Hey guys & ghouls! I've a real treat for you this time around. I'd originally planned to drop this column around Fulci's birthday as a tribute to an amazing director but there has been a slight change to my agenda. After recently acquiring a DVD of CAT IN THE BRAIN, I suddenly felt compelled to go ahead & let my cat out of the bag so to speak. No pun intended. While CAT IN THE BRAIN isn't a personal favorite of mine per se, I do respect & appreciate the artistry underneath all grue or nastiness which fans like myself always gravitate to. Having said that, it's sincere devotion to Fulci that draws back to him time and again or simply makes us want to sing his praises.
Perhaps more than any other film-maker living or dead, Fulci's reputation as being one of the most controversial directors ever is still valid & with good reason. None shall come so close as Lucio Fulci when we speak of directors who can make a visually stunning film that wreaks of brutal violence yet somehow fairs well commercially. Even now, his name still triggers thoughts of admiration & hatred in the hearts of cinema enthusiasts everywhere.
Not unlike modern directors such as Takeshi Miike, Fulci was one rare exception to the rule when it came to genre bending & maintaining a diverse film-making resume. It was this diversity which aided Fulci greatly in making a widely known name for himself internationally. Thus, it must have been every fan's wet dream to fathom the idea that any director could be capable of crossing so many boundaries in such short time spans which would undoubtedly include spaghtetti westerns, splatter-gore films, & even a bit of comedy. It's almost perverse & definitely unfair to even attempt catgeorization for someone as innovative as Fulci but people will never cease in their futile attempts.
It's hard to say which solitary piece of work best defines Fulci or which could be construed as his conceptual masterpiece. Fans all over the world still revere him as being the maestro of brilliant films due to his strong convictions & complete dedication to his craft. Lucio Fulci was most commonly associated with films that your local multiuplex would more than likely reject be it Grind House fare, midnight movie marathons, or drive-in classics. Although genre enthusiasts still remember his films from the late '70's or '80's as if they were just released last weekend, each of them will have their own favorite film. Most, however, have agreed on two. Many fans will of course cite The Beyond as being a surreal delight while others like myself fell in love the international breakthrough Zombie. I love them all for different reasons naturally but may be impartial to Zombie as this was the first Fulci film I saw in my teens. Thanks be to Wizard Video for those large, black cardboard cases in which the videocassettes were encompassed!
Sadly, much of Fulci's archives were only released in heavily cut versions here in the states & some were even banned in Fulci's native Europe during the '70's or '80's. Thankfully, most of them can now be viewed the way Fulci intended in your very own living room as opposed to being marked as video nasties. Over the past 10 years, we've been truly blessed with the gift of digital entertainment as Anchor Bay & Blue Underground have re-released the majority of Fulci's catalog in it's uncut glory. This was just one major step in re-introducing Fulci to the masses but one of the greatest feats was Quentin Tarantino's theatrical re-release of The Beyond back in 1998. Tarantino, himself, loves Fulci's work as many great director will cite Fulci as being a major influence & a huge inspiration.
Fulci lives on! It truly amazes me but his popularity amongst youngsters is as strong today as it was in the days were his triumphant works were initally released. There are numerous fan based websites out there in which one can access & much information about the director himself I never dreamed in my younger years would be readily available to the masses. What strikes me as being even more special is the certian admiration which enthusiasts still have for Fulci although many of them aren't old enough to have actually seen any of his films playing in their local theatres. Fulci may have passed our earthly home in 1996 but he lives on in the hearts of those who continue to seek out his work & I'm pleased to see the longevity of our maestro's magnificent catalog. I don't think Fulci himself could've foreseen how influential his work would be when he made these beloved classics yet I can't help but believe there is a deficit that the Horror community couldn't possibly have ever paid back to this wonderful man.