Saturday, February 20, 2010

Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered – Volume 1

Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered – Volume 1
Directed by: Mike Baronas
USA, 2008
Documentary, 225 min
Distributed by: Paura Entertainment

Everyone I know who has the slightest knowledge of Euro Horror, has at least has one Lucio Fulci story to tell. Be it a memory of his films, the scores to those fantastic movies, the powerful imagery, some even being in the presence of the great maestro himself.

I’ve been a fan of Fulci’s movies since I first started watching horror on video. His stuff was among the first movies to be released on video over here in Sweden, and they made an impression on me that is important to me still today. And being a Fulci buff, theres no quiestion about the fact that I do try to read, watch and listen to everything that I can which can tell me more about this fascinating director and his movies. The latest piece that I picked up is Mike Baronas splendid documentary on the life and times of Lucio Fulci, Paura : Lucio Fulci Remembered – Volume 1.

Certain days stay with you for life. Certain deaths affect you and you clearly remember exactly what you where doing at the time you first heard about them. I’ve had a few of them during my lifetime, the first being the day that Elvis left the building back in 1977.

Lucio Fulci’s passing was definitely one of those strange days, or rather nights. One of those emotional moments that probably will stay with me for a long time, even though there was no freak accident, or chock suicide involved. It was just unexpected and really startled me.

At the time, internet was still only in its early stages, and was nowhere like it is today, faxes, letters and telephone where the way’s people stayed in touch. Today it’s a piece of cake to get online and find out exactly every detail that you want about almost anything, but back then it was different and information wasn’t accessible at the click of a button.

The night I learned that Fulci passed my mate and I where sat preparing the latest newsletter/fanzine for Art Video Club, a small movie distribution organization consisting of me and two friends, who saw it as our mission to make uncut videos available to our members, be it imports from the UK, Greek Ex-rentals, those great Dutch releases or imports from René as CinéCity and Bill at Midnight Video. At the time we’d been up and running for a few years, and among our contacts where the guys [Steve Aquilina] at Hard to Get Video. Hard to Get Videos, based in Hamburg, where responsible for releasing restored, uncut editions of Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust, Umberto Lenzi’s Eaten Alive, and Fulci’s New York Ripper on both Vhs and Laserdisc.

These guys had obviously met Fulci on several occasions, including the Eurofest in London 1994, and where in the process of getting the then unseen Nightmare Concert [aka Cat in the Brain] out to the fans. There was also a talk about us coming down to these guys and meeting Fulci at one point in time. I can’t remember the exact circumstances – possibly that it was for a signing session in their store? But it was talked about on more than one occasion. So when they sent us a fax telling us of the sad news, we didn’t question the authenticity of their comment. All that was written on that paper was “Fulci has died! – Call you later!” But still, not really wanting to believe I got right on the phone and started shaking the jungle drums to see what more I could find out. I called Allan Bryce editor of UK magazine The Darkside and asked if he’d heard he rumour… It was fairly common that rumours like this circulated at the time. There was even one, supposedly spread by Jess Franco that Amando De Ossario had passed, which obviously was fake, and every week, there where new rumours of this one and that one had passed on. You never really knew certainly. Anyhow, I talked to Bryce, who seemed just as startled as we had become, and he said that he had to make some calls of his own, and we agreed to talk again later. A few hours later, he called and confirmed that it was true, the maestro had passed. There would be no more movies from the godfather of gore.

I think that part of the reason for the shock that I and everyone else who loved Fulci’s movies are due to several factors. He’d made a triumphant return to our consciousness as he attended two of the major horror movie events shortly before he died. The Fangoria Weekend of Horror in 1996 and Trevor Barley’s Eurofest two years earlier. I kicked myself each and every time I missed attending the Eurofests' – even with the invites from Barley in person – I never managed to get my sad-ass over the UK to enjoy the festivities. Festivals that saw Paul Naschy, Jean Rollin, Brigitte Lahaie and Lucio Fulci as headlining guests are growing rarer by the day, and are cherished highlights from those who actually where there. These festivals of horror showed a Fulci completely different from the Fulci that we thought we knew. The Fulci we had heard all about was the grumpy misogynist that didn’t like taking to people, was constantly in a bad mood, and just a complicated guy. Not saying that those things where true, but that wasn’t the person those who met fans and attended these two astonishing nights. It was Fulci the maestro relishing in the attention, signing numerous amounts of autographs, and taking time with his fans.

This “revelation” and sympathetic side of Fulci along with the excitation of his project in the works, Mask of Wax, scripted by Daniele Stroppa, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, to be produced by Argento and directed by Fulci was something of a super band of horror movies, the anticipation was immense, and it could have been something absolutely amazing. Also there was that wave of Fulci movies that swept over the world, rereleased Videos and Laserdiscs - remember just how deep you had to dig to pay for that Japanese Laserdisc of Gates of Hell? – these I’m sure just all added fuel to the fire of anticipation of things to come.

The rest is history. He never made that last movie, the festivals became his last public appearances, and Fulci became even more of a legend than before.

Many, many books, articles (I wrote a large piece for Swedish Magasin Defekt, and our Art Video fanzine), and various pieces where, have and still are written on the maestro, and it’s all done with the outmost respect for Lucio. Books like Stephen Thrower’s Beyond Terror – The Films of Lucio Fulci, and the late Chas Balun’s Beyond the Gates, are cornerstones in any Fulci fans collections, and highly sought after sources of information.

Mike Baronas, Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered - Volume 1, is an impressive piece of work, collecting memories, anecdotes, insight, and loving tributes to Lucio Fulci from nearly ninety interviews with colleagues, cast and crew members who all share their thoughts on Fulci. There are many stories that you definitely haven’t heard before that will make you laugh, tales that will make you feel part of the alliance of Fulci, because you will feel for the man after watching this documentary. THere's no end to the names featured in the interviews, and the movie reads like a Who's who of Italian cinema: Enzo G. Castellari, Luigi Cozzi, Umberto Lenzi, Sergio Martino, Renato Poselli, Michele Soavi, Fabio Frizzi, Riz Ortolani, Catriona McColl, Florinda Bolkan, Al Cliver and on and on and on. It's an impressive, if not the most impressive cast ever.

Baronas is no stranger to the world of genre cinema interviews and has been one of the men behind many of he supplementary interviews that you most likely have seen on your Euro Cinema DVD’s if you like me watch that stuff with a passion. It’s probably also one of the keys to the impressive amount of interviews conduced for this project.

But the most impressive thing about this documentary, apart from the stunning amount of time that must have been put down on tracking down and interviewing all these people – is the respect that has gone into the project. The love for the maestro is what makes it worthwhile spending almost three hours watching people just talk candidly about a guy they knew, or worked with. And three hours never went by so fast. There are moments of laughter, sadness, and all in an emotional shroud.

It would be easy to complain about minor technical stuff, but that’s not what this document is about. This is about a fascination and respect for one of the most complex movie directors to ever have lived. You probably know that Fulci lived a pretty hard life, had some serious luggage to carry, and only ever really wanted to make great movies that pleased him and his fans. He was never really accepted within the movie making business or the critics or either. But we are all part of an alliance of fans that know they are wrong.

I’ve always been a sucker for artists who are or have been underdogs in the cynical world of TV and Film. The frustrating anxiety of trying to put your best into something that doesn’t have a budget to meet the needs, or a time schedule to do the project justice is something that I come across everyday in my line of work. And it does ware you down.

Also there are a few names that I find missing from the large amount of interviews, but then again this is only Volume 1, and with that in mind there’s no lack of stars one can imagine on the eventual second volume. Baronas’, who has a genre magazine background, is also a very active on the convention scene and is a key figure in many of the Euro genre stars appearances at these events.

Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered Volume 1 is an excellent addition to any Fulci fan’s collection. It will give you a further insight, knowledge and understanding of one of Italy’s greatest, most gifted and definitely most talented directors ever. It comes with my highest recommendation, and should be purchased by anyone who at least once in their lifetime stated that they love, like, enjoyed, or even dislike the films of Lucio Fulci.

Get yourself over to Paura Productions right now and buy this excellent, impressive and definitive document right now.

Full frame

Stereo. Italian dialogue is subtitled in English.

There’s one Easter egg that gives director Mike Baronas an opportunity time to discus his passion, respect and fascination for Lucio Fulci, which really could have been part of the main documentary, as the driving force of the project is at least as interesting as the people featured on the documentary.


Alex B. said...

That's a great write-up for an incredible documentary.
I had grabbed myself a DVD of this at first opportunity and loved it.
It's the kind of a work that can be returned to over and over again, in whole or just some particulra interviews.
Was amazing to hear Al Cliver's real voice and just to see that he's still around!

CiNEZiLLA said...


Yeah it is a great piece of work.

Also, one of the rumours that used to circulate was that Cliver gave up on the movies and started selling wicker furniture instead... then again as Mike's documentary taught us, even Fulci had to take a job on the side.

I was also thinking that this might have be the last footage of the late Bruno Mattei, and Rino di Silvestri...

Alex B. said...

I too heard a rumour of Cliver selling wicker baskets or something of the sort. But he's got a new IMDb credit for Mondo Holocausto now,a film not yet filmed I believe.

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