Friday, June 17, 2022

Junesploitation 2022 Day 17: Fulci!


  1. '

    A CAT IN THE BRAIN (1990, TUBI, 93 min.) for the first time.

    My personal rule that the smaller the role and lesser screen time Lucio Fulci gives himself in his own movies the better his film is (with "House By the Cemetery" as the ideal with a brief, throwaway scene) gets severely tested by this self-aware tale in which maestro Fulci is the main protagonist of his own twisted cinematic fantasy. Essentially playing the version of himself that Fulci imagines most fans of his movies would have of him, "Dr. Lucio Fulci" has an existential crisis about his inability to keep the horrible imagery he conjures for his movies outside of his daily life. A visit to a shrink with marital problems (David L. Thompson) complicates things since the guy turns out to be a serial murderer that uses hypnosis to trick Fulci into thinking he's committing murders Professor Schwarz is responsible for.'

    Maybe if Fulci had been allowed to use clips from his better known work (a "Zombie" or "The Beyond"-caliber work) the constant recycling of death scenes from other Italian horror movies of the era (many that Fulci didn't even direct) could have been perceived as a work of an auteur reflecting on his own work. As it stands it feels like a desperate low-budget work by a struggling filmmaker that's run dry on new ideas. Hell, in the reality within the movie (and before the hypnosis) Fulci attacks a camera crew and the female journalist thanks him for the "thrill" of his aggression. WHAT THE HELL??!! :-O It'd be a one star film if it was anyone else, but Fulci has screen presence (even dubbed in all languages) and the gore of the chosen clips feels so off-the-scale weird (particularly the little kid that gets beheaded by a chainsaw... over and over again!) to be worth a look by fans of the maestro. Not the Fulci I'd use to introduce the man's work to newcomers, but a satisfying deep cut if you've already seen his better films. 3 AXED CANS OF RED PAINT (out of 5).

    THE BEYOND (1982, Blu-ray, 90 min.).

    Felt lazy, so pulled out my first Fulci for comfort viewing. Saw "The Beyond" for the first time in 35mm back in 1997 at a packed theatrical screening in New York during Quentin Tarantino's Rolling Thunder revival. To say the movie (and the audience's insane over-the-top reaction that night, which I'll never forget) blew my mind isn't an exaggeration. It opened my eyes to what Italian horror was, and I've been chasing the dragon ever since via early Anchor Bay DVD releases (remember when AB was the Scream! Factory of the early home video revolution?) and repertory theatrical screenings. You never forget your first, and despite looking sharp on 1080p my soul will remain restless until "The Beyond" gets a proper (and affordable) 4K home video restoration to come close to matching my '97 35mm memories. Fingers crossed. :-D


  2. The Senator Likes Women… Despite Appearances and Provided the Nation Doesn’t Know (1972)

    As you watch the films of Lucio Fulci, it’s important to realize that made comedies, peplum and westerns long before he became known as the Godfather of Gore. Even his first forays into giallo, both before Argento (Perversion Story) and after (A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Don’t Torture a Duckling) may have bursts of violence and disquieting bloodshed, but Fulci was primarily a journeyman when Enzo G. Castellari dropped out of directing Zombi and Fulci stepped in.

    An example of commedia sexy all’italiana, or sex comedy Italian style, this film remembers to include the requisite nudity and sexual situations while keeping the social criticism front and center, unlike other films in this subgenre of commedia all’italiana. Sure, so many of those movies are about the rich, but this film takes aim at those in power and how they still have very basic sexual lusts. Or, in the instance of this film’s lead, Senator Gianni Puppis (Lando Buzzanca, who was in a lot of movies much the same as this), abundant and near-insane levels of libido-enraged fervor.

    Puppis is next in line to be President of the Senate, yet he starts the film by grasping the rear end of the female president of the Republic of Urania. No one notices, as they were inside a huge crowd, but he’s devastated by the fact that he can’t control his need to touch her.

    Someone did notice. Father Lucian (Renzo Palmer) somehow gets photographic evidence and begins to blackmail Puppis, yet he refuses to pay as there’s no way that he could have done this. And then, that night, he dreams of a nude woman (Eva Czamerys, who between this, Our Lady of Lust and The Weapon, the Hour, the Motive had to have really upset the Roman Catholic church) beckoning him from the circular plaza of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican.

    But wait — isn’t Puppis gay — an editor at a TV station confirms this — and dating his personal chauffeur Carmelino (Aldo Puglisi)? Then why is he blacking out and getting back to reality just in time to learn that he has his hands on a keister?

    After paying off Father Lucian, Puppis is sent to a German psychologist and a spiritual retreat that will keep his Roman hands away from the culo of the assembled ladies who not vote for him if they know what’s going on inside his head. After an encounter where Puppis rubs the bahootie of a Scottish man in a kilt, he gets so drunk that he must be waited on at the monastery by a series of nurses who are nuns, which trust me as an Italian male is the absolute double whammy of fantasy.

    Meanwhile, the other senators are trying to learn just where Puppis has gone off to and the Italian Army is planning a coup because the Days of Lead don’t stop for sex comedies. The Senate is bugging Puppis, but the army is bugging the senate and a secret Vatican cabal — the Masonic P2? — led by Cardinal Maravigili (Lionel Stander) — is bugging everyone.

  3. If you're struggling for a Fulci film to watch...

    Top 10 Fulci films:

    My Letterboxd list of every movie he directed:

  4. Contraband (1980, dir. El Maestro)

    I think Fulci saw The Godfather and said hold my beer, I'm going to make a movie like The Godfather, but remove all the parts that aren't gangland slayings. This movie basically depicts a mob war with non-stop shockingly violent and horrifically graphic killings as only Fulci can do. Sooo.. it was great! Highly Recommended.

  5. DEMONIA (1990)
    In olden times, a bunch of nuns are executed on charges of witchcraft. In the present, a psychic archeology student (!) finds their tomb and opens it, and now there's supernatural weirdness afoot. I felt that Fulci was firing on all cylinders on this one. We've got ghostly hauntings and brutal kills, all being committed by naughty nuns. Fulci himself appears on screen as a detective, and that was fun to see. Cool horror movie! Add it to your #ScaryMovieMonth list.

    Bonus Lloyd Kaufman-sploitation, day 17: CITIZEN TOXIE: THE TOXIC AVENGER PART IV (2000)
    Toxie travels to an alternate universe Tromaville and eventually battles his evil double. Something something Multiverse of Madness something. The opening scene is very extreme, making a statement that this movie doesn't care who it offends. There's a mean-spirited to this one not found in Kaufman's other films. Instead of a sense of playfulness to it all, this movie uses the violence and gore and whatnot to angrily shake a fist at everything wrong with the world. Rather than laughing along with the movie, I felt beaten down by it.

  6. The Strange Type (1963 – Lucio Fulci)
    Before Lucio Fulci made westerns and horror movies, he was the director of several comedy acts known in Italy. This movie is more than that – it stars not only a comedian, but with Adriano Celentano a star, who has brought Rock’n’roll to Italy, probably Italy’s Elvis. Here, he is more Italy’s own Jerry Lewis, with playing himself and an impersonator at the same time, showing off some silly faces, fooling around as a simpleton. The story itself lightly flows through the movie, there are a lot of juvenile jokes, but in general I had a fun time watching this.

  7. The Beyond (1981)

    Courtesy of Junesploitation, my first Fulci! And it didn't disappoint.

  8. White Fang (1973, dir. Lucio Fulci)

    I had watched several versions of the White Fang/Call of the Wild adaptations earlier this year, so my ears perked up when Patrick mentioned on the podcast that he had done a White Fang movie. It wasn’t available on streaming anywhere, but an decent enough version is on Youtube.

    It’s interesting to see the differences and similarities between all these versions. A family flick isn’t what immediately comes to mind with Fulci, but it’s well directed albeit with less violence. There was one scene in particular, with 3 people in a room with a couple mirrors, and the camera was moving between the people and seeing them from another angle through the mirrors. And kept going back and forth through the scene as they moved about the room talking, with the camera and people constantly changing positions. It was pretty good. All in all, great movie, but not one of the better versions of the story.

    I’m going to take a second to point out that the Harrison Ford “Call of the Wild” movie that came out a couple years ago is really good! I know, I know, the dog is all cgi, but for an enjoyable family movie you could do a lot worse.

  9. The House by the Cemetery (1981)

    Creepy old New England house with a creepy basement door and perfectly normal grave in the hallway, creepy little ghost girl with her creepy china doll, creepy babysitter who used to be an even creepier self-decapitating mannequin, creepy kid actor dubbed with the most annoying voice in the world, and gallons upon gallons of blood gushing from countless puncture wounds. It's Fulci Day!

    Also, I don't think I would go make out with a date in an abandoned murder house covered with decades-old cobwebs that's standing in the middle of a dilapidated graveyard, but maybe that's just me.

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  11. Thought a day dedicated to one of my favorite directors would be a good chance to revisit a couple movies I saw before I really “got” Fulci at all:

    Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972) dir. Lucio Fulci

    Maybe the first Fulci I saw after Zombie, and a circuitous entry to his oeuvre: I went to the video store looking for a crazy slasher the buddy who showed me Zombie told me about, by the same guy, where the killer talks like a duck. I didn’t remember the name he gave me, but surely it has to be the one with “Duckling” in the title, right? Obviously this wasn’t the gnarly bodycount flick I expected, and I can’t say I was entirely ready for the emotional gut-punch I got instead, but I knew enough to get me intrigued for more of the Directors work. I always figured I’d revisit it, though I didn’t think it’d take near me a couple decades, but I’m pretty glad I waited- there was a ton here I really appreciated on this watch that I’m not so sure I would have appreciated without a lot more fluency in both Fulci’s body of work, and without a fuller understanding of the Giallo and folk horror genres Duckling straddles. I love in Fulci’s giallo work especially how hard it is to tell if he is emphasizing information that’s going to come back, or just because it’s one of his idiosyncratic stylistic choices- I feel like that might drive me kind of crazy with a lesser director, which is a big reason I feel like Fulci rewards rewatches and seeing a wide breadth of his catalog- his movies are at their best when you approach them with a fair amount of trust.

    Four of the Apocalypse (1975) dir. Lucio Fulci

    This wasn’t quite the bait and switch of renting Don’t Torture a Duckling expecting New York Ripper- I knew this was a western, and expected a departure from his horror… if anything the biggest surprise was that it wasn’t that much of a departure after all- I don’t think I’d seen a western at this point with this level of brutality. Watching it now, I really appreciated seeing how much Fulci approached the genre this time with plenty of his more vicious instincts, but still kept in a fair amount of classic Western sentimentality, despite the unusual contrast it creates.

  12. BEATRICE CENCI (1969)
    88 FILMS BluRay
    CONTRABAND (1980)

  13. A Cat in the Brain (1990)

    Fulci plays...Fulci, a horror film director whose reality is starting to blend with his movies. Add in an evil psychiatrist and let the murder begin!

    Definitely trippy. I liked it but I think I would have liked it a lot more if I was more familiar with his work.

    1. Yep, this is not beginner-level Fulci. This is deep-cut, seen-the-better-work-and-I-want-to-explore-outliers Fulci for the hardcore fan.

    2. Hahaha for sure! I have seen The Beyond, House by the Cemetery, and City of the Living Dead, so it wasn't totally unprepared, but do want to watch more!

  14. The Devil's Honey (1986)

    My review didn't post the other day. This movie rips!

  15. DEMONIA (1990)

    The spirit of a crucified nun takes revenge on a Sicilian town where she was killed centuries ago. The reduced budget of the film is evident, yet it does still have the Fulci touch. There are moments that work well, and, as usual with Italian horror, there are moments that do not make sense. The dull murder investigation sections greatly reduced my enjoyment of Demonia, particularly since they come toward the conclusion. I give it credit for it feeling like a Fulci film, which is not the case for his final film, Voices From Beyond. That could have been directed by anyone.