Forbidden Sex, Violence, Gore, Nudity, And Monsters: Cult Film Director Bruno Mattei

Posters from films of Bruno Mattei

During the 80’s I was a manager for a video store. It was very interesting to see some of the films that were offered to the rental shops and never made it. I would wait before buying many of these B-movies as I knew they would come out at a cheaper price after a month or two.

I had an audience for them. Most were males looking for the possible nude or sex scene or the fan-boys who wanted to see the low budget blood and guts film.

I could count on a few names, all were Italian. One of those names was that of Italian director Bruno Mattei who took his Final Taxi this week after checking into a hospital complaining of a stomach pain. He died after falling into a coma.

Mattei, 75, has toiled in just about every genre quickie Italian cinema has to offer. His films are marked by big laughs and by budgets that are so small, he sometimes shoots movies back to back with the same crew and in one case even shot a film during the day while his frequent collaborator, Claudio Fragasso, shot one at night with the same equipment.

Mattei rose from editing the films of Joe D’Amato and Jess Franco to helming his own low budget, gore-drenched efforts. Though B-movie lovers can argue his importance in the realm of film until the world ends, few will deny that his films rarely fail to entertain on terms of sleaze and gratuitous violence alone — if that’s your kind of thing. He was one of the kings of exploitation films.

Exploitation films feature forbidden sex, wanton violence, drug use, nudity, freaks, gore, monsters, destruction, rebellion and mayhem. Such films have existed since the earliest days of moviemaking, but they were popularized in the 1960s with the general relaxing of cinematic taboos in the U.S. and Europe.

Bruno Mattei’s directorial debut was with the 1970 drama Armida, Il Drama di una Sposa before he helmed the film that many consider to be his finest cinematic effort, 1976′s Women’s Camp 119. A downbeat exploitation effort concerning a prisoner forced to witness numerous atrocities and medical experiments against her will, the film proved Mattei’s calling card to the world of exploitation and the same year’s SS Girls found him churning out more of the same.

Mattei’s 1981 effort Virus (aka Hell of the Living Dead) managed to churn stomachs worldwide while it continued the tradition of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, and he continued throughout the decade with such films as Porno Holocaust (also 1981), Rats (1984), Robowar (1988), and Terminator II (1989 — no, not that Terminator II!). Though his output would slow somewhat in the 1990s, Mattei continued working on with such efforts as the gruesome thriller Eyes Without a Face (1994) and the blatant Jaws rip-off Cruel Jaws. He also filmed several erotic movies, including a number of Emmanuelle films starring Laura Gemser. At the time of his death, Mattei was working on the sequel Island Of The Living Dead 2.

I loved the box cover artwork on many of these films. Walking around the video stores today you can still see many of these movies.

The recent Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez film “Grindhouse “ pays tribute to many of these films.

3 Responses

  1. Porno Holocaust? You must be kidding me! Did you watch that one? Wow.

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