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
Died(2017-10-19)19 October 2017 (aged 86)
OccupationFilm director and screenwriter
Years active1958-1993
Spouse(s)Olga Pehar

Umberto Lenzi (6 August 1931 – 19 October 2017) was an Italian film director and screenwriter. A fan of film since young age, Lenzi studied at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia.

Lenzi made his first film in 1958 which went unreleased, while his official debut happened in 1961 with Queen of the Seas. Lenzi's films of the 1960s followed popular trends of the era, which led to him directing several spy and erotic thriller films. He followed in suit in the 1970s making giallo films, crime films and making the first Italian cannibal film with Man from the Deep River. He continued making films up until the 1990s and later worked as a novelist writing a series of murder mysteries.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Umberto Lenzi was born on 6 August 1931 in the Massa Marittima province of Italy.[1][2] Lenzi was a film enthusiast as early as grade school.[2] While studying law, Lenzi also created film fan clubs.[2] Lenzi eventually put off studying law and began pursuing the technical arts of filmmaking.[2]

He graduated from Rome's Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in 1956[3] and made I ragazzi di Trastevere as his final exam, a short film influenced by the writings of Pier Paolo Pasolini.[2] Lenzi also worked as a journalist for various newspapers and magazines, including Bianco e Nero[2] and, between 1957 and 1960, penned a number of detective novels and adventure stories using a pseudonym.[1]

1960s[edit]

Prior to his officially first credited film as a director, Queen of the Seas, Lenzi directed a film in Greece in 1958 titled Mia Italida stin Ellada, or Vacanze ad Atene, which was never released.[2]

Lenzi's films of the 1960s revolved around popular genres of their respective time periods.[2] In the early 1960s, Lenzi directed many adventure films including two features about Robin Hood (Il Trionfo di Robin Hood and The Invincible Masked Rider) and two films about Sandokan (Sandokan the Great (1963) and Pirates of Malaysia (1964)).[1]

By 1965, Lenzi began directing European spy films, such as 008: Operation Exterminate, followed by Super Seven Calling Cairo and The Spy Who Loved Flowers, and even adapted the fumetti neri comic character Kriminal to the screen.[4][1][5] Lenzi then turned to making war films such as Desert Commandos and Legion of the Damned and westerns such as Pistol for a Hundred Coffins and All Out (1968).[4]

Lenzi had box office success in Italy with his erotic thrillers starring Carroll Baker such as Orgasmo, So Sweet... So Perverse and A Quiet Place to Kill which were influenced by French "film noir" movies drawing from the works of Jacques Deray and René Clément.[2]

1970s[edit]

After the commercial success of giallo films by Dario Argento, Lenzi followed the new trend with Seven Bloodstained Orchids, which referenced both Cornell Woolrich and Edgar Wallace novels, while another giallo Knife of Ice was a variation of Robert Siodmak's The Spiral Staircase.[4] Other gialli created by Lenzi in the early 1970s included Spasmo and Eyeball.[4]

During the early 1970s, Lenzi also directed the first of the Italian cannibal films, with Man from the Deep River, a genre that he would explore again in the 1980s with Eaten Alive! and Cannibal Ferox.[4] During the late 1970s, Lenzi devoted himself almost exclusively to crime dramas, with the exception of two war films: The Greatest Battle and From Hell to Victory (1979).[4]

1980s[edit]

The 1980s marked the release of films that Roberto Curti described as some of Lenzi's "most notorious".[4] These included Nightmare City and the previously mentioned Cannibal Ferox.[4]

Lenzi also worked on horror films towards the late 1980s, such as Ghosthouse (1988) under the name Humphrey Humbert and the slasher film Nightmare Beach which was credited to Harry Kirkpatrick as Lenzi refused to sign his name to the film.[4] Other later 1980s work included horror films made for television, such as The House of Witchraft and The House of Lost Souls.[4] In 1989, he directed the police action film Cop Target in Miami and Santo Domingo, starring Robert Ginty and Charles Napier[6][7].

Post-1980s[edit]

In 1990, using his own company and a low amount of funds, Lenzi also shot two films in Brazil in a period of three months: the horror film Black Demons, which in 1996 he considered to be his masterpiece, and the adventure film Hunt for the Golden Scorpion.[7]

In 1992, he shot the adventure film Mean Tricks (also known as Hornsby and Rodriguez) starring Charles Napier, David Warbeck and David Brandon.[8][9] Variety reported in 2006 that Lenzi was shooting a slasher film in Italy Horror Baby, a slasher about a 15-year-old paraplegic girl who becomes a serial killer after viewing a neighbor having sex from her window.[10]

Lenzi later embarked on a career as a novelist, writing a series of murder mysteries set in the 1930s and '40s Cinecittà, involving real-life characters of the Italian film industry.[4]

Death[edit]

Lenzi died on 19 October 2017.[11][12] The director was hospitalized in the Ostia district of Rome.[12] The cause of death is unknown.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Umberto Lenzi was married to Olga Pehar, who co-wrote some of his films.[11][13]

Legacy[edit]

Roberto Curti referred to Lenzi as "one of the undisputed leading figures in Italian genre cinema" and that he was "a sort of institution in Italian genre cinema."[2][4] Louis Paul suggested that Lenzi released some "quite enjoyable action films in the 1960s and some good thrillers in the '70s, he never consistently excelled at any one genre" and that Lenzi would "probably be remembered most for his cannibal-themed horror films."[14]

Select filmography[edit]

Note: Films listed as "N/A" in the year column are not in chronological order
Title Year Credited as Notes Ref(s)
Director Writer Other
Guns of the Black Witch 1961 Yes Assistant director [15]
Queen of the Seas Yes [16]
The Triumph of Robin Hood 1962 Yes [17]
Catherine of Russia 1963 Yes Yes [18]
The Invincible Masked Rider Yes Yes [19]
Slave Girls of Sheba Yes Story author [20]
Samson and the Slave Queen Yes Yes [21]
Sandokan the Great Yes Yes [22]
Temple of the White Elephant 1964 Yes Yes [23]
Messalina vs. the Son of Hercules Yes [24]
Pirates of Malaysia Yes [25]
Kriminal 1966 Yes Yes [26]
The Spy Who Loved Flowers Yes Yes [27]
Desert Commandos 1967 Yes Yes [28][29]
All Out 1968 Yes [30]
A Pistol for a Hundred Coffins Yes [31]
Battle of the Commandos 1969 Yes [32]
Orgasmo Yes Yes [33]
So Sweet... So Perverse Yes [34][35]
A Quiet Place to Kill 1970 Yes [36][37]
Gang War in Milan 1973 Yes Yes [38][39]
Almost Human 1974 Yes [40]
Spasmo Yes Yes [41][42]
Manhunt in the City 1975 Yes Yes [43]
Syndicate Sadists Yes [44]
Rome Armed to the Teeth 1976 Yes Yes [45][46]
Free Hand for a Tough Cop Yes Yes [47][48]
Violent Naples Yes [49]
Brothers Till We Die 1977 Yes Yes [50]
The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist Yes Yes [51]
From Corleone to Brooklyn 1979 Yes Yes [52]
Eaten Alive! 1980 Yes Yes [53][54][55]
Cannibal Ferox 1981 Yes Yes [56][57]
Ironmaster 1983 Yes Yes [58]
I Tarantiniani 2013 Yes Interviewee [59]
Duel of Fire N/A Yes [60]
Adventures of the Bengal Lancers N/A Yes [61]
Jungle Adventurer N/A Yes [62]
008: Operation Exterminate N/A Yes Yes Yes Story author [63]
Super Seven Calling Cairo N/A Yes Yes [64]
Oasis of Fear N/A Yes Yes Yes Story author [65]
Seven Blood-Stained Orchids N/A Yes Yes Yes Story author [66]
Man from the Deep River N/A Yes [67]
Il coltello di ghiaccio N/A Yes Yes Yes Story author [68]
Eyeball N/A Yes Yes Yes Story author [69]
The Greatest Battle N/A Yes Yes Yes Story author [70]
From Hell to Victory N/A Yes Yes Yes Story author [71]
Nightmare City N/A Yes [72]
Pierino la peste alla riscossa N/A Yes [73]
Cicciabomba N/A Yes [74]
Daughter of the Jungle N/A Yes [75]
A Bridge to Hell N/A Yes Yes Yes Story author [76]
Wartime N/A Yes [77]
Nightmare Beach N/A Yes [78]
Ghosthouse N/A Yes Yes Story author [79]
Hitcher in the Dark N/A Yes [80]
The House of Witchcraft N/A Yes [81]
The House of Lost Souls N/A Yes [78]
Hell's Gate N/A Yes [82]
Dèmoni 3 N/A Yes Yes Story author [83]
Cop Target N/A Yes [84]
Black Cobra 4: Detective Malone N/A [citation needed]
The Hunt for the Golden Scorpion N/A Yes Yes Story author [85]
Mean Tricks N/A Yes [86]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Paul 2005, p. 143.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Curti 2013, p. 296.
  3. ^ Paul, Louis (2011). "Italian Horror Film Directors". McFarland & Co., Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6114-4 Parameter error in {{ISBN}}: Invalid ISBN.. Page 143
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Curti 2013, p. 297.
  5. ^ Paul 2005, p. 144.
  6. ^ Paul 2005, p. 153.
  7. ^ a b Palmerini & Mistretta 1996, p. 70.
  8. ^ Curti 2013, p. 151.
  9. ^ Paul 2005, p. 154.
  10. ^ Vivarelli, Nick (30 July 2006). "Buzz is back on Italian B-pix". Variety. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  11. ^ a b Vitali, Alessandra (19 October 2017). "È morto Umberto Lenzi, papà del Monnezza e dei film più amati da Tarantino". la Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  12. ^ a b c "Morre Umberto Lenzi, ícone do cinema policialesco italiano" (in Spanish). Istore. 19 October 2017. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  13. ^ "Olga Pehar". British Film Institute. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  14. ^ Paul 2005, p. 151.
  15. ^ Kinnard & Crnkovich 2017, p. 77.
  16. ^ Kinnard & Crnkovich 2017, p. 133.
  17. ^ Kinnard & Crnkovich 2017, p. 178.
  18. ^ Kinnard & Crnkovich 2017, p. 34.
  19. ^ Kinnard & Crnkovich 2017, p. 102.
  20. ^ Kinnard & Crnkovich 2017, p. 157.
  21. ^ Kinnard & Crnkovich 2017, p. 145.
  22. ^ "Sandokan the Great". American Film Institute. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  23. ^ Kinnard & Crnkovich 2017, p. 171.
  24. ^ Kinnard & Crnkovich 2017, p. 118.
  25. ^ Kinnard & Crnkovich 2017, p. 147.
  26. ^ Curti 2016, p. 47.
  27. ^ "Le Spie amano i fiori" (in French). Bifi.fr. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  28. ^ "Attentato ai tre grandi". Cinematografo.it (in Italian). Fondazione Ente dello Spettacolo - Tutti i diritti sono riservati. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  29. ^ Cowie & Elley 1977, p. 300.
  30. ^ Cowie & Elley 1977, p. 344.
  31. ^ Cowie & Elley 1977, p. 330.
  32. ^ "Die zum Teufel gehen". Filmportal.de. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  33. ^ Firsching, Robert. "Orgasmo (1968)". AllMovie. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  34. ^ Firsching, Robert. "Kiss Me, Kill Me". AllMovie. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  35. ^ "Cosi dolce, cosi perversa (1969) Umberto Lenzi" (in French). Bifi.fr. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  36. ^ Firsching, Robert. "Paranoia (1969)". AllMovie. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  37. ^ Combs, Richard (1973). "Paranoia (A Quiet Place to Kill)". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 40 no. 468. British Film Institute. p. 105.
  38. ^ Curti 2013, p. 82.
  39. ^ Curti 2013, p. 83.
  40. ^ Curti 2013, p. 105.
  41. ^ Cooper, Tracie. "Spasmo". AllMovie. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  42. ^ "Spasmo". British Film Institute. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  43. ^ Curti 2013, p. 142.
  44. ^ Curti 2013, p. 152.
  45. ^ Curti 2013, p. 162.
  46. ^ Curti 2013, p. 163.
  47. ^ Curti 2013, p. 174.
  48. ^ Curti 2013, p. 175.
  49. ^ Curti 2013, p. 200.
  50. ^ Curti 2013, p. 206.
  51. ^ Curti 2013, p. 211.
  52. ^ Curti 2013, p. 258.
  53. ^ Shipka 2011, p. 136.
  54. ^ Pulleine, Tim (1981). "Mangiati vivi dai cannibali (Eaten Alive)". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 48 no. 564. British Film Institute. p. 251.
  55. ^ "Eaten Alive!". AllMovie. Archived from the original on 30 May 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  56. ^ Firsching, Robert. "Cannibal Ferox". AllMovie. Archived from the original on 15 November 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  57. ^ "Cannibal Ferox". AllMovie. Archived from the original on 30 May 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  58. ^ Kinnard & Crnkovich 2017, p. 203.
  59. ^ Curti 2016, p. 205.
  60. ^ "Duello nella Sila (1962)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  61. ^ "I tre sergenti del Bengala (1964)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  62. ^ "La montagna di luce (1964)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  63. ^ "A 008: operazione Sterminio (1965)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  64. ^ "Superseven chiama Cairo (1965)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  65. ^ "Un posto ideale per uccidere (1971)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  66. ^ "Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso (1972)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  67. ^ "Il paese del sesso selvaggio (1972)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  68. ^ "Il coltello di ghiaccio (1972)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  69. ^ "Gatti rossi in un labirinto di vetro (1974)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  70. ^ "Il grande attacco (1978)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  71. ^ "De Dunquerque à la victoire [Contro 4 bandiere] (1979)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  72. ^ "Incubo sulla città contaminata (1980)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  73. ^ "Incubo sulla città contaminata (1980)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  74. ^ "Cicciabomba" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  75. ^ "Incontro nell'ultimo paradiso (1982)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  76. ^ "Un ponte per l'inferno (1987)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  77. ^ "Un ponte per l'inferno (1987)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  78. ^ a b Paul 2005, p. 157.
  79. ^ "La casa 3 (1988)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  80. ^ Paul 2005, p. 156.
  81. ^ Paul 2005, p. 152.
  82. ^ Paul, Louis (2010). "Italian Horror Film Directors". McFarland & Co., Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6113-4. Page 156
  83. ^ "Demoni 3 (1991)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  84. ^ Paul, Louis (2010). "Italian Horror Film Directors". McFarland & Co., Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6113-4. Page 153
  85. ^ "Caccia allo scorpione d'oro (1991)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  86. ^ "Hornsby e Rodriguez sfida criminale (1992)" (in Italian). Archiodelcinemaitaliano.it. Retrieved 20 October 2017.

Bibliography[edit]

  • "Umberto Lenzi". British Film Institute. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  • Curti, Roberto (2013). Italian Crime Filmography, 1968-1980. McFarland. ISBN 0786469765.
  • Curti, Roberto (2016). Diabolika: Supercriminals, Superheroes and the Comic Book Universe in Italian Cinema. Midnight Marquee Press. ISBN 978-1-936168-60-6.
  • Curti, Roberto (2016). Tonino Valerii: The Films. McFarland. ISBN 1476664684.
  • Giusti, Marco (2007). Dizionario del western all'italiana (in Italian). Mondadori. ISBN 8804572779.
  • Kinnard, Roy; Crnkovich, Tony (2017). Italian Sword and Sandal Films, 1908-1990. McFarland. ISBN 1476662916.
  • Lancia, Enrico; Melelli, Fabio (2006). Attori stranieri del nostro cinema. Gremese Editore. ISBN 8884404258.
  • Luther-Smith, Adrian (1999). Blood and Black Lace: The Definitive Guide to Italian Sex and Horror Movies. Stray Cat Publishing Ltd.
  • Palmerini, Luca M.; Mistretta, Gaetano (1996). Spaghetti Nightmares: Italian Fantasy-horrors as Seen Through the Eyes of Their Protagonists. Fantasma Books. ISBN 9780963498274.
  • Paul, Louis (2005). Italian Horror Film Directors. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-8749-3.
  • Shipka, Danny (2011). Perverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France, 1960-1980. McFarland. ISBN 0786448881.

External links[edit]