Horror film

   Film genre. With the significant exception of Carmine Gallone's gothic mystery tale Malombra (1917) and Eugenio Testa's IlMostro di Frankenstein (Frankenstein'sMonster, 1920), Italian silent cinema appears to have shown little interest in the horror genre. In the early sound years Alessandro Blasetti made a version of the Jekyll and Hyde story, Il Caso Haller (The Haller Case, 1933), but it is generally agreed that the horror genre really only began in Italy in the late 1950s with Riccardo Freda's I vampiri (The Devil's Commandment, 1957) and Caltiki, il mostro immortale (Caltiki, the Immortal Monster, 1959), both photographed and codirected by Mario Bava. The genre exploded, however, in 1960 when Mario Bava made his landmark Maschera del Demonio (Black Sunday, 1960), flanked by Giorgio Ferroni's Il mulino delle donne di pietra (Mill of the Stone Women, 1960), Renato Polselli's L'amante del vampiro (The Vampire and the Ballerina, 1960), Piero Regnoli's L'ultima preda del vampire (The Playgirls and the Vampire, 1960), and Anton Giulio Majano's Seddok, l'erede di Satana (Atom Age Vampire, 1960).
   The genre continued to flourish throughout the 1960s in films such as Freda's L'orribile segreto del dottor Hichcock (The Horrible Secret of Dr. Hichcock, 1962) and Lo spettro (The Ghost, 1963); Antonio Margheriti's La danza macabra (The Castle of Terror, 1963), La vergine di Norimberga (Horror Castle, 1963), I lunghi capelli della morte (The Long Hair of Death, 1964), and Contronatura (Unnaturals, 1969); Camillo Mastrocinque's La cripta e l'incubo (Terror in the Crypt, 1964) and Un angelo per Satana (An Angel for Satan, 1966); and Massimo Pupillo's Il boia scarlatto (Bloody Pit of Horror, 1965), Cinque tombe per un medium (Terror Creatures from the Grave, 1966), and La vendetta di Lady Morgan (The Vengeance of Lady Morgan, 1966). The borders between the horror film proper and the emerging giallo were not always clear as the same directors often worked in both, and the spectacular aspects of horror also easily migrated to genres like the peplum in films such as Bava's Ercole al centro della terra (Hercules in the Haunted World, 1961) and Giacomo Gentilomo's Maciste contro il vampiro (1961), and to science fiction as in Bava's Terrore nello spazio (Terror in Space, 1965). The genre flourished so much during this period that it also spawned numerous parodies, such as Steno's Tempi duri per vampiri (Hard Times for Vampires, 1959) and Un mostro e mezzo (A Monster and a Half, 1964).
   In the 1970s the genre dissiated into a number of subgenres such as the zombie and cannibal films of Lucio Fulci and Umberto Lenzi but received new life in the work of Dario Argento, who came to be internationally renowned as the master of Italian horror for classics such as Profondo rosso (Deep Red, 1975), Suspiria (Dario Argento's Suspiria, 1976), and Inferno (Dario Argento's Inferno, 1980). A notable contribution to the genre was also made by the more art house director Pupi Avati with his La casa dalle finestre che ridono (The House with Laughing Windows, 1976), Zeder (Revenge of the Dead, 1983), and L'arcano incantatore (The Arcane Enchanter, 1996). Although the genre was critically disregarded, it attracted collaboration from musicians such as Ennio Morricone, Roman Vlad, and Riz Ortolani, screenwriters such as Ennio De Concini and Bernardino Zapponi, and cinematographers like Vittorio Storaro, Luciano Tovoli, and Luigi Kuveiller, all of whom contributed to the spectacular quality of this genre.
   Historical Dictionary of Italian Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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