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Alex K.
01-16-2013, 12:17 AM
In the eyes of fandom and critical circles there are established the three great Italian horror directors. Bava/Fulci/Argento roughly in that order and with each director carving their own distinct niche and influencing many. What a coincidence that there's three acknowledged to be masterful Italian Horror directors and three witches in Argento's Suspiria mythology. Power of three.

So -for a change of pace- this isn't to debate the merits among the three but to ask who is the unofficial Fourth Maestro. Is there another filmmaker who has the skills that match up to Bava/Fulci/Argento and have made a consistent number of movies to validate this? This might be a little unfair in comparing another person to another in such a way but it might be fun just the same.

My pick is Michele Soavi. Consistently made great films. Protege of some of the great genre filmmakers up to and including Aristide Massaccesi and Argento. Not to mention acting in some of the classics and being a great filmmaker in general with Arrivererci Amore Ciao.

My backup choice would be Sergio Martino. The giallo's he directed are on par with the Three Maestros and Mountain of the Cannibal God is pretty well done and not far behind Holocaust or Ferox. His only crime being that his genre output dried up not long after the very fun 2019: After the Fall of New York.

Apronikoff
01-16-2013, 12:59 AM
Very interesting question, Alex.

My first thought was Sergio Martino, for much the reasons you give. I certainly agree with your appraisal of Soavi, although I probably wouldn't have thought of him in this category since he has always struck me as being of a different generation.

One of my very favorite Italian genre directors is Massimo Dallamano, but his filmography is so slim, and even with that the number of thriller/horror entries is quite small, so he probably can't reach the same tier on that count.

What about Freda and Deodato?

Alex K.
01-16-2013, 01:18 AM
Deodato loses in terms of quantity. He still earns much ado respect of course. But he doesn't have the volume of Martino or Soavi IMHO. And I say that as a huge fan of Holocaust and House on the Edge of the Park.

Freda is a director I don't think very much of. His style is not very spectacular and the genre films he's done are average at best and forgettable at worst. I know there's fans of Double Face and Horrible Dr Hitchcock though. I couldn't get into them and Fear and Iguana with the Tongue of Fire are pretty forgettable aside from gore. I would argue Freda's big contribution is stepping aside and allowing Bava to get his foot in the door for I Vampiri.

Apronikoff
01-16-2013, 01:28 AM
Freda is a director I don't think very much of. His style is not very spectacular and the genre films he's done are average at best and forgettable at worst. I know there's fans of Double Face and Horrible Dr Hitchcock though. I couldn't get into them and Fear and Iguana with the Tongue of Fire are pretty forgettable aside from gore. I would argue Freda's big contribution is stepping aside and allowing Bava to get his foot in the door for I Vampiri.

Yeah, I haven't seen enough Freda to have much an opinion of him either way -- really only know the reputation of some of his films. I saw Plot of Fear, which was good, but not a favorite. And then I watched Iguana...but the print quality on what I watched was so bad, that I didn't really feel like I could honestly judge the film's merits.

sukebanboy
01-16-2013, 02:03 AM
Bruno MATTEI!!

There can be no other!!:biggrin:

I would vote for SOAVI too, but I think he may be too influenced by Argento to outright win the title of fourth Maestro....Number 4 would have to bring an originality and freshness to italian cinema in order to fit in with the other three....(Although I feel that Argento should be excluded from the group and lose the title of Third Maestro if his last few films are anything to go by....!)

Dom D
01-16-2013, 02:13 AM
I'd go with Lenzi or Martino. Both of them have made more films that I loved than any of the main three. Probably I'd lean towards Lenzi. The Lenzi/Baker giallo series are absolute favourites of mine. Particualrly Orgasmo.

Paul L
01-16-2013, 04:47 AM
Mattei!!!!

Seriously, when I was a lad, Freda and Bava were lumped together in the top tier, and Fulci and Argento were seen as hacks whose films were predicated on graphic violence. (Pun intended.) That said, I never agreed with the perspective that was dominant when I was getting interested in Italian genre cinema: I think Fulci's a better filmmaker than he used to be given credit for, and although I'm lukewarm on a lot of Argento's output (I like his first four thrilling all'italiana pictures, TENEBRE, TERROR AT THE OPERA, THE STENDHAL SYNDROME and not much else; my feelings towards SUSPIRIA though have gone cold over the past 20 years or so) I think he deserves to be listed alongside Bava. I'm glad the DVD age has given people the chance to reassess Fulci and Argento's work.

I think Freda's work has a complexity and a solemnity that's very different from the playfulness of, say, Bava, Argento and Fulci. I think he deserves to be remembered. Although he used to be well-respected, his body of work has been poorly represented in the DVD age, and I think the difficulties of seeing his films in decent versions has led to him falling behind somewhat. Plus I think people often come to his films after Bava, Argento, etc, and find them quite restrained (and, dare I say it, repressed - a major theme in his work that is carried through their style and narratives).

Back in the 1980s/1990s, Margheriti also used to get some deserved respect for his Gothics, IIRC (eg, LONG HAIR OF DEATH).

I would also pick Michele Soavi. I get the point that he's of a different generation, but for my money he's one of the best Italian filmmakers still working. His crime pictures have been very, very good, and his early-career horror pictures are outstanding (imo, of course).

Aside from Soavi, I'd go for Martino, I think.

Dom D
01-16-2013, 05:00 AM
Yeah when I first started getting interested in Italian genre cinema I remember Margheritti, Freda and Bava all being spoken of as the masters of the genre. At the time I hadn't seen much by any of them but I definitely had the impression that they were the trio to look out for. I think the availability of Freda and Margheriti's work on DVD has really hurt their standing amongst genre. Even The Horrible Dr Hitchcock took a decade or so to get a decent release.

Surprised Soavi keeps coming up as a name in this mix. Love Dellamorte, Dellamore and Stage Fright is a lot of fun but The Church and The Sect are very messy pictures.

Robert W
01-16-2013, 08:02 AM
For pure enjoyment factor, Lenzi.

Richard--W
01-16-2013, 08:33 AM
I would choose Freda on the strength of HORRIBLE DR HITCHCOCK I'm so impressed with it, but I agree his later films do not measure up to that standard. However, like Margheritti, Freda was a good workmanlike director who made a lot of enjoyable films. Watching Fulci used to be easier. I'm not a gorehound anymore. I agree he is a better director than he's been given credit for in the past, but I don't don't seem to be watching his films much anymore -- except for ZOMBIE. I need to see more of Saovi.

Perhaps the fourth maestro did not work in the horror genre?

Richard--W
01-16-2013, 08:52 AM
Although not horror directors, and not overly prolific, Sergio Sollima and Luciano Ercoli were true artists who delivered memorable genre films. Whether or not that qualifies them as the fourth maestro, I don't know.

Ian Jane
01-16-2013, 10:29 AM
Deodato loses in terms of quantity. He still earns much ado respect of course. But he doesn't have the volume of Martino or Soavi IMHO.

Well, if you include non-horror titles then Deodato has a bigger filmography than Soavi does, though Martino's is considerably bigger. I think though, despite not having the quantity, Deodato maybe wins based on the strength of his output and the impact that his films have. Martino and Lenzi would be great choices too. I like Soavi's stuff but for whatever reason don't go back to it as often.

Koukol
01-16-2013, 03:40 PM
Well the greatest Italian director is Federico Fellini.
But I would put Margheriti and Freda above Fulci in the horror department.

Paul L
01-16-2013, 04:07 PM
I think the availability of Freda and Margheriti's work on DVD has really hurt their standing amongst genre. Even The Horrible Dr Hitchcock took a decade or so to get a decent release.
Agreed with this. Had both directors had decent releases of their best films during the DVD 'boom' in the early 2000s, alongside Image's wave of Bava titles and Anchor Bay's influx of Fulci and Argento movies, I'm sure their films would be much better remembered... and DR HICHCOCK still doesn't have an English-friendly DVD release, which boggles the mind.


Surprised Soavi keeps coming up as a name in this mix. Love Dellamorte, Dellamore and Stage Fright is a lot of fun but The Church and The Sect are very messy pictures.
Yep, they're messy, but I think that may be part of their appeal. They're worth taking another look at, Dom, if you haven't seen them in a while :) LA SETTA plays mich better in its Italian version, I think.

Have you seen his crime pictures? Not many of them have had English-friendly releases, but of those that have UNO BIANCA is well worth tracking down - an amazing drama documentary-style crime picture (or, rather, miniseries, as it was originally made for television).

The Silly Swede
01-16-2013, 05:20 PM
For me: Margheriti. Sure, he was no big on horror, but he was top tits on sci-fi, action and adventure!

Dom D
01-16-2013, 05:32 PM
I haven't seen anything he's made post Dellamorte. I'd actually forgotten there was anything new. I'll stick Uno Bianco on the list.

I can't have seen The Sect in years. I've only got an old Midnight Video VHS of it and I'm not sure when I last owned a VHS player. Should give it another look. I remember visually it had some startling stuff in it. Particularly those low racing through the street shots from the car bumper... The Church is just not for me. It's got a strange tone to it that makes it hard to love.

Richard--W
01-16-2013, 06:30 PM
I changed my mind.

Luciano Ercoli is the fourth maestro.

So there.

Randy G
01-16-2013, 06:39 PM
Michele Soavi for sure, his horror films are delirious and memorable and his crime films are taut and stark. If we go beyond horror films there are a number of terrific directors who did SW and thrillers like Corbucci, Bazzoni, Questi, etc.

Paul L
01-16-2013, 07:06 PM
I haven't seen anything he's made post Dellamorte. I'd actually forgotten there was anything new. I'll stick Uno Bianco on the list.

I can't have seen The Sect in years. I've only got an old Midnight Video VHS of it and I'm not sure when I last owned a VHS player. Should give it another look. I remember visually it had some startling stuff in it. Particularly those low racing through the street shots from the car bumper... The Church is just not for me. It's got a strange tone to it that makes it hard to love.
ARRIVEDERCI AMORE... CIAO is very good as well, Dom; it's based on a book by Massimo Carlotto.

Soavi's made quite a few TV movies and miniseries for Italian television, and he's directed episodes of the 2011 series CACCIA AL RE - LE NARCOTICI/ANTI-DRUG SQUAD. Many of them are crime-based, but he's also made a miniseries about the life of St Francis fairly recently. There's one of his TV productions that I'd love to see, ULTIMO PALLOTTOLA, about the serial killer Donato Bilancia.

I also think Pupi Avati is worth considering, for LA CASA DALLE FINESTRE CHE RIDONO, THE HIDEOUT, ZEDER and L'ARCANO INCANTATORE. I agree with Randy's choices above too (Corbucci, especially).

Dom D
01-16-2013, 07:56 PM
Left field choice but could Ernesto Gastaldi count? His achievements were as a screen writer but I dont think any of the others can lay claim to being behind so many cracking films.

Alex K.
01-17-2013, 08:37 PM
I haven't seen anything he's made post Dellamorte. I'd actually forgotten there was anything new. I'll stick Uno Bianco on the list.

I can't have seen The Sect in years. I've only got an old Midnight Video VHS of it and I'm not sure when I last owned a VHS player. Should give it another look. I remember visually it had some startling stuff in it. Particularly those low racing through the street shots from the car bumper... The Church is just not for me. It's got a strange tone to it that makes it hard to love.

Paul pointed out ARRIVEDERCI AMORE... CIAO. It's probably one of the best Italian films of the 2000's. Robbed of an Oscar that's for sure.

You should re-watch The Sect, it's very good. The Church has a very strong 1st act then it becomes pretty muddled with an influx of characters shoved in there just to die. This could be because Argento cut out 20-30 minutes of footage against Soavi's wishes. But despite the flaws it is a damn good Italo Horror flick.

Love that shot where the guy first becomes possessed and rips out his heart in front of the afternoon sun.

sukebanboy
01-17-2013, 09:11 PM
THE SECT and THE CHURCH suffer from Argento's over reaching producers hands I think...Would love to see a directors cut of THE CHURCH if that really happened!!...THE CHURCH had an amazing atmosphere and was well made and directed (if a little disjointed)

Alex K.
01-18-2013, 12:34 AM
I don't detect much of Argento's influence in The Church and Sect. Not like when I watch Demons or even Demons 2. Lam(e)berto basically Brian D'palma'd Argento's style but did it worse*. The Church suffers from following the rules of the Demons' films rather than copying Argento's style.

*Watch Blade in the Dark to see what I mean.

bgart13
01-18-2013, 02:14 AM
Definitely Lamberto Bava.

Definitely.

:eyebrows:

Alex K.
01-18-2013, 02:52 AM
Slap.

bgart13
01-18-2013, 03:11 AM
:hmph:

Alex K.
01-28-2013, 09:02 PM
Just a thought: If the fourth Maestro is someone whose specialty is not in horror films then my vote would go for Fernando Di Leo.

Apronikoff
01-28-2013, 10:01 PM
Just a thought: If the fourth Maestro is someone whose specialty is not in horror films then my vote would go for Fernando Di Leo.

Without a doubt. Personally, I think if we're talking of Italian genre cinema in general than di Leo is second only to Bava in terms of number and consistency of his great films.

bgart13
01-28-2013, 10:13 PM
With the Synapse announcement of DEMONS and DEMONS 2, it's clear... Maestro Lamberto! :eyebrows: