Italian Horror Movies Never Cease to Astound and Disgust in Equal Measure
Deodato, Argento, Bava, Fulci, Martino; all of these Italian filmmakers are masters of the horror genre, each producing their own unique masterpieces that will forever be significant to the genre and hold a special place in fans’ hearts. Films like Lucio Fulci’s 1979 ZOMBIE have achieved a level of international fame that many of the other films on this list haven’t. If you aren’t familiar with these directors, then you’ve got a whole new world of horror just waiting to be discovered. But be warned, Italian horror is NOT for the squeamish!
This list includes twenty of the most significant, memorable and important films in the Italian Horror subgenre:
20. City of the Living Dead (1980)
IMDB rating 6.3/10
Director: Lucio Fulci
Stars: Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo, Antonella Interlengh
Lucio Fulci’s 2nd Zombie movie is probably the least lauded of his gothic gore quartet but is still unforgettable for many reasons. Not content with the gore quota from ZFE this time round we get drills into skulls, intestine spewing, eyeball violence amongst other pleasant goings-on. Actually a rather slow paced and action free piece with a large nod to HP Lovecraft in the storyline and place names but although the zeds don’t make much of a appearence until the final third, fulci keeps the atmosphere nice and nasty and there is always Catriona Maccoll on hand to liven up the rather talkey exposition. Still essential. Highlight, Giovanni Lombardo Radice gets a drill to the bonce in extreme close-up as if we demanded it.
19. Demons (1985)
IMDB Rating 6.7/10
Director: Lamberto Bava
Stars: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Karl Zinny, Fiore Argento
Lamberto Bava & Dario Argento’s mid eighties gore-fest plays like a pop video for the blood hungry masses. A neat little monster mash featuring some nasty effects and some incredible haircuts. Some impressive visual moments show glimpses of a talent that Lamberto Bava never fully realised largely due to the dwindling interest in the italian film industry for horror movies. The dialogue is clunky, stereo-typical & slap-dash but the good outweighs the bad and there is so much blood & guts that you’ll forget that people are talking anyway. Highlight, The slow-mo demon silhouette scene.
18. Black Sabbath (1963)
IMDB Rating 7.2/10
Director: Mario Bava
Stars: Michèle Mercier, Lidia Alfonsi, Boris Karloff, Mark Damon
Mario Bava’s trilogy of terror was regarded by the director as his most satisfying movie and watching it you can see why. All the hallmarks of the great man’s set design upbringing and technical nuance are there in spades whilst the performances are top notch especially the great Boris Karloff as a vampire slayer who may or may not be a fang himself. But for blood curdling horror check out the 3rd tale as a nurse is haunted by the nature of her guilt after stealing a ring from a corpse. Insanely gifted, Bava really was a true visionary of his day. Highlight, The sound effects on story 3, crazy scary.
17. Tenebre (1982)
IMDB Rating 7.2/10
Director: Dario Argento
Stars: Anthony Franciosa, Giuliano Gemma, Christian Borromeo, Mirella D’Angelo
Probably Argento’s most celebrated Giallo alongside Deep Red. Tenebrae has the master throwing in the kitchen sink as far as plot devices & visual trickery is concerned, it’s also probably his most violent movie before Mother of tears came along. Painting sadistic imagery with stark light interiors, the blood never looked more red but this film in context has something truly beautiful amidst all the technical bravado and brutal violence. Pretty much essential for fans of giallo & horror alike. Highlight, Argento’s camera work throughout the movie, astounding.
16. Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)
IMDB Rating 5.7/10
Director: Anthony M. Dawson
Stars: John Saxon, Elizabeth Turner, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Cinzia De Carolis
Antonio Margeriti (yes thats right, eli roth’s undercover name in inglorious, see also Hugo Stiglitz) ventured into the cannibal genre with this superb tale of vietnam vets who after returning from duty have a taste for human flesh. Stalwarts John saxon & the great Giovanni Lombardo Radice are like the dream team of Italian exploitation and there’s lots of stand out gore sequences including a great slow-mo shotgun to the stomach moment that seems to last a few minutes. Kind of rises above most of the genre as it’s actually trying to make a point, no matter how clumsy it feels, great stuff. Highlight, The shotgun to the stomach scene of course.
Click Below the Jump to See Films 15-1: