Modern Pulp Aug 11 2021
DEAD MEN WALKING
Fulci goes full-on gruesome in Italian zombie epic.


We're still looking toward Italy today, specifically at vintage Italian horror cinema, and simply put, these didn't mess around. Regardless of quality they tended to be unusually foreboding and grim. And that's just the poster art. Above you see a promo for Paura nella città dei morti viventi, which was known in English as City of the Living Dead. Lucio Fulci, who directed and received a story credit for this one, was particularly enamored of zombies, churning out at least five films touching on the theme, including ...E tu vivrai nel terrore! L'aldilà, aka The Beyond, and Quella villa accanto al cimitero, aka The House by the Cemetery. In all of them he used his trademark tricks—extreme close-ups, death-white make-up effects, and gore, gore, gore.

Italian genre flicks usually had international casts performing in both English and Italian, with the babel smoothed out later with overdubs. City of the Living Dead follows that template. U.S. born Christopher George and Brit actress Catriona MacColl are in the leads, with support from Italians Carlo de Mejo, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Daniela Doria, the truly lovely Antonella Interlenghi, and Swedish star Janet Agren. The movie is set in New York City and Dunwich, a mythical town conceived by H.P. Lovecraft for his Cthulhu Mythos, where a priest's suicide has somehow opened the gates of hell and allowed the dead to walk the Earth.

Obviously, the heroes want to close these gates, but that's pretty difficult when you have to fight through a storm of maggots. Yes, Fulci throws everything into this—the ancient Book of Enoch, the Salem witch trials, seances, drifting fog, people regurgitating their own intestines, and of course head-crushing zombies. The low tech nature of Fulci's obsessive gore-nography just makes it that much more disturbing. On the other claw, the low quality of some of the acting is a definite detriment. Even so, if you can get into a zombie frame of mind, the acting becomes less important than the mood, and in horror, mood is everything. Paura nella città dei morti viventi premiered in Italy today in 1980.
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Vintage Pulp Oct 13 2017
THE SKIN SHE LIVES IN
Florinda Bolkan is a textbook case of multiple epidermal disorder.


Una lucertola con la pelle di donna premiered in Italy in 1971 and in the U.S. as Lizard in a Woman's Skin today in 1973. It's a giallo—i.e. a thriller with mystery, slasher, detective, and psychological horror elements. Brazilian actress Florinda Bolkan stars, and she has a problem—she's having erotic dreams about her beautiful neighbor Anita Strindberg. The dreams disturb and arouse Bolkan, but she's working out her concerns in therapy. All well and good, until matters take a turn for the worse when she dreams about dispatching Strindberg with a knife, and later wakes to find that Strindberg has indeed been murdered in the exact fashion as in her nightmare.

The cops arrest her for the killing and send her to a mental hospital to await trial. But the case is hardly airtight. Loose ends include Bolkan's dream diary, an illicit affair, and a blackmail plot. The mental hospital is hardly airtight either. A stalker shows up intent on putting Bolkan out of commission. Eventually doubts arise in the case and Bolkan is sprung from the booby hatch, but who committed the murder? Well, below we have some production shots, and at bottom is a poster for the film's re-issue as Schizoid—a title that's a blatant spoiler. Actually, considering lizards change their skin by molting, the original title is a spoiler as well. Too clever by half, these Italian filmmakers, but the movie is still fun.

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Musiquarium Oct 19 2009
BEAT GOES ON
Soundtrack art Italian style.

Cover art from an assortment of sixties and seventies soundtracks and collections from Beat records, Italy. Note the Sandro Symeoni art in panel nine. If you missed our earlier post on this master's work, you can find it here.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 21 2009
ALTRA COOL
Working on a groovy thing.

This poster for Una sull’altra, aka Perversion Story, was painted by Angelo Cesselon, and the film was directed by Lucio Fulci, who would later become one of Italy’s grandmasters of cinematic gore. This flick is eerily similar in plot to Vertigo, complete with the death of the love interest and subsequent reappearance of her double. It’s even set in San Francisco like Vertigo, but the difference is Fulci notches the ’60s psychedelia up to the max, and offers up lots of Marisa Mell’s naked flesh. Mell had starred in the camp classic Diabolik the previous year, and here she is getting groovy again, particularly in one motorcycle striptease that’s probably worth the time spent watching the rest of the film. As a side note, you’ll see Jean Sobieski here, who happens to be Leelee Sobieski’s dad. Una sull’altra opened in Italy this week, and France today in 1969.

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Modern Pulp Apr 29 2009
HOTEL HELL
Hello, desk? There’s some sort of loud disturbance next door in room 666.


A couple of days ago we were riffing on a movie called The Beyond, aka Spirit City of the Damned, aka Seven Doors of Death, and showed you the colorful Thai poster. By contrast, the sinister and almost monochromatic promo art you see above accompanied the film’s earlier Italian release as ...E tu vivrai nel terrore! L'aldilà. The story concerns a hotel perched atop an entrance to hell (hope that isn’t giving too much away), but of course when Catriona MacColl inherits the property she doesn’t know anything about that and thinks she’s actually getting a sweet deal. But the difficulties of maintaining a dead & breakfast soon prove overwhelming, not least because staff turnover in a place inhabited by demons can be pretty high (though heating bills are low). L'aldilà is a bit incoherent, truth told, and the fx are clunky even by 1981 standards, but it does possess unbridled exuberance thanks to the unflinching direction of Lucio Fulci. That’s all we’ll say about the film, except that there’s a character here named Joe the Plumber who meets a gory death, so depending on your political beliefs, this could be a must-see. L'aldilà premiered in Italy today in 1981.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 16
1964—China Detonates Nuke
At the Lop Nur test site located between the Taklamakan and Kuruktag deserts, the People's Republic of China detonates its first nuclear weapon, codenamed 596 after the month of June 1959, which is when the program was initiated.
1996—Handgun Ban in the UK
In response to a mass shooting in Dunblane, Scotland that kills 16 children, the British Conservative government announces a law to ban all handguns, with the exception .22 caliber target pistols. When Labor takes power several months later, they extend the ban to all handguns.
October 15
1945—Laval Executed
Pierre Laval, who was the premier of Vichy, France, which had collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, is shot by a firing squad for treason. In subsequent years it emerges that Laval may have considered himself a patriot whose goal was to publicly submit to the Germans while doing everything possible behind the scenes to thwart them. In at least one respect he may have succeeded: fifty percent of French Jews survived the war, whereas in other territories about ninety percent perished.
1966—Black Panthers Form
In the U.S., in Oakland, California, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale form the Black Panther political party. The Panthers are active in American politics throughout the 1960s and 1970s, but eventually legal troubles combined with a schism over the direction of the party lead to its dissolution.
October 14
1962—Cuban Missile Crisis Begins
A U-2 spy plane flight over the island of Cuba produces photographs of Soviet nuclear missiles being installed. Though American missiles have been installed near Russia, the U.S. decides that no such weapons will be tolerated in Cuba. The resultant standoff brings the U.S. and the Soviet Union to the brink of war. The crisis finally ends with a secret deal in which the U.S. removes its missiles from Turkey in exchange for the Soviets removing the Cuban weapons.
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