Lucio Fulci is my favorite horror director of all time, and is honestly tied with the likes of Vittorio De Sica, Charlie Chaplin, Akira Kurosawa, and Fritz Lang. So I thought I would honor my
personal favorite horror director with a top ten. So without further ado, lets begin.
10) “Four of the Apocalypse” (1975)
A group of petty criminals consisting of 3 men, and a pregnant woman make their way through the countryside of Wild West Utah while being followed and constantly attacked by Mexican bandits.
Honestly one of my favorite spaghetti westerns. It has everything you would expect from a Fulci film, from mean-spirited sadistic men, wonderful shots, and great locations. This film is a little bit of a slow burner, but it’s never really boring. All of the characters are likable, while at the same time dislikable enough to keep you watching. In my opinion, the film reaches its peak in the second half which takes place in a small town during a snowstorm. There’s just something about snowstorms and westerns that I love. This one might not be for every Fulci fan, especially if you’re one whose only really ever seen his later-career splatter films, but it has enough gore and violence to keep anyone watching. Plus it has Fabio Testi. I mean, c’mon.
9) “The Black Cat” (1981)
A psychic man who has the ability to communicate with the dead, also is able to control a black cat that he uses to take vengeance on his enemies.
I know that in all of my reviews I harp on about camerawork a lot. And I know I say this a lot, but this is honestly one of the most beautifully shot films (at least horror films) I’ve ever seen. Especially the opening scene. This film has lots of beautiful shots of the black cat walking on various rooftops, and walls, and it even has some great POV shots of the cat, which works great for establishing our cats size in comparison to everything else.
Obviously this film is based on the Edgar Allen Poe story. As someone who has always been a Poe fan, I think that probably helps me enjoy the film even more so. I’d highly recommend it to Poe fans and Fulci fans alike, but like the last film, this one is different from the usual Fulci splatter film, and I don’t think it’s for every Fulci fan. Nonetheless, I can still recommend it.
8) “Conquest” (1983)
A warrior (played by Andrea Occipinti) embarks on a journey armed with a magic bow and arrow (given to him by the ghostly god Cronos, to mark his passage into manhood) to rid the land of evil, and defeat the evil witch who wants the bow for evil.
I don’t even know where to begin. There are no words I can use to fully explain how awesome this film is. Extremely gory, and violent, and has some amazing set pieces. Some of the creatures in this film will blow your mind, from the Wookie looking things in league with the evil witch, to the weird mummy zombie things that I can’t put into words. If you haven’t seen this film before, buy it. Just buy it. Don’t even think about it or try to find it online or anything. Just buy it.
7) “A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin” (1971)
A woman has a dream of herself killing her neighbor, only to wake up and find that not only is her neighbor actually dead, but that she is a suspect.
Probably one of the most original giallo films to come out of the giallo golden age. Full of twists and turns, it requires multiple viewings, but still stands alone as an amazing film after is first. Full of incredible dream sequences, and amazing camera work. One I’m sure most Fulci fans, and giallo fans alike have seen.
6) “Don’t Torture a Duckling” (1972)
The townspeople of a rural Italian village work together to solve a series of child murders. This leads to everyone being a suspect, distrust of outsiders, and superstition.
Actually one of the first Fulci films I ever saw. Before I was completely and utterly desensitized, and left an empty husk of a person, this film was actually incredibly shocking to me. This film was actually banned in Italy, and was given an extremely limited theatrical run in Europe, due to its blatant dislike, and criticism towards the Catholic Church. Funny, because this film is full
of dead children’s bodies found face down in the water, or beaten to death, and also contains a buried skeleton of an infant, but what upset the Italian censors was its criticisms on the highly Catholic Italian society.
Lucio Fulci considered this film to be his favorite of his career, and I can definitely see why. If you haven’t seen this one yet, and want to see a genuinely shocking or disturbing giallo, definitely check it out.
5) “Cat in the Brain” (1990)
A horror director (played by Fulci himself) is haunted by nightmares of the many violent scenes in his films. So he decides to start seeing a therapist, who ends up being s psycho serial killer
determined to frame Dr. Fulci for the many crimes modeled after the murders in his films.
This film is nearly impossible to group into any genre, so I have dubbed it as a “Post Proto Slasher”, since it’s similar enough to the proto -slashers of the 70’s, but being made in the 90’s, it obviously can’t be a true proto slasher. Anyway, this film is absurdly gory, and violent, and it’s amazing. I don’t want to say too much about it, mostly because it’s hard to even put it into words. The film leaves you in sort of a meta-overload state of satisfaction from the obscene amounts of gore.
Also, not just because this is the obvious joke to make, but the psycho therapist honestly does look alarmingly like my grandpa.
4) “The New York Ripper” (1982)
A police detective and a psychoanalyst go on the hunt for the person responsible for a brutal series of murders in New York City, where young women are being killed in extremely grisly fashions.
The 80’s was sort of the start of a new (short lived) life for the giallo genre, due to the popularity of the American and Canadian slasher films. And The New York Ripper is in my opinion the best of the gialli to come out of that era. Showing a considerable amount of influence from past gialli, and at the time recent slashers, The New York Ripper is sort of a hybrid between a Giallo, and a slasher; a “spaghetti slasher” if you will. Some of the most noticeable influences for this film are Argento’s “The Bird With The Crystal Plumage”, Brian De Palma’s “Dressed to Kill” (which is a giallo rip off itself) and William Lustig’s “Maniac”. This film contains so much sleaze, and brutal murders throughout its entire duration, it’s sure to make
you feel at least a little uncomfortable. From live sex shows, and women being toe raped, to a woman getting a broken bottle to the crotch and a woman getting her eye slashed with a razor (all on camera for those who haven’t seen it).
I was fairly young the first time I saw this film, so maybe that had something to do with it, but after seeing this film for the first time I genuinely felt anxious every night that my girlfriend got out of work, as she worked nights alone and often had to wait outside after work for her aunt to pick her up, as we were teenagers. If you are a fan of gialli, slashers, gore, sleaze, and just general extreme violence, definitely check this one out.
3) “City of the Living Dead” aka “The Gates of Hell” (1980)
A priest commits suicide by hanging himself in the church cemetery, causing the gates of hell to open, and allowing to dead to walk the earth, and plenty of other supernatural events to take place. In order to close the gates of hell before the dead can take over the earth, a reporter (played by Christopher George) and a psychic must rush to the city of Dunwich, and find a way to close the gates before All Saints Day.
There’s a little bit of a story about this one for me. This was actually the very first Fulci film I ever saw, and probably the first 2 or 3 times I watched it, I hated it. I tried watching it alone, and shut it off. Went to see it with a friend, and he just got up and walked out. And to tell the truth, I don’t know why I ever disliked it. It’s such an incredibly fun, nightmarish film, with some of the best gore I’ve ever seen. Yeah, a lot of the film doesn’t make much sense, and that’s probably what I didn’t like about it being new to Italian horror, as a young teen, but being older now, I realize it’s not supposed to make much sense. It’s a nightmare-logical film, and if you look at it that way, it’s pretty much perfect.
City of the Living Dead also has some of the coolest looking zombies I’ve ever seen too, although they don’t come in until the end of the film. I absolutely love this film, and even though I only watch it every once in a while, every time it ends, I immediately want to re watch it, because it’s really that good.
2) “Zombie Flesh Eaters” aka “Zombie” aka “Zombi 2” (1979)
A group of 4 goes on a search for a woman’s father on a tropical island, but unbeknownst to them, the island is plagued by the dead coming back to life, and they become mixed up in the business of the islands doctor who is trying to figure out what is happening.
This is, in my opinion the greatest zombie film ever made. Although on a greater scale of zombie films overall, this is actually tied with Day of the Dead as my favorite, I do think this is the better film. Everything about this film is just amazing. Set both in New York City, and the tropical island of Matul, every shot of this film is incredible, and every location used is beautiful. Along with all of the beauty of the film, there’s loads of beautiful, mind-blowing gore, and probably the best looking zombies ever put on film. I don’t want to spoil much about it for those who haven’t seen it, so I’m just going to meander on about how beautiful every aspect of this film is.
Look at that. If you’ve never seen this one, and are a fan of zombies, extreme gore, or sharks and zombies fighting under water, this film has it all. I’m going to include a few more screenshots of this one below.
1) “The Beyond” aka “Seven Doors of Death” (1981)
A woman inherits an old hotel in Louisiana, that was build on one of the seven gates of hell, and where a man named Schweik was executed after being accused of being a warlock 50 years earlier. Soon after moving in, and beginning restoring the old motel, a series of supernatural events begin, including a painter being startled by something, causing him to fall off his latter, a plumber getting his eye gouged out by a zombie in the basement, and hallucinations of a zombie Schweik.
This is not only my favorite Fulci film, but my favorite horror film of all time, and my second favorite film overall. This is also my “go to” horror film when showing friends horror films. It’s just so great. I really love the Louisiana setting, even though Louisiana is one of the last places I’d ever want to go. Not that you could expect any less from Fulci, but of course this film is full of amazing gore, from eyes being gouged out, and facing being burned with acid, to a child getting her head blown off. The zombies aren’t as cool looking in this one as they are in Zombie Flesh Eaters, and resemble the zombies from Let Sleeping Corpses Lie more than anything, they’re still great and way more convincing than anything you’ll see today.
If you somehow haven’t seen any of the films on this list, and are only ever going to check out one of them, make it this one. Just go buy it immediately. Just buy the Grindhouse blu ray immediately. Or if you live in the UK, and it’s cheaper, immediately buy the Arrow blu.
And there you have it. My top 10 favorite films by the Italian master of horror, and worlds most beautiful man, Dr. Lucio Fulci.
Before I go, I would like to give an honorable mention to a film that just barely missed the cut.
Great Italian crime film, starring Fabio Testi about rival groups of smugglers in Naples fighting for their turf. This results in our main characters brother being kidnapped by the rival gang, and they have to team up with the Mafia, and the police in order to find his brother.
I hope everyone enjoyed my list. This was definitely the most fun list I’ve made so far. Let me know some of your favorite Fulci films in the comments.