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La tarantola dal ventre nero/The Black Belly of the Tarantula (71-28)
The movie provided by Lajiao and the Chinese subtitle provided by a volunteer peili
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La tarantola dal ventre nero/The Black Belly of the Tarantula
La tarantola dal ventre nero/The Black Belly of the Tarantula
It is shown the movie "La tarantola dal ventre nero/The Black Belly of the Tarantula" composed by Ennio Morricone (00:02:12)
La tarantola dal ventre nero/The Black Belly of the Tarantula
Director: Paolo Cavara
Genre: Crime
Movie Type: Giallo, Detective Film
Themes: Serial Killers
Main Cast: Barbara Bach, Barbara Bouchet, Rossella Falk, Giancarlo Giannini, Annabella Incontrera, Carla Mancini, Stefania Sandrelli, Silvano Tranquilli
Release Year: 1972
Country: FR/IT
Run Time: 88 minutes
Original Music: Ennio Morricone
Certification:UK:X (original rating) | USA:Not Rated (DVD rating) | Canada:13+ (Quebec) | Italy:T (DVD rating) | Finland:(Banned) (1972) | Sweden:15 | USA:R Company:Da Ma Produzione
Production Companies Da Ma Produzione P.A.C. (co-production)
La tarantola dal ventre nero Italy (original title)
Black Belly of the Tarantula USA
Den mystiske dr?paren Finland (Swedish title)
Der schwarze Leib der Tarantel West Germany
I mavri arahni Greece
La tarántula del vientre negro Spain
Med spindelns gift Sweden
Salaper?inen tappaja Finland
Sta nyhia tis mavris arahnis Greece (DVD title)
Tarentule au ventre noir France
Plot Summary: Inspector Tellini investigates serial crimes where victims are paralyzed while having their bellies ripped open with a sharp knife, much in the same way tarantulas are killed by the black wasp. As suspects keep dying, Inspector directs his attention to a spa all the victims had a connection with. Written by (IMDB)
Plot Summary2: This frightening horror-thriller stars Giancarlo Giannini as Inspector Tellini, chasing a killer whose victims are paralyzed with a poisoned acupuncture needle, forcing them to watch helplessly as their stomachs are ripped open with a sharp knife. This method duplicates the habits of the black wasp in slaying tarantulas, explaining the title. Much of the film is spent on a wild goose chase involving Silvano Tranquilli, the husband of the first victim (Barbara Bouchet). All of the suspects soon turn up dead and Giannini turns his attention to an upscale health spa, frequented by each victim, which is a front for blackmail and cocaine smuggling. The mystery itself is fairly obvious, but director Paolo Cavara includes a good deal of action and Ennio Morricone's score is effectively chilling. Among the cast are such genre favorites as Annabella Incontrera, Stefania Sandrelli, Claudine Auger, Rossella Falk, and Giancarlo Priete, and --as in many Italian thrillers of the period -- voyeurism is the primary motif. Barbara Bach and Carla Mancini appear briefly. ~ Robert Firsching, All Movie Guide

Plot Summary3

Product Description
A deranged killer is injecting beautiful women with the poison of a rare wasp, paralyzing them and forcing them to witness their own brutal murders. Academy Award(r) nominee Giancarlo Giannini (SEVEN BEAUTIES, HANNIBAL) stars as the dogged detective who takes the case only to find himself trapped in a web of immorality and murder. From the tantalizingly erotic opening to its vicious stunner of an ending, experience what is considered to be one of the most riveting and acclaimed films in the entire giallo genre.

Claudine Auger (THUNDERBALL, TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE), Barbara Bouchet (CASINO ROYALE, DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING) and Barbara Bach (THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, SHORT NIGHT OF THE GLASS DOLLS) co-star in this rarely-seen classic directed by Paolo Cavara (MONDO CANE) and featuring one of Ennio Morricone's best scores ever, now transferred in High Definition from the original camera negative and available for the first time ever in America.(here)

Plot 4: The Black Belly of the Tarantula is a 1971 Italian film directed by Paolo Cavara. It is one of many Italian giallo films to be inspired by Dario Argento's successful debut thriller The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. The film was shot on location in Rome, Italy in 1970. Though fairly obscure for many years the film has recently made a come back thanks to the rising fan base for the giallo genre. The film has gained much praise from the horror community, one writer at cited it as the best giallo ever made. Blue Underground Entertainment released the film on DVD in 2006.

Plot 5: A mysterious killer is attacking women associated with a blackmail conspiracy. The deranged murderer seizes his victims by paralyzing them with a needle and then slicing open their bellies. It's up to reluctant Inspector Tellini to find out who the killer is, before he too becomes a target..(here)

La tarantola dal ventre nero/The Black Belly of the Tarantula
Comment-1: Editorial Reviews
Black Belly of the Tarantula, following the release of Dario Argento's first feature, Bird With the Crystal Plumage, is one of the films that defined the Giallo genre's attractive blend of horror and high fashion. With a score by Ennio Morricone, direction by Paolo Cavara, and starring the handsome Giancarlo Giannini, Black Belly makes the story of a perverted serial killer who first paralyzes his victims with the poison wasps used to stun tarantulas seem cool and intriguing. This could be due to the fact that three of the killer's sexy victims went on to become Bond Girls (Claudine Auger, Barbara Bouchet, and Barbara Bach). Murders set in a massage parlor, an upscale fur shop, and in various white-sheeted beds showcase the aesthetic beauty of bloodshed. Giannini, who plays the suave police inspector, sleuths his way to the killer and finally fights him with the same vampiric ferocity that a wasp attacks a tarantula. In fact, stock footage of the carnivorous insects are interspersed throughout the film for added effect. Plots in Giallo films are basic; rather, the way murders are shot make the films memorable. The finest scenes in Black Belly occur during the stalker's pursuit of his "prey." Women's faces smear across the screen, their makeup palettes carefully matched to the rooms in which they are sliced open. With less actual gore than some other classic Giallo films such as Perfume of the Lady In Black and All The Colors of The Dark, Black Belly of the Tarantula relies more on style than on brutal violence. For this reason, it would be a good introduction to Italian horror for those who want to avoid witnessing serious carnage. --Trinie Dalton
Comment-2: Customer Reviews Gorgeous transfer of Pop-Art vision of '70s Rome
La Tarantola dal Ventre Nero, to give it it's Italian name, is much more than just another piece of trashy European cinema. It is an exquisite example of how wonderful cinema was in the late '60s / early '70s and an excellent reminder as to why I seldom bother going to movies these days.

Essentially, it's a whodunnit and we could debate the strength and weaknesses of the plot (and there are plenty of weaknesses) but the key to this film is it's cinematic style, a kind of garish Pop-Art vision of '70s Rome that mesmerises with each frame. It's loaded with '60s accoutrements - retro-futuristic furniture, glamorous women's fashions, old-school Alfa Romeo's (was there ever a cooler vehicle?). And the acting is stellar together with yet another legendary Morricone soundtrack.

As for the DVD itself, this is the first Blue Underground disk that I have bought and I can say without equivocation that it's the best looking picture that I've ever seen in this format. Really vibrant colors that are a joy to watch even at moments when the plot begins to sag. And full marks to BU for including the original Italian mono soundtrack with English subtitles. In all, it's a great product that really captures how good DVD can be when someone takes care with these things. I will certainly be buying many more Blue Underground films in the future.

So, you get '70s Rome, funky decor, brash colors, a reasonable plot and if that ain't enough, there are not one, not two but THREE Bond girls in this film (and one of them gets nude and all).

No excuses for not owning this one.(here)

Comment-3: One By One, Gorgeous Women Fall Prey To The Sting Of The Deadly Tarantula Wasp
"The Black Belly of the Tarantula" is a superb giallo in the tradition of Dario Argento's "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage." Both are very similar in that someone is viciously knifing beautiful women to death.

"The Black Belly of the Tarantula" was produced with a high budget and was well received throughout the world. Everything about this movie is beautiful and extravagant: the photography, the settings, and the actors/actresses themselves. Three gorgeous women who starred in James Bond movies are in this giallo. Barbara Bouchet, a giallo regular, is the first victim. (She gave great performances in Lucio Fulci's "Don't Torture a Duckling" and Emilio P. Miraglia's "The Red Queen Kills 7 Times). There is plenty of action and suspense in a plot that involves blackmail, drug smuggling, revenge, and creepy crawlers.

Dressed all in black, the killer looks like a wasp as he injects wasp venom into his female victims. As they lay on their beds paralyzed, the killer disembowels them while they watch helplessly. The killer's motive is mundane but doesn't detract from the overall chilling effect of the film. A great lounge score is provided by Ennio Morricone who provided the music for many Spaghetti Westerns and Italian gialli.

"The Black Belly of the Tarantula" is a must see for all fans of Italian gialli and fans of the lead actors/actresses, such as Giancarlo Giannini, Barbara Bouchet, Claudine Auger, and Barbara Bach. It is definitely a keeper in my collection..(here)

La tarantola dal ventre nero/The Black Belly of the Tarantula
Comment-4: Now this is what I call a classic "giallo" Horror film!
To those of you who are expecting the buckets of blood and gore found in some other Italian Horror movies (DEEP RED, HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY and SUSPIRIA just to name a few), might I suggest renting or buying one of those listed titles instead. If you're hoping for the visceral carnage and grisly violence that makes this genre so notorious, prepare to be disappointed. THE BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA relys more on mood and classically paced atmosphere, rather than shocking death and explicit gore. In a lot of ways, this is a much smarter and methodical Horror movie than the rest.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love "slasher" movies too! There's something to be said about a guy wearing a hockey mask, chopping and hacking his way through a Summer camp full of idiotic teenagers! I also enjoy the more well known "masters" of the Italian Horror Giallo scene as well. Directors such as Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento have made some of the best Horror movies of all time! Films such as INFERNO and THE BEYOND have a good reputation for a reason. They're classics, plain and simple. In terms of directors from that inparticular scene, they're the best of the best!

Yet, as a Horror fan, sometimes we feel the need to hunt down the more obscure movies to add into our collection. That's where films like THE BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA come in. I had never heard of this movie until a couple of years ago and I still hadn't seen it until recently this year. After watching it, I can safely say it's one of the best Italian "giallo" Horror films I've ever seen. Yet, it's not perfect. Let's get into the details here.

The movie is basically about this killer who uses a potent type of wasp poison that paralyzes it's victims (mainly women), while keeping them alive and aware of what's happening to them the whole time. After the victims have been properly subdued, the killer then uses a large knife to cut open the stomachs of these women! There seems to be no evidence at each crime scene outside of the disemboweled bodies of the girls and the fact the killer used some type of paralyzing serum. The rest of the movie plays out like a typical "who done it", leading up to a rather intense conclusion.

All of this sounds horrifying (and for the most part, it is) but like I said earlier in my review, this movie 'aint no blood bath! All of the death scenes have the punch of an explicit "giallo" Horror movie, yet none of the bite. There is genuine suspense in this movie, but none of the shocking pay offs we've come to expect from this genre. Whenever the time comes to show the killer disemboweling a girl, all the audience see's is the knife making the cut (bloody as it is) and then nothing more.

Really though, these are small problems considering the movie on the whole is so well done! THE BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA is more about style, sex appeal, atmosphere and mood. The music also has this rather sleazy and slow quality to it, giving the viewer a good sense of the intended vibe here. Some how, this is more of a "classy" Horror movie than the rest. It's sleazy, it's horrifying and it's definitely "giallo." Oh', did I forget to mention that three of the leading ladies in this movie are BOND (007) girls!?! This movie seems to have something for everyone.

Gore Hounds, better luck next time! Despite it's not all that gory, there's enough menace, nudity and Horror to keep even the most hardened "cult" movie fan glued to the TV set! This is also the perfect "giallo" Horror film to show people who aren't that accustomed to the rather bloody and shocking genre. Start with BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA and then move on to DEEP RED. After that, you'll have a pretty good idea if this type of Horror is for you or not. I personally think this is a great movie!

I also recommended this film to passing fans of Horror in general. If you're the type that only watches Horror movies every now and again, this movie is perfect for you! You could do a "double feature" showing of this movie and HALLOWEEN (an example of a general Horror film) at your next party, and I'm sure everyone would be satisfied with both movies. THE BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA is intense and scary, without all the blood and guts of something like DEAD ALIVE or HELLRAISER. In that retrospect, this movie is perfect!

Over and out.(here)

Comment-5: The Black Belly of the Tarantula (Paolo Cavara, 1971) on: 25 Feb 2008 - 08:56
Giancarlo Giannini, Claudine Auger, Barbara Bouchet, Barbara Bach

Beautiful women are being murdered by an unseen killer by injecting his victims with the venom from a rare species of wasp. The women are paralyzed and must watch helpless as the murderer mutilates their bodies. Inspector Tellini's dedication to his job as well as capturing the killer brings about danger to his personal life as the killer eventually targets his wife as his next victim.

I couldn't find a thread for this one as I thought there would be one considering this seems to be one of the more well known entries in the Giallo genre. There are some spoilers below but I imagine I'm probably the only one here who hasn't seen the film yet. I decided to watch one of the dozen or so of these I bought recently as aside from a number of Argento's and a few others, I'd seen relatively few Gialli.

Although I enjoyed it, I can't help but be slightly disappointed with the whole thing. The means by which the killer savages his victims is one of the more disturbing methods I've seen made even more creepy during a scene in which Tellini watches a film on a battle between a wasp and a Tarantula and learns what happens when the spider loses the fight. There isn't much gore to speak of save for the first murder but there is significant build up to each one most especially one sequence wherein Tellini desperately wants to speak with a suspect involved in a blackmailing scam that she may be the next victim. In fact, the killer is hiding out in another room in her apartment unknowingly to both her and the detective.

I guess with such a lurid title and the killers method of murder, I was expecting something a little more flashy in the gore department but taking the film as is, it's quite beautiful to look at with some striking compositions and shots with a few of them having a painterly quality about them. But considering the year in which it was made, the bloody violence hadn't crept into this genre yet. It is a bit slow going but the plentiful red herrings and the aforementioned beautiful photography not to mention the unusual and haunting score from Morricone make it a worthwhile film.

There wasn't as much Bouchet or Bach as I would have liked but the opening is undoubtedly the highlight especially when Bouchet gets up from the table and her glorious gluteus maximus is on display. I was a bit shocked when Barbara Bach was rather viciously butchered. You don't see anything but I was expecting her to not die in this film and her death scene was quite cruel even without any graphic gore on display.

All in all I liked the film but expectations dulled the experience for me a bit but with all the merits the film has going for it, I'm sure upon second viewing I will appreciate this movie on a whole different level.

03-About the derictor Paolo Cavara

Overview (IMDB)
Date of Birth:4 July 1926, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy See more ? Date of Death:7 August 1982, Rome, Italy

Awards:2 nominations


the derictor Paolo Cavara
(Sorry only Italian) La sua attività come documentarista iniziò assai presto, nei primi anni Cinquanta, quando era ancora studente di architettura all'Università di Firenze. In quello stesso periodo fece anche qualche esperienza come aiuto regista di lungometraggi a soggetto, fra i quali possiamo ricordare La Maja desnuda del 1958. Attivo collaboratore di Gualtiero Jacopetti, diede un significativo apporto alle opere di solito attribuite in toto a questo regista, girando egli stesso molte riprese, sia in Mondo cane (1962) che ne La donna nel mondo (1963). Con quest'ultimo film Cavara esordi come regista di lungometraggi, avendo a fianco, oltre che Jacopetti, anche il suo stretto collaboratore Franco Prosperi. Si specializzò così in un genere di documentario scandalistico e provocatorio, di notevole successo nei primi anni Sessanta, ma non sempre credibile dal punto di vista della verità oggettiva. Del medesimo genere fu anche il successivo I malamondo (1964), in cui, tuttavia, Cavara iniziò a prendere le distanze dagli aspetti più scopertamente faziosi dell'opera di Jacopetti, temperandoli attraverso una visione più obbiettiva e maggiormente critica della realtà umana e sociale oggetto dei documentari. Procedendo su questo stesso percorso, Cavara realizzò nel 1967 L'occhio selvaggio, un interessante film a soggetto, in gran parte autobiografico, soprattutto per quanto concerneva la critica ai metodi usati fino ad allora per girare documentari di forte presa sul pubblico, certamente provocatori, ma non veritieri. Negli anni successivi, abbandonato il genere documentaristico, Cavara si dedicò a film più commerciali, con cui ottenne validi risultati, sia di pubblico che di critica, soprattutto con due film “gialli”, La tarantola dal ventre nero del 1971 e E tanta paura, del 1976. Negli ultimi anni della sua breve esistenza, Cavara lavorò soprattutto per la televisione, come regista e come sceneggiatore. (here)


Filmography (Here)

  1. "Fregoli" (1981) TV mini-series
  2. La locandiera (1980)

  3. Sarto per signora (1979) (TV)
  4. Atsalut pader (1979)
  5. Plot of Fear (1976)
    ... aka "...e tanta paura" - Italy (original title)
  6. Virility (1974)
    ... aka "Virilit? - Italy (original title)
  7. Il lumacone (1974)
  8. Deaf Smith & Johnny Ears (1972)
    ... aka "Los amigos" - Italy (original title)
  9. Black Belly of the Tarantula (1971)
    ... aka "La tarantola dal ventre nero" - Italy (original title)

  10. La cattura (1969)
  11. L'occhio selvaggio (1967)
    ... aka "The Wild Eye" - USA (dubbed version)
  12. Witchdoctor in Tails (1966)
  13. Malamondo (1964)
    ... aka "I malamondo" - Italy (original title)
  14. La donna nel mondo (1963)
  15. Mondo cane (1962)
    ... aka "Mondo Cane No. 1" - USA (reissue title)
    ... aka "Tales of the Bizarre: Rites, Rituals and Superstitions" - USA (video box title)
  1. La bella Otero (1984) (TV) (writer)
  2. "Fregoli" (1981) TV mini-series (writer)

  3. Atsalut pader (1979) (screenplay) (story)
  4. Stay as You Are (1978) (story)
    ... aka "Cos?come sei" - Italy (original title)
  5. Plot of Fear (1976) (story)
    ... aka "...e tanta paura" - Italy (original title)
  6. Il lumacone (1974) (writer)
  7. Deaf Smith & Johnny Ears (1972) (writer)
    ... aka "Los amigos" - Italy (original title)

  8. La cattura (1969) (writer)
  9. L'occhio selvaggio (1967) (screenplay) (story)
    ... aka "The Wild Eye" - USA (dubbed version)
  10. Malamondo (1964) (writer)
    ... aka "I malamondo" - Italy (original title)
  11. La donna nel mondo (1963) (writer)
  12. Mondo cane (1962) (writer)
    ... aka "Mondo Cane No. 1" - USA (reissue title)
    ... aka "Tales of the Bizarre: Rites, Rituals and Superstitions" - USA (video box title)


04-Italian Horror Movies
Italian Horror Movies

The words “Italian horror” are enough to send shivers of excitement up the spines of hardcore horror fans around the globe. Sure, these movies may sometimes contain lackluster acting and bad dubbing, but Italian horror films are also known for brutal violence and plenty of gore (with neither women nor children being spared). Often containing surreal scenes and plotlines, Italian horror movies tend to be a breath of fresh air when compared to their more formulaic cousins from the United States.

While the scariest Italian horror tends to be found in the films of the ‘70s and ‘80s, the tradition of Italian horror movies stretches back all the way to the ‘50s. In recent years, the number of genre films have suffered a notable decline, but the occasional brutal gem still gets made.

Below, I have attempted to give an overview of the Italian horror movie industry. While this list is by no means complete, it should serve as a guide to some of the more essential Italian horror movies and Italian horror directors. If you see even one movie on this list–and enjoy it–then I’ll feel as though my efforts haven’t been in vain.

Origins of the Italian Horror Movie

To find the origins of Italian horror, we must journey back to 1956. It was in this year that director and sculptor Riccardo Freda made I Vampiri (also known as The Devil’s Commandment), a film revolving around young women being abducted and having their blood drained. While the film was a box office disappointment, it did pave the way for more successful Italian horror movies. It should also be noted that Freda left the project with two days to go, and the film was completed by a cameraman named Mario Bava (who would himself go on to become one of the best-known Italian horror directors).

In 1960, Renato Polselli directed The Vampire and the Ballerina, but it wasn’t met with much enthusiasm. At this point, the Italian horror movement looked to be over before it even got started. That all changed later in 1960, however, as Mario Bava exploded onto the scene with The Mask of Satan (also known as Black Sunday in the U.S.). Considered one of the all-time scariest Italian horror films, The Mask of Satan told the story of a witch who returned from the grave to seek revenge on the descendents of her killers.

The film was a hit in Italy and abroad, and many critics pointed to Bava’s intricate use of light and shadow to create mood and tension. The film launched Bava’s directorial career, and it also served as a star vehicle for actress Barbara Steele (who would star in a total of nine Italian horror movies).

With the origin of Italian horror now firmly set, the genre was allowed to flourish throughout the rest of the ‘60s. Riccardo Freda (under the pseudonym Robert Hampton) returned to the horror genre with The Terror of Dr. Hitchcock (aka The Horrible Dr. Hichcock) in 1962 and a sequel, Ghost, in 1963. Antonio Margheriti made Castle of Blood in 1964, and later that year the Italian horror director would also release The Virgin of Nueremburg and The Long Hair of Death.

Mario Bava was especially busy during this period. Coming off his success with The Mask of Satan, Bava followed up with The Evil Eye (1961), Black Sabbath (1963), What!The Whip and the Body AKA (1963), Blood and Black Lace (1964), and Kill, Baby, Kill (1968). The latter, a story about a series of murders in a small village, is considered another high point of the Italian horror movie genre.

Rise of the Giallo

Giallo, a style of Italian horror film known for its combination of sex and violence, emerged onto the cinematic landscape in the ‘70s. In Italian, the word giallo means “yellow,” which indicates its origins in cheap paperback mystery novels with yellow covers. In English, the word has come to mean an entire range of Italian horror films, especially those with unique musical scores (often featuring the works of composer Ennio Morricone or the rock band Goblin), stylized scenes of blood and mayhem, nudity, and creative camerawork. While many of these films retained the element of mystery found in their literary predecessors, the conventions of the slasher film were also added. Themes of paranoia and madness are also quite common. In their native land, these films are known as “Giallo all’italiana” or “Thrilling.”

While these giallo films were separate from those of the gothic-horror genre, the two began to combine over time. This resulted in even more creative cinematic endeavors, and a legion of devoted fans flocked to such films. Many giallo were not initially well-received in the U.S., however, as the films were often poorly dubbed and re-edited. But their fan base grew over time, establishing the reputations of Italian horror directors such as Lucio Fulci, Umberto Lenzi, Pupi Avati, Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Sergio Martino and Aldo Lado.

The first giallo film, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, actually appeared in 1962, and it was made by none other than Mario Bava. Now a veteran director, the former cameraman for Riccardo Freda cemented the popularity of the genre in 1964 when he made Blood and Black Lace (or Six Women for an Assassin). While containing a whodunit aspect, the film was also shockingly violent for the time. Bava would later make the giallo films Five Dolls for an August Moon (1970) and Bay of Blood (or Twitch of the Death Nerve) (1971).

Of all the Italian horror directors, the one to become best-known to international audiences was Dario Argento. With his unique visual style and over-the-top violence, Argento brought giallo into the Italian mainstream and provided a face for the global horror community. His first film, Bird With the Crystal Plumage, was released in 1970 and inspired a number of Italian horror movies containing the names of animals. Argento’s next films were Cat o’ Nine Tails and Four Flies on Grey Velvet, both released in 1971.

Dario Argento made Deep Red (or Profondo Rosso) in 1976. It took giallo films to new heights, and while it did retain a certain narrative structure, Argento was clearly more interested in exploring visual symbology throughout the movie. The trademark Dario Argento violence is still present in Deep Red, as teeth are bashed out, heads are decapitated, and one unlucky victim is severely scalded in a bathtub full of water.

Giallo films would continue to be popular throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, with the following titles being some of the best examples of the genre:

The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (aka Next!) (Sergio Martino, 1971)
Don’t Torture a Duckling (Lucio Fulci, 1972)
Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (Sergio Martino, 1972)
What Have You Done to Solange? (Massimo Dallamano, 1972)
Torso (Sergio Martino, 1973)
Eyeball (Umberto Lenzi, 1974)
A Dragonfly for Each Corpse (Leon Klimovsky, 1974)
The Psychic (Lucio Fulci, 1977)
Tenebrae (Dario Argento, 1982)
The New York Ripper (Lucio Fulci, 1982)
Deliria (Michele Soavi, 1987)
Opera (Dario Argento, 1988)
The Golden Age of Italian Horror Movies

The Italian horror movement entered its golden age with the release of Dario Argento’s Suspiria in 1976. This was followed up by his equally influential Inferno in 1980. During this period, many Italian horror films were also turning to themes of zombies and demonic possession, obviously inspired by movies such as Dawn of the Dead and The Exorcist. Lucio Fulci’s Zombi II (1979), for example, remains a film which is still talked about due to its high gore content and the surrealistic showdown between a zombie and a shark. Gates of Hell, also known as City of the Living Dead (1980), is another Lucio Fulci film which still receives attention from fans of Italian horror movies. Exceedingly graphic, Gates of Hell features a scene in which a character vomits up her own intestines (in reality, the actress actually vomited up sheep intestines).

As the zombie genre continued to grow in popularity, a number of cannibal-themed films also began to get made. The most notorious of these is Cannibal Holocaust, made in 1980 by Ruggero Deodato. In it, a documentary crew heads into the Amazon jungle to search for a mythical tribe of cannibals. In order to get more interesting footage, they take to raping, torturing and killing the natives they encounter. Besides the extreme violence simulated in the film, Cannibal Holocaust is also known for showing the real-life deaths of a number of animals. Deodato continued to work in the genre after this film, with 1993’s Washing Machine widely regarded as his other notable work.

Mario Bava’s son, Lamberto Bava, also made his mark with films such as Demons (1985) and Demons II (1987). Lamberto Bava outdid those who were ripping off The Exorcist or Dawn of the Dead or by combining the themes of zombies and demonic possession into one film.

The Decline of Italian Horror Movies

As the 1990s rolled around, the momentum of the Italian horror film had started to slow. Dario Argento tried his hand at Hollywood, but the results were disappointing. Mario Bava passed away in 1980, and Lucio Fulci died in 1996.

One of the few significant Italian horror movies to be released in the ‘90s was Cemetery Man (aka Dellamorte Dellamore), directed by Michele Soavi. Starring Rupert Everett, Cemetery Man tells the story of a cemetery caretaker whose corpses won’t stay in the ground. Filled with plenty of nudity, gore, and dark comedy, many credit it with single-handedly keeping the Italian horror movie alive during the decade.

But by the dawn of the new millennium, the state of the genre was rapidly deteriorating. Dario Argento’s movies lacked their former visceral power, Sergio Martino had transitioned to working in Italian television, and even Lamberto Bava expressed a preference for making movies aimed at children.

At the same time, the mainstream Italian cinema was experiencing a resurgence led by men such as Giuseppe Tornatore, Gabriele Salvatore, Roberto Benigni and Nanni Moretti. This, coupled with the explosion of the Asian horror market, served to diminish the popularity of Italian horror films both at home and on the international market.

As of this writing, the horror genre has been somewhat forgotten in Italian cinema. While fans can still choose from hundreds of “classics,” anyone looking for new Italian horror films will have to wait patiently until the next Argento, Bava or Fulci comes along and reignites the industry.(Here)

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August 8, 2010
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