Friday, October 20, 2017

UMBERTO LENZI (1931 - 2017)

SADLY, ONCE AGAIN DURING THE HALLOWEEN SEASON WE'VE LOST SOMEONE WITH STRONG TIES TO THE HORROR GENRE:  DIRECTOR UMBERTO LENZI.  Maestro of any and all exploitation genres which happened to be selling at the moment, Umberto Lenzi helmed Italian films ranging from peplum to western, from giallo to cops 'n' robbers . . . and yes, some incredibly influential horror movies as well.  Probably best known for those infamous cannibal films which made it onto the Video Nasties list:  CANNIBAL FEROX, MAN FROM DEEP RIVER and EATEN ALIVE (a genre which, by the way, he hated), Lenzi also directed the bonkers zombie plague film NIGHTMARE CITY a.k.a. CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD which drew heavily on the zombie films of George A. Romero and Lucio Fulci.  The film starts out at lightning pace as a plane loaded with zombies touches down at the airport and scads of flesh-eating maniacs pour out of the plane and munch on the assembled crowd!  Another favourite is GHOSTHOUSE which is a combination "homage" to fellow Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci's "Gates of Hell" trilogy as well and POLTERGEIST. 
Then there's Lenzi's wacky giallo EYEBALL and even an Edgar Wallace adaption SEVEN BLOOD-STAINED ORCHIDS which finds the director venturing into the world of the krimi.  Two of my all-time favourite Italian crime films were also directed by Umberto Lenzi:  VIOLENT NAPLES and THE CYNIC, THE RAT AND THE FIST. 
The former film stars Franco Nero-"lookalike" Maurizio Merli involved in some of the most actually dangerous-looking, death-defying real world car & motorcycle chases ever put on film.  Merli also stars in the latter film but the real star is Tomas Milian as an hilariously-psychopathic killer.  (Sadly, Milian also died this year).  Lenzi's films were always a ton of fun and I'll plan on watching a couple of his films as my own little tribute.


Caffeinated Joe said...

Not at all familiar with his work, but I am glad he left things behind that his fans will be able to go back to and enjoy. 😈

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