Introduction: What is giallo and why is Lucio Fulci important?
If you are a fan of horror cinema, you have probably heard of Lucio Fulci, one of the most influential and controversial horror directors of all time. But do you know what giallo is and how Fulci contributed to this genre?
Giallo is a style of Italian thriller that combines mystery, violence, and eroticism. The term giallo, which means yellow in Italian, comes from the yellow covers of the pulp novels that inspired these films. Giallo films typically feature a masked killer, a detective, a series of gruesome murders, and a twist ending. They also often include elements of horror, such as supernatural, occult, or psychological themes.
Lucio Fulci was one of the masters of giallo, along with other directors like Mario Bava and Dario Argento. Fulci started his career in the 1950s, making comedies, westerns, and musicals, but he became famous in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when he made some of the most iconic and notorious horror films ever, such as Zombie Flesh Eaters, The Beyond, and City of the Living Dead. These films are known for their graphic and gruesome depictions of gore, their themes of blasphemy, sadism, and nihilism, and their surreal and atmospheric style.
In this article, we will explore the life and work of Lucio Fulci, his horror films, and his ongoing controversy. We will also discuss how his films reflect the social and political context of Italy in the late 20th century, how they challenge or reinforce the conventions and expectations of the horror genre, how they address the issues of morality, religion, and death, how they represent gender, sexuality, and race, and how they compare and contrast with other horror directors. We will also examine how his films resonate with modern audiences and critics, and how they influenced the development of horror cinema.
Lucio Fulci's horror films: A brief overview of his career and filmography
Lucio Fulci was born in Rome in 1927. He studied medicine and worked as a film critic before becoming a screenwriter and director. He made his directorial debut in 1959 with I ladri (The Thieves), a comedy starring Totò, one of the most popular Italian comedians of the time. He continued to make comedies, westerns, musicals, and spy films throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, often collaborating with famous actors like Franco Nero, Jean Sorel, and Barbara Bouchet.
However, Fulci's career took a turn in 1971, when he made his first giallo film, Una lucertola con la pelle di donna (A Lizard in a Woman's Skin), a psychedelic thriller about a woman who is accused of murdering her neighbor after having a nightmare. The film was a success and established Fulci as a talented and innovative director of the genre. He followed it with another giallo film, Non si sevizia un paperino (Don't Torture a Duckling), in 1972, which dealt with personal tragedies, such as the death of his wife and daughter, and the suicide of his son. He died in 1996 from complications of diabetes, leaving behind a legacy of over 50 films and a cult following of horror fans.
Lucio Fulci's horror films are not for the faint of heart. They are full of blood, guts, maggots, and worms, and they show no mercy to their characters or their viewers. They are also full of artistic and stylistic flair, and they create a unique and unforgettable cinematic experience. They are the products of a visionary and controversial director, who pushed the boundaries of the horror genre and cinema in general.
In the next sections, we will dive deeper into the art and controversy of Lucio Fulci's horror films, and explore their themes, meanings, and influences. We will also see how his films have been received and interpreted by different audiences and critics over time, and how they have shaped the history and future of horror cinema.
The art of gore: How Lucio Fulci used graphic violence and special effects to create horror
One of the most distinctive and controversial aspects of Lucio Fulci's horror films is their use of graphic violence and special effects to create horror. Fulci was not the first or the only director to use gore in his films, but he was one of the most extreme and inventive. He used gore not only to shock and disgust his viewers, but also to express his artistic and stylistic vision, and to convey his themes and messages.
Fulci's gore scenes are often elaborate and prolonged, showing every detail of the mutilation and suffering of his characters. He used a variety of techniques and materials to create realistic and gruesome effects, such as latex, foam, rubber, animal entrails, maggots, worms, and even real corpses. He also used camera angles, lighting, editing, and sound to enhance the impact and intensity of his gore scenes. He often combined gore with other elements of horror, such as zombies, demons, spiders, snakes, and rats, to create a sense of dread and terror.
Fulci's gore scenes are not random or gratuitous, but rather serve a purpose and a meaning in his films. They are often related to the plot, the characters, or the themes of his films. For example, in Zombie Flesh Eaters, the gore scenes show the consequences of the zombie outbreak and the futility of human resistance. In The Beyond, the gore scenes show the power and cruelty of the supernatural forces that haunt the hotel and its surroundings. In City of the Living Dead, the gore scenes show the effects of the curse that plagues the town and its inhabitants.
Fulci's gore scenes are also symbolic and metaphorical, reflecting his worldview and his philosophy. They often represent his views on morality, religion, and death, as well as his critique of society and human nature. For example, in Don't Torture a Duckling, the gore scenes show the hypocrisy and corruption of the Catholic Church and the rural community. In The New York Ripper, the gore scenes show the decadence and violence of the urban society and the misogyny and sadism of the killer. In The Devil's Honey, the gore scenes show the obsession and perversion of the sexual relationship between the main characters.
Fulci's gore scenes are also aesthetic and artistic, demonstrating his skill and creativity as a director and a storyteller. They often have a beauty and a poetry that contrast with their horror and their brutality. They also have a surreal and dreamlike quality that challenge the logic and the reality of his films. For example, in A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, the gore scenes are part of the protagonist's hallucinations and nightmares, blurring the line between fantasy and reality. In The Beyond, the gore scenes are part of the vision of hell that the protagonist sees, creating a sense of wonder and horror.
In conclusion, Lucio Fulci's use of graphic violence and special effects to create horror is not only a trademark of his style, but also a manifestation of his art and his message. He used gore not only to scare and repel his viewers, but also to impress and fascinate them. He used gore not only to entertain and amuse his viewers, but also to educate and enlighten them. He used gore not only to make horror films, but also to make art films.
The controversy of Fulci: How Lucio Fulci's horror films provoked criticism and censorship
Lucio Fulci's horror films are not only famous for their gore and their art, but also for their controversy and their censorship. Fulci's horror films have often faced harsh criticism and censorship from various sources, such as critics, censors, moralists, and even fans. Fulci's horror films have been accused of being trashy, exploitative, offensive, and immoral, and they have been banned, cut, or altered in many countries and regions.
One of the main sources of controversy and censorship for Fulci's horror films is their graphic violence and gore. Fulci's horror films show scenes of extreme and realistic gore, such as eye-gouging, intestine-spilling, face-melting, and more. These scenes have shocked and disgusted many viewers, and they have been considered too violent, too gruesome, and too disturbing for the general public. Many of Fulci's horror films have been censored or banned in countries like the UK, Germany, Australia, and Italy, where they have been labeled as "video nasties", "snuff films", or "obscene publications. Some of Fulci's horror films have also been cut or edited by distributors or producers, who have removed or toned down some of the gore scenes to avoid censorship or to appeal to a wider audience.
Another source of controversy and censorship for Fulci's horror films is their themes and messages. Fulci's horror films often deal with themes of blasphemy, sadism, and nihilism, and they challenge or criticize the values and beliefs of society and religion. Fulci's horror films show scenes of sacrilege, such as zombies attacking a church, a priest hanging himself, or a crucifix bleeding. They also show scenes of sadism, such as a killer torturing his victims, a woman being raped by a dog, or a man being forced to watch his lover being killed. They also show scenes of nihilism, such as characters losing their sanity, their hope, or their lives, or the world being doomed by evil forces. These scenes have offended and angered many viewers, and they have been considered too blasphemous, too cruel, and too pessimistic for the general public. Many of Fulci's horror films have been censored or banned in countries like Italy, Spain, Ireland, and Brazil, where they have been condemned by the Catholic Church, the government, or the media. Some of Fulci's horror films have also been criticized or misunderstood by critics or fans, who have dismissed them as senseless, tasteless, or meaningless.
In conclusion, Lucio Fulci's horror films have been controversial and censored for their gore and their themes, and they have faced opposition and rejection from various sources. However, Fulci's horror films have also been defended and praised by many viewers, and they have gained a cult following and a critical recognition over time. Fulci's horror films have been seen as expressions of his artistic and personal freedom, and as reflections of his social and political commentary. Fulci's horror films have also been seen as examples of his courage and creativity, and as contributions to his genre and his culture.
The legacy of Fulci: How Lucio Fulci's horror films influenced modern horror cinema
Lucio Fulci's horror films are not only controversial and artistic, but also influential and timeless. Fulci's horror films have left a lasting impact on the history and future of horror cinema, and they have inspired and influenced many modern horror directors, such as Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth, and Rob Zombie. Fulci's horror films have also gained a cult following and a critical recognition over time, and they have been re-evaluated and re-appreciated by different audiences and critics.
One of the ways that Fulci's horror films have influenced modern horror cinema is by expanding and innovating the genre. Fulci's horror films have explored and experimented with different subgenres and styles of horror, such as giallo, zombie, supernatural, slasher, and splatter. Fulci's horror films have also introduced and popularized new elements and techniques of horror, such as extreme gore, surreal atmosphere, illogical plot, and ambiguous ending. Fulci's horror films have also challenged and subverted the conventions and expectations of horror, such as the final girl, the happy ending, and the moral lesson.
Another way that Fulci's horror films have influenced modern horror cinema is by reflecting and commenting on the society and culture. Fulci's horror films have often been influenced by and responded to the social and political context of Italy and the world in the late 20th century, such as the terrorism, the corruption, the violence, and the crisis. Fulci's horror films have also often addressed and criticized the values and beliefs of society and religion, such as the hypocrisy, the fanaticism, the oppression, and the superstition. Fulci's horror films have also often represented and questioned the issues of morality, religion, and death, such as the sin, the redemption, the damnation, and the afterlife.
A third way that Fulci's horror films have influenced modern horror cinema is by resonating and appealing to the viewers and fans. Fulci's horror films have often attracted and fascinated the viewers and fans with their gore and their art, and they have provoked and stimulated their emotions and thoughts. Fulci's horror films have also often created and maintained a loyal and devoted fan base, who have supported and celebrated his films and his legacy. Fulci's horror films have also often received and deserved a positive and respectful critical evaluation, who have recognized and appreciated his films and his contribution.
In conclusion, Lucio Fulci's horror films have influenced modern horror cinema in many ways, and they have left a legacy that is still alive and relevant today. Fulci's horror films have been seen as examples of his genius and creativity, and as expressions of his vision and message. Fulci's horror films have also been seen as sources of inspiration and admiration, and as objects of study and analysis. Fulci's horror films have also been seen as works of art and entertainment, and as pieces of history and culture.