Greetings, my fellow mutants and maniacs. If you’re like me you hear voices in your head all the time telling you to dress stray dogs up as famous comedy teams of the silver screen and write love letters to the Hamburglar. Also, you love all, most, or some of the great genre films to emerge from Italy over the past six decades. Bertolucci, De Sica, Fellini? Nice guys I’m sure, and capable of making fine films that more often than not lull me safely into the magical land of Oedipal dreams. Just kidding….or am I? When I think of the best the Italian cinema has to offer I think of fountains of brightened gore, offensive gender politics, gunshots that rip flesh from bone, morally dubious heroes, and children with five o’clock shadow. The great shit.
Submitted for your approval are fourteen behind-the-scenes photos from some of the best Italian horror, crime, sci-fi, and western films ever made.
Let’s start off with a trio of pics from the making of Lucio Fulci‘s supernatural zombie masterpiece The Beyond. Here we have Cinzia Monreale, who played the mysterious blind woman Emily (under the Anglicized pseudonym “Sarah Keller”), taking a cigarette break while the German Shepherd who played her on-screen guide dog Dickie minds his own business. Still, better watch that dog closely.
In this pic Fulci and his crew set up a shot on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in southern Louisiana, the world’s longest bridge to run continuously over water.
Here’s a shot of Fulci and company filming a scene in New Orleans’ French Quarter.
Ruggero Deodato‘s classic gut-muncher Cannibal Holocaust contains some of the most unpleasant scenes ever put to film. One featured a woman from a tribe of Amazonian primitives being raped with a sharpened rock as punishment for adultery and then murdered. It’s pretty rough to watch, but judging by this picture it couldn’t have been too difficult to film (at least for the crew – the actress forced to spend her screen time laying in mud, maybe not so much).
Memorably released to U.S. drive-in and grindhouse theaters under the title Make Them Die Slowly, Cannibal Ferox was director Umberto Lenzi‘s (Nightmare City) attempt to capitalize, and perhaps improve upon, the international success of Deodato’s groundbreaking Holocaust. It has more than its share of gruesome set-pieces, some of which were a source of contention between Lenzi and male lead Giovanni Lombardo Radice. At least in this pic the two collaborators were in good spirits during filming. Radice would eventually disown his part in Ferox though he did reunite with Lenzi to record an audio commentary for the laserdisc and DVD releases of the film more than fifteen years after it was originally released.
The lovely Zora Kerova, a veteran of Italian exploitation cinema with credits including Joe D’Amato’s Anthropophagus (released in the U.S. as The Grim Reaper) and Fulci’s The New York Ripper, suffered the most agonizing death scene of all the characters in Ferox. In this respect Deodato’s film couldn’t come close to topping what Ferox appallingly wrought. Here Kerova gets prepared for her big scene.
A post on Italian horror and exploitation is naked without at least one mention of Dario Argento. In this shot the legendary lunatic of garlic-flavored gory giallos sets up one of the bravura death scenes in his colorful chiller classic Suspiria.
Fernando Di Leo, the master of the brutal Italian crime epic, directs Woody Strode for a scene in The Italian Connection.
Ruggero Deodato returns, this time posing with modern horror icon Michael Berryman on the set of his mainstreamed 1985 jungle cannibal actioner Cut and Run.
Just for fun here’s one of the more gruesome moments in the uncut Cut.
If you look closely you can see the quick and painful death of what remained of Willie Aames‘ soul. And thus that day was born….Bibleman!
Mario Bava directs the eternally gorgeous Barbara Steele in his 1960 breakthrough Gothic chiller Black Sunday.
Depending on the day and the mood I’m in, I tend to prefer Luigi Cozzi‘s fast, cheap, and childishly offbeat Star Wars rip-off Star Crash to the real deal. If you’ve never seen it I welcome you to check out my EuroCultAV article The Ten Reasons Why Luigi Cozzi’s Star Crash Is Infinitely Better Than The Original Star Wars and then order either the top shelf Blu-ray or DVD editions currently available from Shout! Factory.
For your perusing pleasure I present three behind-the-scenes stills from the making of Star Crash. In the first Cozzi gives direction to stars Marjoe Gortner, Caroline Munro, and Judd Hamilton.
Munro (far right in here barely there heroine’s costume) prepares to film a first act action scene.
Finally we have a shot of Cozzi on set with character acting demigod Joe Spinell, cast wisely as the film’s over-the-top camp villain Zarth Arn.
To close things out we have a picture taken during the production of a film that can’t exactly be classified as exploitation but was made by a master of Italian cinema and deserves a bit more attention. Sergio Leone (center) commiserates with stars Rod Steiger (left) and James Coburn (right) on the set of his final spaghetti western, 1971’s Duck, You Sucker (a.k.a. A Fistful of Dynamite). Leone’s long-maligned farewell to the genre he helped revive and redefine for countless generations of western lovers was recently released on Blu-ray. I highly recommend that disc.
Addio per ora, cari amici.