Italian film director Lucio Fulci, who died 21 years ago today, will be forever known for a series of ultra-gory gothic horrors films that he made at the start of the 1980s in the wake of his surprise hit Zombie Flesh Eaters (aka Zombi 2; Zombie). This handful of films – City of the Living Dead, The Beyond, The House By The Cemetery, The Black Cat, Manhattan Baby – have, together with a few giallo films (including the ultra-violent New York Ripper that appeared in the middle of his gothic streak), ensured that Fulci will forever be hailed as a horror master.
Yet Fulci already had a two decade filmmaking career behind him when he was suddenly discovered with Zombie Flesh Eaters, and once the gothics fell out of style, he went on making whatever was commercial at the time. Like many of his contemporaries, he was essentially a director for hire, a safe pair of hands able to turn his hand to anything from family adventure to thrillers to sexy romp to teen movie to western. And comedy – especially comedy. Fulci was the regular director for Italian comedy duo Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia, churning out the sort of domestic slapstick that never really translates (even though every country had their own home-grown comedy stars doing much the same schtick).
People use ‘hack’ as an insult – yet directors like Fulci, able to do a solid job across a range of genres, are a rare breed and should be applauded.
Here then, just to be contrarian, is a gallery of Fulci’s extensive and often under-appreciated work – some good, some bad, some ugly – outside his beloved gothic zombie gorefests.
And Fulci addicts should check out the highly collectable steelbox limited edition Lucio Fulci Playing Cards from Gods and Monsters.