How Lucio Fulci’s Horror Films Turn the Utterly Disgusting Into High Art

In general, one could say the father, the son and the holy spirit of Italian giallo cinema Dario Argento, Mario Bavaand Lucio Fulci. Of course, there are many other brilliant giallo filmmakers we could write about here, but it’s often repeated that these three geniuses above are usually considered the unofficial custodians of this gory and beloved subgenre. Certainly anyone who wants to continue their education Giallo 101 could do worse than start with these filmmakers.

Argento is considered by many to be the most artistic of the group: images like the Immortal suspiracy and the skin crawling deep red They’re certainly not lacking in shocks, but they’re also deceptively intelligent, cruelly funny art films whose sophistication is sometimes betrayed by their sleazy exterior (it’s no wonder Argento has been influential in the episode, collaborating in some cases with the likes of button-pushing provocateurs like the euro extremity Kaspar No and Nicolas Winding Item no). Bava, on the other hand, likes kitsch and camp: he likes B-movie classics blood and black lace, black sabbath, and Planet of the Vampires take on a sort of spooky, retro, lava lamp-accented visual signature, and the director’s propensity for malice, while obviously a factor in his artistic toolbox, ultimately deviates a little from the far more malevolent Mr. Argento.


How is Fulci’s work different?

So Fulci is the unrepentant gorehound of the Giallo triumvirate. Here’s a man who never had a damn practical impact he didn’t adore, and a true artist making his way through a career that has slashed, down to earth drama, sex comedy, spaghetti western, haunted house cooler, poliziotteschi (sleazy Italian robber-and-robber thrillers) and of course Giallos. That principle is, “How much twisted madness can I get away with this time?”

RELATED: 7 Great Giallo Movies You Can Stream Right Now, From ‘Deep Red’ to ‘A Bay of Blood’

Fulci’s films would easily be dismissed as rubbish if they weren’t so exceptionally well done. There is an almost perverse sense of contrast between the sophisticated, supremely self-aware nature of Fulci’s writing and the unholy, blasphemous, sometimes gag-inducing imagery he brings to screen. Fulci treated horror films in essentially the same way Bobby and Peter Farrelly used to handle gross comedy gags when directing movies like Dumb and Dumber or There’s something about Mary: That said, Fulci delights in the dingy, face-popping details of his work, like watching a small army of spiders rip a man’s flesh right from his bones in a 1981 Southern Gothic-inspired film That Furthermoreor just taking his sweet time watching a young woman get a sharp object stabbed right through her eye socket in the cult classic starring tropical undead zombie (which you may have seen under one of the following titles: zombies 2, nightmare islandor Zombie carnivore).

Fulci’s way into filmmaking

Lucio Fulci was born in Rome in 1927. On the cinematic front, he got his first sea legs by making a series of short documentaries in the late 1940s before directing his first official feature film. I Ladrior The thieves, in 1959. The crime comedy bears little of the stylistic traits that would define Fulci’s later, more grotesque and, it must be said, widely respected work. What we know today as the in-house Lucio Fulci style was developed through early efforts such as A lizard in a woman’s skina particularly nightmarish 70’s giallo and the haunting one Torture no ducklingthe tale of a small village rocked by a string of child murders, ending with a seemingly never-ending, accidentally hilarious shot of a priest falling to his death off a cliff.

Fulci continued to experiment through the 1970s

Fulci continued to experiment in the 1970s, and by the 1973s he was delving into the respective mythologies of White Fang and Dracula White Fang and Dracula in the provincesbefore taking on subtler, soulful psychological thrillers like the drastically underrated 1977 The psyche. In the midst of all this, he still somehow manages to direct the odd sex comedy here and there My sister in law. Giallo and silly sex comedies: without these two subgenres, there is no Italian cinema of the 70s. zombie seemed to mark a transition point in Fulci’s career: Here was a blood-soaked zombie allegory with no pretense of socio-political relevance, with the violent extremity cranked up to 1,000, plus a zombie-vs-shark fight thrown into the mix as an encore was thrown . 1981 is great City of the Living Deadabout a priest who unwittingly opens a portal to hell from which the undead can roam the earth and torment the living was a continuation of the gruesome style established in zombie. Ditto for Beyondthis might be the Lucio Fulci film/cinema gateway drug we recommend to someone who hasn’t yet taken the full plunge into man’s filmography.

The films Fulci was making as he transitioned into the 1980s — we’re thinking of his sleepy, menacing version of Poes The black cat, and the deeply creepy haunted house flick, The house at the graveyardnearly are considered subtle, at least by this director’s standards. But then how do you explain the spectacularly skeezy likes of something like 1982 The New York Ripper, an almost aggressively barbaric serial killer slasher about a deranged killer who taunts the authorities by calling his local police station and quacking like a duck? Or how about 1986 The Devil’s Honeya film deemed illegal even by the standards of the man it’s in competition with Herschel Gordon Lewis for the most uncompromising horror writer of all time?

What makes Fulci’s cinema brand unique?

What makes Lucio Fulci’s uniquely sick cinema such a delight is the very same element that makes his work comparable to that of Argento and Bava in the Italian cinema cannon: nobody, and we mean nobody, makes films like this guy. Fulci’s horror films make the works of American directors from the same period seem timid. For Fulci, the art of disgusting an audience is just that: an art in itself. If you’re grooving in the films of Bava and Argento in time for scary season, chances are you’ll appreciate a lot about the work of Lucio Fulci.

Many of Fulci’s best films are currently streaming on Shudder, with a few more – Manhattan baby, demon, aenigmatic — is set to drop later this month. So if you find Dario Argento’s work too understated, turn down the lights, crank up Fulci and party with the undead spirits that haunt your home. We promise you, there are worse ways to relax this Halloween. How Lucio Fulci’s Horror Films Turn the Utterly Disgusting Into High Art

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