Color, 2019, 95 mins. 25 secs.
Directed by Simone Scafidi
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
We've had more than our share of featurettes about Lucio Fulci over the years along with lots of archival interview footage, but nothing else out there is quite like Fulci for Fake. We've heard many times about the seeming contradiction between Fulci's gruff treatment of some actors and respectful consideration of others, but a really up close and personal snapshot of personality can be found here with a balance of his surviving family and those who worked with him. Adding to the unique nature of the project, it's also constructed around the conceit of an actor (Nicola Nocella) preparing to portray Fulci in a biopic, first seen going through makeup to look like the maestro's appearance in A Cat in the Brain. The jury still seems to be out as to whether that idea really works, but with the title itself betraying a debt to Orson Welles' playful and deliberately deceptive quasi-documentary F for Fake, the interplay between illusion and reality is something that reflects Fulci's life as well with some many seemingly conflicting opinions about him and the effects of his well-publicized health problems later in life.
The balance between the personal and the professional is achieved here via interviews with a wide variety of subjects, the biggest coup obviously being the most moving and illuminating participation from his daughters, Camilla (who sadly passed away in 2019) and his most vocal public champion, Antonella; the former contributes the bulk of the material here and has some amazing stories about working on her dad's films and seeing him at work along with observations about his temperament (including his love of children) that informed his artistic expression. For Fulci fans, this material with the two sisters is really the heart of the film and leaves the most lasting emotional impact. Also on hand providing some fine material on Fulci are such familiar faces as composer Fabio Frizzi, cinematographer Sergio Salvati, biographer Michele Romagnoli, director Enrico Vanzina, and actors Paolo Malco and Michele Soavi, among others. The portrait that emerges is multi-layered and affectionate without sugarcoating some aspects of his life, including the downslide that occurred after he contracted viral hepatitis from a tainted blood transfusion. If there's a really weak link here it's the frequent interjections of film documentarian Davide Pulici, who just doesn't come off all that well here and feels out of joint with the rest of the film. Thankfully the film acknowledges the full scope of Fulci's output over the years including his copious work in comedies and westerns, though of course, it's his horror classics that have endured the most and get quite a bit of attention here. Along the way you get some lovely home movie footage and candid photographs, all going a long way to fleshing out this portrait of a director who seems to keep getting more popular and appreciated with each passing year.
Severin Films presented the North American home video debut of this film on Blu-ray in 2020, featuring a transfer that looks as crystal clear as you'd expect for a recent HD digital production. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 Italian audio (with optional English subtitles) sounds excellent as well, though multichannel activity is limited primarily to the mostly ambient music score. An interview with director Simone Scafidi (23m18s) goes into the "great responsibility" of tackling a film about Fulci, the scholarly coverage of his work to that point, and his own passion for film that led him to his subject through years of hunting down his films from various sources. Extremely valuable and welcome is the entire interview with Camilla Fulci (72m32s), which is absolutely worth a watch all the way through. "Lucio Fulci & Friends" (46m27s) features outtake interview footage with Salvati, Frizzi, Malco, Soavi, and Vanzina, many of them expanding greatly on producer Fabrizio De Angelis and his role in some of Fulci's biggest films. Then "Looking for Lucio" (15m45s) features audio recordings with Fulci and Romagnoli accompanying a much longer looks at the Fulci Super 8 home movies, followed by "Lucio Fulci's Audiotapes" (22m45s) from their interview sessions (covering everything from Steno to Visconti and zombie stunt work). Then Romagnoli appears in "The Eye of the Witness" (23m31s) to share his personal memories of Fulci both as a cinematic inspiration and a mentor once they began sharing time in person. Also included on the disc are a funny "Zombie Parade at the Venice Film Festival" (1m35s) to promote this film, a Fulci video interview and some production coverage during the making of Demonia (9m35s), a reel of interviews with this film's crew (17m39s) including producer Giada Mazzoleni, co-producer and editor Claudio Rossoni, and sound designer Dino Gervasoni, and a trailer.
Reviewed on June 26, 2020