Umberto Lenzi

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Umberto Lenzi
Umberto lenzi sitges2008.jpg
Umberto Lenzi at the Festival de Cine de Sitges in October 2008.
Born (1931-08-06) 6 August 1931 (age 85)
Massa Marittima, Italy
Occupation Film director and screenwriter

Umberto Lenzi (born 6 August 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[edit]

Born in Massa Marittima, Grosseto, southern Tuscany in 1931, Lenzi became passionate about cinema when studying law; after working as a journalist for various local newspapers and magazines, he abandoned his university studies and moved to Rome, where he enrolled at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, graduating in 1956.[1]

After a few years spent as a film critic and writer, in 1960 he made his film debut as an assistant director on the Renzo Merusi drama The Dam on the Yellow River. In 1961, he made his solo directorial debut with the pirate film Queen of the Seas.[1]

Between 1962 and 1966, Lenzi specialized in adventure films, in particular directing films involving Robin Hood and Emilio Salgari's Sandokan character, as well as an adaptation of the comic book series Kriminal. After a few forays in the Eurospy, Spaghetti Western and Macaroni combat genres, in 1968 Lenzi began with his Orgasmo a successful series of Giallo films, the first four starring Carroll Baker in the main role.[1] In 1972, Lenzi directed the groundbreaking exploitation film The Man from Deep River, which is considered by many to be the start of the Italian cannibal genre.[1][2]

Beginning with Gang War in Milan (1973), for the next few years Lenzi concentrated on a string of violent crime films, known in Italy as "poliziotteschi", often collaborating with Tomas Milian, and helped create Milian's character "Er Monnezza" in Free Hand for a Tough Cop (1976). Milian played a criminal hunchback in Lenzi's Rome Armed to the Teeth (1976), and then played a dual role (playing both Er Monnezza and his hunchback sibling) in Brothers Till We Die (1977). The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist (1977) was another sequel to Rome Armed to the Teeth, but without Milian in the cast.[1][3]

In 1976, Lenzi produced two films that he did not direct, The Killer Must Kill Again (dir. by Luigi Cozzi) and Death Rage (dir. by Antonio Margheriti). In 1980, he returned to the cannibal genre with Eaten Alive!; the same year, he directed Nightmare City, a film described as the "highlight of Lenzi's horror filmography". In 1981, he directed his 3rd and last cannibal film, the incredibly violent Cannibal Ferox.[1]

In the early 1980s, Lenzi's career spanned various genres, including comedies. He returned to the horror genre in 1987 with Ghosthouse, Hell's Gate, Black Demons and Hitcher in the Dark. In 1989, he directed a couple of horror films made for Italian television. Following a couple of low-budget cop films in the early 90's, he retired from directing.[1]


  • Queen of the Seas (1961) aka Adventure of the Mary Read; aka Hell Below Deck, aka Mary la Rousse, Femme Pirate
  • Catherine of Russia (1962) starred Hildegard Knef
  • The Triumph of Robin Hood (1962) starring Samson Burke
  • Duel of Fire (1962) aka Duello nella sila, starred Fernando Lamas
  • The Invincible Masked Rider (1962) aka L'invincibile cavaliere mascherato, aka Terror of the Black Mask
  • Samson and the Slave Queen (1963) aka Zorro vs Maciste
  • Sandokan the Great (1963) aka Sandokan, The Tiger of Mompracem, starring Steve Reeves
  • Pirates of Malaysia (1964) aka Pirates of the Seven Seas, aka Sandokan, the Pirate of Malaysia, starring Steve Reeves once again as Sandokan the Great
  • Temple of the White Elephants (1964) aka Sandok, the Maciste of the Jungle
  • Adventures of the Bengal Lancers (1964) aka I tre sergenti del Bengala, aka The Three Sergeants of Fort Bengal, starring Richard Harrison
  • Messalina vs. the Son of Hercules (1964) aka The Last Gladiator
  • Jungle Adventurer (1965) aka Temple of a Thousand Lights, aka The Mountain of Light, caper film starring Richard Harrison
  • 008: Operation Exterminate (1965)
  • Super Seven Calling Cairo (1965)
  • The Spy Who Loved Flowers (1966) aka Hell Cats (sequel to Super Seven Calling Cairo)
  • Last Man to Kill (1966) aka A Million Dollars For Seven Killers, starred Erica Blanc
  • Kriminal (1966) based on the famous Italian comic strip
  • Attentato ai tre grandi (1967) aka Attack on the Big Three, aka Desert Commandos,
  • All Out (1967) aka Tutto per tutto, aka Copperface, aka Go for Broke (1967) spaghetti western, starred John Ireland
  • A Pistol for a Hundred Coffins (1968) spaghetti western, starred John Ireland
  • Battle of the Commandos (1969) aka Legion of the Damned, written by Dario Argento, starring Jack Palance
  • Orgasmo (1969) (released in USA as Paranoia)
  • So Sweet... So Perverse (1969)
  • Oasis of Fear (1969) aka An Ideal Place to Kill, aka Dirty Pictures
  • A Quiet Place to Kill (1970) (Original Italian title: Paranoia)
  • Man from the Deep River (1972) aka Il paese del sesso selvaggio / The Country of Savage Sex, aka Sacrifice!, aka The Man from Deep River, aka Deep River Savages
  • Seven Blood-Stained Orchids (1972) aka Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso, aka Puzzle of the Silver Half Moons
  • Il coltello di ghiaccio (1972) aka The Knife of Ice, aka Silent Horror, aka Detrás del Silencio[4]
  • Gang War in Milan (1973) aka Milano Rovente (Burning Milan), aka Burning City
  • Spasmo (1974)
  • Almost Human (1974) aka Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare, aka The Kidnapping of Mary Lou, aka The Death Dealer
  • Eyeball (1975) Italian: Gatti rossi in un labirinto di vetro / Red Cats in a Glass Maze, aka Wide-Eyed in the Dark, The Devil's Eye, The Secret Killer
  • The Manhunt (1975) aka Manhunt in the City, aka L'uomo della strada fa giustizia, starred Henry Silva & Luciana Paluzzi
  • Syndicate Sadists (1975) aka The Avenger Challenges the City, aka One Just Man, aka Rambo's Revenge
  • Napoli violenta (1976) aka Violent Naples, aka Death Dealers, aka Violent Protection
  • The Tough Ones (1976) aka Rome Armed to the Teeth, aka Roma a Mano Armata, aka Brutal Justice (introduced Tomas Milian as the Hunchback)
  • Free Hand for a Tough Cop (1976) aka Il trucido e lo sbirro / The Numbskull and the Cop (introduced Tomas Milian as Er Monnezza)
  • Brothers Till We Die (1977) aka La banda del gobbo / The Hunchback's Gang (Tomas Milian played a dual role as both Er Monnezza and the Hunchback in this sequel)
  • The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist (1977) written by Ernesto Gastaldi, another sequel to Rome Armed to the Teeth
  • The Greatest Battle (1978) aka Il grande attacco / The Great Attack, aka Battle Force; co-starred Edwige Fenech
  • From Hell to Victory (1979) aka Contro 4 bandiere (Against 4 Flags); starred George Peppard
  • From Corleone to Brooklyn (1979) aka The Sicilian Boss
  • Nightmare City (1980) aka City of the Walking Dead, aka Nightmare in the Contaminated City / Incubo sulla cittá contaminata
  • Eaten Alive! (1980) aka Mangiati vivi, aka The Emerald Jungle, aka Doomed To Die
  • Cannibal Ferox (1981) aka Make Them Die Slowly
  • Pierino la peste alla riscossa (1982) comedy, never dubbed in English
  • Cicciabomba (1982) aka Fatty Girl Goes to New York, comedy
  • Daughter of the Jungle (1982) aka Encounter in the Last Paradise / Incontro nell'ultimo paradiso, starred Sabrina Siani
  • Ironmaster (1982) aka The War of Iron / La guerra di ferro
  • Wild Team (1985) aka I cinque del Condor / The Five of the Condor, aka Thunder Squad
  • A Bridge to Hell (1986) aka Un ponte per l'inferno
  • Wartime (1987) aka Tempi di guerra
  • Nightmare Beach (1988) aka Welcome to Spring Break (Lenzi was an uncredited co-director)
  • Primal Rage (1988) aka Rage, furia primitiva, starring Bo Svenson (Lenzi wrote the screenplay for this film but did not direct it)
  • Black Cobra (Lenzi was a co-director on this 4-film series) (released 1987, 1988, 1989 & 1990 respectively)(Note* Black Cobra 4 was aka Detective Malone)
  • Ghosthouse (1988) aka La Casa 3
  • Hell's Gate (1989) aka Le porte dell'inferno, aka The Door To Hell
  • Hitcher in the Dark (1989) aka Paura nel buio / Fear in the Dark
  • The House of Witchcraft (1989) aka La casa del sortilegio, aka Ghosthouse 4 (TV movie)
  • The House of Lost Souls (1989) aka La casa delle anime erranti (TV movie)
  • Dèmoni 3 (1991) aka Black Demons
  • Cop Target (1991) stars Robert Ginty
  • The Hunt for the Golden Scorpion (1991) aka Caccia allo scorpione d'oro
  • Mean Tricks (1992) aka Hornsby e Rodriguez - Sfida criminale, stars Charles Napier & David Warbeck

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Paul, Louis (2005). Italian Horror Film Directors. McFarland. ISBN 9780786487493. pp. 143-158.
  2. ^ Mark Martinez. "". Kult Movie Maximux. Retrieved 2006-10-24.  External link in |title= (help)
  3. ^ Pallotta, Alberto (2005). Quel fenomeno der Monnezza. Un Mondo A Parte. pp. 11–3. 
  4. ^ "BFI | Film & TV Database | Il coltello di ghiaccio (1970)". British Film Institute. Retrieved June 7, 2012. 

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