Interview by William Simmons
Lucio Fulci was a filmmaker whose defiance of authority was as striking as the blood-and-sex drenched images layering his amoral splatter-ballets of nihilistic dread and wonder. He is still known most widely for his gleefully excessive gut-muncher Zombie (1979) and the hyper violent unofficial 'trilogy' City Of The Living Dead (1980), The Beyond ( 1981), and House By The Cemetery (1981). A maligned poet of the perverse who delighted in peeling back the raw exterior of reality, Fulci defied the knee-jerk philosophy of traditional conservative cinema, employing ultra-violent examinations of the surreal to study the chaotic bleakness informing existence. With a camera lavishing detail on decadence and moralistic decay, Fulci forced audiences weaned on the laughably rigid morality of Hollywood horror to investigate new possibilities of physical corruption and emotional extremes - themes largely ignored by directors who lacked the nerve or aesthetic sense required to treat the macabre and tragic with such honesty or devotion. More importantly, he used grotesque imagery and anti-narratives to evoke the fragility of human love and hope, emphasizing the emotional territories of wonder and pain.
Despised by censors, reviled by proponents of 'subtle' terror, and victim to the political/economical factions of his own native film industry, Fulci was also betrayed by the intensity of his own thematic obsessions with moral corruption and the questionable integrity of perception -- the very tool by which we define reality and one's place in a larger spiritual and physical context of an often malignant universe. Fulci crafted in his unrepentantly somber, inspired cinematic fragments a geography of isolation. In the chaotic center of triumphant decadence and moral ambiguity, his vision imbued fetishistic visions of earthly decadence and supernatural speculation with an impressive philosophic vitality.
Beginning his lengthy erratic career by writing and direction comedies, Fulci proved himself both an efficient and inspired artist when he lent his feverish imagination and technical expertise to the gialli. Who can claim that this opinionated and haunted director was unable to knit together complex and intellectually stimulating stories when considering the subversive delights of Perversion Story, Lizard in a Woman's Skin, or Don't Torture a Duckling? And who can fail to appreciate the tragic complexity and scathing criticism of organized religion inherent in his costume drama Beatrice Cenci? If Fulci's more celebrated supernatural horror films displayed an irreverent disdain for traditional plotting, than this was a conscious decision, not the result of a stylistic handicap. Such knee-jerk reactions and critical prejudice pursued the director throughout his angst riddled life, culminating in a series of frustrating commercial failures, ill health, and media disdain.
As is often the case, Fulci found greater popularity after his death in March 1996 than he had ever enjoyed while alive. Several of his most notable achievements have been enshrined in special edition DVDs (and some not so special ones!). This resurgence of interest has led to additional critical attention as well, most notably in Stephen Thrower's Beyond Terror. While exhaustively researched, this insightful study of Fulci's key themes and aesthetic preoccupations wasn't intended to examine Fulci's personality or private life. Moved by a lifetime devotion to Fulci's unique brand of horror and a burning curiosity to learn who Fulci was beyond his shocking images, Mike Baronas embarked upon a quest to dissect the man behind the camera. How better to accomplish this than by going straight to those who knew the man best -- namely, the actors, technicians, FX artists, and directors who had managed to penetrate his rigid exterior.
Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered was conceived.
With his partner in crime Kit Gavin, Mike began the grueling task of hunting down and interviewing over a hundred of Fulci's contemporaries and associates (while busily assembling supplemental material for European horror DVDs for companies like Shriek Show and Synapse). Baronas' hunger to better know the elusive director/writer became an opportunity to chart the subject of Italian horror cinema itself. Baronas armed himself with a question that was profound in its very simplicity: "What is your fondest memory of Lucio Fulci?" The answers were intriguing, shocking, and heartfelt. So much so that Baronas decided to scrap the book for a DVD. Conceived by a fan for the fans, Paura is a historical document on Italian horror and exploitation, a time capsule encompassing an entire generation.
88 interviews are featured on the disc, revolving around the major stages -- and films -- of Fulci's career. These cover diverse stages of the man's career, focusing on the people who worked with Fulci during the Spaghetti Westerns and Giallo, as well as those who collaborated with him during his 'golden period' of graphic excess. Of interest to fans and critics alike, Parua promises to examine Fulci not only as the demanding and obsessed craftsman, but also the lonely recluse, the haunted family man, and the steadfast friend. Fabrizio De Angelis, Florinda Bolkan, Catriona MacColl, Sergio Salvati, Paolo Malco, and Giannetto De Rossi, are just some of the industry icons of fright and fantasy who describe their intimate memories of this dedicated filmmaker - a man who put into cinema far more than he ever received.
"My original idea for the DVD," Mike says, "was as a bonus for fans to see what these people look like today, and it turned out to be a much more poignant aspect of what I was trying to accomplish than I imagined. I got a broad range of answers, but more than that, a peek into who he (Fulci) was as a person, which is the real crux of what I was trying to do."
Paura victimizes the market February 26, 2008 but pre-orders for the DVD have been available from Paura Productions since January 6, 2008. This professionally produced, insightful, and admittedly emotional tribute to Fulci will be available in three editions, including extremely limited autographed copies which feature the signatures of 50 of EuroHorror's top stars.
Baronas is currently overseeing the DVD production, handling marketing, and preparing for his next service to horror fandom, which is an effort to bring several EuroHorror performers to the United States for their first public appearances. He will be heading out in March with legendary cult actor Giovanni Lombardo Radice (City of the Living Dead, House on the Edge of the Park) to promote the DVD at a number of horror conventions across the country. In the midst of all this, Mike made time to speak with Sex Gore Mutants concerning Fulci's legacy, the fine art of vomiting intestines, and why he's spent more than half his life investigating a man whose outrageous imagination gave flesh to our deepest fears.
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William Simmons: You have dedicated a good part of your life investigating European horror filmmakers, particularly Lucio Fulci. Explain the attraction.
Mike Baronas: It was the box cover art of Fulci's The Gates Of Hell at a local video store I used to visit after school that mesmerized me when I was 14. This was back in 1984. When I was 15, my mom put a $500 deposit down to rent a VCR and Gates was one of the four films I rented. The off-putting tone was set right off the bat as I put in the tape and sat there in total darkness. All of a sudden Catriona MacColl screamed just before the film's title. It freaked me out. I'll never forget it as long as I live.
WS: What unique emotional or visual aesthetics do European directors possess?
MB: European directors focus on the visual first, emotion second and plotline a distant third or even fourth. I found The Gates Of Hell so unpredictable and so thick with atmospheric that I needed to seek out what else Fulci had done. After seeing a number of his classics, I realized he was tantalizing a primordial instinct with his use of gore.
WS: Which distinct visual, storytelling, or directorial skills made Fulci unique from his peers?
MB: You can't help but look when you drive past a car crash, and Fulci brought that to the screen. He just ran with it and lingered on the bloodshed in his horror films until even the most hardcore horror fan had his fair share. Of course, finding pleasure in violence is a very Roman thing anyhow, but I think Fulci utilized it more effectively than any other director in history, Romero probably being second in this regard. This is why Lucio's films will last far into the future.
WS:Readers may not be aware of your work as supplements director for Media Blasters, which saw you and Kit Gavin chasing down the talent behind such films as Cannibal Holocaust, Zombie, A Lizard In A Woman's Skin, Demonia, etc. Explain how you became involved.
MB: It was through my friend Mark Jason Murray from Film Fanaddict (or Shocking Images at the time). He introduced me to John Sirabella of Media Blasters. John was putting out his first horror title, Demonia, and was looking for disc artwork. While there were never any posters or lobby cards from that film produced, I had just interviewed star Brett Halsey for the book I was writing on Lucio and sent some text clips about his memories from the film off to John. I then tracked down the film's leading lady, Meg Register, but she turned out to be a complete flake.
WS: How so?
MB: Well, we were set to fly her to New York from California to do an in-studio interview. She agreed to this initially, but then she then wanted a flight to see her mom in Virginia after that. John agreed to that, but then she asked for $500 for the interview. And then she wanted $250 from me to speak to her for my book project after I got her this gig in the first place. We told her to forget the whole thing. Some people just don't know when to stop.
WS: Can you recall your more challenging experiences while interviewing elusive talent? Some of your most memorable or surprising?
MB: John at MB sent Kit and I off on our first trip to interview those involved in Deodato's Jungle Holocaust. That was challenging in that it was September 2001. We were doing our first interview for the disc with the late Ivan Rassimov as the planes where smashing into the World Trade Center.
Assembling the talent for the Lizard In A Woman's Skin was also challenging, yet rewarding as we had to travel to Italy, England, Spain, France & California to secure all the interviews and locales. Kit did an amazing job pulling it together in the end and it's probably the best work we did for Shriek Show.
WS: How did you become involved with Kit Gavin? Which roles did you each play in securing supplemental material?
MB: Kit and I actually met via the newsgroup Mobius Home Video Forum. We got to chatting back and forth and he was hip to working on my Fulci book project. When the Media Blasters gig came up, we found a way to facilitate in-person interviews for it during down time from the Shriek Show discs.
As for who did what, I handled the finances, arranged the trips, did the camerawork and had some English-speaking contacts while Kit spoke French & some Italian and had knack for tracking people down. We split writing interview questions depending on who knew which film better.
WS: How difficult was it to convince the company heads that interviews and commentaries would make the SS line of EuroHorror releases more substantial?
MB: I'm not sure we ever did, to be honest. I think it was a necessary evil in their minds to have to compete with the Anchor Bay's out there. We just happened to be in the right place at the right time, but I had to fight for everything we got financially for those trips.
WS: I believe that one of your first approved stints for SS was Deodato's Jungle Holocaust. How did you prepare for this?
MB: It was a matter of reviewing the film and finding particular angles that would appeal to a fan.
WS: What do you recall most about the late Ivan Rassimov?
MB: We were both quite nervous when setting up for Rassimov as neither of us knew each other's strengths or weaknesses at that point, but we seemed to pull it off. He was very dignified and seemed like a happy family man in the short time we spent with him.
Ruggero's commentary was next and Kit was still quite ill after eating some bad shellfish a few days before. That on top of the nerves I'm sure he had conducting a commentary in Italian was a lot to cope with, but he pulled it off beautifully.
Massimo Foschi was very enthusiastic, but since Kit did the first two interviews, I wanted to have my voice on DVD too. Since Massimo didn't understand English very well, Kit would ask him the questions in Italian first, then I would come in with the English question and then Massimo would answer. I don't think I ever told anyone that. I was also a bit captivated that Foschi was the Italian voiceover talent for Darth Vader.
WS: Obtaining on-camera interviews and commentaries for discs is more grueling, costly, and time consuming than many people understand. How do you feel about the continual griping that the horror community engages in regarding the sound and picture quality on supplements?
MB: I'd tell them to take the walk back to Rome that we did from Riz Ortolani's home in the middle of freakin nowhere.
It would bug me a bit because unless you got off your lazy ass and actually did the type of work we did under the conditions we did them, I feel that people have no right but to appreciate what we were doing. I know 95% of the people who bitched could never have accomplished what we did. They'd have no clue where to even begin. I mean, you're speaking with a star like Florinda Bolkan in a café she chose to do an interview in and someone's clattering plates in the background…what choice do you really have in such a situation?
WS: Why did you stop working on supplements for Media Blasters? Do you have plans to conduct interviews/commentaries again?
MB: I could see the well was drying up in early 2004, as John kept saying, "There's no more good films out there," which was obviously untrue, but around that time I had also learned that my wife was pregnant with my second child and I really couldn't burden her being off on trips that typically lasted two weeks at a time. As for doing more work like this, I guess if it were worth my while financially, I'd surely do it again now that my kids are more self-sufficient.
WS: How intimidating was it speaking with such Eurohorror legends as Florinda Bolkan, George Hilton, Fabio Testi, Franco, Umberto Lenzi, and Lamberto Bava?
MB: I was most nervous in meeting Florinda as I consider her one of the most beautiful actresses of all time. I remember I was holding flowers for her and when she finally walked in, I froze. She came over and introduced herself. I handed her the flowers and she gave be the biggest kiss on the lips. It was quite amazing. I can still feel it. Kit had a very similar reaction to Corrine Clery. The guy's legs wouldn't stop twitching during our interview with her as he was so excited in meeting her.
WS: Likewise, who were you most excited to speak with?
MB: I was very excited meeting Dakar for some reason. The fondest memory that Dakar expounds on in the DVD isn't even about Fulci, but just seeing him so happy strumming his guitar brings tears to my eyes knowing he's no longer here. To think that we made him so happy in visiting makes what we did worthwhile to me. Kit and I were probably the only two people who ever interviewed him about his film work in his lifetime.
WS: Who were you most apprehensive about meeting?
MB: I wasn't very apprehensive about meeting anyone, but many people were apprehensive about meeting us. Penny Brown took a long time to warm up to us as did Dagmar Lassander.
WS: Who was completely opposite from what you had expected?
MB: Fabrizio Jovine takes the cake there. He had more stories and gossip to spill on just about everyone. Kit and I thought he was full of shit half the time, but when all his stories started checking out with other people we met, we knew that we struck gold with him. Who would've figured that the priest from The Gates Of Hell would be full of stories, but that's the premise we went on for the book project - everyone has a story.
WS: Did you ever have a serious disagreement with any of your subjects?
MB: Antonella Fulci, but those who have had past dealings with her know what I mean. I could write a novel from what I have experienced and what I've been told about her over the years.
Aside from her, we tried very hard to convince Claudio Lattanzi to speak with us about Killing Birds. He would get so worked up about. He basically ended up hanging up on Kit in the end. We tried to reach him 3 or 4 times in total and he was one of our few lost interviews, but no one was ever really unpleasant.
WS: Can you tell us something about any of your meetings with such people as Paolo Malco, Soavi, Mattei, Martino, Castellari or Cozzi that you've never mentioned before?
MB: Along with Florinda, meeting Paolo Malco, Fabio Frizzi, Pierluigi Conti (Al Cliver), Carlo De Mejo and of course Catriona MacColl were like dreams come true for me as a fan. Especially Catriona, who took a LONG time to locate. After being fed some misinformation from a jealous journalist, Kit finally was able to track her down at a small sandwich shop she used to own. It was one of the most surreal days of my life sitting there with a sandwich and a strawberry smoothie that the gorgeous lead of my favorite horror film of all time had just made for me.
The folks you mentioned were just standard meet, greet, interview, goodbye affairs for the most part. Malco showed a lot of emotion when speaking about his friend Lucio and it really shows on my DVD. Soavi was amazingly elusive - and still is - and I know we were extremely lucky to have him speak on camera. He was in the middle of shooting Ultima Pallottola and we hung around the set until had a break.
WS: How important were actresses like Catriona MacColl in Fulci's films? What persona or skills did they add? Who do you think he enjoyed the best working relationship with?
MB: Those he used more than once in his films were the ones he enjoyed working with, because if you could survive your first shoot with him and his manic ways on set, you knew what to expect the next time. You had to have some intestinal fortitude and he admired that in a person. If you did, you were safe. If not, you left the set in tears every night.
You can tell who the stronger heroines in his films are. MacColl, Bolkan and even Doria were important figures. Farrow and Register, not so much in my opinion.
WS: How would you suggest that other aspiring critics/film fans go about trying to break into the supplement game?
MB: You have to be and think like a businessman first and be able to develop a cost-effective proposal for the intended company. Some companies work off-the-cuff, but you'll certainly want to show your business prowess over fandom in either case. It's not easy because to get overly excited about these opportunities is always possible, but if you view it as a job you'll be able to relate to the suits.
WS: How important do you feel atmosphere was to Fulci? Does it overshadow story, as many believe? And if so, to what effect?
MB: I believe The Beyond to be a bit overshadowed by atmosphere. In my opinion, it's the weakest entry in his classic period of horror filmmaking. However, Fulci's films are all about atmosphere and setting a tone with the audience right from the start. He was a completely visual director and never worked with scripted storyboards or anything. He knew what he wanted and got what he asked for, but I don't feel The Beyond captures the audience the way some of his other films do.
WS: How do you feel the cinematic community has treated Fulci?
MB: In English-speaking countries Fulci is certainly appreciated, probably more so now than when he was alive. It's a shame that Italy could care less about him. Practically every interview on my DVD eludes to this fact and it was a big part of Fulci's depression during his life.
WS: From Italian sex comedies and westerns to Gialli and supernatural horror, Fulci toiled in a variety of genres. Why do you think this is often overlooked, with emphasis primarily on his Zombie trilogy and surrealist works? Which 'kind' of story do you feel he was most comfortable with? Least proficient at?
MB: It's not so much overlooked as the general public hasn't been made aware of such films. His horror works were the first to be released to the second generation of fans via the VCR boom. I mean, his favorite film, the beautiful period piece Beatrice Cenci, has yet to be released on DVD in the States. If they can't put a skull or zombie on the cover, they don't want to know about Lucio Fulci. They are the films that gave him his name and there's no discounting their impact on horror cinema as a whole. They are his legacy. That's where he found his niche.
Obviously some of his sex comedies have 1960's Italian politics and in-jokes embedded in them that would leave Americans scratching their heads, so I think that there's some missing-in-translation with those. His musicals prior to that would translate okay, but the music is dated and it would appeal only to a select, older audience. The westerns and gialli have been released to some significant praise, but Fulci - like it or not - will always be known primarily as a horror director.
I can't say I enjoy his forays into fantasy with Conquest and The New Gladiators, so I'd say those were his weakest entries.
WS: Which film(s) do you believe best suggest Fulci's attitude towards art, the cinema, and/or life in general?
MB: Beatrice Cenci and Don't Torture A Duckling were his favorite films and with good reason. They had much more emotion and substance to them on a human level. While he was a master of horror, I doubt he would consider himself a horror movie fan. He got pigeonholed with his success in the genre.
WS: From your conversation with various actors, technicians, and directors who knew the man, do you feel that Fulci was pessimistic and/or alienated? What can you tell us about his religious beliefs? His take on love and life?
MB: Being born into a Catholic country, I assume that's how he was raised, but it was never really spoken of in conversation. He was both a pessimist and alienated himself. He had a core group of those he would spend time with in the cast and crew, because if you didn't truly know what he was all about, why would you want to spend time with someone who spent the entire day yelling at you?
As for love, it has been widely rumored that he hated women, but that's untrue as he was married three times. I think he was probably hard on them when working because that's the only time when he truly had some control over them. He was generally shy when it came to meeting women off set.
WS: It has long been rumored that the suicide of his first wife cast a shadow over his perception of life. How true is this?
MB: Sure, it would. I think it would affect any husband. It warped him a bit for sure and that coupled with the multitude of issues he had with his daughters couldn't have made him a very happy individual. He let that pent up anger and frustration out to the innocent souls on the set. I believe this is also a contributing factor as to why he was often harder on women during filming. He was a tortured soul, that's for certain.
He exacted his wife's demise in Touch Of Death when Sacha Maria Darwin is hanging out of the oven. She gassed herself to death. Now that takes a twisted mind, or one that was trying to exorcise some demons, or both.
WS: What did Fulci bring by way of innovation and style to the Giallo?
MB: To me, his gialli appear to be the films where Fulci would stick closest to the script. A murder mystery needs a solid construct, and while this is where he first tested some shocking elements that would make his later horror films the classics that they are, his gialli do have a definitive beginning, middle and end to them.
WS: How did the desire to write a book on Fulci's career originate? How did you envision this book -- and how do you believe your resulting DVD tribute -- differs from other works on Fulci?
MB: While Harvey Fenton dislikes me saying so, I had envisioned my book to be a companion piece to Stephen Thrower's Beyond Terror, because while it does a great job at addressing Fulci's films, you don't really learn that much about who he was as a person. That's what I always wanted to know, especially after being denied the opportunity to interview him back in 1996 at the Fangoria convention in New York where he was the guest of honor. I've felt obligated since that day to honor his memory in some way, and what better way than go back and speak with those he worked with.
I've been living with this project for 7 years and I'm glad that the crux of what I was attempting to do is finally seeing the light of day. Fulci was a misunderstood genius in many respects and his work deserves as much, if not more, praise than say Argento or Bava.
WS: How did you determine whom you interviewed? How difficult was locating them? And were there any instances where people didn't WANT to be found?
MB: I wanted, and still want to, interview many who worked on multiple films with Lucio as they obviously knew him better. Finding Camilla Fulci is still a priority since she was the daughter who actually worked with her dad. Some who participated in his earlier films -- like Elke Sommer -- would be great to catch up with, but they are getting to be few and far between. Kit had located Ciccio Ingrassia but he was too ill to speak and passed away shortly thereafter. That happened to us a few times and it breaks my heart as the stories of their career will never be known to today's fans.
Barbara Steele claims to not remember working with him (and I don't think Barbara Bouchet does either). Adrienne LaRussa took a bit of convincing and some folks, like Tisa Farrow and Perry Pirkanen, had no interest in speaking about their acting careers any longer.
WS: Why did you abandon the idea of a book?
MB: I've shelved the book project for due to lack of time. As a father of young children, my time is very limited and transcribing over 100 hours of audio is something I just cannot commit to right now. Also, about half of it is in Italian and Kit hasn't been keen to pick up on that end of it. So taking the heart of the project, which is the on-camera question asked to most everyone - "What is your fondest memory of Lucio Fulci?" - and bringing that out on DVD first has been much more manageable, especially to a world where YouTube.com seems to have replaced reading books for the younger generation.
WS: What is the biggest selling point for PAURA? Why should Fulci devotees buy it?
MB: It shows 56 stars who we've watched over and over in his movies wearing their hearts on their sleeve, 18 crew members who do the same, and 15 of Fulci's peers giving us their take on his importance to Italian cinema. It's both fun and emotional to see each person's take on the Maestro. You can clearly tell who knew and loved him as opposed to those who thought he was simply an ass.
WS: What stands out most now that you've completed your massive undertaking?
MB: What's special to me is seeing the comments by those who have since passed away: Dakar, Jenny Tamburi, Bruno Mattei, Renato Polselli, Fernando di Leo…moments in time that you can never share again.
WS: Can you give us an actual example from the DVD, perhaps a piece of an interview, to whet our appetites?
MB: Beatrice Ring placed hers up on YouTube and you can find Al Cliver's on the Shriek Show ZOMBI 2 DVD.
WS: Which companies did you shop around the DVD idea to? Why weren't they interested?
MB: I ran the idea by Media Blasters and Synapse, but, again, they only look at it from a financial level. It's much more than that to me, so I didn't really shop it that extensively after that as I wanted to have control over it from start to finish. Having nearly 90 interviews to edit, subtitle, clean up photos for, etc. would've been a massive and costly headache for a company to produce. Thankfully I have a very dedicated group of pros who have really pulled this off and it has been a labor of love for all of us. It's in the final editing stage (by a Media Blasters editor as a matter of fact) as we speak.
WS: When will the DVD be available?
MB: Street date is February 26 and pre-orders are currently being taken via my website Paura Productions. I have 3 editions available: 1) the DVD itself for $20, 2) the DVD signed by the cover photo zombie Giovanni Lombardo Radice for $35, and 3) a very limited collector's edition with the DVD, two ancillary pages signed by 50 EuroCult notables and a professionally pressed CD containing the DVD's score by Dave Neabore.
WS: Describe the limited edition autographed copies you are selling. What makes these special?
MB: I had printed pages individually numbered 1-50 and originally envisioned these as being a part of the book's release, but with that in limbo, I didn't want them to go to waste. Roughly 50 of those we interviewed for the book signed each and every page. As a fan, I think having a collection of all these signatures in one place is rather special.
WS: Did Kit Gavin play a part in the creation of the DVD?
MB: Sadly, no. He had distanced himself from the EuroHorror genre as a whole after the Shriek Show days and even with a lot of coaxing wasn't hip to participating in any of my projects after that. I gave him his distance as he was dealing with this and that, but it now looks like he's ready once again to want to assist with plans beyond this DVD. We'll see.
WS: How many copies of Vol.1 do you plan on making? How difficult is it going to be to make a profit?
MB: I'm going to be professionally producing 2,500 copies initially. With the sales of the autographed editions I'll cover all my costs for its production. I can't thank everyone enough who has placed pre-orders thus far for supporting this project and helping me see this dream come true.
WS: Do you intend on going ahead with a volume 2 or continuing work on the book?
MB: Everyone has a story. That's why I'd like to think that PAURA: Lucio Fulci Remembered ~ Volume 2 will become reality. I've already been thinking about it and if Volume 1 sells well enough, I'll put it into play. There are many more resources and contacts available to me now, so I think I could pull it off in much less time. Time will tell.
As for the book, I think I'll hand that transcription burden down to my children ?
WS: Tell us something about the promotional tour that you and Mr. Lombardo Radice are embarking on this year.
MB: Johnny and I will be attending 4 cons in March/April: Texas Fear Fest 2 in Dallas (where Cannibal Apocalypse co-star John Saxon will also be attending), Monster-Mania X just outside of Philadelphia, HorrorHound in Indianapolis (with Ruggero Deodato) and Cinema Wasteland in Cleveland (with Catriona MacColl). These are the first stateside conventions Johnny has ever attended, so he's really excited to meet his droves of American fans. I'll be promoting and selling the DVD at the table with Johnny.
WS: Speaking of Mr. Lombardo Radice (John Morgan), could you describe for us how his feelings about his work in genre films - Fulci's in particular -- has changed over the years? How does he view these works now?
MB: I recall when I first met him he had a lot of questions about it. He wondered why some no-budget horror film he had done over 20 years ago that only saw a 2 week theatrical release in Italy was still of interest. He has come to accept most of his films and even likes the work he has done in some (especially Cannibal Apocalypse) but harbors great resentment towards the character he played in Cannibal Ferox. He despises the film and everything it stands for. That's not to say that he won't sign something you bring to a convention to have signed…his attitude is to each his own.
WS: Do you consider yourself a journalist, a fan, a critic . . .? Which is your preferred role?
MB: I guess I played all those roles at one point or another. I'm still very much a critical fan who occasionally writes, but I guess I can now add Producer to the list now that I've created this DVD.
WS: How do you feel the general opinion regarding Fulci and EuroHorror in general has evolved?
MB: Since there is sadly very little EuroHorror output anymore, we can only look back at the classics. I think there will always be a special place in the hearts of those who grew up watching these films, but I also think they will make their way into the hands of youth looking for something taboo.
WS: How do you feel that DVD companies have treated Fulci's films? Which titles have been released successfully? Which have been disappointments? Which, finally, please you the most and why?
MB: I've never bought in to the fact that a critic or journalist's comments on a DVD were more impressive than someone who actually worked on the film itself. They lived it. Of course there are rare exceptions like Tim Lucas who lives and breathes Mario Bava, but other than that I don't often pay attention to know-it-alls without the proof to back it up.
Hell, I think I've now met or spoken with almost every living cast member and most of the crew from City Of The Living Dead and have hundreds of pieces of memorabilia from the film, so obviously that's one that can be improved upon. Whether a company sees a financial gain in doing so is another story. Seeing some of Fulci's titles come out bare bones had me climbing the walls as I have always viewed the DVD to be the autobiography of a film - the be-all-end-all of a particular movie. It has become a joke for some companies now as how many friggin versions of Evil Dead and Halloween are out there now. That constant fan milking has to have had an adverse effect on some companies with regards to sales and loyalty.
I did find the re-mastered re-release of Lizard by Shriek Show a bit insulting -- they didn't include our documentary on the film, but hype for the genre has died a bit. I hope to participate in its resurgence by bringing the directors and stars of these classic films out on the convention circuit.
WS: What is next for you?
MB: I'm now representing close to 30 EuroCult stars and directors and look forward to having the opportunity to make some dreams come true at a convention near you over the next few years. EuroHorror has an often overly critical yet extremely loyal fan base. To see the smiles on the faces that I once had in meeting some of these folks for the first time will make all this hard work truly worth it.
Special thanks to Mike Baronas.