Friday, June 17, 2022

5 Movies for Fulci Day

by Anthony King
Including Fulci versions of Beetlejuice and Don’t Breathe.

1. They Died With Their Boots On (1978)
Although El Maestro has made a handful of Westerns (Four of the Apocalypse being the most well-known), I hadn’t seen a Fulci Western until this one. And this is not a remake of the Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland film of the same name from 1941. Here in the United States, this is known as Silver Saddle, due to our protagonist’s, well, silver saddle. With a terrific homage to the final shootout in Rio Bravo, a kid named “Pee in the Pants,” and Geoffrey Lewis as drunk and weird as ever, TDWTBO would make a perfect double feature with Clint Eastwood’s A Perfect World. The film follows Roy Blood, a bounty hunter out for revenge as he seeks the man who killed his parents. Along the way he picks up a young boy from a wealthy family who thinks Roy has kidnapped him. Roy and his unlikely band of misfits travel the rocky countryside seeking vengeance. (Currently streaming on Tubi)

2. Contraband (1980)
Primarily known for his horror work, Fulci has dabbled in just about every genre you could think of. Of course, all his films, whether it’s a straight drama, comedy, western, or science fiction, includes an unmistakable Fulci “touch.” And that usually means graphic violence, which seems a perfect fit in a crime film. Having just received a deluxe Blu-ray treatment from Cauldron Films, I suspect this may pull in a few new members to the Contraband cult, of which I am a part. Starring sex incarnate Fabio Testi, the film tells the story of rival smugglers in Naples going head-to-head while also dealing with crooked cops. A great, middle entry into the “Years of Lead” film canon, you’ll get zero argument from me when someone says this is their favorite Fulci. (Currently streaming on Tubi)

3. The Sweet House of Horrors (1989)
Lucio Fulci has made a horror movie you could watch for a family movie night. With a couple very graphic, very Fulci kills, this is like Beetlejuice without the eponymous character. If you’re a daring (bad?) parent like me, you might have a conversation that starts like this: “See, this is obviously fake. When he bashes that candlestick into her forehead and her eyes pop out, that’s actually really great makeup effects. Wait… why are you crying?” A couple is murdered in their home at the beginning of the film. Their kids are adopted by the wife’s sister and her husband who move into the house and start to suspect something eerie is going on. The children soon realize they can communicate with their deceased parents, and we end up with a Lydia Deetz-Adam and Barbara Maitland situation. (Find it on YouTube)

4. The House of Clocks (1989)
In the late '80s, producer/writer/director Luciano Martino (brother of Sergio) developed an anthology television series called La case maledette (“The House of Doom”) that would be comprised of six films centered around houses and their spooky macabre goings on. Initially the lineup of directors included, Fulci, Umberto Lenzi, and Lamberto Bava. Eventually Bava backed out due to commitment issues and Fulci asked to rewrite/restructure his two stories. Those two stories were The House of Clocks and The Sweet House of Horrors. All four films were shelved until the '90s and didn’t come out in the U.S. until the 2000s. While Sweet is more “kid friendly,” Clocks is a little slower and “big brain” (dealing in bigger ideas, no spoilers here). A trio of thieves invade the home of a Farmer Vincent-type older man and his wife just after they have murdered their son and daughter-in-law. We then add into our Movie Stew™ that has the base of Motel Hell a heavy dose of Don’t Breathe, wherein our crooks are now trapped in a house with a couple psychos. Things start to get very strange as is the case in many a Fulci, and by the time we get to the end we’re left scratching our heads, wondering what the hell actually just happened. (Find it on YouTube)

5. Demonia (1990)
According to Letterboxd, this is the most popular Fulci film on this humble list. Demonia has all the Fulci hallmarks: eye trauma, archeological dig, religious overtones, and men not believing women when they say they’re in trouble. A young woman accompanies her former professor on a dig in Sicily. She’s been having strange visions and feels an odd connection to the site. The locals seem hellbent on doing anything to protect the secrets buried there. While this is probably my least favorite of El Maestro’s filmography, it’s always fun to discover new Fulci, and my least favorite Fulci is still better than the best giallo (*runs away).


  1. That review of Four of the Apocalypse was something else. I read half of it assuming Patrick wrote it, and was thinking "Wow, he's really done a 180 on Fulci since then".

    Contraband looks like it would be a good one! I've already watched a Fulci, but maybe I'll have time later today for a 2nd movie. Matt Sollenberger's mini-review on the Day-17 thread is encouraging too.

  2. I watched Demonia this morning and really liked it. It felt like Fulci had freedom to be as weird as he wanted. It seems opinions are mixed on the movie, but mixed-reviewed movies are sometimes the most interesting ones.

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