Lucio Fulci

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Lucio Fulci

#51 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:27 pm

Well, you claimed that NYR "examin[es] the human cost and the collateral damage." Is this not exactly what Deep Red does?

Deep Red is a movie whose entire thematic thrust is built around sight--what you see, what you don't see, and most crucially, what you think you saw. It's about the compulsion to construct or discover the true basis for your sight. Like most amateur detectives in Argento's films, Mark isn't pursuing the killer in order to enact justice (if anything, the killer pursues him, much like in Crystal Plumage); he's pursuing his compulsion to unravel the mystery that obscures his own sight. And when he does finally solve that mystery, his ultimate act of unobscured sight is to stare at himself in a pool of blood. Now, none of this is subject to one's feelings at the end of the film. Its significance is very carefully set-up throughout the movie (unlike anything in NYR), and, as a moment of revelation, its symbolic value is hardly up for debate: he stares at his reflection in a pool of blood.

Whatever you may think of the ultimate good of investigating a murder, Argento is not allowing his audience a clear-cut justification. He has carefully shown his audience that internal compulsions and not external values drive Mark; that he endangers himself and almost everyone else (I'm afraid, despite your claims otherwise, Mark's actions directly lead the killer to target everyone that becomes involved in the mystery, as Argento takes care to show); and that Mark has never stopped to consider the cost of his compulsion. Again, Mark may be on the side of justice, but Argento carefully shows how Mark's impetus is essentially selfish. To ignore this is to ignore the moral ambiguity Argento has carefully constructed, and to miss the thematic significance of the film.

In this way, Argento blurs the line between his killers and his protagonists. Both are compelled to find order in the world: the killer is compelled, through a twisted psychology, to order the world through violence, and the protagonist is compelled to reveal the order behind that violence after feeling he has glimpsed some small part of it. Both cannot stop doing what they are doing, and often, are fascinated and compelled by the exact same images or sounds. Think of Bird With the Crystal Plumage, in which both the killer and the protagonist are fascinated and compelled by the exact same painting, a link Argento furthers with a brilliant shot that starts with Tony Musante staring at a black-and-white reproduction of the painting, zooms in on a detail in the painting, and then colour suddenly floods that detail before the camera pulls out again to reveal the killer staring at her own colour copy of the painting exactly like Musante. The killer makes a puzzle, the detective solves it; they are animated by linked obsessions, and worry the pieces in the same way.

Argento is always muddying the waters around his protagonist. He undercuts them, undercuts their masculinity, reveals the selfishness in their motives, the way their own psychology acts parallel to the murderer's. They are ultimately on the side of justice, but this does not lessen the ambiguity in Argento's eyes.

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#52 Post by doc mccoy » Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:50 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:Well, you claimed that NYR "examin[es] the human cost and the collateral damage." Is this not exactly what Deep Red does?
For me - no, it does not, as the finales in the two films are completely different. In Deep Red, your rationale behind the gaze may have been what Argento intended. But I personally did not get the sense from that gaze that Mark regretted embarking on the investigation and felt less of a man. He may have felt revulsion at the act he had committed, but equally there is nothing to discount the face value theory that he may have felt revulsion at merely seeing so much blood. The point is that Mark gets to survive and move on; whether there are any lessons to be learnt are up to him and beyond the confines of the story.

However, in Ripper - absolutely nothing positive can be deduced from that ending. The imagery of a small sick girl left alone
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to die
with no-one to comfort her is the most disturbing fate of all - something that I suspect we all fear on some level. There can be no redemption nor is there any sign of hope.

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#53 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:52 pm

doc macoy wrote:But I personally did not get the sense from that gaze that Mark regretted embarking on the investigation and felt less of a man.
It's not about what Mark may or may not feel in those final moments, it's what meaning Argento's careful thematic construction gives to the image. The symbolic meaning of that reflexive image in the context of everything that's gone before is undoubtable: Mark is returned, after his search for clear sight, to an image of himself, and it's an image that must be seen within the blood shed in the narrative. Argento clearly shows us that Mark must now reflect on his own character--with its compulsions and its now shattered gender assumptions--in the context of the violence and bloodshed that revealed it.

It's not the same ending as NYR, yes, but it is most certainly one concerned with the repercussions, personal and impersonal, of the protagonist's actions. Saying that you don't agree with Argento's symbolism and thematic construction is not a persuasive argument. For instance, if you happen to think the serial killer in NYR was right to kill women for their wanton sexual behaviour and that the fate of the little girl is acceptable collateral damage, then you can claim NYR's ending isn't about the cost of the violence either--but that is obviously not what the ending means, whatever your personal views. Same with Deep Red: you may think there is nothing ambiguous about pursuing murderers in your off hours, but Argento is not indicating that with his movie. Mark must stare at himself in a pool of blood. You can't talk this away; you're forced to look back through the movie to see why Argento would feel as he does, and indeed, you find quite a bit to support his symbol: the close link between obsession and madness, the macho assumptions of the protagonist, the selfishness, the way he leads people, however inadvertently, into danger. You can feel about this stuff as you like, but Argento does not feel the same way, and he milks its complexities and moral ambiguities.
doc mccoy wrote:The point is that Mark gets to survive and move on; whether there are any lessons to be learnt are up to him and beyond the confines of the story.
Argento's symbolism, however, is not beyond the confines of it, and it carries all we need to know about the effect of the whole affair on Mark. There are other ways to advance meaning than exposition.

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#54 Post by Duncan Hopper » Tue Aug 16, 2011 4:28 am

Der Spieler wrote:
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Image
As expected, Shameless have created a more tasteful reverse sleeve.

Image

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#55 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Aug 16, 2011 4:05 pm

That is a surprisingly good cover, probably the best created for the film!

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#56 Post by Der Spieler » Wed Aug 17, 2011 1:13 am

Duncan Hopper wrote:As expected, Shameless have created a more tasteful reverse sleeve.
They have not "created" it - it's just the French poster.

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#57 Post by Duncan Hopper » Wed Aug 17, 2011 3:22 am

Der Spieler wrote:
Duncan Hopper wrote:As expected, Shameless have created a more tasteful reverse sleeve.
They have not "created" it - it's just the French poster.
Err, yes, we know origins of the design, I didn't realise the sleeve created itself?

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#58 Post by med » Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:46 am

It spontaneously generated, like maggots from a rotting piece of meat.* Appropriate for Fulci.

*No literal-minded interpretations of this statement allowed.

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#59 Post by Der Spieler » Wed Aug 17, 2011 11:17 am

Duncan Hopper wrote:
Der Spieler wrote:
Duncan Hopper wrote:As expected, Shameless have created a more tasteful reverse sleeve.
They have not "created" it - it's just the French poster.
Err, yes, we know origins of the design, I didn't realise the sleeve created itself?
Not everybody knows, perhaps? I didn't mean to be an ass, it's just that taking an existing art and tagging the Shameless logo on it hardly qualifies as a "creation" in my book. We could say they "produced" a sleeve. :P

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#60 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Oct 04, 2011 3:01 pm

Finally saw Lizard in a Woman's Skin and, what do you know, I found the first Lucio Fulci film I unreservedly liked. Indeed, I even thought there were some skilled compositions and camera movements, and one excellently done chase sequence. What I especially appreciated, besides its coherent script and well-constructed mystery, was the use of visually interesting locations. The shot looking down on the heroine as she ran up a staircase that spiraled around the walls of what appeared to be a giant hollow tube with some industrial turbines at the bottom was the standout. Unlike the location shooting in New York Ripper, which was undistinguished, the London locations in this movie were chosen with real thought about how they'd show up on film. While nowhere near the baroque excesses of Argento and Bava this was still a stylish-looking movie. One of the better giallos I've seen.

If you're curious about Fulci this is the perfect place to start (provided you understand it's all down hill from here).

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#61 Post by SternDiet » Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:09 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:If you're curious about Fulci this is the perfect place to start (provided you understand it's all down hill from here).
Your own personal dislike of Fulci is your own business, but a statement like this is just plain silly.

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#62 Post by knives » Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:13 pm

He's backed up that statement several times so him saying that has some history of evidence that you have to tackle first before dismissing his statement.

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#63 Post by SternDiet » Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:29 pm

knives wrote:He's backed up that statement several times so him saying that has some history of evidence that you have to tackle first before dismissing his statement.
Yeah right, like such a blanket statement needs tackling. I have neither the time, nor the inclination to enter in some silly discussion with someone who doesn't like Fulci, especially because I don't think his 'evidence' is that convincing to begin with. If he doesn't like him, fine - that's his loss. Maybe he could read Stephen Thrower's book, although I doubt it's going to convince him.

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#64 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Oct 14, 2011 4:16 pm

SternDiet wrote:Yeah right, like such a blanket statement needs tackling.
Carefully going through every single Fulci film that I have watched and explaining (sometimes in great detail) what I see as their failings earns me the right to make that blanket statement. Make no mistake on that. Between the two of us, I'm the only one who's made his opinion count.

Good Christ, I don't like Fulci at all, and yet I've at least given him and his fans enough respect to explain myself in some detail and go out of my way to watch the films recommended in this thread (Lizard and also The Psychic, which I watched yesterday and thought good, if undermined by a lack of narrative urgency). You cannot even muster the common courtesy to respond to the arguments I've made except to say you don't find them convincing, as if that matters.

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#65 Post by SternDiet » Sun Oct 16, 2011 7:08 am

Mr Sausage wrote:
SternDiet wrote:Yeah right, like such a blanket statement needs tackling.
Carefully going through every single Fulci film that I have watched and explaining (sometimes in great detail) what I see as their failings earns me the right to make that blanket statement. Make no mistake on that. Between the two of us, I'm the only one who's made his opinion count.

Good Christ, I don't like Fulci at all, and yet I've at least given him and his fans enough respect to explain myself in some detail and go out of my way to watch the films recommended in this thread (Lizard and also The Psychic, which I watched yesterday and thought good, if undermined by a lack of narrative urgency). You cannot even muster the common courtesy to respond to the arguments I've made except to say you don't find them convincing, as if that matters.
I'm afraid you overestimate your own insight into Fulci somewhat. Let me just say that I think your whole approach to Fulci is much too intellectual or cerebral for its own good. You keep prattling on about narrative and thematic concerns, but you're really barking up the wrong tree because it should be obvious by now they are of very little concern to Fulci. I think no one who loves Fulci has ever claimed those qualities are crucial to Fulci, because they aren't (although I don't think Fulci is as bad in those areas as you make him out to be). You have described Fulci as an exploitation filmmaker at heart and make it sound like that's a bad thing. Well, if you really think that exploitation is a dirty word (as almost all your remarks indicate), then it's no wonder you dislike Fulci so much.

Your whole approach reminds me a lot of the approach William Paul decries in his essay 'Charles Chaplin and the annals of anality', in which he describes how academics who want to champion Chaplin as a serious artist have to totally ignore all the lower aspects that keep popping up in Chaplin's work and focus exclusively on the higher aspects of his work because they feel they have to elevate the high over the low. In doing so, they literally describe only half of Chaplin and ignore the things which made his work so popular with audiences to begin with. I feel the same is true of your approach to Fulci. But I would add, this is also the case with your reading of 'Deep Red' for instance. Don't get me wrong, I do not think all these thematics you describe aren't there (they are), but that you seem to overemphasize these elements at the cost of all the gore and murder sequences which are obviously more important for Argento than the dialogue scenes (for proof of this you just have to look at the difference between Argento's dialogue scenes and his set pieces, where the former are almost always hokey as hell, while the latter are done with so much love and attention as if Argento only cares about his murder sequences). His writing and character development is often so oblique it's nothing more than a subtext and you make that subtext out to be the single most important thing in the movie. And while I'll grant you 'Deep Red' is probably Argento's most 'deep' movie in this respect, that whole approach would go totally flat in something like 'Suspiria', which has all the same 'problems' as you describe for Fulci.

You say you can appreciate shlock like 'Pieces' but if you would be really consistent in your approach, you'd have to admit that all the things that are supposed to be bad in Fulci are just as bad in a film like 'Pieces'. For this you give no explanation, instead you just say you like gore and all that, but you just can't understand why Fulci is held in such high esteem. Problem is, you give no reason for this, other than your whole idea of the well-made film, which is a rather narrow-minded conception Fulci's films just don't fit into. Considering your disparaging remarks about Lenzi, I'll wager you think a film like 'Nightmare City' is a total piece of trash. Well it is, but it's really enjoyable trash and it never pretends to be more than that. And because of this, accusing it to be trash rather misses the point, no?

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#66 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Oct 16, 2011 12:46 pm

Well, I'm somewhat flattered that despite your love for Fulci you've nevertheless decided to make your post almost entirely about me. Onward:
SternDiet wrote:Let me just say that I think your whole approach to Fulci is much too intellectual or cerebral for its own good. You keep prattling on about narrative and thematic concerns, but you're really barking up the wrong tree because it should be obvious by now they are of very little concern to Fulci.
With the exception of my posts on New York Ripper, every single one of my criticisms has been about how Fulci's indifferent filmmaking techniques ruin his films. I think I even brought up how he often shoots his gore scenes in such a way that their effectiveness is ruined. Heady stuff. While I don't doubt that once again you'll be unable to disagree with any of the specific instances I cite throughout this thread, I'm sure you'll still be able to find one more way to tell me how these flaws are all supposed to be there and I'm just missing the point. I never realized Fulci had put so much on the screen that I was supposed to miss!

SternDiet wrote:But I would add, this is also the case with your reading of 'Deep Red' for instance. Don't get me wrong, I do not think all these thematics you describe aren't there (they are), but that you seem to overemphasize these elements at the cost of all the gore and murder sequences which are obviously more important for Argento than the dialogue scenes
I was having an argument with someone about Argento's themes. Why would I bring up topics that have nothing to with that discussion? Of course I'm emphasizing his themes over his aesthetics, that's what the topic was about! The reason my "approach" reminds you so much of something William Paul described is because you made it resemble his comments by blithely disregarding the context of the discussion.
SternDiet wrote:You say you can appreciate shlock like 'Pieces' but if you would be really consistent in your approach, you'd have to admit that all the things that are supposed to be bad in Fulci are just as bad in a film like 'Pieces'.
Pieces is a terrible film. Thankfully, no one bothers to claim otherwise.

I'm under no obligation to be consistent in what I like. The same things that make Pieces terrible make Fulci's films terrible. I just happen to find Pieces amusing. I'd never bother defending the movie because anything bad someone could say about it would be absolutely correct.
SternDiet wrote:Considering your disparaging remarks about Lenzi, I'll wager you think a film like 'Nightmare City' is a total piece of trash. Well it is, but it's really enjoyable trash and it never pretends to be more than that. And because of this, accusing it to be trash rather misses the point, no?
Holy straw man. Have I really just been rebuked for comments you just now invented yourself? Did you know that you are the only person in this entire thread who's used the word "trash"?

I actually wouldn't accuse a movie of being trash because that's become a somewhat neutral lable when applied to genre films. I suspect that's why you chose it, easy to refute. Less easy to refute are "poorly made" and "ineffective," the things I've actually accused Fulci's films of being, and all the evidence of which his defenders, yourself included, have had to concede is accurate. You haven't defended any of Fulci's immense flaws, you've tried to excuse them. And far be it for me to guess what his strong points are, you've said nothing about them.

(I've never seen Nightmare City by the way).

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#67 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Oct 16, 2011 1:41 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:(I've never seen Nightmare City by the way).
You simply must Mr Sausage, if only for the scene in which the zombies invade a television studio, storming in on a keep fit class and sending men and women in day-glo leotards running for their lives!

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#68 Post by Bill Thompson » Sun Oct 16, 2011 2:03 pm

Fulci remains a black hole for me in my Giallo viewing. I don't know why that is, I've seen loads of Giallo films, and I love the sub-genre, yet for some reason I've never seen a film from Fulci. Any suggestions on which ones to start with?

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#69 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Oct 16, 2011 2:09 pm

colinr0380 wrote:
Mr Sausage wrote:(I've never seen Nightmare City by the way).
You simply must Mr Sausage, if only for the scene in which the zombies invade a television studio, storming in on a keep fit class and sending men and women in day-glo leotards running for their lives!
Sold!

Bill Thompson wrote:Fulci remains a black hole for me in my Giallo viewing. I don't know why that is, I've seen loads of Giallo films, and I love the sub-genre, yet for some reason I've never seen a film from Fulci. Any suggestions on which ones to start with?
For his giallos, I'd start with Lizard in a Woman's Skin, his best movie I think, move on to The Psychic (aka Seven Notes in Black), which is pretty good, then watch Don't Torture a Duckling, which has its moments. Not a fan of New York Ripper, but it's also there if you want something sleazy and appalling.

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#70 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Oct 16, 2011 3:03 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:Not a fan of New York Ripper, but it's also there if you want something sleazy and appalling.
Sold! :D

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#71 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:34 am

colinr0380 wrote:
Mr Sausage wrote:(I've never seen Nightmare City by the way).
You simply must Mr Sausage, if only for the scene in which the zombies invade a television studio, storming in on a keep fit class and sending men and women in day-glo leotards running for their lives!
Oh my god, what a movie. The above scene was mind-boggling. I've now joined the ranks of those who can say that, yes, they have seen a zombie with a head like a charred meatball give a screaming woman in blue leotards an improvised mastectomy.

I think my favourite bit was when the zombies invade the operating room, and without blinking an eye the senior surgeon begins throwing scalpels like he moonlights as a knife-thrower at the local carnival. I also appreciated how the national government's reaction on being told by the local military adviser that radio-active mutant vampire zombies are killing people en masse is 'sorry, you're on your own! And by the way, could you not mention any of this to the local populace?'

Truly an awful, awful movie. Really should be seen with a live and very vocal audience.

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#72 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:09 pm

Nightmare City also includes a role for Francisco Rabal (Viridiana, Belle de Jour, Nazarin, the jilted Riccardo in the opening sequence of L'Eclisse) as the rather befuddled major watching all of the mayhem!
Mr Sausage wrote:Oh my god, what a movie. The above scene was mind-boggling. I've now joined the ranks of those who can say that, yes, they have seen a zombie with a head like a charred meatball give a screaming woman in blue leotards an improvised mastectomy.
Yes, I don't think we should let domino know about this film as that particular scene would certainly seem to fit the 'anti-woman' theory of horror films! (Or perhaps zombies have a particular fixation on women's chests for sensible plot reasons? I remember the hospital receptionist in The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue becoming the victim of a similar fixation, which rather marred that film - though Manchester Morgue does include the far more questionable scene in which a clumsy attempt is made to equate a person with Down's syndrome with a zombie) And the zombies on the whole are rather disappointing (an anticipation of the boring 'running infected' take on zombies in the 2000s?), mostly settling on knifing people rather that doing much flesh eating.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#73 Post by Murdoch » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:41 pm

I appreciated the zombies' attire throughout, the only time I've seen a zombie in a sweater.

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#74 Post by knives » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:43 pm

Dawn still wins that one for Buddhist zombie.

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Re: Lucio Fulci

#75 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:26 pm

By the way Mr Sausage, now that you have seen the film what do you think of my theory from the Grindhouse thread that the Planet Terror film owes perhaps as much to the crazy, incoherent zombie mayhem in this film (and Italian horror in general) as to John Carpenter? Or have I just been seeing the connection between Nightmare City and Planet Terror simply because of the runway settings for the climaxes of both films?

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