Thursday, June 4, 2009

Overrated Horror: Lucio Fulci

So, I did an article about Eli Roth before and how I felt he was overrated and I was hoping to make it a bit of a recurring segment. Well, I am back with the second entry in the "Overrated Horror" bit I am going to start. And I figure I am going to draw a bit of flack for this one, but I have to say it: I think Lucio Fulci is overrated.

Now, I have to start this off by saying I don't think all of his movies are bad. I still think that Zombi is quite a good movie. I might even call it great. And The Beyond (or as I have it on DVD, Seven Doors of Death) is quite entertaining with some great scenes. And of course, I feel that he is an inspiration for many of the filmmakers today. But really, I haven't seen any other Lucio Fulci movie that I have liked that much.

I was first introduced to Fulci upon buying Zombi on VHS at the behest of a friend. I loved it and still love it today. There are so many iconic scenes: from the zombie vs shark, to the zombies coming up from the graveyard (about 8 minutes into the clip), and, of course, the eye gouging scene. So after that, I picked up Seven Doors of Death and enjoyed it enough. I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't as good as Zombi, but then again, I didn't expect it to be as good. Of course I like both movies, so I couldn't really complain. Seven Doors of Death was a 5 dollar cheap DVD, so I searched that same rack and found The House By The Cemetery there. Seeing that it was Fulci, I had to have it. That was where I started to dislike him.

The House by the Cemetery isn't very good. All of Fulci's movies were pretty low budget, but this one is a bit ridiculous. The fact that the doctor in the basement of the house is "Dr. Freudstein" (an obvious mash up of Freud and Frankenstein) was pretty lame. And the bat attack was pretty lame. And the whole movie was pretty lame. It didn't have the fun of his other movies. Now, don't get me wrong, I actually enjoy watching that movie. Not because it's good you see, but because it's great to make fun of รก la Mystery Science Theater 3000. But, I still liked 2 of the 3 movies I had seen from Fulci, so I went back in for more...

I watched The New York Ripper next. Pretty forgettable for me. I then watched The Black Cat. Snore. I watched A Cat in the Brain then. Gah. Everything I have watched since The Beyond (Seven Doors of Death) has been downhill. I am not a huge gorehound, so Fulci's movies don't really have that much appeal for me(as with most grindhouse directors of that era). So when the movies start having stories I am not that interested in, the movies lose my interest. Fulci's movies aren't that engaging if you don't care about the gore in the kills. There's just not that much substance to them.

I know that's pretty much what he was going for, don't get me wrong. I know what a grindhouse director is. I just feel like everyone seems to think Fulci was something amazing when he really wasn't. As I said before, I can appreciate what he did and how he inspired modern directors, but really, I don't think he's all that great. I compare him to eighties thrash/speed metal: I don't particularly care for it, but I can respect those bands for how they inspired my favorite bands today.

And while I am on the subject of Italian directors, I feel that Dario Argento is pretty overrated as well. The thing with him is that I haven't seen enough of his movies to really judge him as well. Suspiria was good, but anything that I have seen from him beyond that has been pretty mediocre at best(I really disliked both of his Masters of Horror entries). Again, with me not being a gorehound, I am not that interested in his movies. And of course, both Argento and Fulci are high on Eli Roth's list of inspirations.

I guess what it comes down to is that I don't like their style of horror. I just can't get into the movies as much. I enjoy a good grindhouse-style film on occasion (Planet Terror, From Dusk til Dawn, Feast, Slither), but I just can't get into a Fulci or Argento film because they try to take themselves too seriously. I don't hate Fulci (or Argento), but I don't think they are as great as they are often revered.


  1. I read that Fulci made some crappy films after 1981, but I think The Beyond, City of the Living Dead, and Zombi 2 are some classic horror movies, especially the first two. I haven't seen any other movies of his, but I'll say this. Lucio Fulci may have made a lot of crappy movies, but he has also made three fantastic ones.

  2. I am going to have to respectfully least somewhat. I enjoy Fulci, and think that he has more going for him than just his "godfather of gore" moniker suggests.

    What I really respond to in a lot of his horror movies is the unreal, nightmare quality to his filmmaking. What he lacks in production values...or acting...or editing...or story...he often makes up for in mood. It can be easy for the other less than stellar to take you out of it. But he does have more going for him than just gore, he often has great setup and shot composition, but it's easy to forget with storylines that seem to go nowhere and ridiculous jump cuts.

    I like Zombie 2 probably the best, and the Beyond is classic...City of the Living Dead is quite good, a real hell on earth nightmare. I agree that House by the Cemetary is very uneven. How many times can people go down into that basement??? That girl ghost is really creepy, but where does that storyline go?

    I haven't seen those others that you mentioned, but DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING and THE PSYCHIC are supposed to be pretty good. He was very prolific, and has made cop movies, a sword and sandal epic and even a spaghetti western. I think he is definitely more talented than some of his work suggests, but maybe not quite a "master"

    And...Argento overrated? Them's fightin' words....

  3. I was watching "The House By The Cemetery", because of all the Fulci hype out there, and began thinking "this movie sucks...other people must think the same". Then I found your bog. I basically agree with your take on him, though I think you're even giving "The Beyond" too much credit.

  4. You're wrong, Fulci rules. Zombi 2 is a freakin' classic, man.

  5. Fulci's films after The Psychic are pretty esoteric. To be able to understand and enjoy the aberrant structures of his later films you have to see his earlier films. I must admit that I tend to enjoy his earlier films more but many of his earlier films are built on rudiments of the elements he later would develop and strengthen to new levels for his later hits. In House by the Cemetery for instance, Fulci's misanthropy and his love for children is stronger here than in Don't Torture a Duckling. Just like Fulci's flagrant criticism of religion is augmented for Don't Torture a Duckling even though it already was pretty strong in Beatrice Cenci. Fulci always continued to develop until 1980 diverging more and more from "normal" story telling.

    I myself couldn't understand at first what I saw in Fulci except the stylish cinematography and the entertaining sleaze and gore. But then I realized there were something more in his films, especially the ones he co-wrote with Dardano Sachetti. Sachetti has said several times that Fulci was the only one who really got his scripts. According to him, Fulci understood his visions and concepts better than both Bava and Argento. Fulci and Sachetti were more into the same stuff while Argento, even though he has more plot than Fulci, didn't care a lot for substance. It's easy to understand that Fulci is one of those directors that you either like or you don't and I respect those who don't as long as they understand all the aspects of his films. But I can't respect those who unfairly condemn him and his films. (I don't think you do, I'm just talking in general)

    My personal favorites of Fulci is Zombi 2, Four of the Apocalypse.

    I'll give you a link to a YouTube video I uploaded some time ago of Beatrice Cenci. It's really a fresh experience for the ones who've only seen Fulci's most notorious gore films.

    BTW, you seem sharp in genereal. Future discussions about Fulci or anyone and anything else would be most welcomed by me.

    Take care

    1. I highly recommend Seven Notes in Black (aka The Psychic). It features very little of Fulci's gore or pretty colours but it is very engaging and very well written. The acting is also quite good.

  6. I am going to go even further.
    I don't see the attraction to ANY of the Gallo films.
    Suspira which is considered to be a masterpiece by some
    I think sucks
    It is colorful
    But that is the most positive thing I can say about it.
    I collect horror films and own well over 1000 of all types
    And I still have not seen a decent Gallo movie

  7. Fulci's films are hard to follow if you have a linear mind that lacks psychadelic traits....basically you are a noob if you don't like it...a opinionated turd whose opinion is that of a turds

  8. Fulci's films are hard to follow if you have a linear mind that lacks psychadelic traits....basically you are a noob if you don't like it...a opinionated turd whose opinion is that of a turds