Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered (2008) and Wax Mask (1997)

May 5, 2017 | By

Known for rarely seen and highly obscure erotic thrillers sourced from variable to dreadful prints and transfers, One 7 Movies almost strikes gold with this near pristine Blu-ray offering of what might have been Lucio Fulci’s final film as writer-director, but with his health failing in 1996, producer Dario Argento handed over directorial chores to special effects maestro Sergio Stivaletti, resulting in a very different third take on the famous House of Wax story.

While not a perfect film, it’s nevertheless pretty sumptuous – a minor miracle on a minor budget – and Stivaletti proved himself an able director much in the way George Romero handed over direction of the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead to his own effects maestro, Tom Savini.

There’s no point in trying to find traces of Fulci in Wax Mask /  M.D.C. – Maschera di cera (1997) because the final film reflects the sensibilities of its producer and director, but not unlike Savini (who really, really should’ve gone on to director more films), Stivaletti’s handling isn’t packed with ADD editing nor gratuitous special effects, and a frenetic running time to meet the needs of contemporary audiences wanting faster, bloodier, louder.

Perhaps that’s what makes this film above average: creative care actually went into crafting a film that looked and sounded like a 1950s studio production starring the likes of Vincent Price, and it almost works. For its flaws – many of which I detail in the review – it’s still a fun romp that deserves to sit close to its revered classic predecessors.

To contextualize Wax Mask, I’ve ported over a review of Mike Baronas’ 2008 documentary Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered, which was for a time available from the director’s online site. The DVD is long OOP, but it’s unique for being a 7 year project in which 90 associates, friends, and family members of Fulci reflect on director.

I’m still on the fence with Fulci – a gradual introduction is necessary, but I’d like to start from the very beginning, when Fulci was part of Italy’s newest generation of directors, learning their craft through whatever genre was in vogue before they branched off and fixated on a genre or fetishes that suited their peculiar tastes and unique skills. I gotta give The Beyond (1981) another try, but my personal favourite is still Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971), a visually bonkers giallo shot in swinging London that’s zoom-happy, features weird seduction scenes, and a gnashing Ennio Morricone score.

Coming very shortly are several reviews of films playing during the 25th Toronto Jewish Film Festival, with an eye on documentaries. TJFF runs May 4-14, 2017, and offers a great mix of genres and docs from international and Canadian directors, spanning a variety of compelling, amusing, and funny subjects. Also of note is a 35mm screening of Joshua Then and Now (1985), part of the festival’s salute to author Mordecai Richler.



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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