a bad situation…or more specifically script and resources.

Although in later interviews, Fulci disputed that he was ill rather stating that the only thing he was sick of was its producers, before disowning the film and as we now know, refusing to continue working after submitting just 70 minutes of footage, instead of the 100 requested. It was at this point that fellow journeyman Bruno Mattei stepped in to finish the movie, reducing Fulci’s shot 70 minutes down to 50 and shooting additional scenes and a secondary story.

Rumour is that this film was originally scheduled to be shot in 3D although these dreams were cut short due to financial and technical restrictions, hardly surprising really but since when has the Italian film industry been logical.

What of the film itself? The film sees a group of government scientists experimenting with a chemical, which causes the exposed person to become a flesh craving murderer…and it even works on the already dead.  With armageddon quickly approaching a team of GIs join up with some random couples to battle zombies and zombie birds(!) with a side plot of the at-odds military and scientists’

A patch job in the truest sense of the word, born of greed and opportunism the film manages to steal wholeheartedly elements from other more successful films but lacks the charm or quality of its peers, and unsurprisingly lacks any real form of consistency and as such can only be recommended for die-hard Fulci fans looking to explore everything the man has done.

the beyond

Catriona MacColl – A woman with many names

Apparently “Catriona was required to change her name to Katherine” for the films with Fulci as “according to her, ‘words ending in “ona” in Italian apparently mean ‘rather large and over the top,” so basically Catriona, in Italian, means “large Katherine.” (pp38, Zombiemania).

Summary

As with much of Italian cinema and horror in particular, you cannot get away from the prevalent religious aspects, and in the case of Fulci one could argue that the zombies represent the body without the soul, in all its rotting glory, and launch what one could construe as a justification on the Christian belief of the body being merely a conduit for the soul, which when separated is nothing but putrefying meat susceptible to the whims of evil and decay.

It’s clear in the often, ignorant, criticisms of many of his films, that some people simply do not get his philosophy or ethos or quite frankly do not want to get them, ignoring what Fulci may do in one set up or shot and praising a similar idea or shot by a different, more mainstream peer, one only has to look at the end of The Beyond which shocking at the time, the concept has been utilised in a few mainstream released films since. Although, even the most die-hard Fulci fan would have to admit, then for whatever reasons (illness, lack of interest), the quality of Lucio Fulci’s work, like many of his Italian contemporaries significantly dropped towards the end of his career but his zombie output (bar Zombi 3) remains as strong as ever and as relevant.

Remember however, the themes and execution differs significantly between the brighter shot (but still very bleak) Zombi 2 / Zombie Flesh Eaters and the gates of hell trilogy and they should not be compared directly, and in fact it is hard to compare the unofficial trilogy to many other zombie films at all which is what helps make them stand out and sit apart from the vast majority of the genre.

So there you have it, an introduction to the zombie films of Fulci. So now, you can feel confident and controversial down the pub when you suggest that Fulci is better than Romero. After all, he has made two genuine zombie cult classics (Zombie Flesh Eaters and The Beyond) and has managed to use that magic outside of the zombie genre (Don’t Torture A Duckling, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, New York Ripper) and beyond.

To paraphrase one of our favourite directors, violence is certainly an Italian art and one in which I believe Fulci is one of the best artists to have graced the genre but the best way to understand the power of Lucio Fulci’s films is to, quite simply, experience them for yourself, and while you may have seen one here or one there, to get a feel for the mans talents you really must watch as many as possible (including his non-zombie releases) and you will begin to spot trademark action, innovative shot composition and of course, all those infamous shots which I have avoided mentioning in this article.

I will leave it with a quote from Di Rossi on Fulci which sums up both the man and his films “Very cultured and artistic on one side, a sleazy bum on the other”.

Oh and if you are looking for a Fulci inspired game, play spot the Lucio. Similar to Hitchcock, the man had a habit of turning up briefly in his films, but can you recognise him every time? Alternatively count how many ocular mutilations the man can fit into one career. You would be surprised.

Recommended reading

Book of the Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema (2005), J.Russell, FAB press, Surrey.

Zombiemania: 80 Movies to Die For (2006), Dr. A.T. Blumberg; & A. Hershberger, Telos Publishing Ltd, Surrey.

Beyond Terror: Films of Lucio Fulci(1999), S.E. Thrower, FAB Press, Surrey

 

This piece was originally featured on the zombipedia.com blog site which has now been incorporated into the Gore Splattered Corner, bringing its undead goodness to a wider audience.

 

 

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Categories: 70's horror, 80's horror, Articles, Zombie

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