Word has been spreading like wildfire the past few days about a new Microsoft Windows commercial that features the infamous zombie vs. shark sequence from Lucio Fulci's Zombie 2. I first saw the spot last week myself and it got me thinking about Fulci and how much I do love his often underappreciated films. It's also FEARnet's Zombiefest this week so what better time to celebrate zombie vs. shark? Today more than ever Lucio Fulci deserves a bit of the horror spotlight (I mean, Dario Argento has been in the news so much recently; here and here for example) and apparently the crew over at Microsoft agree.
So I've recently been going through my Fulci collection and have decided to bring you the 5 Fulci films I believe you absolutely must see. These are not necessarily 5 of his best films (as you'll soon learn), as a matter of fact, at least one of these might even represent his worst (I'll let you figure out which one that is), but these are 5 shining examples of what I believe make Fulci one of my favorite horror artists (and dare I say rip-off artists). In no particular order...
First up, we have the aforementioned Windows commercial featuring that infamous scene from that 1979 European/exploitation/zombie flick. Thinking about unsuspecting families watching this commercial while they are eating dinner has me feeling all giddy.
Four of the Apocalypse (1975)
Perhaps an unusual starting point for a horror site, but when Fulci does Western, I listen. A pregnant prostitute, a traveling gambler, the town drunk and a crazy man who 'sees dead people' are thrust out when their town is attacked by outlaws. Four of the Apocalypse is a gritty and violent Western with heart. Fulci delivers a fun flick here and shows how truly versatile a filmmaker he was.
Originally born as a pseudo sequel to Romero's Dawn of the Dead, Fulci's Zombie (aka Zombie 2) has it all: Zombies w/ oatmeal on their faces, topless scuba diving, more flesh tearing than you could shake a dismembered arm at, zombie vs. shark and a wood splinter shoved through an eye (which is easily one of the most memorable gore effects from a horror film...ever). This is the way Italian zombie films SHOULD be made.
The Beyond (1981)
Dario Argento has Suspiria and Lucio Fulci has The Beyond. This story of a haunted hotel in Louisiana that turns out to be a portal to hell is an amazing and unforgettable little European horror film from 1981 that still holds up to this day (partly because of its amazing Fabio Frizzi score). Beware of the face eating tarantulas.
New York Ripper (1982)
Super gory slasher flick with just as much bare skin as squirting blood. And a serial killer who quacks like Donald Duck. Yes, he QUACKS!
Murder Rock (1984)
Imagine the worst dime store slasher film 'pretending' to be a giallo that you've ever seen. Now, imagine that this film had relations with Fame and Flashdance. The name of that mutated offspring is Murder Rock (aka Dancing Death aka Slashdance). Lots o'nudity and leg warmers in this one. AND the killer has a very unique way of disposing of his/her victims. He/she takes a hatpin, slowly inserting it into the victims' (usually sweaty -from dancing of course) bare breast in order to puncture the heart. Let's SLASHDANCE!
Now I know that I missed some great (and not so great) Lucio Fulci titles like The House By The Cemetery (1981), City of the Living Dead (1980), Smuggler / Contraband (1980), Don't Torture a Duckling (1972), Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971), Manhattan Baby (1982) and many more. And I definitely recommend all of these Fulci titles as essential viewing for any wannabe Fulci fan. But the 5 I listed above are a great starting point. Plus, if you can make it through Murder Rock, you can really make it through ANYTHING. What are some of your Fulci favorites? Don't let Argento hog the European horror spotlight forever, Fulci Lives!