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Joe D'Amato (1936 - 1999)

Laura Gemser in
Emanuelle e gli Ultimi Cannibali (1977) - Joe D'Amato


Joe d'Amato né Aristide Massaccesi (1936 - 1999) is an Italian director of numerous horror and hardcore titles. He is regarded as a master of Italian trash cinema.

Joe d'Amato wrote and directed three of the four Ator movies. One of the movies, Cave Dwellers, was featured on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_d%27Amato [Dec 2004]


Over the last decade, critics and theorists have made a number of advances in reclaiming those popular European texts and auteurs previously dismissed as examples of “trash” or “bad” cinema. A large part of this reassessment has focused on the key directors, stars and styles that dominated Italian horror cinema between the years of 1962 and 1985. While fanzines and the popular press had previously pioneered a love of continental cinema's most cultish and off-beat traditions, it took an emerging emphasis on critically distanced, methodologically orientated analysis to fully drag Europe's most perverse film treasures into the academy. As a result, psychoanalysis and feminist theory have been employed to revaluate the performances of Barbara Steele in Italian Gothic horror of the 1960s (1) while key directors such as Dario Argento have been the subject of positive auteur-influenced accounts. (See Maitland McDonagh, Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento (Sun Tavenfields, London, 1991) also, Xavier Mendik Tenebre/Tenebrae (Flicks Books, Wiltshire, 2000).) --http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/04/30/joe_d_amato.html [May 2004]


Born under the name Aristide Massaccesi on December 15, 1936, Joe D'Amato set a standard for foreign shock films which has set to be equaled throughout most of the world. His directing career began later in his life with his first film, Sollazzevoli Storie di Moglie Guadenti e di Mariti Penitenti, which was made in 1972. He unfortunately received no credit for the movie, but went on making films, regardless of the loss. The majority of Joe's movies during the seventies were soft-core skin flicks and, according to him, he did quite well cashing in on the adults-only craze. The high point of this time for D'Amato was directing several of the immensely popular Emmanuelle films, which fans still hold as being the coup de grace of erotic cinema to this day.

His start in the realm of horror began in 1972 when he directed La Morte Ha Sorriso All Assassino, which was followed by Il Plenilunio delle Vergini in 1973. He then created Emmanuelle e Gli Ultimi Canibali in 1979; Papaya dei Caraibi in 1978; and 1979's dual classics, Erotic Nights of the Living Dead and Buio Omega. Joe then began the 80s with a healthy dosage of hardcore sex and shocking gore with his timeless cult classic, Porno Holocaust (1980).

D'Amato then made waves with his cannibal shocker, Anthropophagous (1981), and followed it up with Anthropophagous 2 the next year. After several years away from horror, he directed The Witchery (1989) and then made 1992's Troll 2 (under the pseudonym Drago Floyd). Joe was also a popular writer, accredited to such films as Emmanuelle e Gli Ultimi Canibali (1977), Pieces (1981), Caligula II - The Untold Story (1981), Beyond Darkness (1990), and many others.

In 1990, D'Amato adamantly returned to his first true love - exploitation. Over the next seven years, he directed nearly fifty hardcore sex films in both Italian and English. His last film was Experiences (1998), completed months before his death of a heart attack on January 23, 1999. Although many fans of cinema have condemned him for working in the field of pornographic filmmaking, D'Amato claimed that "movies are movies" and "people should just do what they like." It was this attitude that brought him a wide variety of fans from all corners of the world.

On a more personal level, friends and family of D'Amato remember him as a talented man. His favorite film was Raiders of the Lost Ark, his favorite food was Chinese, and his favorite obsession was undoubtedly filmmaking. During a 1996 interview with Project A at the Rotterdam Film Festival, Joe put all of his surprisingly positive beliefs into perspective. "Anything you do, you need to love it. I talk about money [because] I want to make money, but really I am so involved in this kind of job, I actually lost a lot of money making movies... But I am very happy to do this kind of job. To me, if you love what you do... that's the best [thing] in the world."

Joe was under constant attack after releasing Buio Omega (1979) because moviegoers believed he used a real cadaver during filming. Two years later, he was also condemned when censors and fans believed he had used a human fetus during the filming of his shock classic, Anthropophagous (1981). Both reports, however, were completely false. --http://www.diabolical-dominion.com/Biographies/damato.shtml [May 2004]

Emanuelle In America (1977) - Joe D'Amato

Emanuelle In America (1977) - Joe D'Amato [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The stunning Laura Gemser stars as Emanuelle, the fearless fashion photographer and investigative photojournalist whose thirst for adventure is matched only by her insatiable erotic hunger. But when Emanuelle uncovers shocking evidence of an international snuff film conspiracy, she is plunged into an odyssey of forbidden passion, depraved desires and unspeakable human brutality. From the lust-filled streets of New York City to the corrupt corridors of Washington D.C. and beyond, one of the most controversial sex and gore epics in exploitation history has finally come home: This is EMANUELLE IN AMERICA!

Everything you've heard about this jaw-dropping cult classic is true: graphic sex, harrowing violence, a horse named Pedro and much, much more. Directed by the notorious Joe D'Amato (BEYOND THE DARKNESS), EMANUELLE IN AMERICA has been newly mastered from pristine vault materials and is now presented completely uncut for the first time ever! --via Amazon.com

Monaca del peccato/The Convent of Sinners (1986) - Joe D'Amato

Monaca del peccato/The Convent of Sinners (1986) - Joe D'Amato

Supposedly (source IMDB) based on Diderot's La Religieuse.

Return From Death: Frankenstein 2000 (1991) - Joe D'Amato

Return From Death: Frankenstein 2000 (1991) - Joe D'Amato
image sourced here.

There are some faces that you instantly recognize when you spot them in a movie, even if the names connected to these faces wouldn´t ring a bell. Spaghetti fetishists all over the world (and our numbers are growing, so watch out!) are particularly notorious for their all-embracing love for Italian cinema, without regard to the quality standards of the films in question. The bourgeois feudality of Luchino Visconti´s movies goes hand in hand with the splatterfests of the recently deceased Lucio Fulci. This doesn´t necessarily mean that these guerilla cinephiles are suffering from a serious lack of taste. Their strange mix of appetites reveals the true essence of making films in this hot-tempered region. There is nothing like a crew of hard-working individuals trying to stomp movie magic out of the barren soil of the seamy underbelly of Italy´s small movie industry. American actors like Fred Williamson or Bo Svenson, who have worked in the Mediterranean, know a thing or two about this. You want a film that competes with the latest Spielberg production at the box office? You only have a handful of Lire to spend? Well...no problem. Enter the likes of Joe d´Amato, Enzo G. Castellari, Sergio Martino - their inventiveness have made for many great movie experiences. This has changed now, as the Italian production circumstances have altered dramatically. Even Castellari´s breath-taking western JONATHAN OF THE BEARS struggled to find a distributor even in Italy. The spaghetti genre cinema is history. So they say. --http://www.christiankessler.de/donalob.html [Aug 2005]

see also: Italian cinema - Joe D'Amato - 1991 - film

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