30 July 1931
|Died||21 May 2007 (brain tumor)
Ostia City, Rome, Italy
|Other names||Vincent Dawn, Pierre Le Blanc, Stefan Oblowsky, Gilbert Roussel, David Hunt, William Snyder, Jordan B. Matthews, Martin Miller, Jimmy Matheus, Michael Cardoso, Herik Montgomery, Frank Klox, David Graham|
Bruno Mattei (30 July 1931 – 21 May 2007) was an Italian film director, screenwriter and editor who gained a cult following for low-budget exploitation films in many genres, from women in prison (WIP) and nunsploitation to zombie and cannibal films; most of his films were meant to shock or sicken, and featured large doses of sex and gore. He used pseudonyms, including Vincent Dawn (chosen as a nod to George Romero's Dawn of the Dead), Pierre LeBlanc, Gilbert Roussel and Michael Cardoso among others.
Born in 1931, Mattei got his start in Italian cinema by working in his film editor father's studio in 1951, editing more than 100 films between the mid-1960s and the early 1970s (a job he said he enjoyed even more than directing). In 1974, he earned his first directorial credit, directing 20 minutes of additional hardcore footage for the French re-release of Jesus Franco's 1969 film 99 Women. He had earlier edited Jesus Franco's Count Dracula (1969), and in 1975, he wrote the screenplay for the Joe D'Amato film Emanuelle's Revenge (aka Demon Rage) and edited Joe D'Amato's Eva Nera (1976).
Mattei became a full-time director in 1977 when he made several erotic Nazi death camp films, which he followed up with a porno documentary called Sexy Night Report, and a 1980 nunsploitation film, The True Story of the Nun of Monza. It was here in 1980 that Mattei's fruitful collaboration with screenwriter Claudio Fragasso began, and the two would work together for the next ten years, a span of time generally considered to be Mattei's greatest period of productivity.
Following The Nun of Monza, Mattei directed two of his most infamous horror shockers, The Other Hell and Hell of the Living Dead, catapulting him to fame in the Euro-horror film genre. After directing two Caligula-inspired rip-offs and two Emanuelle women-in-prison films starring Laura Gemser, he made the delirious Rats: Night of Terror (a low budget science fiction film of which he was always very proud), and the ultra-gory Zombie 3 (which he completed for director Lucio Fulci in the Philippines, after Fulci took ill). Mattei was also an assistant director on Lamberto Bava's film Monster Shark (1984).
Mattei had a small coterie of Italian genre actors he enjoyed working with, and he used them again and again in his 1980's films....reliable actors such as Franca Stoppi, Carlo de Mejo, Franco Garofalo, Luciano Pigozzi, Margit Evelyn Newton, Gabriele Tinti, Ivan Rassimov, William Berger, Werner Pochath, Laura Gemser, Lorraine De Selle, Zora Kerova....all of whom lent his films a look of professionalism despite the appallingly low budgets he was forced to work with.
Mattei didn't turn out much work in the 1990s, although during this period he did make the direct to video film Cruel Jaws, a rip-off of Steven Spielberg's Jaws, originally planned to be a made-for-television movie. (After 1992, Fragasso left the Italian horror film market to move into Italian television production, which may account for Mattei's slowed output in the 1990s.)
Later, from 2002 to 2007, Mattei returned to filmmaking at age 70, this time working only for the direct to video market, most of these films being written & produced by a new collaborator, Giovanni Paolucci. In that five-year period, Mattei directed several erotic thrillers and slasher films before returning once more to the Philippines, where he shot two more cannibal films, one last women-in-prison film and two final zombie movies. Mattei died in May 2007, just days after his last two films were theatrically released, so he was literally working on projects right up to the end.
He directed at least 50 low budget films in all, many of which he co-wrote and edited. His work has attracted a significant cult following. His films tend to be appreciated for their unique dialogue, terrible dubbing, low budgets, nudity and gory special effects. He is sometimes referred to as the "Ed Wood of Italian filmmaking", but perhaps a better name would be the "Jesus Franco of Italian filmmaking".
Hollywood film critics regard him as a hack, but Mattei worked with many well-known cult filmmakers like Jesus Franco, Joe D'Amato, Lucio Fulci, Lamberto Bava, and Claudio Fragasso. He also got to direct stars like Lou Ferrigno, Reb Brown, Bo Svenson, Dan Vadis, Tony Musante, Sybil Danning, Donald Pleasence, and Richard Harris. On an interview segment contained on Anchor Bay's DVD release for Hell of the Living Dead, Mattei claimed that he would like to reshoot all of his films, as he finds them "ugly". He never made a secret out of the fact that every film he ever made was done simply for the money. Yet his filmography contains a lot of very entertaining (if not jaw-dropping) films.
In early 2007, Mattei's health began to decline rapidly after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Despite his doctor's warnings, he went through with a surgical operation to have the tumor removed in May of that year (just days after the release of his last movie Zombies: The Beginning). After the surgery, he fell into a coma from complications and died a few days later on 21 May 2007, at age 75.
Selected filmography as director
- Emanuelle's Revenge (1975) aka Demon Rage, aka Blood Rage, aka Blood Vengeance; Mattei only co-wrote the screenplay for this film, which was directed by Joe D'Amato
- SS Girls (1977) aka Private House for the SS, aka Casa privata per le SS
- Women's Camp 119 (1977) aka SS Extermination Love Camp, aka KZ9 Extermination Camp, aka KZ9 - Lager di Sterminio
- Sexy Night Report (1977) aka Mondo Erotico, aka Porno Nights of the World (a sex documentary)
- Emanuelle and the Erotic Nights (1978) aka Emanuelle and the Porno Nights of the World Part 2, aka Emanuelle's Erotic Nights; co-written/co-directed by Mattei and Joe D'Amato (who was uncredited)
- Cicciolina amore mio (1979) aka Cicciolina, My Love; sex comedy co-directed by Bruno Mattei & 2 other directors
- Libidomania (1979) (a sex documentary)
- Sesso perverso, mondo violento (1979) aka Perverse Sex, Violent World, aka Sexy Holocaust (a sex documentary)
- The True Story of the Nun of Monza (1980) aka La vera storia della monaca di Monza; written by Claudio Fragasso, based on a 19th-century Italian novel; stars Franca Stoppi, Zora Kerova & Franco Garofalo; first film he worked on with Claudio Fragasso
- The Other Hell (1980) aka L'altro inferno, aka The Presence, aka Guardian of Hell, aka Terror en el Convento; (written by Claudio Fragasso; stars Carlo de Mejo, Franca Stoppi & Franco Garofalo); (filmed simultaneously with Nun of Monza)
- Hell of the Living Dead (1980) aka Night of the Zombies, aka Zombie Creeping Flesh, aka Virus: Hell of the Living Dead (co-directed by Mattei & Claudio Fragasso; stars Franco Garofalo & Margit Evelyn Newton); first film Mattei co-directed with Fragasso
- Porno Holocaust (1981) Mattei co-directed this x-rated film with Joe D'Amato (but Mattei was uncredited)
- Nero and Poppea: An Orgy of Power (1982) co-directed by Mattei & Antonio Passalia
- Caligula's Perversions (1982) aka Caligula and Messalina; co-directed by Mattei & Jean-Jacques Renon
- Violence in a Women's Prison (1983) aka Caged Women, aka Emanuelle in Hell; stars Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Lorraine De Selle, & Franca Stoppi
- Women's Prison Massacre (1983) aka Blade Violent, aka Emanuelle Escapes from Hell; this sequel to Violence in a Women's Prison stars Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Carlo de Mejo & Franca Stoppi; written (& co-directed) by Claudio Fragasso
- Seven Magnificent Gladiators (1983) peplum starring Lou Ferrigno, Sybil Danning, Dan Vadis and Brad Harris; Mattei co-directed this film with his screenwriter Claudio Fragasso
- Rats: Night of Terror (1983) aka Blood Kill, aka Bronx Warriors 3 (Germany); Sci-fi thriller (Mattei's favorite film); Mattei co-directed this film with his screenwriter Claudio Fragasso
- Monster Shark (1984) Mattei was second-unit director on this Lamberto Bava film
- White Apache (1986, Spaghetti western) aka Bianco Apache, written by Franco Prosperi; co-directed by Mattei & Claudio Fragasso
- Scalps (1986, Spaghetti western) co-written by Mattei & Richard Harrison; co-directed by Mattei & Claudio Fragasso
- Appointment in Trieste (1987) 6-hour Italian TV miniseries starring William Berger, Tony Musante, Renato Rossini, Edmund Purdom, & Ivan Rassimov; co-written by Claudio Fragasso
- Double Target (1987) starring Bo Svenson & Donald Pleasence
- Strike Commando (1987) starring Reb Brown & Christopher Connelly
- Cop Game (1988, Crime drama) aka Saigon: Wartime Crime Investigation, aka GI Killer, aka Giochi di poliziotto; stars Werner Pochath, Brent Huff & Luciano Pigozzi; written by Claudio Fragasso
- Robowar (1988, Science fiction film) aka Robo da guerra, aka Robocop No. 2, aka Cyber Robo; starring Reb Brown & Luciano Pigozzi; written by Claudio Fragasso
- Strike Commando 2 (1988) aka The Diabolical Trap, starring Richard Harris and Brent Huff
- Zombi 3 (1988) co-directed with Lucio Fulci & Claudio Fragasso in the Philippines (Mattei was uncredited); written by Claudio Fragasso, produced by Franco Gaudenzi
- After Death (1988) aka Oltre la morte, aka Zombie 4: After Death, aka Zombie Flesh Eaters 3, aka Return of the Living Dead 3; Mattei co-produced this film with Franco Gaudenzi, but he let Claudio Fragasso write & direct it all by himself, so technically this is not a Mattei film
- Born to Fight (1989, War movie) aka Born to Win; stars Brent Huff & Werner Pochath
- Shocking Dark (1989; original title: Terminator 2), aka Contaminator, aka Alienators, aka Return of the Exterminator; (the original title of this film was later changed to Shocking Dark after a threatened lawsuit over the title Terminator 2); written by Claudio Fragasso
- Desire (1990) aka Desideri, aka Dirty Love 2, aka Mad Love 2 (porno film starring Josie Bissett); written by Claudio Fragasso, produced by Franco Gaudenzi
- Three for One (1990) aka Tre pesci, una gatta nel letto che scotta / Three Fish and a Cat in the Burning Bed (sexy comedy written by Claudio Fragasso)
- Dangerous Attraction (1994) aka Perverse Attraction
- Madness (1994) aka Eyes Without a Face (slasher film involving a serial killer named Dr. Dark)
- Cruel Jaws (1995) aka The Beast, aka Jaws 5: Cruel Jaws, aka Shark Terror; originally planned for Italian TV
- Ljuba - Corpo e anima (1997) aka Ljuba: Body and Soul
- Killing Striptease (2002) aka Belle Da Morire; written & produced by Giovanni Paolucci; this was the first of many films Mattei did with producer Paolucci after 2002
- Snuff Trap (2003) aka Snuff Killer - La Morta in diretta (Snuff Killer: Death - Live!); written & produced by Giovanni Paolucci
- In the Land of The Cannibals (2004) aka Land of Death, aka Nella Terra dei Cannibali, aka Cannibal Ferox 3: Land of Death, aka Cannibal Holocaust 3: Cannibal vs Commando, aka Horror Cannibal 1; written & produced by Giovanni Paolucci; stars Claudio Morales & Cindy Matic
- Mondo Cannibal/ Cannibal World (2004) aka The Real Cannibal Holocaust, aka Cannibal Holocaust 2, aka Horror Cannibal 2, aka Cannibal Holocaust: The Beginning; written & produced by Giovanni Paolucci; stars Claudio Morales & Cindy Matic
- A Shudder on the Skin (2005) aka Un brivido sulla pelle, stars Claudio Morales
- Orient Escape (2005) aka Fuga Orientale; stars Claudio Morales
- Killing Striptease 2 (2005) aka Belle Da Morire 2
- Secrets of a Woman (2005) aka Secrets of Women
- The Dark Side of a Woman (2005) aka Secrets of a Woman 2
- The Tomb (2006) aka La tomba, aka Don't Open That Tomb!; written & directed by Mattei; produced by Giovanni Paolucci
- The Jail: The Women's Hell (2006) aka Lost Soul / Anime Perse, aka Prison Island, aka The Jail: A Women's Hell; co-written by Mattei & Giovanni Paolucci (producer)
- Island of the Living Dead (2007) aka La isola dei morti viventi, aka Island of the Dead; co-written by Mattei & Giovanni Paolucci (producer); released in May 2007.
- Zombies: The Beginning (2007) aka Zombies: La creazione, aka Zombie 2009; a prequel to Island of the Living Dead, both films being released simultaneously in May 2007; co-written by Mattei & Giovanni Paolucci (producer)
Note* Mattei died on May 21, 2007, very possibly the same week his last two zombie films were theatrically released, so none of his films were released posthumously.
- "E' morto Bruno Mattei" (Italian)
- "The New York Times". The New York Times.
- "Bruno Mattei as Michael Cardoso in Desideri (1990)". Michael Cardoso.
- J.C. Maçek III (2012-06-15). "The Zombification Family Tree: Legacy of the Living Dead". PopMatters.