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Italian horror

Film directors and screenwriters: Dario Argento - Mario Bava - Lucio Fulci - Ernesto Gastaldi - Antonio Margheriti

Related: Amarcord magazine - giallo - Italian film - Italian exploitation - European horror - nunsploitation - Barbara Steele

Bibliography: Immoral Tales: Sex And Horror Cinema In Europe 1956-1984 (1994) (about European horror film in general, Italy is well represented)

Films: I Vampiri (1957) - Black Sunday (1960) - The Whip and The Body (1963) - Castle of Blood/La Danza Macabra (1964)

Barbara Steele in The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962)

Maschera del demonio, La/Black Sunday (1960) - Mario Bava [Amazon.com]

Italian horror cinema

The Italian horror film industry started in the late 1950s with the works of Riccardo Freda and Polselli, the 1960s saw the rise of Mario Bava, the 1970s introduced Dario Argento and the 1980s Lucio Fulci. One constant element has been the screenwriting of Ernesto Gastaldi. [Aug 2005]

One of the earliest and still best articles on the web on this genre of cinema was Gary Johnson's piece in Images Journal:

From 1960 through 1966, Italy would create some of the finest, most atmospheric horror films ever made.

The Italian gothic horror cinema of the '60s was hypnotically beautiful. Luminous fogs rolled through graveyards. Elegant tracking shots pulled us down musty subterranean passages. Crypt doors exploded and witches were burned at the stake while they swore vengeance. With a rich, baroque visual style that recalled silent cinema, Italian gothic horror spoke of repressed desires and ominous dark powers that lurked in the shadows.

The golden-age of Italian horror began in 1957 with Riccardo Freda's I Vampiri (American title: The Devil's Commandment). This marvelously photographed tale of rejuvenation by blood transfusions took its story from the legend of Elizabeth Bathory, who as legend has it, preserved her beauty by bathing in the blood of virgins. Most significantly, however, I Vampiri was the first movie to give us the monster-woman character, a frequently reoccurring (and crucial) ingredient of the Italian horror cinema--borne of the culture's paradoxical attitude toward female sexuality, which combined equal parts of love and fear.

After a world-wide lull in horror filmmaking since the mid-forties, I Vampiri signaled the approach of a new storm of horror filmmaking that would even surpass the days of Frankenstein and Dracula at Universal in the 1930s.

But the immediate impact of I Vampiri remained relatively insignificant. As much as the movie is respected and considered one of the classics of Italian horror cinema, few Italian horror movies immediately followed in its wake. In a parallel development in England, Hammer Studios was busy with their own interpretation of a different legend--a remake of Frankenstein, starring Peter Cushing as the doctor and Christopher Lee as the creature. The immediate success of the Hammer productions of The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula (American title: Horror of Dracula) signaled to filmmakers around the world the power of the old iconic monsters of Universal's reign--especially in full color versions with increased gore.

--Gary Johnson sourced from http://www.imagesjournal.com/issue05/infocus.htm [2004]

Italian Horror at Greencine

Italian horror films are incredibly gory and can be mean-spirited. Violence against women is de rigeur; sweet little kids are frequently brutally killed (or are themselves brutal killers). Unlike cautiously tasteful American filmmakers, Italians are absolutely not afraid to go over-the-top with dramatic effects; decaying body parts, copious amounts of maggots, spurting arteries and faces smashed through mirrors and windows are common motifs. --Cheryl Eddy quoted in http://www.greencine.com/static/primers/italianhorror.jsp

Italian Horror Films of the 1960s (2004) - Lawrence McCallum

Italian Horror Films of the 1960s (2004) - Lawrence McCallum
[Amazon.com]
[FR] [DE] [UK]

Until I vampiri (The Vampires) in 1956, Italian filmmakers generally eschewed horror in favor of fantasy films and big screen spectacles. In the 1960s, the subjects became as varied as the filmmakers, ranging from the comic strip flavor of The Wild, Wild Planet (1966) to the surrealistic mixture of horror and social commentary of Fellini's "Toby Dammit" segment of Spirits of the Dead (1969).

Arranged by English title, each entry includes Italian title, studio, running time, year of release, work the film is based on (when appropriate), and cast and credits. These data are followed by a lengthy essay, blending a plot synopsis with critical commentary and behind-the-scenes information. --amazon.com

Italian Horror Film Directors (2004) - Louis Paul

Italian Horror Film Directors (2004) - Jess Franco (Foreword), Antonella Fulci (Foreword), Louis Paul [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

About the Author
Louis Paul has written for such magazines as Chiller Theatre Magazine and European Trash Cinema and is the coauthor of Film Fatales (2002, with Tom Lisanti). He lives in New York.

Product Description:
There is no cinema with such effect as that of the hallucinatory horror of Italian horror films. From Riccardo Fredaís I Vampiri in 1956 to Il Cartaio in 2004 (The Card Player), this work recounts the origins of the genre, celebrates ten auteurs who have contributed to Italian horror, mentions the many who have made noteworthy films, and discusses the influential genres associated with Italian horror.

The directors discussed in detail are Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava, Mario Bava, Ruggero Deodata, Lucio Fulci, Umberto Lenzi, Antonia Margheriti, Aristide Massaccesi, Bruno Mattei, and Michele Soavi. Each section includes a short biography, a detailed account of the subjectís career, discussion of influences both literary and cinematic, commentary on the films, with plots and production details, and an exhaustive filmography. The second section lists other important directors, each with a short discussion and selected filmography. The work concludes with a chapter on the future of Italian horror and an appendix of important horror films by other directors, and is illustrated with stills, posters, and behind-the-scenes shots. --via Amazon.com

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