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Umberto Lenzi

Umberto Lenzi
File:Umberto lenzi sitges2008.jpg
Umberto Lenzi at the Festival de Cine de Sitges in October 2008.
Born (1931-08-06) 6 August 1931 (age 84)
Massa Marittima, Italy
Occupation Film director and screenwriter

Umberto Lenzi (born August 6, 1931), is an Italian film director who was very active in Italian international co-production peplums, Eurospy films, spaghetti westerns, Macaroni Combat movies, Poliziotteschi films, cannibal films and giallo murder mysteries (in addition to writing many of the screenplays himself).

Life and career

Lenzi was born in Massa Marittima, Grosseto, southern Tuscany. He is the writer/director of two highly controversial exploitation films: Eaten Alive! (1980) and Cannibal Ferox (1981) as well as the director of the film adaptation of the Italian comic book Kriminal (1966). He was one of the first Italian directors to get involved in the giallo film craze (along with Mario Bava and Dario Argento), and his jungle adventure Man From Deep River is credited as being the film that started the Italian cannibal film genre later popularized by Ruggero Deodato, Jess Franco and others. Lenzi has claimed in interviews however that he was never too enamored of the cannibal films he made, being much prouder of his war films, his police crime films and his westerns. Lenzi has said in interviews that Man From Deep River was his best cannibal film (he said he only did the other two to make a quick buck), and his favorite gialli were Orgasmo and Seven Bloodstained Orchids (while he absolutely detested Spasmo). He said his Black Demons was another of his all-time favorites, a "potential masterpiece" marred only by the poor acting of the unattractive female lead he was forced to work with.

Two Lenzi movies called Paranoia

Umberto Lenzi's Orgasmo (1969) was retitled Paranoia when it was released in the USA, and it was so successful under that title, the Italian producers asked Lenzi to make another giallo called Paranoia (1970) to be distributed in Italy. This second film was later retitled A Quiet Place to Kill in the USA (since Orgasmo had already been released there under the title Paranoia).

There really was a Harry Kirkpatrick

While preparing to film the 1988 slasher flick Nightmare Beach in Florida, Umberto Lenzi had a falling out with the producer just as production started and wanted to be taken off the film, but the film's co-writer Harry Kirkpatrick (who wound up receiving sole directing credit) convinced Lenzi to remain on the set in an uncredited advisory capacity throughout the entire production. Thus Lenzi co-directed the film with Kirkpatrick. For years, many horror film fans thought Harry Kirkpatrick was an alias for Lenzi, but Lenzi has stated in interviews that there really was a Harry Kirkpatrick who co-wrote & co-directed that film with him. In fact, Lenzi stated in interviews that he really liked Kirkpatrick and got along well with him.[citation needed]

The Italian La Casa horror film series

Umberto Lenzi directed Ghosthouse in 1988 (known as La Casa 3 in Italy), but many of his fans do not know why it was released as La Casa 3 in Italy. The American films The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II were released in Italy as La Casa and La Casa 2 respectively. Lenzi's film Ghosthouse was designed as a sort of sequel to these two high-grossing fan favorites, and thus was released in theatres there as La Casa 3.

The same year, Fabrizio Laurenti directed Witchery (starring Linda Blair) which was released in Italy as La Casa 4 and was followed several years later by Claudio Fragasso's La Casa 5: Beyond Darkness (not to be confused with Joe D'Amato's Beyond The Darkness / Buio Omega). The 1987 American movie House 2: The Second Story strangely wound up on video as La Casa 6, while the 1989 Lance Henrikson film The Horror Show was also known as La Casa 7.


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