PAURA: LUCIO FULCI REMEMBERED
Reviewed by: Dave Murray
Mike Baronas, Kit Gavin
What's it about
Who was Lucio Fulci? Was he a talented yet misunderstood cinematic genius, or a petty misogynistic tyrant? Since his death in 1996, many stories about the infamous Italian horror master have made the rounds, and now we have a chance at a rare glimpse of the man himself, from those who probably knew him best of all: the actors, technicians, artists and contemporaries who all worked with him over his long and storied career. Posed with the central question "What is your fondest memory of Lucio Fulci?", almost a hundred interviews with many people who's lives and careers were directly affected by Fulci, from both unknowns and icons alike, are pieced together to create a fond, compelling and sometimes chillingly ugly portrait of a horror legend.
Is it good movie?
This should have been horror documentary gold. I mean, we have here the recollections of about 90 of Fulchi's actors, crew and fellow writers and directors, all telling some very personal and entertaining stories about the man who for many is a legend in the horror genre. I mean, this is the maggot obsessed man who actually had an underwater fight between a zombie and a f*cking shark! Not to mention the nearly thousands of shockingly original images that he infused his movies with, which have endured and influenced nearly two generations of horror directors. This could have been a touching and highly entertaining look into the life and career of a truely twisted master of Italian macabre. What it turns out to be is a collection of disconnected interviews, unadorned by any of Fulci's actual film work, that relate mostly interesting anecdotes about the man without really painting a complete picture of the artist.
The disc is presented as a series of interviews, unconnected b any commentary. And while the interviews in English are okay (a little hard to make out at times, as the sound is very uneven), the ones where any other language but English is used are attrocious. The subtitles do not fit the TV screen, so for anyone who isn't fluent in Italian, half of the actual interview is lost off of the side and bottom of the screen. More attention should have been paid to the actual formatting of the video presentation. I mean, I know this is an independent effort, but come on! The whole subtitle business is just sloppy. Like I said, this doc would also have been better served if they had abandoned the unconnected interview approach and worked in some of Fulci's film work (there are millions of examples to choose from), and tied it all together with a decent stream of narration, bringing together all of these disjointed and anecdotal tales with some common themes to create a more vivid and entertaining portrait of the man's life. The sheer volume and quality of his work in film demand more.
As for the actual interviews, most of them are simple stories, and a great deal of them are uninteresting and a little tedious. Those that stand out are the ones by Fulci's contemporaries in writing/directing (such as Lamberto Bava and Umberto Lenzi), which give us a different insight into the cinematic genius of the mercurial director. Also good are some of the actor interviews, notably Catriona MacColl (who is still quite gorgeous and engaging), and interviews with some of the composers, editors, cinematographers and effects people that worked on his films. They all offered different viewpoints on not only how Fulci worked, but ultimately why he worked the way he did.
While not as effective as a documentary, the interviews will appeal to anyone who has a fascination for Italian horror history, with many recognizable names and voices. But for the casual horror fan, or for anyone who likes well made documentaries, steer clear of this one. The interviews are mostly of awesome quality, but with the subtitle and sound problems, most fans will find it hard to watch.
Video / Audio
Video: Fullscreen - 1.33:1. The picture is what it needs to be, static interview shots all around.
Audio: English and Italian (Dolby Mono 2.0) with subtitles in English. The sound was uneven, and hard to hear at times, and without knowing one word Italian, it was hard to follow most of the interviews since the subtitles were f*cked up in a bad way.
While not effective as a documentary (there is not narrative thread and Fulci's impressive visual work is noticably absent), as a collection of interviews Paura is interesting and impressive, if only for the amount of interviews that were gathered discussing a single man's work. It's too bad that it's wrapped up in a poorly produced DVD with formating issues and crappy presentation. A rememberance of such a horror icon deserves better treatment than this. An actual, cohesive documentary would have been nice. I'm still looking forward to the book that inspired this project though, as Boronas and Gavin have put together an impressively large volume of information on Fulci which fans will love. With a little more work, this DVD could kick some serious ass. But as it stands now, it's more than a little painful.