Interview with Nicholas McCarthy – Director of THE PACT

THE PACT is one of those low budget horror success stories that comes along every so often and manages to strike a chord and cross over into the mainstream. Shot on an extremely low budget, director Nicholas MCarthy’s film was given a wide release in the UK when it opened at the beginning of last month.  

Nicholas very kindly agreed for us to interview him and, as you’re about to see, Euro Cult films (and their makers) occupy a very special place in his heart…

I would automatically assume that you’re something of a film buff. Please can you elaborate on the films that formed a significant part of your education as a filmmaker? 

I’ve always liked all kinds of movies.  When I was a little kid ANYTHING was worth seeing, even movies that were way over my head.  But horror got its grips in me early.  I grew up in New Hampshire and we had a black and white TV set that got about 6 channels and used a rotating antennae on top of the house.  Occasionally I could catch Godzilla movies playing and the concept of monster movies began to obsess me.  I used to pour through the TV listings to find evidence of anything horror-related.  There was this mysterious channel that we didn’t receive, out of Boston–Channel 56–they were always airing films on Saturday afternoons with titles like IT!  THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE or DESTROY ALL MONSTERS.  What were these things?  I could only imagine.  Then one day all of a sudden we were able to get Channel 56 over our set — they must’ve boosted their signal.  I waited all week to see the two movies they were showing, which I soon learned was their programming block called “Creature Double Feature.”  That weekend they showed a Toho monster movie I now can’t remember followed by the completely bizarre FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE SPACE MONSTER.  Viewing that second movie was a life-changing experience.  It was “bad,” but at age 8 I had no measurement of bad.  It was shot in Puerto Rico and there was no Frankenstein monster.  Most of it was post-dubbed.  I could hardly make sense of it.  It had a scene where a robot, who was running amuck, threw an axe in someone’s face.  Those 90 minutes changed my life forever.

As I got older I started to watch all kinds of films in the genre and outside of it.  But the dark and strange always stuck with me, and that’s always the stuff I liked best.

I think you’ve just described how many of us became so enamoured with film, Nick! We had only four channels when most of us were growing up here in the UK, so we had far less horror on our screens, with the notable exception of the double bills that were screened over weekends and Alex Cox’s excellent Moviedrome series. The advent of rental VHS opened things up a lot wider and horror became far more accessible (until the introduction of Britain’s draconian Video Recordings Act!). Do you have any fond memories or standout experiences from the time when you were introduced to video?

Video was so important to me growing up.  I saved up my own money to buy a VCR.  It was a used, giant top-loading JVC model.  Like so many other horror fans, an entire world of the genre was opened up to me with that machine  It was all the more exciting back then because there was so much less context for what was out there — the video shelves were like a wild west, “respectable” studio product right alongside the sleaziest no-budget horror movies imaginable.  I started to program all night marathons for my friends and we would watch both the stuff I wanted them to see, along with cult and horror movies I had read about and thought might be great – sometimes they were, sometimes they weren’t.   I also began taping things off late night TV back then, which is how I caught favorites like SHOCK WAVES or ZONTAR: THE THING FROM VENUS.  That old VCR was how I saw so many of the great and awful films that I still love.

I’ll also say this about watching movies on home video — it’s STILL something I’m amazed and grateful for, because I remember when I was first introduced to this concept — that just because you’re thinking of a movie could now mean you could choose to watch it, then and there.  That is an amazing luxury.  The other luxury is the huge mine of cinema history that opened up with the ability to cheaply acquire and watch older movies.  In the Euro Cult world I’m always impressed how we can pour over these films that never really were meant to stand some kind of test of time – but that’s one of the qualities that make them so special.   These films were made with an urgency because there was a market that was just hungry for more and more movies, coming at a time of real inventiveness in cinema.  When I made my own movie, that urgency was something I kept in mind–THE PACT was not made after 10 years of developing it–it was written in six weeks and shot in 18 days!  But with the budget so low the financier was basically like “just go do it” and I had no time to think too much about anything beyond trying to make this weird little movie I had imagined in my head just weeks before.  Some might criticize that approach, but I wouldn’t have traded that freshness for anything.  The whole thing was just full throttle, the same way that guys like Enzo Castellari operated, back in the day.

Did reading about the way in which Italian filmmakers made their films or even watching the special features on the DVDs have any impact on how you’ve honed your skills as a filmmaker? You mention Castellari, but did he or any of the other prolific filmmakers of the period make an impression on the way you made your film on such a tight schedule?

One of the things that I’ve come to really admire about many of the directors from back then was how prolific they were.  I mean, a guy like Castellari had a film coming out every 6 months in the 70s!  And in all different genres — westerns, crime films, comedies…  As I said earlier, I think there’s strength in making things quickly, to attack a script and move on.  It can produce all kinds of films — some terrible, but also some that are masterpieces.  And that’s not limited to exploitation — many of the titans of the “art film” did the same thing — Bunuel, Bergman, Fassbinder… they just made film after film after film.  That’s something I aspire to do.

The circumstances of the Italian film industry in the 70s are exceptional, there’s no going back to that time economically or culturally.  But the more of the films from the period that I watch the more in tune I feel to that urgency that went into making them, and it in turn, that inspires me to create something.  Their energy is contagious.

Are you a big fan of Euro Cult cinema? If so, please can you touch upon the genres, films and filmmakers that have inspired you as an artist? 

The first Euro Cult films I saw were, like a lot of other fans, viewed on cropped VHS tapes. Probably the first Euro genre title I ever saw was Fulci’s GATES OF HELL aka CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD.  I was about 13 and probably read about it in Fangoria, which obsessed over how much blood was in a movie, therefore it paid special attention to this title.  It was a little boring at that age, but strangely fascinating.  It came from another world, outside of American cinema.  It had a whole different cinematic language.  And it was disgusting.  I was interested.

It wasn’t until a few years later, at age 16, that I truly “discovered” Euro Cult, when I went to see a 35mm screening of SUSPIRIA.  I knew next to nothing about this movie going in, maybe just that it was an Italian horror movie.  I was nearly all alone in the theater, by myself, mid-week, during a hot summer.  The sound was LOUD.  When the film finished my mind was shattered.  I had never seen anything so scary, so cinematic, so strange.  I wanted more. Since then I’ve watched Italian, French, and Spanish genre movies non-stop.  My next obsession after Argento, of course, was Mario Bava — his work blew me away, I loved exploring film after film of his, each one so different and amazing.  As I got older I developed a soft spot for gialli and the whole spectrum of crime films.  Probably my favorite giallo is STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH, but I’ve seen dozens and loved many of them, from the beautiful ones like LE ORME to the cruddy insanity of Umerto Lenzi’s EYEBALL.

Crime films it’s the same thing — I’ve been enthusiastic about the classier examples, like MACHINE GUN MCCAIN, but also loved the trashiest of the trash, like the movie I first saw on a double bill with MCCAIN — ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON aka ROME ARMED TO THE TEETH.   That movie is batshit crazy.

SUSPIRIA seems to be an entry level title for many EuroCult fans, it was one of the first Italian horror films I saw too. You mention ROME ARMED TO THE TEETH, again this was one of the first poliziotteschi films I caught and, like my friend who introduced me to them, I stumbled upon the genre because I found myself seeking out the work of the directors of Italian horror movies – was this the case with you? Looking at the work of directors such as Umberto Lenzi and Sergio Martino in particular as both dabbled in many different genres, do you have a preference to a particular type of film that they made?

Yeah, horror was my entry point and I think it’s true for a lot of fans.  What I discovered was that really there are so many more interesting European thrillers and crime films than horror movies.  It’s fun to trace the careers of a lot of these directors because you see their strengths and weaknesses, but I also have learned that the strength of the work often has a lot to do with the circumstances of both when the movies were made and how well they were produced.   When Sergio Martino made STRANGE VICE… it was at the very beginning of the giallo flood and for me it feels like the quintessential movie that defined the cycle after Bava and Argento put the elements together.  For that reason it seems like everything falls into place for Martino on that movie and I’ve watched it many times.   In the same way, with Lenzi’s films, I first heard about him because of the notorious, sloppily made horror movies from the later part of his career, but when I saw his late 60s giallo ORGASMO with him working with a stronger budget and just at a different pop cultural moment I was like “wow!”  That film is one of the all-time classic Euro Cult titles to me.  Then I started seeing his crime movies in between and I was like “holy shit, this guy is crazy!  Who knew he could do that too?”

Have you paid homage to any of your favourite films or directors in THE PACT?  

Well there’s a lot of different genre films that influenced the movie, and there’s a lot of Euro Cult in there.  There’s a shot at the beginning that is a direct reference to SUSPIRIA, where the camera rises up and peers down at the actress through a hanging lamp.  In Argento’s film they’re on some crazy crane, while we just used the boom arm on the dolly, but it was a total homage.  I showed my director of photography Bridger Nielson sequences from SUSPIRIA to give him an idea of how we wanted to establish camera movement.  It was funny, the film is like a sacred text to me, and Bridger thought it was cool, but he kept pointing out how bumpy Argento’s dolly shots were!

The mystery plotting of the movie was inspired completely by the Italian giallo film.  There’s a kind of fetishy attention to detail in those movies that I tried to get in THE PACT, with lots of close ups of clues.  There’s also a murder sequence in the movie where all you see is a hand with a knife and the audience doesn’t see who’s holding the knife.  The concept for the scene came from the classic giallo template, and for reference I actually showed our makeup FX guy and my DoP a murder in Argento’s OPERA. There are tons of dolly shots in the movie following people around.  Part of it was inspired by the classic, poetic horror movies of Val Lewton, but the look and size of the shots came from the park sequence in FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET.

Finally, there’s a long daylight sequence in my movie that is entirely modeled on the look and feel of Antonioni’s BLOW-UP.  I was watching that movie again a few years ago and realized how much Argento took from it for BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE – the movie that kicked off the wonderful wave of all those gialli.  So it’s a kind of Euro Cult reference in a more oblique way.

BLOW-UP is a wonderful film and one that gets better with each subsequent viewing. Were you aware of the importance of creating a work that stands up to the scrutiny of repeated viewings and did you deliberately make choices that would allow for things to go unnoticed when the viewer watches THE PACT for the first time?

I was just concerned with trying to create the movie in my head, which on our budget meant trying to get as many different shots as we could every day.  I really feel like you can’t think about the future when you create something like this, you never know how it will be received or who will like it.  One of the things that’s been cool about getting the film out there is some of the people who I respect, horror fans with blogs, genre savvy writers like Kim Newman in particular, have given the movie props.  But in no way did I ever try to calculate or predict that sort of response.  I was just trying to make my first movie.  I hope that some people will return to it.  Lord knows there are a lot of films that I’ve watched again and again where the creators never imagined people would see it more than once, like so many of the Euro Cult titles we love.

Thank you, Nick, it’s been great chatting with you.

Dario Argento: The Man, the Myths and the Magic – FAB Press (Alan Jones)

Profondo Argento, now fully updated, re-named and re-issued with brand new chapters!

Limited Edition, available in hardback only!

Features full-length interviews with: Asia Argento, Claudio Argento, Fiore Argento, Lamberto Bava, Roy Bava, Simon Boswell, Michael Brandon, Chiara Caselli, Luigi Cozzi, Liam Cunningham, Keith Emerson, Franco Ferrini, Jessica Harper, Udo Kier, Daria Nicolodi, Stefania Rocca, George A. Romero, Gianni Romoli, Dardano Sacchetti, Julian Sands, Tom Savini, Claudio Simonetti, Michele Soavi, Sergio Stivaletti, Max Von Sydow, Ronnie Taylor, Luciano Tovoli.

All-new illustrations! Never-before-seen behind the scenes photos, exclusive shots specially produced for this book, rare artwork and stills.

This book features full coverage of Argento’s new film Dracula 3D.

Full details and pre-order info at the FAB Press website HERE

Cinema X Talks to Oswalt Kolle

Cinema X Talks to Oswalt Kolle

This interview was first published in Cinema X vol.1 no9 circa 1968. It is reproduced here as published.


An Area-Winston production for S.F. Film Distribution release

Camera: Werner Lenz

Music: Johannes Rediske

Producer: Karin Wecker-Jacobsen

Director: F.J. Gottlieb

Executive Producer: Oswalt Kolle

Technical consultants: Prof. Dr. Hans Giese, Institute of Sexology, Hamburg University; Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hochheimer, Institute of Pedagogic Psychology

Berlin Cast:

Pauline: Biggie Freyer

Thomas: Wilfried Gossler

Claudia: Katarina Haertei

Martin: Regis Vallee

Oswalt Kolle is a good-looking German journalist. With a good-looking bank account. He is, at last count, a multi-millionaire. At 39. Because of… sex! About a year ago, Kolle shifted his newspaper, magazine and book love-life guidance to the cinema. He joined the non-stop sex-eduation genre of films currently being ground out in Germany with all the speed, repetition and uniformity of the Volkswagen.

Such films have long been a tradition in the Teuton cinema. Going right back, for example, to a feature-length look at venereal disease called LET THERE BE LIGHT soon after the 14-18 holocaust. Apparently, it is time for more light to be shed in the bedroom. And handsome Kolle — married with three children; one daughter and two sons — is succeeding where HELGA trod so recently and, to mix metaphors, as hamfistedly. We have already previewed Kolle’s THE WONDER OF LOVE colour film; the inevitable big-budget sequel born out of the triumphant success of this, his first entry into the cinema. Following the first public unveiling of his screen debut in London, Oswalt Kolle discussed certain aspects of his work with us.

Cinema X: What do your films say that HELGA and the others have not already discussed — indeed rammed down our throats like so much statistical propaganda?

Kolle: My films derive from a wholly different standpoint from HELGA and the other productions. They are purely and simply films of sex-education; strictly biological works. I deal with love more than sex. Therefore I look upon my works as being sociological.

Cinema X: The end result seems a hairsbreadth’s difference. Your main message, your moral if you like, is not exactly new and is concerned with both sex and love.

Kolle: Yes, to say that tenderness is essential in love and in love-making may not be new. But I do not cloud this message with statistics and diagrams of the human body and all its organs. I deal with people, with human problems based on the various letters I receive in reply to my books and articles. And I feel my films are making this message more readily understood. By sheer example.

Cinema X: Have you proof of such success?

Kolle: In my letters from the public; I get about 500 a week. They come from all sorts of people. Couples both young and old. Single people too. They all voice their sympathy with my work, their unqualified approval of my articles and now my films — and many, many, write to say how much they have learned, and by learning changed their love-lives… Furthermore, I have seen couples leaving my films and saying to each other: « We should try and behave like that… ». That alone, for me, is reason enough to make these films.

Cinema X: And to make so much money out of them? Obviously education in sex and love is a boon to mankind, but the strictly commercial aspects of these films — yours in particular — the use of such attractive players and so on — surely some couples somewhere with problems of this nature are fat, old, ugly; and the way in which such huge profitable returns are brought in from the initial promise of solving other people’s miseries… well it seems abhorrent to us.

Kolle: I understand your feelings. But, really, you cannot blame me for making money… That is the world today, believe me. If these films — mine or anyone else’s — were shown completely free of charge to the general public, do you think they would come? Of course not! That is not my fault. That is not theirs. That is simply how the world reacts these days. Anything free is immediately distrusted. However, please let me add, that of course, we do make all possible arrangements in all countries for my films to be shown freely to schools, youth groups and so on — as and when requested by leaders.

Cinema X: How did you start in this sphere of journalism?

Kolle: My father is a Professor of Psychiatry in Munich. Therefore I have always taken a keen interest in all areas of psychology, medicine and sexual behaviour. I also believe in passing on to the public the results of such scientific research. Naturally, newspapers and magazines were the best medium for such publicity. Hence my articles. Then three books. Then Area Productions asked to film my latest, indeed my most successful survey, THE WONDER OF LOVE… under my general supervision.

Cinema X: What was the attitude of the censor in Europe?

Kolle: Mixed: To say the least… At home, the West German Film Censorship Board have a good reputation for passing sexually explicit features. Notable examples being the famous Swedish films of recent years: Bergman’s The Silence and Sjoman’s I AM CURIOUS – YELLOW. Such deliberations as proved necessary, I gathered, did not take very long. But they spent nine full hours deciding the fate of my first film! Finally they passed it. Completely uncut. But for over 18-years-olds.

France and Italy, however, although allowing HELGA and its sequel to be screened, banned my film out of hand. The Dutch, being as free as the Scandinavians these days, classified it as being « especially outstanding » — and excerpts were shown on TV, as in Germany. The Swiss seemed to have different rules and therefore differing decisions in various regions.

Cinema X: And Britain?

Kolle: We had a slight fight here. No, rather discussions, with your Censor before it was passed with a few slight amendments.

Cinema X: What of the film’s success?

Kolle: Greater than I ever anticipated. In Germany alone no fewer than five million people saw that first film inside four months! Now it has been seen in 19 countries.

Cinema X: Hence the sequel. And, no doubt, more films to come?

Kolle: Definitely. I am currently engaged on two more productions now. In Rome. They are to be called: YOUR WIFE, THE UNKNOWN and BY EXAMPLE: ADULTERY. As before. I tell what I have to tell. Consequently ail the other sex-education films are now following me…

Cinema X: Meanwhile your books sell better than ever, I suppose.

Kolle: Yes indeed. And we have just started a new departure — LP discs featuring selections from the books. The film medium is still the most powerful force in this area of guidance, I think.

Cinema X: Would you now outline THE WONDER OF LOVE (No. 1) for

our readers?

Kolle: Certainly. My subject is sexuality in marriage. The film was made in collaboration with several well known German doctors — two of whom take part in a short discussion with me at the beginning of the feature. We deal with typical sexual problems in a very young marriage and another which is seven years old. In this way we also delve into the background of our society in which sexuality is taboo and we suggest methods of solving marital crises caused by such sexual maladjustments.

In the case of the young couple, the wife, Pauline, finally admits to her husband, Thomas, that his love-making arouses no satisfaction for her. Like any man, I suppose, Thomas is shocked, very angry at this declaration. Gradually, however, they find the courage to discuss their problem together, searching for a way to help one another in their sexual unity. Once worries are brought out into the open like this, two people can begin to increase the joy of their marital relationship. Claudia and Martin are slightly older; married for seven years with two children. Their problem is, perhaps, the oldest of all: familiarity breeding something akin to contempt… He is continually busy, carving a career for himself and thereby a future for his family. But forgetting his wife sexually. She, therefore is left alone with no-one to answer her longings and her desires until one day out of sheer frustration she almost gives herself to another man. This shocks Claudia so much that she, too, finally brings matters into the open. Martin realises how close he has come to killing his marriage… and takes time for once to prove that he can still be a passionate and tender lover.

La settima donna – Ray Lovelock Interview

The following interview came with an Italian VHS release of ‘La Settima Donna’ aka Terror. Many thanks to Hari Alfeo for translating the interview into English…

Your name, Raymond Lovelock, doesn’t seem Italian yet you’re an Italian through and through?

One hundred percent. I was born in Rome , my father was English, my mother Italian, and I’ve always lived in Italy .

Did you feel you found the artist in you after a movie like Plagio and Banditi a Milano, i.e. did you seriously consider continuing to work as an actor or did you hesitate?

What can I tell you… Those were busy years, I took things as they came along. The same goes about my wife. We met in 1968 and were married in 1970 because we got along well. We got married without thinking too much about it. It’s now 29 years that we’ve been together. I’ve been very fortunate, but the decision to get married could just as easily have been a risk. I took things with ease. Tomas Milian had a lot to do with that. He was like an older brother and I did everything he said.

Unlike, say, Maurizio Merli, who did everything one could do with the poliziesco in Italy , which eventually typecast him in the genre, you crossed every genre without risking overexposure…

It’s a question of choices. I was fortunate to have on my side a partner who saw things a certain way, i.e. we never cared that much about money. Especially at that time, because as you get older you start putting things in proportion, but money has never been my life’s goal. So the way I approached things was: “Now I’ll do a picture and with the money I make I’ll get by for as long as I can, while turning down the things I don’t like” That’s how it was for many years. Then again, it’s not like I led this life of luxury. Eventually, however, when I found myself with only 50,000 lire in the bank, I had to be less choosy and, in order to survive, accept parts that were worse than those I’d rejected.

It seems to me, however, that this proved good for career longevity…

Frankly, I’m incapable of making such assessments. If I’d been different and more yielding with regard to certain things, I might’ve done much more. I can see that now, it would’ve led to other things. Just think that at one time I even had the chance to move to the States and work there. I was doing Il grande attacco with Umberto Lenzi and this woman, Sala, called me, she was selling films abroad, and told me about an American lawyer who’d seen me in some films and wanted me in his movie agency. It was a small agency with three American actors, the rest were European. I went to meet him because we shot two weeks of Il grande attacco in Los Angeles . So this guy didn’t make any guarantees, but said that I might manage to work in the American star system. The only thing was that I had to move to the States for at least one year. My wife said immediately that she had no problem with it, but I knew I would’ve had to deal with the kind of person I am. I know what I’m like: very anxious, very tied to my roots, my neighbourhood, things… Anyway, I passed. I was fascinated by it but at the same time it scared me. You know what scared me at first? Not so much having to leave the Italian star system, which at that time wasn’t even that strong, but being squashed by the American machine, being unable to manage my career properly. I could think of so many people I knew who were very satisfied professionally but very unhappy inside.

What did you mean by “I might’ve done much more”? You mean in terms of movies?

That too… actually I’ve never been the jet set type who went to parties, sucking up to producers… I never wanted to take part in certain scandals or certain scoops that were offered to get my name in the papers. Even my agent, Luciana Soli, urges me telling me “But Ray, you have to go to these promotional parties from time to time because you can meet important people, you have to do it as though it were part of your job” And she’s right, it’s all true, but I’d tell her “Look, for me, it can even be counterproductive. Let’s say I go there, and then I either can’t utter a word or act all disinterested or unpleasant, I’d ruin my chances myself” It was a bit of an alibi, because the truth is I just don’t care about the jet set life. I wanted to land roles because a director had seen me in something and liked me, not because we’d had lunch together.

Nevertheless, you continue working…

Yes, it’s true. There was something Pietravale told me at the beginning of my career, “It’s not difficult to make it but stay there”, and that’s always been my rule. Besides, it’s just a question of how you approach life, because obviously there are times when you’re on top and times when you’re a bit on the decline, then other times when you’re wanted again and others when you hit a trough. The important thing is how you take the success and lack thereof. I knew colleagues who’d get depressed if two instead of ten people turned around to look at them in the street. It’s a game, you mustn’t take these things too seriously…

Were you one of those actors who went to see their movies in cinemas?

Not always, when they invited me. This thing about looking at my work became more pronounced in television, not for personal reasons but because in television it’s always possible to redo a scene that didn’t work. Way back when I started working in television there was always a monitor on which you could always check everything was all right. If something didn’t work you saw it in real time and could ask the director “You mind if we do it again?” Because even there, assuming that you’re never satisfied with what you do, you could spend days trying to improve it.

How did you rate as an actor in those years?

Look, I experienced, let’s say, big success, with television. At the movies, I had my space and nothing more. I don’t think I was ever a movie star. Perhaps only Banditi a Milano was a big success with both the critics and the public. As for the rest…

Are you satisfied with your acting career?

Yes, sure. You know, parallel to this acting career I had the fortune to have a wife and a daughter, which isn’t the custom in the movies. And perhaps this helped me to keep the right distance from things.


Incantesimo – Ray Lovelock Interview

The Following interview is translated from the Croatian magazine Gloria and was first published in early 2003. Many thanks to Hari Alfeo for translating the article for the website…

Ray Lovelock, the Italian actor who plays surgeon Hans Rudolf in the TV series “Incantesimo” (Magic), talks about his English origins, his career as soccer player and musician, and reveals that 33 years ago, he and his wife spent their honeymoon in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.

“In movies it’s easy to burn brightly, but it takes talent to last. When the producers of ‘Incantesimo’ offered me the part of Dr. Rudolf, I knew that my career, after some 50 parts in movies and on television, was still on the up” says the 53-year-old Italian. “I spent three months in Zagreb in 1970, shooting the American film ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. A week before arriving in Zagreb , I had married Gioia, after two years of being together, so that we spent our honeymoon at Zagreb ‘s Esplanade hotel”

Were you ever to return to Croatia after that?

“I returned to Zagreb in 1984 to shoot the ‘Two Prisoners’ five-part TV series. I also visited Istria several times, when I was working in Trieste a few years ago”

How come both your first and last names are English?

“You mean despite the fact that I was born in Rome and spent my entire life living and working in Italy ?” (Laughs) “My father was British, a member of the Allies, who towards the end of World War Two, in 1944, liberated Italy by toppling the fascist regime. But he didn’t return home because he had fallen in love with my mother, Maria Antonietta. My parents were married the following year and had four sons. I’m the third and the only artist in the family”

Who chose the name Ray?

“Ray is short for Raymond. I got it by accident. My mother, who worked for the Australian embassy for years, actually wanted to call me Simon, but my late father misheard her and had me registered as Raymond”

When did you realise you wanted to become an actor?

“That happened by accident too. When I was young I dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player, but when I realised it wasn’t going to work, I enrolled in a mechanical engineering college. While studying I also played in a rock band, worked as an extra in movies to make some extra money, and did commercials. I realised that acting was interesting when I was 17, when director Carlo Lizzani gave me an important part in ‘Banditi di Milano’, which was a big success with both the public and the critics. Looking back, that success went to my head, so I ended up being an actor.”

What motivates you to continue working after 35 years in the movies?

“Good parts are a challenge. I can’t say that I took only parts that I liked. I accepted some to survive, to give myself and my family a nice life. But the Hans Rudolf part isn’t one of them”

What did you do before you became an actor?

“I played for the local soccer club in San Lorenzo . Then in 1966 I formed a band with my friend Tomas Milian, a famous Italian musician (sic). We played Rolling Stones songs. An acting agent spotted me at the Piper, a cult Roman nightclub, and offered me my first part in a picture. That’s how it all started”

What type of music do you listen to today?

“Bob Dylan remains number one for me. I love his songs and I have all of his records at home”

Were you a rebel as a young man?

“I grew up without my father because my parents got divorced and he returned to Great Britain when I was six. For me, the divorce was not traumatic because my mother is a wonderful person who raised us to believe that freedom is the greatest virtue. That’s why I never felt the need to rebel. I did wear my hair long, down to the middle of my back, as well as a leather jacket, but my mother and two aunts, her sisters who lived with us, didn’t complain about it. Although many thought I was a delinquent because of the way I dressed. Nice guys wore suits and ties”

When did you move out of your mother’s?

“Very early. I met my wife Gioia in 1968, at a party given by a common friend, and we got married in 1970. We had a great time together so we decided to marry. Our only daughter Francesca Romana was born in 1971”

What does she do?

“Francesca is an assistant director and has been working in Naples for two years now. We’ve worked together twice so far and I truly enjoyed being on the set with her”

Do you also work with your wife?

“Gioia is my agent. I convinced her to do it ten years ago and we’ve never had a row so far. Our relationship is one of the few in the movie business that is excellent even after 35 years. We have lively talks every day. My wife is my best friend”

Which part would you never take?

“Every part is a challenge for me. Even when I play bad guys and rotten criminals”

What’s the most unpleasant thing you had to do in a movie?

“It was a Spanish movie. I was riding on horseback and was supposed to fall into a ditch. But the people on the movie hadn’t checked the ditch before the shoot so I fell into filthy water, full of mud and junk”

What can make you happy?

“I like to help people who are in most need of help. I inherited this feeling of social justice from my mother, and as the years go by it’s increasingly stronger”

How do you relax?

“Watching movies from the 40s, the 50s and the 60s. I like to hang out with my friends, play soccer and listen to music. I’ve been on the Italian actors’ soccer team for 18 years now, and I’ve recently been made captain. I’m especially glad that we give all the box office money to charity”

What would your ideal day look like?

“There would be no wars, no class differences, and money wouldn’t be the moving force of mankind. I was once shooting in Brazil and spent five weeks in shock at the poverty in the streets I’d never seen before. Whenever we had lunch in a restaurant, there was a bunch of dirty, poor children staring at us from outside with their mouths open. And the worst of all was that I knew I could give those kids only alms but not really help them in the long term”

The Man From The Morgue – Ray Lovelock Interview

The following interview is taken from issue 89 (Feb/Mar 2001) of The Dark Side Magazine. It is reproduced here with kind permission…

The Man From The Morgue

One of the most prolific of 70’s Italian action stars, actor Ray Lovelock is best known to Dark Side readers as the star of the cult horror flick, Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue. Josephine Botting talked to him recently on our behalf…

Italian actor Ray Lovelock is keen to point out that his English name is not an invention to satisfy the demands of local producers (as in Stan Cooper, aka Stelvio Rosi) but the result of his having an English father, now resident near Barnstable . Despite his Anglo-Saxon roots, Ray speaks very little English and prefers to be interviewed in Italian. I visited him in his sixth floor flat not far from the centre of Rome, where he sat surrounded by photos of himself with some of the actors he’s had the pleasure of working with.

While not a big star, Ray has worked consistently, first in film and now as a familiar face on Italian television. A modest person, he prefers to talk about his many co-stars rather than himself, and hasn’t lost the sense of awe he no doubt had when he first met them. He obviously hasn’t been seduced by the showbiz life and is happiest at home with his family.

When Ray began his cinematic career, Rome was the place to be. The 1960’s were an incredibly active period in Italian cinema history. Cinecitta was dubbed ‘ Hollywood on the Tiber ‘ and the Via Veneto was awash with US stars and technicians. In 1966, at the tender age of 18, he landed his first speaking part. Se sei vivo… spara! Starred the legendary Cuban actor Tomas Milian and actually remains Ray’s only Spaghetti Western.

“Up until that moment” he says, “I had been studying and playing football, which was my passion, and every now and then I worked as an extra here in Rome . But that was the first time I had a proper part. At that time one of the studios in Rome, Elios, had a ‘Western’ village built specially for shooting spaghettis, and it was filmed there and also outside Madrid.

“From there, everything started. After that film I joined a pop group formed by Tomas Milian, called The Tomas Milian Group and we sang in bars. One night, while we were playing, an agent asked me if I wanted to take up film acting seriously. I gave him some photos and the first job I got was with Carlo Lizzani who was preparing a film called Banditi a Milano. I played one of the guys in the gang and the film did very well, even winning the Golden Globe from the Foreign Press Association. I received several offers after that and I didn’t know what to do because up until that point I hadn’t taken it too seriously: it’s not as if I had the ‘sacred flame’.

“After that I went to London to spend four days working on an Italian film. With the money I made I was able to spend a couple of months with my brother, who lives in London . My agent rang to offer me work but I kept turning it down, so in the end e said to me ‘Listen, if you want to get on you’ve got to do something. Come to Rome , there’s a German producer coming here to make a film.’ It was a rather complicated story (Haschen in der Grube, 1969) directed by Roger Fritz and we filmed it in Spoleto during the festival. From then on I took it more seriously.”

Ray carried on working in Italian films but then got the chance to make his first big budget Hollywood movie: Fiddler on the Roof.

“The way Fiddler on the Roof came about was very strange, Lynn Stalmaster was here to cast a film – they were looking for an Italian actor for a film about the race at Indianopolis. So I went along and when she saw me she said she was also casting another film called Fiddler on the Roof which I’d never heard of. She explained that it was a big musical and that she thought I’d be good for it. I was asked to learn a scene from it and she went to call Los Angeles. Then she asked me if I could go to the States, in fact she said ‘What are you doing tomorrow afternoon?’

“It was strange because I was about to go to Tokyo to do some publicity for an Italian film called Il plagio which had been sold to Japan . So they suggested that I return from Tokyo via Los Angeles. I learnt the scene and travelled to La where I met Norman Jewison. I didn’t do a screen test but just recited the same scene that I’d done in Rome. Jewison thanked me, I went back to Rome and a week later my agent told me I’d been chosen for the part. So you see how these things happen.

“I was 20 when I made Fiddler on the Roof and as I started out so young I didn’t go to college. I was lucky to have an agent who was a bit like a big brother to me: only now do I realise how good his advice was. He told me to make the most of this job as it was also a chance to learn. The experience I had on Fiddler on the Roof was important for that reason.

“I worked on it for three months and the filming method was completely different to that in Italy. I played a young Russian and as it was filmed with direct sound I had to speak English with a Russian accent. So I found a Russian teacher here in Rome, went along with my lines and did recitations and exercises with her. I learnt a lot”

Il plagio (1968) was a strange experience for Ray. “Il plagio was incredibly successful in Japan – not so much in Italy because it was rather a bizarre story. It was the story of a very rich young man who falls in love with a couple who are at college with him. He ‘plagiarises’ them in the sense that in the end he manages to go to bed with both of them. But the young man has problems – there’s a suggestion that he killed his parents, who were so much in love that he felt excluded.

“It’s quite hard to understand but the story takes place in 1968, a time of revolution, of student revolt. There were two nude scenes, not vulgar mind you, but they led to the film being confiscated. Then it was released abroad and was bought by Japan and they asked me to go over for two weeks to promote the film. And the film turned out to be the biggest hit of the year in Japan. In fact I went back a year later with the film Il delitto del diavolo which they also bought and it was a success. I even had a fan club.

“Il plagio really was a very special film: in fact I almost regret having made it so early in my career, perhaps I was a bit too immature for the character, which really was a great creation: maybe if I’d had a bit more experience I would have been better equipped to do it justice. I was completely guided by the director, Sergio Capogna, who had also written the story. At a certain point, the money ran out and most of the crew left rather than work for nothing. Only 12 of us stayed on so for a week we made the film ‘on the road’ with just the director, the cameraman and the actors. I even had to operate the clapperboard!”

Lovelock has worked with some of the legendary Italian gialli directors. Umberto Lenzi, Ruggero Deodato and Lucio Fulci.

“I made five films with Umberto Lenzi. The first was a giallo, with Irene Papas and Ornella Muti. I think it was Ornella’s second film. It was called Un posto ideale per uccidere. Lenzi was an excellent director of gialli: the second one I did with him was a crime film, made in the mid-70’s, Milano odia: la polizia non puo sparare. Then there were two war films (Il grande attacco and Da Dunkerque alla vittoria ) and a comedy, Scusi, lei e normale? (Excuse me, are you normal?)

“Lenzi is a director who shouts a lot but when you get to know him he’s OK. At first I was a bit nervous of him, then on the second film we had a squabble. He did call me again though, so despite all of the shouting he was a nice guy. After that we got on fine because I realised he must think a lot of me. We had a good relationship. He was quite a demanding director but that’s the way it should be. He was rather impatient and would get annoyed very easily if something didn’t go right. We only had the one row and that was it, there weren’t any more problems.

“I made only one film with Lucio Fulci – Murderock. He was one of the masters of film – of horror films and gialli. A bit like Lenzi in the 1970’s I’d say. I believe he’s very well thought of in France. We got on well on set but off set we didn’t associate very much. We filmed in Rome and also spent 10 days in New York , where the action takes place. It had music by Keith Emmerson.

“In general I’ve always got on well with directors, some better than others. I was, and I still am, a bit reserved which sometimes created difficulties forming relationships with people. The directors who understood this were easier to work with but on the whole I’ve never had many problems.”

In 1971 Ray made the film Il delitto del diavolo (Queens of Evil) for director Tonino Cervi, in which he is seduced by three gorgeous women; Haydee Politoff, Silvia Monti and Ida Galli. The plot is so bizarre that even Ray has trouble explaining it. “It’s a very strange film, the story of a hippy who arrives in a place where there are three women who turn out to be witches. He has an affair with each of them in turn but it all leads to a crime committed by the Devil.”

His role in Queens of Evil was a prototype for another motorbike-riding hippy – the character of George in the 1974 Spanish-Italian co-production No profaner el suefio de los muertos (The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, etc).

“We filmed in Manchester and in a village near Nottingham called Castleton. (My atlas doesn’t show a Castleton near Nottingham , although there is one near Whitby). I have good memories of the shoot and I had a good relationship with the director, Jorge Grau. In fact, I kept in touch with him for some time after we finished. There are some directors who just say ‘hi’ when you come on set but he was always keen to explain things.

“There were lots of effects on that film too, done by some excellent Italian special effects men (Giannetto de Rossi and Luciano Bird). I remember in particular having to wear red contact lenses for the final scene, which were really uncomfortable. 1970’s contact lenses were not like the ones you get now, they were much harder and made my eyes water terribly.

“The things I remember about that film are not very interesting. Just personal anecdotes. I remember the motorbike I had to ride, a Norton, which was incredibly heavy. I prefer cars myself but I had to ride this bike and when I got off it all my thigh muscles ached. But I have really happy memories of making that film. I think I saw it twice when it came out but not since. I gather that it’s on TV every now and then late at night but I haven’t managed to catch it yet.”

Ray obviously wasn’t going to dish any dirt about the directors he’s worked with so I tried a few actors.

“One problem I did have was with George Peppard: well, it was my problem really. I had to play his son in the film Da Dunkerque alla vittoria : when we did it I was 28 and I think he was about 50 or 52, so I could have his son. But when he met me, he went to the producer and the director saying that he felt I was too old to play his son. Lenzi and the producer, Edmondo Amati, already knew, since we’d worked together before, and they didn’t think there was a problem. But they told me about his doubts and instructed me not to drink too much so I didn’t look raddled. I was a bit depressed and I suffered a lot because of it. In between my scenes I used to just sit alone thinking a lot: I had to get away for a while.

“George Hamilton, also in the film, was a really nice guy though and he noticed something was wrong. I told him how I felt and he told me not to take it to heart, that George Peppard was like that and that I shouldn’t take any notice.

“On the last day of filming we were in Rome. I went to say goodbye to everyone including George Peppard, and he said he had to talk to me. I was a bit taken aback but he took me to one side and said a whole lot of nice things to me about my performance. While he was talking to me I said to myself ‘If you’d said these things before I would have made this film in a completely different state of mind.’ It was really nice of him though, as compliments from other actors are very important.”

In 1973, Ray worked on the film Days of Fury, directed by Antonio Calenda and set in 18 th century Czarist Russia. One of his co-stars was Oliver Reed and the mention of his name brings a smile to Ray’s face.

“Working with Oliver Reed was a strange experience, but very good. I had to play his son in the film: I was 22 and he was only 35 but he looked old enough, with the beard that he had. When we met in Bulgaria, in Sofia, they gave a big lunch for the whole cast, and he began to eat the light bulbs. He had an enormous bodyguard named Reginald who sat wrapping stones in a napkin, giving a yell and crushing them with his fist. The whole meal was spent like that. I said to myself ‘I’ve got to work with this man for three months, madonna mia!’ But gradually I got to know him and we established a friendship.

“I saw him again at the press screenings of the film, at San Vincent. We were sitting next to each other at lunch and he told me he was bored and wanted to go and find somewhere to drink. I told him I’d take care of it and we crept out so no one would notice us. We hired a car and drove to a place in the mountains where we found a bar and had a few drinks. By the time we got back for the screening of the film we were good friends.

“Later I was making a film for Raphael Gil in Madrid (El major alcalde, e rey) and I heard that close by was the set for The Three Musketeers, which Oliver was filming, and I persuaded a Spanish friend to take me there. We asked at the entrance for Signor Reed and then I heard a voice calling ‘Raymond!’ and there was Reginald, the bodyguard, who gave me a big hug and took me up to the tent where Oliver was.

“They were filming and Oliver was there with five or six other people, sitting at a table with bottles of red wine all over the place. Oliver came over and hugged me, then took me back to the table. To everyone’s surprise he introduced me as his son and all afternoon kept asking me, ‘How’s your mother?’ He continued this performance while we drunk red wine and ate raw onions. Finally I felt so ill that my friend had to take me back to Madrid , rather the worse for wear.

“Oliver was great though and gave me loads of advice. It was strange, although he drank a lot, when he went out onto the set he was brilliant. It’s just as well we got on, otherwise it could have been a bit difficult.”

Ray, it seems, has never been tempted by Hollywood.

“When we made Il grand attacco, we went to Los Angeles. Before I left an Italian woman rang me, she used to sell films abroad, and she said she’d seen one or two of my films and that she knew an American lawyer who was starting up as an agent. I looked him up and he said he thought I could make a go of it in America . I would have had to live in New York for a year to see how things went but I didn’t want to. My wife was happy about it but I had a six-year old daughter and I was too attached to home: the idea of a year over there didn’t appeal. I think I was lucky to have ties in Italy because, you know, cinema is a very unusual thing. It’s a passion, and when you are torn between two passions you have to make a choice. Probably, if I hadn’t been married I would have gone but as it turned out I had plenty of work in Italy.”

Having worked with some of the great actors and directors, it’s difficult for Ray to single out any one period of his career as the most satisfying.

“I started my career at the end of the 1960’s and in the first few films I made, I had the good fortune to work with some of the masters of Italian cinema – Carlo Lizzani, Mario Monicelli and Alberto Lattuada. During this period, the successful films, the ‘B-movies’ allowed producers to use the money to make more worthy films, films a bit more politically and socially aware. At that time, there was still a certain kind of filmmaking in Italy , then in the 1970’s it was about police films and erotic comedies.

“So, in terms of cinema, I’ve done a bit of everything but it’s a shame I’ve never really made one of those films which really made its mark on history. I’ve had some great experiences, films like Fiddler on the Roof and The Cassandra Crossing, and worked with three great Italian directors. Then, since 1994, I’ve done some television work which has been a great success, two or three which have had good audience figures. And I’ve witnessed a generational change. Because when I started I was lucky enough to work with one of the fathers of film of the 50’s and 60’s and then with the new generation.

“I have no regrets, no cause to say ‘Oh dear, what a pity…’ Even the worst things I did were done for a reason, to live, to earn money. A couple of times, if I liked an idea, I tried to buy the option on it. It came off once and we made a television programme called A viso coperto and it also did very well.

So what is he currently involved in and what does the future hold?

“At the moment I’ve just finished two things: a two part serial with Barbara de Rossi which will be on in October. And I took part in a soap, the first one on RAI 1, every day for 20 minutes, 200 episodes. I did a film last year in Czechoslovakia, a giallo with Marisa Berenson but I don’t know when it’s going to come out.

“Next year I might do some more theatre as part of the Spoleto festival. I’ve already done an Arthur Miller play, The Last Yankee. I have very little stage experience, just a couple of plays and being in the pop group of course. But I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done: when I was first asked to do it I had doubts but I really like the professional atmosphere. When that kind of mechanism works, working becomes a holiday, you find something new inside yourself, there’s a kind of alchemy – which is important if you work a lot”

Cinema Blue Talks to Pamela Stanford

Cinema Blue Talks to Pamela Stanford

This interview was first published in Cinema Blue no.8 circa 1976. It is reproduced here as published.


Meet the blonde doll of the Paris sex-movie screen – ‘Hard and soft, as you will… as you like eet!’ The bombshell from the Folies Bergere who went in for something naughtier, quitting the nude stage for the more nude screen. From nude… to nudest. And rudest.

Interview by Rick Van Doon. Glamour photography by Serge Jacques.

In spite of that ultra Anglo-Saxon stage name, Pamela Stanford is French. She was born plain Monique Delaunay; at Fontainebleau, 35 miles outside Paris, a royal town with a splendid castle where the kings of France once used to reside. Royally!

Small wonder that she went on to become a queen herself, albeit a queen of the French sex movie industry. Pamela went straight from school to the famous Follies Bergeres Music Hall where she was trained to be a dancer and a singer-and turn-only. Later she moved on to films with all lessons intact. During the past five years (she is still only 25) she has made more than 30 films, starring in most, stripping and screwing in all.

Pamela: Hello, hello – what do you want to talk about? No, no, no, not about porn flicks! God, not again! That’s all people want to talk to me about. How I started in porn films… how, why I fuck… I can’t go over it all over again…I just can’t stand it! It’s like when you’re with your analyst and you have something, well, something dreadful, really dreadful, to tell him and it just won’t come out… Or it’s like when you are really fed up with something… Yes, I’m tired of films about screwing

Then why make them?

I said I’m tired of them but of course I’ve nothing against them. I’ve made a living from them, haven’t I? But now, well, there are too many of them and it means doing the same things over and over again. Life can be boring, you know, and porn can be boring too. I don’t mind once, now and again, but not all the time. I want to do something different… Don’t they say that variety is the spice of life? Well, I want some variety, or is it spice that I want? Anyway I want change. I have an un-stable character, did you know that? Aha, you guessed it! So why do they make me do the same thing over and over again – get screwed all the time in these bloody films… Why can’t I do a horror film for once, go on, tell me? Or a murder mystery… or a drama… or a musical-comedy, even. I want to do every kind of film not just one genre.

What are you finishing now?

I’ve just finished one that I’m rather pleased with. It’s directed by Herbert Malthese. Quite different from the ones I’ve been doing up to now…

But, Pamela, you just said your films were all the same?

Wait a minute! This is just an exception. One single exception…


Non, it’s got porn in it. Well near enough… And I was delighted when Herbert asked me to play the lead in his film. I jumped at the opportunity. It’s an avant-garde film called guess what? PAMELA! No, I don’t think it was named after me. It’s based on a short story of Edgar Allen Poe: Annabel Lee, I think

That’s a poem.

Never mind – it’s a really beautiful film! I see it a sort of hymn to life. Oh! You will love it, I assure you. Some people mind you, may be shocked, but that doesn’t worry me. On the contrary… yes, I’m really quite, ‘ow you say, on-turned by this film!

Aren’t you normally turned-on when acting in porn films? It sure looks that way!

Turned on by fucking, you mean? Oh boy, am I? I go absolutely wild… yes wiiiild! I become like a bitch on heat… I really blow my mind! I roll on the floor, I scream, and I want to stick everything around me up my cunt! The radiator! The books on the mantelpiece! A man’s head! The television set! Anything! The legs of chairs! Bottles! Dogs! (no, not their pricks, whole dogs!) I become one gigantic hole…

You’re putting us on-playing the porno-queen!

No, I become this massive, unfilled hole! And if I think of Hitler, De Gaulle, Mao, I say to them go on, get inside my hole go on, get up my wet pussy I’m just like an animal on these occasions. Or rather, I no longer have a body I’m just a hole, as I said… and I fall on the ground, squeal, pull at the curtains, I go mad and try to scratch people’s eyes out. I pull men’s foreskins. Squeeze their balls. I piss standing up. I think of Godard and the accident he had, I even think of Braque at such moments…

What about your fantasies?

My dreams when I’m filming?


Sometimes I dream of those rich people who like to get down on all fours and eat out of a dog’s dish… But that really happened to me once! This man, he wanted to pay me, too-he wanted to play doggies in my place! He took a rubber bone out of his pocket… and he started barking… wow! wow! wow! He went! And he had a collar and lead on, too. He made me lead him around the flat. I’m sure he would have lifted his leg and peed and done other filthy things if I had let him, you know… And oh, yes, I forgot, he went under the table to eat out of his bowl while I sat down to dinner. Also I had to whip him.

Didn’t you feel rather sickened?

Quite frankly-non! I thought it screamingly funny! I would shout at him – ‘Go on, Rex, run’… or ‘Kim, come on, jump!’ And I would sometimes kick him in the ass, especially when he went to lift up his leg… Can you imagine the dirty bastard wanting to piss all over my carpets?

Yes, well that’s all very interesting, Pamela, but…

Oh! But that isn’t all… Another time, I had a judge in my place-a real judge who had just condemned a man to death! And he took his clothes off and bent over a chair and asked me to cane his bare bum… You see, he wanted to be punished’ for what he had done… I mean condemning a poor sod to death! Mais oui he wanted me to punish him. Of course I refused.

I don’t believe any of all this!

Well, you’re right! I wouldn’t be telling the truth if insisted that it did – I would be telling… er, fibs! I guess I’m just a dreamer. The story about the dog happened in a film of mine called PROSTITUTION CLANDESTINE.

I know, I saw it!

Aha!! I didn’t know that!

So these are just a young girl’s dreams.

Oui-et non! These things do happen, you know. Once a man did ask me to punish him in this way.

But on the telephone, not in your flat…

Precisely! But how did you guess? Yes, he was telephoning me. People often do. They ask me to model for them or to pose in the nude while they photograph me! Others say they saw my film and that they would like to fuck me. Oh! Some are ever so rude. They don’t even know me and I don’t know their name either. I get rid of them quick. I tell them to buy an outsize rubber cock and stick it up their ass! How, how do these people get hold of my phone number? I often ask myself that. A great mystery to me.

Anyway, this man is asking me whether I will pose for him while he photographs me – £30 for a morning’ work. Legs open, of course. Wide… they all want that – even your photographer wanted that. Well, that I understand. For you, okay! But this man, suddenly he ask me to whip him… Now I ask you! And such an educated voice, too. These rich people are the worst. They really do disgust me. I don’t like the bank-manager type; give me a workman any day. A docker, for example, or a factory worker. After all, I’m working-class myself.

With all those expensive clothes, all that jewellery?

Appearances can lie! Anyway I like working-class men. They’re usually very… beeg!


Well-endowed, yes. Sometimes. And serious. Can you imagine a docker or a factory worker wanting to go down on all fours and be a dog after a hard day’s work? Can you, now?… Or a king to be whipped? No, they just want to fuck or suck! The well-off are revolting. Long live the worker…

Let’s move to more serious things, if that’s possible!

Let’s. And write in that article of yours, just as you said, the words ‘let’s move on to more serious things’ so that people will think that all I’ve said up till now was a joke.

What about drugs?

What about them?

You use them don’t you?

Of course! Who doesn’t? No, wait, cross that out. I had better just ay ‘Yes ‘. Or some of your readers might be shocked. Or perhaps they don’t care a fuck – I don’t care a fuck myself what they think anyway! Yes , I use drugs when I feel like them. Pot. I had a good smoke before I came to see you – look at the pupils of my eyes.

I don’t see anything wrong with them.

You don’t? I’m serious for once.

Well don’t be too serious…

Pretend you’re joking. I recall that when director Rene Clement was being tried on a drug charge in Rome, the prosecution brought out a French newspaper interview he had given some time before in which he had said he used pot and they used this against him as evidence! And it helped to find him guilty and put him in gaol. And maybe in the newspaper interview he was just boasting. Maybe it wasn’t true at all that he smoked (Laugh)

What about hard drugs?

What about it?

Do you use it?

Let’s say I have used it – heroin, I mean, I jabbed myself for nearly three year. Then, I laid off it. Why shouldn’t I do anything I want to do, anyway? What’s wrong with heroin? Or coke for that matter? It’s certainly not a bad as alcohol-look at the millions of drunk that there are, particularly in the film business-and nobody says anything. Take a drunk who go home one night and kills his wife and kids in a fit of DT’s. The next day, the story might get three line on an inside page of a tabloid. But let somebody do themselves in with an overdose, without harming anybody else, mind you, and the story will be splashed all over the front pages and you’ll be called a long-haired hippy and looked upon as hit… yes, and let them catch you with a couple of gram of the stuff and you’ll be locked up for months. They’ll call you degenerate, a criminal responsible for all the world’s woe! Merde!

What about the cops reading this when it’s printed?

I couldn’t care less. They can’t read English, anyway. Some of them can’t even read French! And I’ll put it all down to play-acting. After all, I’m an actress, aren’t I? That’s what I want to be, that’s what I’ve always wanted to be – to act in every kind of film. In serious films. I have always wanted to be a great actress but what do these bastards offer me? Nothing but fucking and sucking and swallowing! You get screwed this way and that way… in a fortnight’ time I start on another film.

In which you get screwed…

In which I get screwed!

Fernando Di Leo Italian Crime Collection vol.2 from Raro Video USA

Raro Video USA announced on their Facebook page details of part 2 of their Fernando Di Leo Italian Crime Collection…

“Great News!
We are pleased to confirm the acquisition of a worldwide exclusive Fernando Di Leo title:
“Shoot First Die Later” ( Il Polizziotto e’ Marcio).
This film will part of “ Fernando Di Leo Italian Crime Collection vol.2 , due next December.
We are now working on a brand new HD transfer from original 35mm Negative print.
This very rare film will finally be presented in its original splendor…

…“Fernando Di Leo Italian Crime Collection vol.2” will contain 3 titles:
“Shoot First Die Later” (new HD transfer)
“Killer VS Killer( restored version)
“Kidnap Syndicate”(new HD Transfer)”

Fernando Di Leo Italian Crime Collection vol.2 is due for release in December 2012

Ernesto Gastaldi Talks to lovelockandload

Ernesto Gastaldi is a name intrinsically linked to the genesis of Italian cinema during the sixties and seventies. A screenwriter and occasional filmmaker with well over a hundred credits to his name, and a frequent collaborator with stalwarts of cinema such as Sergio Leone, Umberto Lenzi and Sergio Martino, Ernesto’s contribution to the world of Eurocult is extremely significant. In an exclusive lovelockandload interview, Kim August asked Ernesto to shed some light on his involvement in the making of some of Italy’s most exciting genre films.

It’s rumoured the shooting of THE HORRIBLE SECRET OF DR HICHCOCK was running over schedule. So director Riccardo Freda literally tore out pages of the screenplay to get the film back on track. What was eliminated from the script? And do you feel this act compromised your original concept?

As I’ve told many times, Freda was a genius. He tore out 8 or 9 pages of the script, but not only for schedule problem, but he wanted to cancel a dialogue where there was the explanation of the mystery.

He asked my permission and I laughed “This way all becomes incomprehensible!” Freda smirked, saying “That is exactly what I want!”

In another interview you touched on your involvement in the writing of Sergio Leone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA. From what I understand, it was a film that was long in gestation. Can you elaborate on what you brought to the project?

Not so much because Sergio and the last writers changed a lot. I wrote a big treatment following the novel a little more. Sergio kept my scenes about the adolescence of the little gangsters.

I protested with Sergio when I saw the boy eating the candy because he was FAT! That was wrong! The boy had to be very hungry and slim.

You also collaborated on two of the Italian westerns Leone produced – MY NAME IS NOBODY and A GENIUS TWO PARTNERS AND A DUPE – what was your working relationship with Leone like? Did it differ from those that you had with other filmmakers of the time?

Completely different. I wrote these two scripts at home by night, but every days for months I have to go to Sergio’s home to read the new scenes and discuss them. Frequently Sergio invited directors, journalists, friends and he played in detail the scenes, always beginning from the first one: ” A red sunset. Three men on horses are drawing near and nearer… clop, clop, clop…” to spy the faces of the people: interested? bored? I was probably the less bored, since Sergio was a great storyteller.

During the seventies you were involved in the writing of many of the police thrillers that were popular of the time. Did any of these projects require you to be on set and if so, what are your memories of stars such as Franco Nero, Tomas Milian, Maurizio Merli and Luc Merenda?

Sorry. I was not on set, in those days I had always too much to write. I met these actors, sometime at home, or in the Carlo Ponti’s office , or chez Martino. I have a great memory of Giancarlo Giannini because he made his debut as movie actor in LIBIDO, that was also my debut as director!

In your gialli, Less is more. Less violence, more sex.  Were  you writing for your own tastes, the censors, the audience?

When the first character was Edwige Fenech I have to put on my script almost 3 scenes of shower… Joking aside, I like thrillers with a big emotional involvement and sex is a strong one.

You had a wonderful run with Sergio Martino, gialli, crime, science fiction. What was your working relationship like?

A good friendship lasting even now. Sergio Martino is a very good director, greater than the movies he, too often, had to direct.

What is your favorite screenplay and/or film with Sergio Martino?


Some of my favorite elements in your thrillers revolve around the stalking of the protagonist by the villain(s) (TORSO, THE LONELY, VIOLENT BEACH, ALL THE COLOURS OF THE DARK) –  you’ve mentioned writing 20 gialli in three years you had to constantly push yourself to do something more than the previous film? How difficult was this?

Just a little. I amused myself writing this kind of plot! I also wrote some thriller novels, before becoming a screenwriter.

I won an award in 1957 with a comedy called A COME ASSASSINO (many years after someone made a movie from it). In 1955 I managed to be selected at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia di Roma because I wrote an amateur movie, a thriller named LA STRADA CHE PORTA LONTANO, very appreciated by the great director Alessandro Blasetti.

Torso foreshadowed many of the slasher films in the late 70s/early 80s. What are your feelings on this?

I didn’t realise it. (That the film had been so influential – Ed)

Which actors do you feel performed your works the best?

Mara Maryl, Giancarlo Giannini, Marcello Mastroianni, Sofia Loren, Alan Collins, Barbara Steele, Giuliano Gemma, Terence Hill, Henry Fonda, Jack Palance, Anthony Quinn and others.

I thought Robert Hoffmann was an excellent choice for the lead biker in your film THE LONELY, VIOLENT BEACH. Your thoughts on Hoffmann and the film?

Oh yes! he was a great choice. That was a very low budget movie, but I like it.

During the course of your career you have been involved with the writing films covering all the staples of popular Italian cinema: peplums, gialli, crime films, science fiction, westerns, etc? Of these, was there a particular genre you were happiest working in?

I’d like to write, and even, direct science fiction, but it was really impossible for decades. I wrote a plot very similar to BACK TO THE FUTURE 20 years before , located in Italy. The protagonist traveled to the past and, during the second world war, when Mussolini was the chief of Italy, met two very poor girls in Naples, two sisters, one of those named Sofia… He told to a friend: “Look at them: one will married the Mussolini’s son! But the real incredibly thing is that that marriage will be very popular because of the other sister, who will become the most great movie star of the world!”

I named the script THE END OF ETERNITY. Nobody gave it the green light!

SECRETS OF A CALL GIRL stands out amongst your work as it transcends genre: while essentially a crime film, it has elements of the sentimental dramas and the erotic movies popular in Italy at the time. What were your motivations when you were writing?

I think… the money! Luciano Martino suggested the story to me. He was the producer.

‘Hands Of Steel’ is considered to be the Italian reaction to James Cameron’s ‘Terminator’. How was the original concept developed, and what are your thoughts on the film’s stars, David Greene and Janet Agren?

I think I never saw this movie. I only wrote a part of the script.

Same question but about 2019: AFTER THE FALL OF NEW YORK, and star Michael Sopkiw.

I like this movie, even if it was a kind of SF not particularly loved by me. The movie had been made because of the big success of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. I think Sopkiw was quite good.

Tell us about one of your first films as a director, CIN… CIN… CIANURO!. Why was it that the film received scant distribution to the point that very few people have seen it?

My debut was LIBIDO (1965) starring Mara Maryl, Giancarlo Giannini, Alan Collins and Dominique Boschero. Now this very little movie is a cult movie among fans. I was also co-producer of LIBIDO and this movie has been also the argument of my thesis of my baccalaureat in Economy!

CIN… CIN… CIANURO! was a very brilliant comedy, played very well by Mara Maryl and Brad Harris. Unfortunately the distributor, LUX FILM, went bankrupt.

The making of popular films in Italy was at its most prolific during the sixties and seventies before going into decline in the eighties. What are your thoughts on why this came to be?

TV broadcasting. Mr. Berlusconi had all free public TV frequencies stolen paying a bribe to the former premier Bettino Craxi and started broadcasting three movies a day on “his” three new networks! Not only the movie industry declined , the democracy too…

Do you feel the lack of stories are the undoing of today’s films?

I don’t like very much the new Italian cinema, with rare exception like IL DIVO.  Now the current fashion is to put a boring speaker who tell you a big part of the story and to cut the plot muddling up the scenes. Maybe PULP FICTION has been the first offender.

Given that you have been involved in the writing of well over a hundred different films, which are those that you consider to be seminal or you are the most proud to have been a part of making?

I’m very proud that I has been able to write two hundred scripts (117 of them made into feature films!) having three children playing around and the TV set always on! Joking aside, I like very much LIBIDO starring Mara Maryl and Giancarlo Giannini, LA PUPA DEL GANGSTER starring Sofia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, I GIORNI DELL’IRA starring Giuliano Gemma and  Lee Van Cleef, IL MIO NOME E’ NESSUNO starring Henry Fonda and Terence Hill, MILANO TREMA starring Luc Merenda and Richard Conte, LA FRUSTA E IL CORPO starring Daliah Lavi and Cristopher Lee, LA BATTAGLIA DI  EL ALAMEIN starring George Hilton, Fredrick Stafford, Robert Hossein, NOTTURNO CON GRIDA, starring Mara Maryl, Gerardo Amato, L’UOVO DEL CUCULO starring Malisa Longo, Vassili Karamesinis, CRIMINE CONTRO CRIMINE starring Marina Giulia Cavalli, Adalberto Maria Merli, Giorgio Albertazzi, Francesco Benigno.

Interview conducted via email February 2009 by Kim August.

Cinema X Talks to Rod Taylor

Cinema X Talks to Rod Taylor

This interview was first published in Cinema X vol.2 no1 circa 1969/70. It is reproduced here as published.


By reputation well suited to the title role of THE MAN WHO HAD POWER OVER WOMEN, Rod Taylor is Hollywood ‘s sole Australian star. He’s a man’s man who refuses to censor his own conversation, cheerfully assaulted with four-letter expletives. This, again, befits his usual screen image – the reason he was so surprised when Antonioni asked him to star in ZABRISKIE POINT. (Yet, apart from say David Hemmings in BLOW UP and Marcello Mastroianni on LA NOTTE, the Italian tends to go for the craggy kind of actor: Richard Harris in THE RED DESERT, Steve Cochran in IL GRIDO).

No one, not even Taylor, has seen the finished film to date. Yet the controversy about ZABRISKIE POINT has already begun. The rumours insist it will make BLOW UP look like a Disney offering. Adding much fuel to this story was the recent issuing of Grand Jury subpoenas to people concerned with the shooting, alleging violations of America ‘s sacred Mann Act. This is the law which forbids transportation of people across state boundary lines for ‘immoral purposes’.

Until now, the law has only affected pimps luring girls from one state to another to work as prostitutes, or even a fellow driving his bird across the line for a night at a motel. Is it now to be immoral in America to bring stars from one state to another for location scenes which may require nudity, simulated love-making and so on? If it is, it seems to have been discovered a bit late in Hollywood ‘s home location history…

Apparently hippie sequences of wholesale nudity seem to have triggered off the inquiry into the shooting of ZABRISKIE POINT. However, other reports bring it down to a political level – the secret Grand Jury hearing being part of a move to ban Antonioni’s film from .S. cinemas because it is, or might be (no one has seen it, remember), outrageously anti-American. Indeed one observer in the Sacramento courtroom was later quoted as opining: ‘If this picture ever is shown in this country, they’ll hang Antonioni in effigy on every street corner in America ‘!

Antonioni’s aim? ‘I do not want to look at America as an exotic, strange place. I want to capture its deepest and truest aspects’

Cinema X: What is your reaction to the Grand Jury hearings in Sacramento and the result of their findings being passed to the Justice Department in Washington ?

Rod Taylor : I don’t know very much about it all – the hearings or even the sequences in question. I’m not annoyed by it… I’m shit-scared about it! I read the reports and I think: ‘Aha, OK, Antonioni, Taylor got fucked again!’ Thing I don’t like was way down at the bottom of one of the press reports: ‘The star of the film, Rod Taylor, happens to be in London ; the director, Michelangelo Antonioni, happens to be in Rome ‘. Looked like we both held hands and fled, you know!

CX: How did you get involved with the film?”

RT: He came after me. I felt that my kind of funny image – you know, rough, tough, kill ’em, punch ’em, fuck ’em! – didn’t seem to go along with Michelangelo. But he seemed to feel I was right. He’d been to see… oh something way out, something dreadful like THE MERCENARIES and said ‘That’s the son of a bitch for me’. He kinda wooed me over three lunches. I kept saying: ‘Shit, I’m no good to you in this’. But he convinced me. Never had a script, just said: ‘Rod, we just talk together. We do things together. We do script together. And we don’t tell anyone what we do’. So I said: ‘OK, you’re the fucking genius, let’s see’.

CX: Not your usual kind of film deal.

RT: Hardly! It’s not the sort of thing I would have agreed to with many people. But no, I admired him, been intrigued by his work for a long time. And so I thought if the man can do something creative, artistic and also make 22 milion dollars, OK, baby, I’ll go. Because I believe in entertaining people. So I went along, kinda eyes wide open, to see what kind of man he was.

CX: With what result?

RT: I finished up loving him, I love him and I wanna work with him again. But I still had the same kinda feeling as when I did a picture with Doris Day. You know the feeling? ‘What the fuck am I doing here? Cary Grant, sure. Rock Hudson, sure, James Garner, sure. But me – a fire-plug with funny hands and a broken nose’. I felt the same way around Michelangelo. But he had in the back of his mind that he needed some kind of strength in terms of… (wild laughter; I’m sounding like a poof’)… the solid masculine type of man who can take care of himself.

CX: No doubt he had felt the same with Richard Harris. But as Harris told me ‘the love affair soon ended’.

RT: Well Richard told him to fuck off, didn’t he? He gave him the elbow. I certainly didn’t give him the elbow because I know so much about the other side of the camera and I admired what he was doing immensely. Not that I saw any of this crap with, you know, the Mann Act… I wasn’t scarpering around nude or anything. I didn’t know this was going on. Though I sure as fuck heard about it later. Like everyone else.

CX: Where and what is Zabriskie Point, by the way?

RT: It’s a place in Death Valley . I was never there, because I play the Establishment, which is the area of the film shot in enormous offices and beautiful country house and all that. The film is the Establishment versus all these punk kids who are sucking and fucking.

CX: Who wins?

RT: Well, I’ll tell ya. The last shot I did was with this little kid (Daria Halprin), who I am obviously attracted to. She’s my secretary, who has been messing around with all the beatniks and the hippies. Last shot in the picture, she comes to my house and I tell her, you know, very gentle, to go and clean up… because she’s been fucked and sucked and carried on with, and looks a little haggard. Well, she walks out of the house and down the road, looks back and boom! The house blows up. That’s the version I saw and I think it’s a fairly strong (laugh) comment.

CX: How much of the film have you seen, in fact?

RT: Only my stuff. I didn’t see any of the other scenes, most of which was being shipped to Rome as soon as he shot it. I don’t think anyone saw it.

CX: From what you’ve seen – and the script – would you call the film anti-American, or is it strictly an Italian’s eye view of America today?

RT: I really don’t know… I didn’t let him do anything in my scenes that I didn’t believe was right. I played a good, strong, young, clean-cut businessman and he didn’t try to warp my character at all. But (laugh) he sure had fun with the beatniks, I tell you. As for the script, it was arriving daily in pages.

CX: Apart from you, the cast is purely amateur, do you object to this kind of casting?

RT: I think if they are in the hands of a so-called genius like Michelangelo, it’s fine. I was literally the only kind of pro he talked to on the set. We got on very well. So well I never even bothered to work out my billing in the film. That may be unprofessional of me, I don’t know. Still, truth is, I don’t know if I’m starring or guest-starring. I don’t mind either. I enjoyed the experience and I want to work with Antonioni again. So does he! He told me: ‘Rod I want to make another film with you. Somewhere where I talk the language!’

CX: As an Australian, you should be concerned about another big screen controversy. How do you feel about Mick Jagger playing Ned Kelly?

RT: I cringe a little, I must admit. It’s like getting Mick to play Jesse James. Kind odd, that’s all. I don’t think an Australian necessarily should play Kelly because let’s face it there were no Australians then. They were all English. I mean if I played Kelly – as I might have done in the Dino de Laurentis film, THE IRON OUTLAWS cancelled because of this Tony Richardson film – I wouldn’t be allowed to do it with an Aussie accent. Because there was no such thing then. So, I’m not against it from that point of view. It’s just, well, Ned Kelly was a tough sonofabitch and I don’t know if Mick is.

CX: He could knock you down with a shake of his hair!

RT: In a flurry of talc!

CX: What are you doing next, instead of your Kelly film?

RT: I have another film, WHERE THE LIONS FEED to do for Joe Levine in Africa towards the end of 1970. In the meantime, I go to Florida and Nassau – how does that grab you with your English weather? – for DARKER THAN AMBER. This is one of a series of books by John MacDonald about a character called Travis McGee. Rough, tough. The usual Rod Taylor bullshit.

CX: Why denigrate yourself?

RT: Well, that’s all they give me to do. This move, THE MAN WHO HAD POWER OVER WOMEN is a joy because, I don’t shoot anybody. I only deck one person. It’s fun to play against title, too. He’s really a pathetic, warped Walter Mitty-type charcter. And I’ve never been so well dressed in my life. Look at all these suits… and all those poofy shirts… Now, how about some beers.