Song of the Day: La Lucertola by Ennio Morricone

Today’s song of the day comes form Ennio Morricone’s score for Lucio Fulci’s 1971 giallo, A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin!  This may not be one of Morricone’s best-known scores but it’s still one of my favorites.  It perfectly captures the feel of Fulci’s psychedelic thriller.

From Ennio Morricone, here is La Lucertola.

Previous Entries In Our Tribute To Morricone:

  1. Deborah’s Theme (Once Upon A Time In America)
  2. Violaznioe Violenza (Hitch-Hike)
  3. Come Un Madrigale (Four Flies on Grey Velvet)
  4. Il Grande Silenzio (The Great Silence)
  5. The Strength of the Righteous (The Untouchables)
  6. So Alone (What Have You Done To Solange?)
  7. The Main Theme From The Mission (The Mission)
  8. The Return (Days of Heaven)
  9. Man With A Harmonic (Once Upon A Time In The West)
  10. The Ecstasy of Gold (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)
  11. The Main Theme From The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)
  12. Regan’s Theme (The Exorcist II: The Heretic)
  13. Desolation (The Thing)
  14. The Legend of the Pianist (The Legend of 1900)
  15. Theme From Frantic (Frantic)

An Offer You Can’t Refuse #14: Contraband (dir by Lucio Fulci)

The 1980 film, Contraband, tells a story of the Neapolitan underworld.

Luca Ajello (Fabio Testi) and his older brother, Mickey, have a pretty nice operation going.  They pilot boats up and down the coast of Italy, smuggling cigarettes and booze into Naples.  It’s given both of them a pretty good life.  They own a racehorse.  Luca’s got a big house with a beautiful wife (Ivana Monti) and a precocious son.  The police are too incompetent to stop them and their disco-loving boss, Perlante (Saverio Marconi), keeps them safe from any interference from the other mob bosses working in Naples.

But then, one night, two men disguised as policeman pull Luca and Mickey over while they’re driving down an isolated road.  The fake cops proceed to fire what seems to be over a hundred bullets into Mickey.  Luca, having ducked down in his seat, is not spotted by the assassins.  Determined to find out who murdered his brother and why, Luca immediately suspects a rival mobster named Scherino but Scherino insists that Mickey’s murder was actually ordered by a mysterious French drug lord known as Il Marsigliese (Marcel Bozzuffi, who also played a French drug smuggler in The French Connection).  The French are trying to take over the rackets in Naples and a sudden surge in violence, one which sees nearly every mob boss in Naples murdered on the same day, suggests that Scherino is telling the truth.

Contraband is a brutal Italian crime film, one that is notable for being one of director Lucio Fulci’s final non-horror films.  (Contraband was released after Zombi 2 but before City of the Living Dead.)  Though the film might not feature any zombies or any talk of “the Beyond,” it’s still unmistakably a Fulci film and some of the film’s brutal violence remains shocking even when seen today.  The scene where a duplicitous drug smuggler gets her face melted with a blow torch is nightmarish and it’s followed by a scene where a rival gangster graphically gets the back of his head blown out.  (Fulci lingers on the hole in the man’s head, giving us an out-of-focus shot of the people standing behind him.)  A later gunfight leads to one gangster dying with a gaping hole in his throat while another has his face shot away, despite the fact that he’s already dead.  It’s graphic but it’s also appropriate for the story being told.  This is a movie about violent men and, as Fulci himself often pointed out whenever he was challenged about the graphic gore in his films, violence is not pretty.  Contraband is not a film that’s going to leave anyone wanting to become a gangster.

The plot is not always easy to follow but, as is typical with a good Fulci film, the striking visuals make up for any narrative incoherence.  Fulci’s camera rarely stops moving, creating a sense of unease and pervasive paranoia.  Much like the characters in the film, we find ourselves looking in every corner and shadow for a potential threat.  A meeting with an informant at a mist-shrouded sulfur pit ends with assassin literally emerging from the mist and stabbing the informant from behind.  A later gun battle on a narrow street seems to feature gunmen literally appearing out of thin air.  Fabio Testi is ruggedly sympathetic as Luca while Saverio Marconi does a great job as the decadent Perlante.  Meanwhile, Marcel Bozzuffi is legitimately frightening in his few scenes as the evil French gangster.  He’s a great villain, smug and willing to kill anyone.  You don’t have to support organized crime to support the idea of running the French out of Naples.

Contraband is a minor crime classic and proof that there was more to Fulci than just zombies and serial killers.  Today would have been Lucio Fulci’s 93rd birthday and it’s also a good day to track down Contraband, an offer that you can’t refuse.

Previous Offers You Can’t (or Can) Refuse:

  1. The Public Enemy
  2. Scarface
  3. The Purple Gang
  4. The Gang That Could’t Shoot Straight
  5. The Happening
  6. King of the Roaring Twenties: The Story of Arnold Rothstein 
  7. The Roaring Twenties
  8. Force of Evil
  9. Rob the Mob
  10. Gambling House
  11. Race Street
  12. Racket Girls
  13. Hoffa

6 Shots From 6 Films: Special Lucio Fulci Edition!

6 Shots From 6 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 6 Shots From 6 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

93 years ago today, in Rome, Lucio Fulci was born!

Today is a very special day for fans of Italian horror.  It’s also a special day for those of us here at the Shattered Lens.  Anyone who has been reading this site for a while knows that we’re big Fulci fans at the TSL.  So, in honor of the anniversary of his birth, here are….

6 Shots From 6 Films

Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971, dir by Lucio Fulci)

Zombi 2 (1979, dir by Lucio Fulci)

The Beyond (1981, dir by Lucio Fulci)

The House By The Cemetery (1982, dir by Lucio Fulci)

The New York Ripper (1982, dir by Lucio Fulci)

Murder Rock (1984, dir by Lucio Fulci)

4 Shots From 4 Ania Pieroni Films: Inferno, The House By The Cemetery, Tenebre, Fracchia vs Dracula

Today is the birthday of Italian actress Ania Pieroni.

You may not recognize the name but, if you’re a fan of Italian horror, chances are that you’ve seen Ania Pieroni at least once.  Even though she only has 11 credits listed on the imdb and apparently made her last film over 30 years ago, Ania Pieroni achieved screen immortality by playing key roles in three of the greatest Italian films ever made.

In Dario Argento’s Inferno, she was the first actress to play the mysterious Mother of Tears.

In Lucio Fulci’s The House By The Cemetery, she played the mysterious housekeeper and nanny who, in one of the film’s most memorable scenes, nonchalantly mops up a huge pool of blood before subsequently losing her head in the house’s basement.

And then, in Argento’s Tenebre, she played the unfortunate shoplifter who pays a steep price for not paying for Peter Neal’s latest novel.

Today, the Shattered Lens wishes a happy birthday to Ania Pieroni with….

4 Shots From 4 Films

Inferno (1980, dir by Dario Argento)

The House By The Cemetery (1981, dir by Lucio Fulci)

Tenebre (1982, dir by Dario Argento)

Fracchia vs Dracula (1985, dir by Neri Parenti)

6 Trailers For Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Well, the big day is finally here and that means that it’s time for a special Halloween edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse Trailers!  Below you’ll find the trailers for some of my favorite horror films!  Let’s take a look!

  1. Suspiria (1977)

That I picked this trailer to start off this special edition should come as a surprise to no one.  While I don’t think the trailer really does the film justice, Suspiria is still one of my favorite movies of all time.  Don’t talk to me about the remake and we’ll get along just fine.

2. Zombi 2 (1979)

Also known as Zombie Flesh Eaters!  This is the Lucio Fulci-directed classic that launched the Italian zombie boom!

3. The Beyond (1981)

And, as long as we’re talking about Fulci, there’s no way that I could possibly leave The Beyond‘s trailer out of this post.

4. Martin (1978)

Some people, undoubtedly, will say, “Martin but no Night of the Living Dead?”  Well, we’ll be featuring Night of the Living Dead later today.  Martin is one of George Romero’s best films and it’s still criminally unknown.  Check out the trailer but definitely be sure to track down the film as well.

5. Halloween (1978)


6. The Shining (1980)

Stephen King might not like it but Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining remains one of the best horror films ever made.  It’s one of the few films that continues to scare me after multiple viewings.  (It’s those two little girls in the hallway.  They freak me out every time!)

Happy Halloween!

4 Shots From 4 Films: The Beyond, The House By The Cemetery, The Howling, Possession

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1981 Horror Films

The Beyond (1981, dir by Lucio Fulci)

The House By The Cemetery (1981, dir by Lucio Fulci)

The Howling (1981, dir by Joe Dante)

Possession (1981, dir by Andrzej Zulawski)

4 Shots From 4 Films: City of the Living Dead, Friday the 13th, Night of the Hunted, The Shining

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1980 Films

City of the Living Dead (1980, dir by Lucio Fulci)

Friday the 13th (1980, dir by Sean S. Cunningham)

Night of the Hunted (1980, dir by Jean Rollin)

The Shining (1980, directed by Stanley Kubrick)

4 Shots From 4 Films: Alien, Beyond The Darkness, Fascination, Zombi 2

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1979 Horror Films:

Alien (1979, dir by Ridley Scott)

Beyond the Darkness (1979, dir by Joe D’Amato)

Fascination (1979, dir by Jean Rollin)

Zombi 2 (1979, dir. Lucio Fulci)

Horror Scenes that I Love: Checking Out The Boat in Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2

The scene below comes from the 1979 Lucio Fulci masterpiece, Zombi 2.

In this scene, a mysterious boat is floating towards New York City.  Two cops are sent to check the boat out and, as they eventually discover, the boat isn’t quite as deserted as they thought it was.

Now, there’s a few reasons why this scene is important.  Number one, Zombi 2 is an Italian film that was designed to pass for an American film.  (Technically, it was sold as being a prequel to Dawn of the Dead, which was released under the title Zombi in much of Europe.)  In order to maintain the illusion, Italian filmmakers would often spend a day or two shooting on location in a recognizable American city.  More often than not, that city would turn out to be New York.

Number two, since Zombi 2 was promoted as being a bit of a prequel to Dawn of the Dead, one could argue that this scene shows how the whole zombie apocalypse began in the United States.  It wasn’t radiation from space or Hell running out of room.  No, instead, it was juts a boat floating from an island in the Caribbean all the way to New York.

This scene is also memorable because of the “boat zombie,” who is one of the best-known of the movie zombies.  Even people who have never heard of Lucio Fulci will probably recognize the boat zombie.  He’s an icon of the undead!

Finally, this scene sets up one of the greatest closing shots in the history of zombie cinema.  New York beware!

Horror Scenes That I Love: The Ending of Zombi 2

For our next horror scene that I love, we have one of the greatest horror endings of all time.

As Lucio Fulci’s 1979 masterpiece, Zombi 2, comes to a close, Ian McCulloch and Tisa Farrow are on a boat.  They’ve managed to escape from an island that been overrun by zombies.  However, as they listen to a New York radio station, they discover that the zombie outbreak is not over.  In fact, it’s just begun!

And then you get the final scene, in which hundreds of zombies are seen stumbling into New York!

Enjoy the end of the world!