Giordano Bruno Mattei — alias Jordan B. Matthews… alias Stefan Oblowski… alias Vincent Dawn… alias Pierre Le Blanc… alias Frank Klox, and David Hunt, and Jimmy Mattheus, and Gilbert Roussel, and… oh, you get the idea — started working in the movies as an editor. It turned out he had a genuine talent for arranging the bits and pieces of other people’s movies. Unfortunately, that’s a a habit he took with him when he started making movies of his own. Far from being unhappy with the lack of originality in the Italian movie business, Mattei thrived on it. Even decades later, when times and fashions had changed, he kept “borrowing” from the same sources he and his colleagues had ripped off years ago.
But though he stole liberally from other, better films, he never seemed to understand what made those other films better. So he usually ended up stealing all the wrong things, and garbling them pretty badly. Still, his genuine talent as an editor meant his films, awful though they might be, were usually pretty well-assembled. His technical skill allowed him to make some of the most genuinely entertaining Bad Movies of all time. They are so consistently bad, and so consistently entertaining, that they formed a subgenre unto themselves, and approach the status of post-modern art.
Some artists have their statues built while they are still alive; others — the outsiders, the mavericks, the visionaries — must struggle to scratch their initials on the plinth. Say what you will about Bruno Mattei, one thing is certain: he left his defiant B.M. all over the history of cinema.
So join us through the month of November, as we celebrate Brunoween: the holiday that starts a little too late, and keeps going on and on, long after you wish it would stop.
|1000 Misspent Hours||Caged Women||The people most responsible for the pseudo-Emanuelle women’s prison flicks were Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso, justly renowned as thieves among thieves. These are the guys who once managed to steal from every zombie and cannibal gut-muncher made to date within the space of a single, 101-minute film, and who then had the audacity not merely to set it to Goblin’s Dawn of the Dead score, but to credit Goblin for the pilfered music! These are the guys who, working separately this time, spent part of 1990 making phony sequels to both Troll and The Terminator.|
|Women’s Prison Massacre||The earlier movie was a slightly better fit in its pretense to be part of the Emanuelle series, for like Black Emanuelle and its Joe D’Amato-helmed successors, it was first and foremost a softcore porn film. Caged Women’s primary purpose was to get Laura Gemser and her female costars naked as often as possible. But believe it or not, at no point in Women’s Prison Massacre does Gemser remove a single article of clothing. Not even once. Oh, there’s nudity, alright, but none of it’s hers, and as you might gather from the title, Women’s Prison Massacre is only incidentally about sex. Its true business is violence and degradation, which it pursues much more aggressively than Caged Women did even at its nastiest.|
|And You Call Yourself a Scientist!||Hell of the Living Dead||Hell Of The Living Dead indeed represents my first exposure to the remarkable oeuvre of Bruno Mattei – and I think the word “exposure” is the correct one in this context, carrying as it does the suggestion of a nasty disease, or some other undesirable entity – and I can only say that it fully lived up, or down, to its reputation.|
|Braineater||Island of the Living Dead||Now… if you’re watching this with a large group of people (and you really should, by the way), this is the point at which some wag, remembering the original Night of the Living Dead, will pipe up, “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!” The one who does this will be the person least familiar with Bruno Mattei. Keep your eyes on this person, and watch his or her expression as the scene goes on. This is the point in the movie at which less-experienced audience members start to lose their shit.|
|Libidomania||Libidomania… recycles a lot of footage from the earlier two Mondo films; but Mattei takes the material presented fairly straightforwardly in the originals, cuts it up, and then shoehorns it into a new movie without regard for continuity or context. Even if it made sense the first time… once Bruno’s finished with it, it will have lost most of its meaning. And if that doesn’t sum up a large part of Mattei’s film-making over the years, what does?|
|The Tomb||Really, this is Bruno operating at a whole new level of thievery: stealing footage from the very same scenes of the very same film he’s ripping off… yet for no apparent reason, and to absolutely no good effect. At least when he stole shark footage for Cruel Jaws, he had a reason for taking it: before CGI, shark-attack movies were painfully difficult to shoot. At least when he stole footage from Raiders… and Army of Darkness, there was a purpose behind it: the stolen SFX made his movie look better and more expensive. Here, though, he seems to be stealing out of pure chutzpah.|
|Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension||Zombi 3||…the primary point is that Zombi 3 richly deserves its reputation as possibly the most moronic and inept of all Italian zombie movies.* Only aficionados of the breed can truly understand how bold a statement that is, especially given the contributions of Umberto Lenzi. Zombi 3 also surely ranks amongst the top half dozen of Mr. Mattei’s most purely stupid films. Take my word—and that of my fellow B-Masters—for it; this is a much more impressive statement than it probably sounds.|
|Teleport City||Zombies: The Beginning||Had the legendary Bruno Mattei’s life and career ended on any note other than Zombies: The Beginning, then truly this would have been a cruel and uncaring universe. But end with Zombies: The Beginning it did, and so Mattei departed this mortal coil via a film that is the perfect summation of everything he ever contributed to the world of cinema.|
|The Unknown Movies||Scalps||Since you know that Claudio Fragasso and Bruno Mattei directed this movie, the question you probably want answered first is, “Is this movie an inept laughfest like some of the other movies that have been made by these two particular directors?” Well, I know that many of you will be disappointed by the news that the movie is actually not a barrel of laughs, at least for the most part.|