Lucio Fulci created visions of extreme horror that garnered controversy. The new film, Fulci for Fake seeks answers on the director’s life and work.
Fulci for Fake begins with an interesting conceit: a (fictional) biopic is being made about the legendary Italian director, Lucio Fulci. Nicola Nocella, the actor tasked with playing him, goes on a mission of interviewing family, colleagues, and friends in an effort to do the role – and the man – justice. But does the actual film bring us any closer to untangling the threads that made Fulci – the man – as controversial as the splatter epics he created?
In an interview on the Severin Films Blu-ray, writer-director Simone Scafidi states that the film is neither biopic nor documentary. Instead, he allows the interview subjects to paint a disparate portrait of the famously divisive Fulci.
Back in 2008, Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered, Vol. 1 was released on DVD. This compilation included upward of 90 interviews with cast, crew, and other collaborators over the course of Fulci’s decades-long career.
Each interview followed the same prompt: “What is your fondest memory of the director?” Needless to say, the responses ranged from loving to scathing. The compilation was an interesting idea that spanned several hours in total, but suffered from a start-stop structure due to its uncinematic approach.
I’m slightly torn with Fulci for Fake‘s use of the aforementioned framing device and whittling down the interviewees to a curated few. It clocks in at 91 minutes (with credits).
The framing device isn’t intrusive, but isn’t particularly insightful, either. It consists of voice-over as the actor grapples with the enigma of the director, paralleled against elements of Nocella’s (fictional) personal life. Despite some stylish camera work and lighting schemes, it’s not as cinematic as it thinks it is.
That said, I didn’t mind too much. As someone who disliked Fulci’s films in the early going, his work has grown on me significantly over the past two decades (some, like The Gates of Hell, have become all-time favorites).
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While several subjects in Fake take hard lines in their beliefs of the man and his methods (critic Davide Pulici in particular), these perspectives are just as often brought back down to earth by the specific recollections of Fulci’s daughters, Camilla and Antonella.
Camilla, who passed away after the film’s completion, comprises the foundation of the interview subjects. The stories of her father add a human touch to the proceedings, even if Lucio wasn’t always the warmest of characters.
She recalls stories of love and struggle, and as a result, underlines the paradox of the man (and perhaps all people): nobody can be distilled into a single personality trait. We are the sum of our experiences, and how they shape us usually creates a messy tangle that is not easily explained.
Fulci for Fake is a treat in that regard: offering viewers a richer portrait of the man, while keeping an aura of mystery intact. You’ll leave with more questions than answers, but it’s good to keep questioning (regardless of the subject).
Severin Films’ Blu-ray release contains a substantial amount of bonus material, including extended interview footage, for those who wish to explore further.
Are you a fan of Lucio Fulci ? What is your favorite film? Let us know in the comments.