The late Lucio Fulci directed some essential Italian horror films, my favourite of which is the extraordinary Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979). While he was a cult figure, and received some attention overseas before he passed away in 1996, he never had much respect in his own country.
Mike Baronas picked up on this recently while producing DVD extras for several of Fulci’s films and, spurred on by not properly meeting his idol, he felt he had to pay tribute somehow and also help people know more of what he was actually like. As Baronas explains in his introduction and liner notes for Paura, he’d ideally like to have done this in a book, (maybe as a companion piece to Beyond Terror by Stephen Thrower, which focusses on Fulci’s films rather than the man himself). While there’s no chance of a book at the moment, Baronas and co-producer Kit Gavin made this DVD to get something out there.
I met Mike Baronas briefly at the Pittsburgh HorrorHound Weekend, where he accompanied Al Cliver and Ottaviano Dell'Acqua, both stars of Zombie Flesh Eaters. Now I’ve had a chance to see his DVD.
Not knowing anything about the project, I was initially disappointed at this not being a documentary about Lucio Fulci's life. It's more of a packed DVD with extras - 88 tributes to the man himself. There are three groups of interviews - collaborators, actors and peers, as in horror movie directors and producers in the Italian film industry who knew Fulci or knew of him.
The memories and anecdotes are honest, sometimes giving a little too much detail, like his tobacco-chewing habits! But the more you hear, a rounded, honest and complete picture emerges of what Fulci was like and how he worked. Many actors and co-workers talk of him very fondly indeed. It’s a fantastic testimonial.
Paura also serves as a valuable overview of many familiar names in Italian horror, some whose names I’ve often heard, but whose faces I've never seen. Such as Ruggero Deodato (Cannibal Holocaust), Lamberto Bava, Luigi Cozzi, Michele Soavi and many, many more. It's also fascinating to see so many actors from this very seventies genre, nearly thirty years later.
On the main menu page, it’s worth seeking out a slightly hidden extra that takes you to an introduction from Baronas. His quest to re-establish Fulci in the canon of great Italian directors has sent him round the world collecting these interviews. His presentation, which explains the events that motivated him, are preceded by an astonishing gallery of photos of him together with each of the contributors.
The DVD is then best experienced in three options of ‘Play All’. Each interview is introduced by photos and a list of their credits In Fulci films. Though the accompanying music gets rather repetitive despite the rarity of the photos. There is nearly four hours of material in all.
This is a labour of love, aimed squarely at Fulci fans who want to get to know the man better. Having watched it, I can’t wait to see his films again.
The Paura DVD is available on this site. There’s also a review here, with screengrabs.