You have known Dario Argento for a long time and he produced a TV series called TURNO DI NOTTE. What can you tell us about that ?
That was a weekly program produced for the national TV so we had a lot of money. It was fifteen or twenty minutes long episodes involving taxi drivers who have adventures at night including murders. Before the end, the audience has to guess who is the murderer. Then the story starts again so that the people can see who have won. Those were very nice. Lamberto Bava did six and I did nine of them. It was very good. We were shooting at an incredible pace... every night during six months. While we were finishing to shoot it, they had already begin to air the show. Everybody was happy and we had a good audience.
You like Ray Harryhausen and you had the opportunity to make SINBAD. What happened with this one ?
When we were making HERCULES, Cannon was happy with the rushes. So they said they wanted Lou Ferrigno to do another movie for them. Ferrigno signed a contract but to do SINBAD. So he asked me to write it and I did write SINBAD. Ferrigno liked my story and I was supposed to start shooting it just after HERCULES. But we lost some time with the special effects on HERCULES so they put me on hold with that and SINBAD was postponed. After that, I worked on HERCULES 2 they were not ready to work on SINBAD. So I started working with Dario Argento and they finally gave SINBAD to Enzo Castellari. They used my script but Castellari changed most of it. My script was like HERCULES with stop-motion and things like that... But they did it for television as a mini-series of six hours or maybe longer.
I though it was meant to be a regular movie...
My script was for a movie but they changed their mind and made it as a mini-series. Castellari edited it but they didn't like it and it was put on the shelves. It was never shown as a mini-serie and they were right ! After that, they asked me if I wanted to take this old project in hand. They told me "We have six edited hours and we need a minimum of one hour and twenty minutes. Do what you can with it ! ". So I edited it, shoot some things and I had to put many effects who were not planned for the mini-serie.
You made THE BLACK CAT but there's not many cat in it !
THE BLACK CAT was not THE BLACK CAT. It was called OUT OF THE DEPTH (DE PROFUNDIS) and it was the shooting title. When I was half-way of the shooting the distributor called me about a problem. They have sold a package of Edgar Allan Poe's movies and among that there was "The Black Cat" and he wanted to use my movie as THE BLACK CAT. Well, I said "Ok... but I don't have any black cat in my movie." and he answered "Who cares ! Please just put a black cat somewhere !". So I put a black cat...
I heard that this change of title has upset Dario Argento...
It was very embarassing for me. Because I was working on TWO EVIL EYES and at that time my movie was called OUT OF THE DEPTH. When I was finishing to work on TWO EVIL EYES ("The Black Cat" segment directed by Dario Argento), I knew that my picture was going to be THE BLACK CAT. When I told him he said "What ? You do the Black Cat ?". I had to say "No, Dario ! I assure you my picture will be titled like that it's not as your movie.". He saw it and realised I was innocent !
Why didn't you make any other movies after PAGANINI HORROR and THE BLACK CAT ?
I made documentaries as DARIO ARGENTO : AN EYE FOR HORROR but I never made other movies because the market is gone in Italy. There's no more producers ! No more distributors !
Why in your opinion ?
Because everything has changed in Italy. When we were making STARCRASH, CONTAMINATION or HERCULES we had one or two hundred producers and fifty distributors. By the end of the eighties... Let's say when I was shooting THE BLACK CAT, italian television bought all theatres. After that, they bought all distributions. So when you make a movie now, it is produced, distributed and placed in theatres by the television network. But they made only movies for television. They said "Science-fiction doesn't make sense because we can buy STAR WARS for half a million dollars. Why should we spend ten millions to do a science-fiction movie ?". Even in America, since the nineties, there are no more real independents. So this is the end cause you can't find someone to work with...
Now you run a shop in Italy...
Now, I have a shop about horror and science-fiction with Dario Argento. But it's more than that ! In the last five years, we put up a publishing house which publishes only books about movies. I have done books about Bava, italian old movies, italian giallos... We have published more than thirty books so far. For an example, on Dario Argento, I wrote a book about his career and all of his movies. And then I also wrote a book just about PROFONDO ROSSO followed by another about QUATTRO MOSCHE SI VELLUTO GRIGIO. There's in it all what happened behind the scenes. At that time, there was no commentary behind made. So I did write what you can call the making of.
I suppose it's in italian ?
Yes but every year we translate one or two books in english. So far we have already done the english version of my book about Dario Argento. In a couple of weeks we plan to translate my book about Mario Bava... My relationship with Mario Bava. I was there. I was working with him. So it's not like a critic. I know the story behind the scenes and usually people enjoy this kind of insight look.
It was possible for our readers to order it via the internet ?
You can find the books in some shops. But, for the moment, it's complicated to send it as the shipping is more expensive than buying the book itself. That's a problem ! But you know, we're growing. We also publish two magazines in Italy and one is published now in Germany too. So who knows what will happen next ? Cause we're young and growing...
You have been involved in publishing for a long time...
I worked as a professional in literary science-fiction. I was fifteen when I sold and published my first science-fiction novel. Then after that, I have always kept on writing during all my career, even when I was shooting movies, I was still writing and editing many american writers. Even today I'm still editing two magazines in Italy. That's my passion. I cannot stop doing what I like.
Article made by
Christophe "Arioch" Lemonnier,
Nadia Derradji and
Thanks to CineFX, Neo Publishing, PVB Editions, Le Méliès Theatre and Laurent Lopéré