A Life in Blood – Tales of a Horror Queen #8 – Nov 2016
Traveling horror queen: Genoveva Rossi meets Sergio Stivaletti in Rome, Italy and is a guest at Fantasia in Montreal, Canada!
When recently on a beautiful trip to Rome, Italy this horror queen had the honor of meeting up with the great Sergio Stivaletti, whom lives in the ancient city. We met up twice to discuss his life in horror. It was a pleasure to meet up for pizza and espresso with a film legend.
Sergio Stivaletti is an Italian director, producer, make-up artist and one of the greatest European special effects experts. He is considered one of the pioneers in introducing computer effects to the silver screen. During the rich 30-year career on film, television and theatre, he worked on more than 50 movies with some of the biggest names of Italian cinematography, like Dario Argento, Michele Soavi, Lamberto Bava, Roberto Benigni and Gabriele Salvatores. He also runs Fantastic Forge: Special Effects and Applied Arts School.
Sergio said Dario Argento’s Creepers was really his starting point and his first important work. He got to really create and experiment to create the amazing special effects in the film. Jennifer Connelly was very young and very nice to work with. Looking back Sergio wished that they had been able to connect more on set, but he was so deeply involved in his consuming work on the film.
Also working on Demons and Demons 2 were great experiences. He recalls Demons as being a wonderful challenge for him at the time. He started doing more difficult effects in this film and using animatronics. Argento’s Opera really stands out for him too. He worked on some amazing digital effects with Asia Argento that were really unique for films in Italy at that time. In a short time his career became very rich and diverse.
Wax Mask is the first film Sergio Stivaletti directed and Dario Argento produced. Originally Lucia Fulci had been chosen to direct the film, but he sadly died before he could direct the film. It was intended to be a team of Argento and Fulci, but Fulci died. It was a tough film to direct, but Sergio put a lot of himself into it. In fact much of it was shot in his home and workshop. It was an important film for Stivaletti because it was the start of something new in his career; directing.
With his extensive experience, Stivaletti still has his heart very much in horror and he has a a unique project currently in development. He wants to remake Bela Lugosi’s Devil Bat from 1940. He wants to bring new life to this classic film. Also Sergio is working on an artistic horror film called The Muse. He is trying to do something very different and exciting in the horror genre. He believes in using both the digital effects and practical effects to create the best of both worlds.
We often forget that horror movies are art. This is especially true with the special effects. It is like a cross between being an artist and a mad scientist. –Sergio Stivaletti
For many years I have been a huge fan of Dario Argento and Italian horror. In fact years ago I had been in the audience at the Italian Horror Panel at the Chiller Theatre Expo in New Jersey. Sergio Stivaletti was part of that panel. Now years later it was spectacular to get to meet up and speak with him in Italy. Bellissimo!
This year was my second year as a guest at Fantasia in Montreal, Canada. For those of you who don’t know of this two week long film festival it is accurate to say it is the “Sundance of horror film festivals”. It is an opportunity for me to see some of the best and brightest new films of the genre. Here are some reviews of the films I saw.
This film clearly was intended to pay homage to classic Japanese monster movie. Think Godzilla. I grew up on Godzilla so I found this film a fun reminder of my childhood. I loved that it was virtually untouched by modern special effects and that the monster was obviously just a guy in a monster suit stepping on a train set. If you love camp and this genre the film will be monsterous fun to watch.
Train to Busan
This was one of the strongest films I saw at Fantasia. Just when I thought the zombie genre was getting a bit overdone I see this film and I am captivated once again. This film falls under the category of dramatic horror. The characters are very well developed and this is a tearjerker of a zombie film. The story reminded me so much of an old film starring Sophia Loren called Cassandra’s Crossing, which is about a person carrying a deadly virus and getting on a train. I would be shocked if that writer hadn’t seen that film since they are essentially the same film, but with zombies.
This was an interesting family drama with the focus on a man and his daughter. Things get a bit odd when we realize that they are both quickly becoming transparent and that this is actually a modern interpretation of The Invisible Man. The acting was solid and the special effects amazing. Some of my favorite moments has to do with an Asian herbalism as a pliable cure. My eyes I need to start taking herbal remedies.
A dark, Gothic tale of exactly how far a childless couple will go to have a baby. Perhaps to hell and back. This film is reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby and packs a bunch. A rich, peculiar couple pays their immigrant maid to carry their child. The maid is badly in need of money to provide for her family back home and to be reunited with her child. It’s an offer she cannot pass up, but has she made a deal with the Devil?
Set in the future a virus has infected the world and everyone exposed to it has lost their long and short term memory. Human history has essentially been wiped out and people now have as much memory as my of goldfish. All new experiences are fleeting since no one can remember much from one day to another. The film focuses on a young couple trying to figure out what they may have been to each other before the virus; siblings, friends, lovers, spouses? What are their names? Who are they? Thee only people unaffected are a father and daughter in an underground bunker and they seem the sole historians of human history and culture. This film seem to ask: even without memory, does love still find a way to blossom in the human soul?
A eccentric man decides to film an autobiographical film about his work with UFOs and government conspiracy. He casts his best friend and a local waitress as leads then starts shooting. He tells these extraordinary stories of coming face to face with aliens and spaceships. He believes the government wants him dead for what he’s seen and what he knows this the film is needed to release this secret information to the public. The audience is left wondering until the end if he is a paranoid nut or a man on a quest to reveal the truth.
Let Me Make You A Martyr
As I approached the theater I couldn’t help, but notice the line around the corner of Marilyn Manson fans costumed in black waiting to see this film. And Manson’s performance didn’t disappoint. Evidently this film was a labor of love and took years of work to get it pulled together and Manson was brought in as supporting cast a mere two days before they shot his scenes. With a short amount of time to prepare for the role this Antichrist Superstar rose to the occasion and nailed a cleverly unstated performance as a hired assassin. It was a unique film with great style and with a host of interesting characters. Afterwards filmgoers described Marilyn Manson as their favorite part of the film and only wished he had more screen time.
The Greasy Strangler
This was a really, really wacky horror comedy about a guy that absolutely loves to eat super greasy food then strangle people. Yeah, pretty wacky. The style seems to be very 1970s. If a prize was awarded for the most bizarre comedic nude scenes in a film this movie would win it for the full frontal nudity of men. If you like penises and your like silly movies this is your film.
I had another great year at Fantasia. The people, the films, and the festival are always great. I look forward to next year! Save some Poutine for me eh?
Yours in screams, Genoveva Rossi
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