Enzo G. Castellari
Fabrizio De Angelis
Franco De Gemini
Carlo De Mejo
Giannetto De Rossi
Gino De Rossi
Franco Di Girolamo
Fernando Di Leo
Rino Di Silvestro
Massimo Antonello Geleng
Giovanni Lombardo Radice
Mirella De Rossi
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Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered Vol 1 (2008)
30th Apr 09
What is your fondest memory of Lucio Fulci?
The legacy of Italian schlockmeister Lucio Fulci has grown rapidly since his death in 1996. As many of his more obscure movies become increasingly available on DVD, movie fans have finally been given the chance to assess more of the meistro's oeuvre, ranging from comedies and westerns to the gore drenched epics which made him famous. Stephen Thrower's excellent tome, Beyond Terror, then explored the director's films, analyzing them in great depth. But what of the man himself? What made him tick? This is a question which has obviously been bugging Michael Baronas, the man behind Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered Vol.1
Baronas had previously helmed the documentary, How to Build a Better Zombie, featured on Shriek Show's R1 of Zombi 2 (Zombie Flesh Eaters to us), as well as Shedding the Skin, which looks at Fulci's exquisite giallo, Lizard in a Woman's Skin. But there were more questions to be asked. More had to be known about Fulci, not just his work. And then there was Paura (that's Italian for 'fear', in case you were wondering).
To call Paura a documentary wouldn't be exactly correct. Rather, the film basically comprises about 80 separate interviews which answer one question only: ”What is your fondest memory of Lucio Fulci?” It's a simple approach which, although initially could have the potential to bore, ends up garnering fascinating, amusing and heartfelt insights from many of the contributors. And what a list of contributors it is. Take a quick look at the cast list down the right side of this page - it keeps going, and going, and going - and if you try to watch all of Paura in one sitting, you may overload. But fear not, because Mike Baronas has wisely split the interview footage into three sections: 'Accomplices' (including Fabrizio de Angelis, Gianetto De Rossi, Riz Ortolani, Fabio Frizzi), 'Peers' (featuring Lamberto Bava, Ruggero Deodato, Umberto Lenzi, Enzo Castellari), and, finally, 'Victims' (of which there are many, including Florinda Balkan, Al Cliver, George Hilton, Giovanni Lombardo Radice and Catriona MacColl).
Taken at your own pace, Paura is a treat for various reasons. It's fascinating to see how all those stalwarts of yore have aged through the years, and, obviously, some have aged better than others (Catriona MacColl still looks great, by the way!). Also, as you watch more and more interviews, it's difficult not to connect emotionally with the subjects. Fulci was, by most accounts, a true professional, even a perfectionist, and hence had a reputation for treating some people with a lack of respect. Some however discuss the lucky position of being an ally - someone he was able to trust, like those many actors he used time and time again (of which, evidently, George Hilton is not one). One of the most common references are to Fulci's fondness for 'the pipe', it seems everyone, no-matter how shady their memory might be, remembers 'the pipe', and how his jumpers/shirts were always full of holes from the relentless shower of badly packed pipe tobacco.
A man who is sadly not remembered in his native country, as these interviews attest, Fulci is generally admired by everyone interviewed. Some of the anecdotes are priceless. Highlights include Al Cliver's tale about the meistro getting covered in Matul storm debris during Zombie Flesh Eaters, Enzo Castllari betting with his crew that Fulci wouldn't change his socks for a week, and Umberto Lenzi's "modest" admission that Fulci was "a genius, like me." Lenzi, like a few others here, can blather endlessly about anything, while ailing figures like Bruno Mettei have much less to say.
There are revelations (one in particular is quite shocking), as well as occasional contradictions, but there are many sides of Fulci which almost everyone here recalls, such as the constant swearing, the "sinister" sense of humour, his general physical shabbiness, his supreme technical ability, and his deep cultural awareness. More sobering are the many memories of a deeply troubled figure, haunted by the death of his wife, stressed to the hilt with his daughters, and suffering always with diabetes. After sitting through these recollections of a lost friend, you almost feel like you personally knew Lucio Fulci.
Due to Baronas’ approach, Paura doesn't include the kind of archival footage which helps propel documentaries like the recent Not Quite Hollywood, and while this would be more of a problem with a more traditional Fulci documentary, it matters less in this context. Each interview is preceeded by a title card stating the name of the contributor, accompanied by dissolving stills from each of their roles in Fulci's career. Depending on who it may be, and how many times they worked with Fulci, these introductions can have a tendency to take their time before the subject is interviewed. But the interviews are generally worth any wait, so relax, and revel in the maggot-infested memories.
Respect to the man responsible, Mike Baronas, who, along with collaborator Kit Gavin (who is not only a walking encyclopedia of Italian exploitation but also fluent in Italian), has gone to great lengths to put this together, over a period of seven years. Taking in a total of twelve trips to conduct the interviews in person (Italy, Spain, France, England and Stateside), this has been treated as a real labour of love, usually at the expense of a proper diet. And, as the ‘Vol.1’ suggests, this is not the end of the Paura story.
Nit-pickers out there may notice that not all of the interviews are conducted in ideal environments, or that the video quality falls a bit short in places, but given the spontaneous nature of this pseudo-guerilla production and the sheer efforts of tracking these many people down, should we care? Most of us are willing to forgive a few moments of dodgy audio when we're focused on the subtitles and learning about Fulci's "volcanic" personality, or indeed his dislike of bathing, according to the gospel of Enzo Castellari.
While Paura is pretty much an essential for Fulci fans, it is unlikely to convert or interest anyone else, or heighten awareness and appreciation of the great man in his native Italy. Perhaps the most touching aspect of the film is that often, the contributors state their genuine appreciation to Baronas and his crew for giving them the chance to sing praises about their absent friend. It’s a sad fact that no documentary filmmakers in Italy deemed Fulci significant enough to have given them the chance to do this previously.