Archive for Lucio Fulci

Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972) Review

Posted in Don't Torture a Duckling with tags , , on November 19, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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DON’T TORTURE A DUCKLING

**** ½ Out of 5

Release Date- September 29th, 1972

Running Time- 102-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Gianfranco Clerici, Lucio Fulci & Roberto Gianviti

Director- Lucio Fulci

Starring- Florinda Bolkan, Tomas Milian, Marc Porel & Barbara Bouchet

Starting with the 1979 release of Zombi 2, Lucio Fulci’s splatter era had started and while not every film he made in the 80s were splatter films the good portion of them however were and these films were filled with crazy gore scenes, which gave Fulci the Godfather of Gore nickname (H.G. Lewis has also been dubbed that). Zombi 2 is often cited for its gore and I’ve said this many times in other reviews that Zombi 2 had a lot more going for it than just gore. If anything it’s the perfect combination of gore scenes, but also legit suspense and tension with eerie atmosphere, but after that while I very much enjoyed films like City of the Living Dead and House by the Cemetery as they are eerie flicks, but they also lack logic and without the gore scenes they probably wouldn’t be nearly as good. The biggest problem in Fulci’s career is when he started making zombie films he was in the shadow of George Romero, which is really unfortunate since his zombie films were vastly different and while Zombi 2 shares more in common with George Romero’s work it’s not a ripoff like some people claim. But before Lucio Fulci started making gore films he made films such as Don’t Torture a Duckling from 1972, which does feature some gore, but not a whole lot. At the time this film was released Fulci was in the shadow of Mario Bava and the newly emerged Dario Argento and many of his pre-Zombi 2 films were overlooked, which is too bad since in my opinion Don’t Torture a Duckling was his best film (Zombi 2 a close 2nd). With Don’t Torture a Duckling, Lucio Fulci shows he’s far more than just a gore director and while this film may not be as crowd pleasing as his gore epics they have nothing on this film as a whole. I’d rate Don’t Torture a Duckling not just my favorite Fulci film, but also my favorite Giallo.

In a small village in Italy pre-teen boys are being found murdered, which is quite a taboo subject as its quite rare to see films where young children are the victims and while the deaths aren’t gory and some are off camera it’s still quite shocking. As much as I enjoyed Don’t Torture a Duckling it was after the film was over and I thought about it that I realized the brilliance behind the film. Besides the child murders, sexual repression and pedophilia are very much hinted at and it really elevates the movie to a whole other level. Also a 20-something woman has some kind of sexual attraction to the pre-teens that also gives a very weird and bizarre vibe and obviously makes her a suspect.

The screenplay was written by Gianfranco Clerici, Lucio Fulci & Roberto Gianviti and it was simply terrific. As much as I enjoyed Italian horror films in the 80s the biggest flaw was often the writing. What made a good portion of these films so enjoyable was either the silly nature of the film (intentional or not) as well as the gore scenes and or the visuals. Writing however in the 80s they range from ok to weak with a few exceptions and I suppose you could say the same for a lot of American horror in the 80s. That isn’t a knock on 80s horror since its one of my favorite eras for horror and film in general. But the 70s in my opinion was the best in film. Many Italian horror films had strong scripts and Duckling is no different. The film is cleverly plotted with strong characters for the most part. The mystery on the identity of the killer is solid, but the reveal isn’t overly shocking either. The motivation for the killer is very shocking and disturbing and upon watching it you may not get that feeling, but when you think back to everything and take in all what writing implies and the direction it makes is very dark and creepy. The villain isn’t your typical one either, while it’s obvious the person isn’t normal the motivation is very different and not really done out of evil. Perhaps I’m reading too much into things, but I guess we all take something different away from certain films and again when I thought back to everything it really elevated the film for me from something I thought was very good to something I see as a great film.

As director Lucio Fulci crafts in my opinion his best film. Duckling as stated doesn’t really feature the gore or graphic violence (there is a bit) like his work in the late 70s and into the 80s, but he more than makes up for that by crafting a well made film that’s very much driven by story. Pacing while never sluggish can be a little slow in spots, but these also keep the story unfolding. In Fulci’s gore epics that’s what made them such cult favorites, but they also had an eerie feel, which most people tend to overlook and while Duckling doesn’t quite have that eerie atmosphere it still succeeds in being suspenseful. As I stated some of the deaths are off camera, which might turn off fans more familiar with Fulci’s gore films, but off camera or not these scenes still pack quite a punch. For those who think Fulci can only make gore films, Don’t Torture a Duckling proves that’s clearly not the case. As I stated this film at least to me implied sexual repression and pedophilia and in my opinion Don’t Torture a Duckling is Fulci’s best film and shows he can make a deep and powerful film.

There is a scene, which a woman is severely beaten with chains while a ballad plays over the scene. This scene does feature some graphic violence and gore and its really unsettling and very disturbing. The gore may not be on the level as say the Beyond, but its far more powerful in Don’t Torture a Duckling.

There have been some who poked fun at the title of the film and I’d hate to think some may avoid the film due to the title or not fully grasp the film since they can’t get past the title. Don’t Torture a Duckling is truly a great film and like I said my favorite Fulci film and Giallo and has a chance for my favorite Italian horror film. As much as I enjoyed Fulci’s splatter films its a shame he didn’t continue down this path. This is truly one of the greats and if you think Lucio Fulci is just a gore director think again.

Writer Gianfranco Clerici had quite a prolific career in Italian horror writing or co-writing such films as Jungle Holocaust, Cannibal Holocaust and House By the Edge of the Park and all three were directed by Ruggero Deodato. He also besides this film worked with Lucio Fulci on New York Ripper, Murder Rock and House of Clocks. Roberto Gianviti also worked with Fulci a couple of times with Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Seven Notes in Black (AKA The Psychic) as well as Murder Rock. Lastly Don’t Torture a Duckling was composed by Riz Ortolani best known for his work on such films as Cannibal Holocaust and House by the Edge of the Park.

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Murder Rock (1984) Review

Posted in Murder Rock with tags , , , , on October 28, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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MURDER ROCK

*** Out of 5

Tagline- Save the Last Dance for Hell

Release Date- April 20th, 1984

Running Time- 92-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Giafranco Clerici, Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti & Vincenzo Mannino

Director- Lucio Fulci

Starring- Olga Karlatos, Cosimo Cinieri, Claudio Cassinelli and Ray Lovelock

Released in 1984 Murder Rock also goes under such titles as Dancing Death and Slashdance and if only the film turned out as great as those titles this would be a winner. Murder Rock also goes under the rather odd title The Demon Is Loose. A lot of reviews while not overly negative aren’t very positive either and I really can’t defend the film from its detractors, but Murder Rock isn’t a horrible film and over the years I’ve come to enjoy it despite its flaws. At this time in Fulci’s career he was a splatter filmmaker and some say if not for the gore Fulci wasn’t very good, which is something I disagree with. Sure the best part of his splatter films was of course the gore obviously, but they also had a nice eerie feel and if you go back to such films as Don’t Torture a Duckling, which features very little gore is in my opinion his best film and Zombi 2 while noted for its gore is a film filled with suspense, tension and an eerie tone. There is a lot more to Lucio Fulci films than gore and it’s too bad more people don’t take notice. Murder Rock features none of the gore Fulci was known for at the time and the deaths scenes are quite simple as well. Sadly those who think Fulci is nothing more than a gore director Murder Rock won’t do much to change their minds, but it does however make for a decent mystery and if anything this film is sort of one of those middle of the road films since its not by any means great, but its not a bad movie either.

As I’ve stated in other writings on Lucio Fulci after The New York Ripper in 1982 there was a major decline in his films and really the only film I hold in high regard after Ripper would be Cat in the Brain. The bulk of his films post 1982 are rather dire as films like Aenigma and Touch of Death are in my opinion really poor. I can tolerate Zombi 3 for the so bad it’s good vibe and the only other film I can tolerate would be this film Murder Rock. The one thing clear at least to me is Murder Rock is by a filmmaker whose career is about to hit the downside or I suppose already did hit the downside, but Fulci has enough tricks to just get by and make a film that while inferior to many of his past films is still a decent viewing.

The plot of the film is your standard Giallo with girls being killed at a dance school in New York; Candice (Karlatos) decides to do her own investigation and ends up meeting George Webb (Lovelock) a washed up actor/model who seems to be hiding some kind of secret.

The screenplay by Giafranco Clerici, Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti & Vincenzo Mannino is light on plot and characters, but does serve for a decent mystery and while the identity of the killer isn’t exactly shocking it also isn’t obvious either. Characters are decent, but at the end of the day rather faceless. Murder Rock never really strays from the formula found in these kind of films and is very much written by the book. However with that said the script isn’t a failure it just never really rises about average, but Italian horror films at least in the 80s weren’t known for having strong scripts so it really doesn’t hurt the film too much.

As director Lucio Fulci delivers a fairly well made film, but just lacks any energy and it seems Fulci was just sort of going through the motions. That’s not to say there was no effort, but it seems as if even Fulci was a bit bored or perhaps it was just a filmmaker running out of ideas on how to create suspense and tension. The opening death was strong, but after that Murder Rock does lack energy and excitement and the pacing can be a little sluggish in spots, but I was never really bored either. Murder Rock features none of the gore and graphic death scenes Fulci was known for at the time and this is a film that probably could have used some. The death scenes are a bit on the dull side perhaps that’s more due to some of the crazy death scenes of past Fulci films, but regardless perhaps the deaths didn’t need to be overly gory, but they do lack excitement. Despite the flaws, Fulci though does deliver some decent suspense in spots and like I said the identity of the killer shouldn’t come as a shocker, but it was also a decent mystery. Murder Rock isn’t gonna be listed as one of Lucio Fulci’s best efforts, but despite some sluggish pacing it does make for a decent viewing.

Murder Rock has gotten some mixed reviews and I really can’t defend the film from any negative reviews, but at the end of the day this really wasn’t such a bad film it just like I stated lacks energy at times and even the cast seems to be going through the motions as well. While my review isn’t exactly glowing I think Fulci fans can still get some enjoyment out of this, it won’t make your top 5 films by Lucio Fulci, but if you can get past the lack of gore you might find the film to be a nice time killer.

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City of the Living Dead (1980) Review

Posted in City of the Living Dead with tags , , , , on June 6, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD

**** Out of 5

Tagline- The Dead Shall Rise and Walk the Earth

Release Date- August 11th, 1980

Running Time- 93-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Lucio Fulci & Dardano Sacchetti

Director- Lucio Fulci

Starring- Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Janet Agren

Released in 1980 City of the Living Dead has become a favorite among Lucio Fulci fans and while most will cite Zombi 2 or The Beyond as his best film (I go with Don’t Torture a Duckling), but there is a minority of fans that hail City of the Living Dead as his best film and while I don’t agree with that I do understand the appeal the movie has. What some people don’t realize was in the 70s Fulci wasn’t a splatter filmmaker and actually made movies that were more story driven and while these films may have gained a following since their original release they didn’t get a lot of attention and with the release of Zombi 2, which was a massive success and it retained the classic style of the past Fulci flicks, but also added splatter F/X, which would become his trademark in the 80s.

I’m a big fan of Lucio Fulci, but after viewing movies like Don’t Torture a Duckling his splatter flicks don’t hold up nearly as well with me. My first introduction to the films of Lucio Fulci was his splatter flicks and upon my first viewings of these movies I loved them and Fulci was starting to climb the ranks of my favorite horror filmmakers. But like I said after watching some of his 70s flicks including Zombi 2, which again mixed in Fulci of the early to mid-70s and the splatter Fulci and as much as I enjoy his splatter films I’m also saddened he went down that direction in his career since he was as good as a filmmaker in the horror genre as anyone else, but people seem to forget that.

The screenplay written by Lucio Fulci and Dardano Sacchetti is mostly incoherent and lacks any real direction; it almost seems as if Fulci & Sacchetti just thought of random stuff that would be cool and added them into the screenplay without any thought and what there is of a plot seems more like an afterthought. After a Priest (Jovine) hangs himself in a cemetery that opens the gates of hell and why that happens well your guess is as good as mine. Fulci & Sacchetti give as little explanation as possible and in certain aspects it does work due to the fact we know as much as the characters, which helps us understand their confusion, but it also makes the movie extremely incoherent and the lack of any real explanation also makes it a pointless and confusing mess. The characters are fairly weak with very little depth, but however they are mostly likable and even if they lack depth they are still interesting and at least have their own identities, which most likely has more to do with the actors than the writing. The idea behind the film was strong, but it could have used a little more explanation.

This isn’t the typical zombie movie at all and the movie has much more of a supernatural tone. Windows shatter, blood pours down from the walls and zombies appear and disappear in the blink of an eye. The zombies also seem to have some kinda supernatural power; by making direct eye contact with them, well let’s just say it won’t end nicely for you. Also we know to kill a zombie give them a headshot. Here by simply stabbing the zombies in the stomach will get the job done. This is the one aspect of the script I think worked well since it keeps in tone with most zombie flicks in some areas, but also offers a twist to keep it from being like every other zombie movie produced at the time.

The direction by Lucio Fulci is actually fairly strong and while it cannot fully make up for the script, Fulci does create an eerie movie with great use of atmosphere and location. The film suffers a little early on from Fulci’s odd visual style with constant close up of the eyes, but once he tones that down, Fulci is able to deliver an eerie flick with some decent suspense and tension. The fact the plot is so incoherent it allows Fulci to create a dreamlike feel and make a movie that turns out better than maybe it should have. The pacing at times can be a little sluggish and the fact nothing really makes sense can lead to some slow moments, but in general the film is well paced. Most people will tune into City of the Living Dead for the gore and Fulci really delivers in that area. The girl who vomits her insides was rather brutal. I have seen so many splatter flicks and many even gorier than this film, but there is just something about that scene that always gets me. And the gore scene involving the death of Giovanni Lombardo Radice’s death is one of the best F/X scenes of all time. The movie is gory, but a lot of the death scenes can be redundant as a zombie grabs the back somebody’s head and rips off a chunk and while this was really cool the first time, but not so much after the 3rd time. Despite the lack of story and explanation of what’s happening, Fulci with his direction does keep the film enjoyable and while this isn’t my favorite film he made it would probably make my top 5.

Overall City of the Living Dead is an enjoyable movie and while it lacks any coherent plot it does have a nice eerie feel to the movie and even if I do like the movie I also feel this was the start of the decline in Fulci’s career when he became a splatter director though with that said he did follow this up with some memorable films. The strongest aspect of the film is the excellent cast and fans of Fulci will no doubt enjoy this one.

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The Black Cat (1981) Review

Posted in Black Cat (1981) with tags , , , , on June 5, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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THE BLACK CAT

** Out of 5

Tagline- When You Hear This Cat Breathing Down Your Neck; Start Praying

Release Date- April 4th, 1981

Running Time- 92-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Biagio Proietti & Lucio Fulci (Edgar Allan Poe)

Director- Lucio Fulci

Starring- Patrick Magee, David Warbeck, Mimsy Farmer, Al Cliver and Dagmar Lassander

Released in 1981 The Black Cat is one of Fulci’s lesser known films and for those who have seen the film it stands out due to by this point of Fulci’s career he was a splatter director and this film has very little blood. When looking at some of Fulci’s films in the 70s there was some gore, but they weren’t gore films, but most weren’t getting much attention, though have since built up a cult following, but it all changed in 1979 with the release of Zombi 2. As I’ve stated in other reviews of Fulci films Zombi 2 is more than just a splatter movie as it has some great suspense and tension and a great eerie feel. The gore is outstanding and very deserving of the credit it gets, but I do feel people sometimes don’t give the film the respect it deserves. After Zombi 2, Fulci would make a string of gore films starting in 1980 and 1981 with such films as City of the Living Dead, Contraband, The Beyond and House by the Cemetery and after those films came The Black Cat, which was followed up with the New York Ripper another film with grisly gore F/X so seeing as how The Black Cat is mostly bloodless it’s sort of forgotten and those who have seen it aren’t overly fond of it.

When I first saw the Black Cat while I can’t say I loved the film I did however find it a decent watch and for the most part I enjoyed it, but revisiting the film it doesn’t really hold up for me and it gets off to a decent start, but as the film goes on it becomes a bit of a chore to sit through. This isn’t Fulci’s worst film, but it is a contender for bottom 5. Many people see Fulci as nothing more than a gore director, which is something I disagree with as Don’t Torture a Duckling, which in my opinion was his best film has very little gore, but for those who think Fulci can only direct an enjoyable film due to the gore F/X the Black Cat will do nothing to change that notion. Even if the Black Cat was the typical Fulci film of its time it wouldn’t make this film anything special since sure when it comes to his splatter flicks the gore F/X were the star and if you remove them I still think the films would be decent due to the eerie atmosphere, but if I’m being totally honest no they wouldn’t be as good, but my point is they have more than just splatter scenes going for them whereas the Black Cat has very little going for it and gore would have helped, but it would still be one of Fulci’s lesser efforts.

Inspector Gorley (Warbeck) and Jill Trevers an American photographer investigate a series of deaths in a small English village, which are seen as accidental deaths, but as the investigation continues a black cat is often lurking around during the deaths and suspicion soon falls on Robert Miles (Magee) who has the ability to communicate with the dead.

The screenplay written by Biagio Proietti & Lucio Fulci is based off the Edgar Allan Poe story, but like many other films that were based off the Black Cat have very little to do with the Poe story and one has to wonder why this film and others even bothered unless it was simply for marketing. The script by Proietti & Fulci is rather boring with a weak plot and bland characters and even the dubbing was quite bland, which makes the characters even more lifeless. I suppose the idea itself wasn’t so bad, but the execution was way off and in the end the script ends up a total bore.

As director Lucio Fulci fails at brining much to the film as the Black Cat is poorly paced and lacks any energy. Apparently, Fulci only did this film as a favor and I wouldn’t be shocked if it were true since this was kind of a lazy effort. While some of the problems can be placed on the script, but even in the scenes meant to entice suspense, Fulci pretty much fails at every turn. There is also some unintentional comedy and simply put the film is just s mess. Honestly this really doesn’t even feel like a Fulci film outside of the visual side of the film and the close up of the eyes grows tiresome and are mostly used at the wrong times. In some ways this film started the decline in Fulci’s career as after this things would only seem to get worse. I loved the New York Ripper, which came out the following year, but outside of that the bulk of his work was rather subpar with Murder Rock and Zombi 3 being tolerable and Cat in the Brain being the only worthwhile film he made post New York Ripper. As I stated this film features very little gore and the film carries an R-rating and the gore would be the standard R-rated picture of its time. The Black Cat would have been better suited if Fulci went the splatter route, but even than it might make the film more tolerable, but when all is said and done this would still be one of Fulci’s weaker films.

Another problem with the film was the score by Pino Donaggio, which while not bad doesn’t really fit with the film. Donaggio is a good composer, but some of his scores can be either poor or don’t really fit the film and this was one of those scores.

Despite having a solid cast including Fulci regulars Al Cliver, Daniela Doria as well as David Warbeck of the Beyond and Dagmar Lassander of House by the Cemetery and the cinematographer being Sergio Salvati who worked on several Fulci films including Zombi 2, City of the Living Dead and the Beyond just to name a few, the Black Cat is a rather poor film that’s often boring and lifeless. The film isn’t a complete waste as it does have some decent moments, but my advice is to skip this and go right to the New York Ripper instead.

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The Directors: The Films of Lucio Fulci

Posted in Directors with tags on April 16, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

Here’s something new for the page. Over time these will evolve into profiles, but for now just keeping it simple.

Top 10

10. Murder Rock

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While far from a good film its grown on me over the years. It makes my top 10 mainly to have a top 10.

9. Zombie 3

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Make no mistake this is a bad film. If I’m in the right mood for it I can enjoy it other times be bored. Like the above its here to get a top 10.

8. Seven Notes in Black

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Originally this was higher up, but for me at least it doesn’t hold up as well on multiple viewings. With that said its still a solid film that relies more on suspense than gore.

7. The Beyond

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Many cite this as Fulci’s best. Obviously I disagree. The Beyond is an excellent flick that’s eerie and while incoherent the gore and atmosphere make up for it.

6. Cat in the Brain

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The pacing can be a little sluggish in spots, but overall this is a really fun film with some great gore scenes.

5. City of the Living Dead

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Like the Beyond, this can be incoherent, but the eerie feel and gore make up for it. However the incoherent plot in some ways helps the film as we’re as confused as the main characters. This has one of my favorite gore scenes with the girl vomiting her insides.

4. The House by the Cemetery

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I think I like this one more for what it could have been rather than what it was. It seems as if the film is building up to all these revelations, none of which come. But its an eerie film and has this really odd and creepy vibe. When all is said and done it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but its eerie enough.

3. The New York Ripper

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This film has far more going for it than given credit for. Unlike most of the films from Fulci’s splatter era this one has a coherent plot. While not his goriest film it does feature the most mean spirited deaths he ever shot. But when you get past that this film truly does have more to offer than people realize.

2. Zombi 2

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Most people will mention the gore scenes and for good reason, but there is a lot more happening than just gore. The film is loaded with eerie atmosphere and great suspense. This is truly a wonderful film.

1. Don’t Torture a Duckling

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Think Fulci is only a gore director? Well than watch this film. This is a movie I liked a lot, but after it was over I realized the full brilliance behind it. This is a must see and proves Fulci is as good as any other horror filmmaker.

With the good comes the bad. My bottom 4.

4. The House of Clocks

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It has its moments actually, but in the end its mostly a bore and by this point Fulci,was far removed from his glory days.

3. Demonia

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With the exception of a couple of gore scenes this can be a chore to sit through. Nice try, but a failure.

2. Touch of Death

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Like the above some decent gore scenes, but its just a bad film that’s more meant to be a comedy, only it isn’t funny. Like Demonia, the gore scenes from this are used it Cat in the Brain. So skip this and watch Cat in the Brain.

1. Aenigma

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Take a little Carrie and a little of Suspiria and what do you get? A really terrible film.

Horror by Year: 1982

Posted in Horror by Year with tags , , , , on April 14, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

Here’s my top 10 of 1982, which was a solid year, but as a list its not the strongest year. But I enjoyed all the films in my top 10. I know some people will disagree with my rating for the Thing. I like the film, but just never loved it as much as most Carpenter fans. Many cite that as one of if not his best. I’m a massive Carpenter fan, but it doesn’t crack my top 5. But again I do like the film just not as much as other people. Maybe one day that will change.

These lists are a work in progress as there will always be films left out since I either haven’t seen them (its not easy to track down certain titles and can be a bit expensive). Also there are films i haven’t seen in years and cannot fairly rate them. So at anytime the list can be altered.

10. Living Dead Girl- *** ½

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9. Madman- *** ½

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8. Pieces- *** ½

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7. The Thing- – *** ½

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6. Halloween 3- *** ½

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5. The Dorm That Dripped Blood- *** ½

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4. Friday the 13th Part 3- ****

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3. The Slumber Party Massacre- ****

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2. Tenebre- ****

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1. The New York Ripper- ****

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Aenigma (1988) Review

Posted in Aenigma with tags , , , on March 12, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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AENIGMA

** Out of 5

Release Date- August 15th, 1988 (Italy)

Running Time- 85-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Lucio Fulci & Giorgio Mariuzzo

Director- Lucio Fulci

Starring- Lara Naszinsky, Jared Martin, Ulli Reinthaler, Milijana Zirojevic, Dusica Zegarac

In general it seems as most filmmakers get older they start to decline and that seems far more common in the horror genre and Lucio Fulci who was one of the best horror filmmakers had one of the biggest declines as his later work were more often than not a sloppy mess. Earlier in his career Lucio Fulci made some serious and smart films like Don’t Torture a Duckling and Seven Notes in Black and with those two movies Fulci proved he could make a film as good as if not better than any other horror filmmaker. But the problem was nobody was really seeing these movies; it wasn’t until 1979 with Zombi 2 that Fulci became a power player in the horror genre. And while Zombi 2 is noted for its gore F/X with good reason the movie like his earlier work is filled with suspense and tension and that is what most people overlook about Lucio Fulci. In his prime, Fulci made some eerie flicks that were suspense and tension filled, but again often either overlooked or people just mention the splatter F/X.

Once the 80s started Fulci was now a splatter director and his movies were often incoherent, but what they lacked in plot they made up for in gore F/X and thus the title of the Godfather of Gore was born. But to Fulci’s credit even his splatter flicks also had some decent suspense and often had a feel of eerie at atmosphere. Granted his splatter flicks weren’t as good as his earlier work as a whole, but finally Fulci was getting his due. But after the release of The New York Ripper, Fulci seemed to lose his edge. The decline started and it was a rather big drop off. I personally loved the New York Ripper, but some felt the decline started there. I personally rate that as one of his best, but in general it was all downhill from there.

To be totally honest anything after The New York Ripper I don’t really anything he made with the exception of Cat in the Brain, which was excellent and to a lesser degree I can tolerate Murder Rock and Zombi 3 due to the so bad its good vibe it has going for it at times. But even if I can tolerate Murder Rock and Zombi 3 even those were a far cry from films like Don’t Torture a Duckling and Zombi 2. Aenigma may not be the worst movie in Fulci’s career, but one can possibly make a case for it. About the only positive thing I can say about Aenigma is it does feel like a Fulci flick something a lot of his later flicks lacked. But even though it felt like a Fulci flick it wasn’t a very good one. Aenigma has often been compared to Suspiria and Carrie, but this movie never ever reaches the level of greatness as those two films.

The screenplay by Lucio Fulci & Giorgio Mariuzzo is rather terrible; granted Fulci’s splatter flicks often weren’t very well written, but yet they worked despite that. But the characters in Aenigma are the typical faceless victims who quite honestly are better off dead. They’re really annoying and totally unlikable. The plot is a total mess, while the idea isn’t a bad; a girl in a coma takes over the body of another to get revenge for the accident that left her in a coma. Problem is nothing is really explained and we get useless scene after useless scene.

As director Fulci doesn’t fare any better; each scene is poorly set up with zero suspense and no real sense of pacing. While Aenigma isn’t poorly made in general it is a sloppy film. The 80s was the splatter era for Fulci and with Aenigma he strayed from that. This movie features very little gore and this movie really needed that. While gore wouldn’t have made this movie great or anything at least it would provide something. By this time in Fulci’s career he clearly wasn’t the same filmmaker and it very much show here. Besides trying to channel his inner Argento & De Palma, Fulci tries to make this a little more Americanized and it fails miserably.

Like I stated earlier in my review Lucio Fulci really was a lot better of a filmmaker than he got credit for. Don’t Torture a Duckling is easily one of the greatest Giallos ever made and Seven Notes in Black also serves as an excellent Giallo. Some people see Fulci as nothing more than a hack who can only deliver a gore movie. I urge those who think that to give the two movies I mentioned a chance and you’ll see there’s a lot more to Fulci. I really can’t think of many good things to say about Aenigma; simply put this is just a poor movie. I’d only recommend this to the hardcore Fulci fans like myself and I’m willing to bet most won’t like it. Aenigma is made by a director far past his prime. There’s no gore and no suspense and tension. Skip this one and go back and view Fulci’s work in the 70s and early 80s, but if you must continue with his later work just skip everything after New York Ripper until you get to the highly enjoyable Cat in the Brain.

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