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Cinema of Italy: Splatter, erotic comedy, trash

An outburst of genres: splatter, erotic comedy, trash


During the 1970s the Italian horror movies often steered toward the splatter and gore styles, giving birth to a new category hardly criticized at the times but later re-evaluated and in any case it left a mark in the Italian cinema landscape.
Of particular interest at international level was the "cannibalistic" genre, started by Umberto Lenzi in 1972 with "Il paese del sesso selvaggio".
The idea of filming horror/adventure movies in exotic and sunny places was a winning combination from a commercial point of view and in the following years it will become an important genre of its own.
Famous examples are "La montagna del dio cannibale" (1978) by Sergio Martino, "Mangiati vivi!" (1979) and "Cannibal Ferox" (1980) by Umberto Lenzi, "Emanuelle e gli ultimi cannibali" (1977), and "Antropophagus" (1980) by Joe D'Amato. Many of these movies were met by fierce protest because of the explicit violence and cruelty shown.
At the apex of noise (and of legal troubles) we had with "Cannibal Holocaust" (1979) by Ruggero Deodato, without a doubt the final stage of the cannibalistic genre. The movie was mistaken for a snuff movie and therefore blocking the screenings in Italy, but this did not deter the movie from earning a huge economic success elsewhere. Heavily cut and censored everywhere, "Cannibal Holocaust" has long been hated and ridiculed by the critics, regarded only as a sensationalistic expedient of questionable taste. Available recently on DVD, the movie has been gradually appreciated, mostly about the quality of the narration and the corrosive humor that constantly challenges the media sensationalism of our times.

In the 1980s we can finally state that the exceptions of the previous decade has almost become a rule: many movies were produced in the horror/thriller style of the lowest quality, referred by Serie Z, similar to the B-movies and often they were spinoffs of cult movies from across the ocean (U.S.).
The concentration of bad taste, non-professional execution and involuntary humor found in those movies has, however, created a cult following.
In the 1970s, the loosening of censorship, the degeneration of taste, and above all the desire of commercial success with modest investments, helped in the creation, alongside the Italian comedy, of the Erotic comedy Italian style.
Laughable screenplays and dialogue were just a pretest to develop movies more or less erotic by nature: popular names that started with this genre are Lino Banfi, Diego Abatantuono, Alvaro Vitali, Gloria Guida, and Edwige Fenech.
Not all of the erotic comedy was that bad however: some of the works by Salvatore Samperi, Steno and Marco Vicaro possess their own dignity, others have been the object of recent appreciation (starting around 2000-2002.)
Some of the movies to be included in the "trash" category are the sagas of "Fantozzi", written and interpreted by Paolo Villaggio. However we must admit that, at least in the first two films, the execution of the comic side with the theme, a parody of the grotesque rituals of modern society and the satiric point of view of the author.
A case apart is Tinto Brass, a director who in the 1970s directed some eccentric and large productions ("Salon Kitty", "Io, Caligola") and he obtained a good success in 1983 with "La chiave", an erotic drama with Stefania Sandrelli in an unforeseen role.