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Kitley's Krypt: What
were your parent’s views on your affection for horror movies, especially at a
Mike Baronas: I’ve always been fascinated
with monsters. I grew up with the Gamera & Godzilla flicks back during my
childhood in the 1970’s watching our local version of “Chiller Theatre” called
“Creature Double Feature” here in Massachusetts. My Mom says I used to
draw them constantly and for some reason have always been captivated by them.
It got much more realistic when my parents took me to see the
re-release of Jaws when I was 10. I still get a bit tweaked
whenever I’m near any body of water. When I was 12 they took me to see
Poltergeist which also did quite a number on me. I don’t blame my
folks at all though. These choices made me who I am and I was always eager to
Then when the VHS boom hit in the mid-80’s, my Dad would
drive me each and every Saturday to the local video store to pick 3 films.
I always went directly to the Horror section. He had final say about what
I was renting, but recall him only denying me one film, Faces of Death.
He would also escort me on a monthly basis into this seedy little bodega
downtown to pick through all the smut rags and buy me the latest issue of
So, they encouraged my horror fandom. I am sensitive
and protective however about what my little ones see because I’m a product of
how powerful imagery like someone’s head being drilled completely through really
If anything, my parents were more concerned about all that
Slayer & Celtic Frost I was listening to back in the day...
KK: I understand completely about the whole
Jaws thing. That also scared me for life as well.
But why your love of Lucio Fulci, as opposed to Mario Bava or
Dario Argento? What is it about Fulci that grabbed your attention?
MB: I think the main reason initially was the
greater availability of Fulci’s classic horror films on VHS during my
impressionable teenage years as opposed to Bava’s on Argento’s. In fact,
two of the first four VHS tapes I ever rented included a Bava and Fulci film (Bay
of Blood & Gates of Hell respectively). I obviously gravitated
more towards the gory zombie film than the Giallo. Still do actually.
KK: What was it about Gates of Hell /
City of the Living Dead that made such an impact on you?
MB: Atmosphere. Fulci’s claustrophobic
use of atmosphere and the fact that in the film anything could happen at any
time for no good reason really had me on the edge of my seat the entire film.
Also, never had my 15 year old eyes witnessed such lingering scenes of
bloodshed. It was all so visually captivating to someone who thought
Friday the 13th was the most violent film he had ever seen.
To those who don’t understand the European “style over substance” method of
filmmaking, what would you say to help them understand that a little better?
MB: Scripts for EuroHorror films have always
been secondary to the director’s vision. I’m sure you’ll agree that half
the films we’ve seen of this ilk are hardly coherent, but beautiful to look at.
Fans of the genre can overlook such shortcomings much of the time, but I
personally find it more difficult when it comes to Gialli because murder
mysteries to me need to make more sense than not.
What about an Italian horror film in general do you consider to be underrated?
The craftsmanship that went into making these micro-budgeted masterpieces.
These artisans used their minds to solve problems during production rather than
throwing money at them because they never had such luxury.
I think EVERY Italian horror film is
underrated, because having done a few horror conventions now with some of the
stars from these films, a large majority of American horror fans today don't
have a clue. These classics deserve seeking out by said fans more so than being
force-fed yet another prequel of an American horror remake.
We couldn't agree more, Mike. We are always preaching to seeking out these
Which of Fulci’s film do you think is highly underrated, and should be seen?
MB: His personal favorite, Beatrice Cenci.
It’s such a beautifully crafted film. I’m still amazed that it hasn’t been
released on DVD here in the States yet, which is surely because DVD companies
only view Fulci as a horror director and probably don’t think this period piece
would sell very well. That’s the unfortunate difference between being a
business and being a fan as we all know.
Working with Shriek Show, what release that you were involved with are you most
Without a doubt - another underrated gem - A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin.
My ex-business partner Kit Gavin and I went to great lengths to create the
documentary “Shedding The Skin” for the 2005 double-disc release. Never
mind locating all those folks, which was nearly impossible in itself, but then
traveling to Italy, England, Spain, France and California to secure all the
interviews and location shots was exhausting. Kit did an amazing job
pulling it together in the end and it’s easily the best work we did for Shriek
Show because we had some control over the final product, which was never the
I’d like to add that for Shriek Show not to port that
documentary over to last year’s re-release due the original botched prints they
put out in 2005 really was a disservice to fans and frankly a slap in the face
I agree completely. Those extras on those discs were great for us fans.
Sure, seeing the improved prints were fantastic, but as die-hard fan, I was
always interested in the featurettes to learn something about the film that I
might not have known. Plus you're getting it directly from the people
Was there a title that you’d really love to have worked on,
but just couldn’t get the rights or find a good print of?
MB: Kit and I were hired guns and really had
no say as to what we got to work on. If Media Blasters licensed it, we
worked on it as best we could. We were part of some classics for sure – we
worked on 35 Shriek Show titles in all - and I’m really proud of this, and am
happy to still be assisting on some future titles of great meaning to me (but
that’s all I can say at this time on those...).
KK: Now you have peaked our interests, but I
guess we'll just have to wait on what those are.
What were some of the reactions of these stars of these
Italian horror films when you asked to interview them? Were they surprised
that someone actually wanted to talk about these films?
MB: Exactly. Most everyone was more than
gracious and some even invited us to their homes for meals and the like.
Some were floored that an American had even seen these films never mind traveled
4,500 miles to interview them on camera about these low-budget quickies they did
some 25 years ago. Many still remain friends today and I’m thrilled to now
be bringing my friends over to meet their US fans on the horror convention
circuit now too.
KK: How did the book project come about?
And how did that transform into the DVD Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered: Volume
MB: The book idea came about upon completing
Stephen Thrower’s “Beyond Terror” which didn’t really tell me who Lucio Fulci
was as a person, something I longed to know since my failed attempt at
interviewing the director at the 1996 Fangoria convention in NYC shortly before
his death. I figured the only real way to accomplish this was to find out
from those he worked with and that started the ball rolling. Everything
fell into place after that: Kit & I met, we began contacting folks, and were
able to do a large majority of interviews face-to-face thanks to securing the
Shriek Show gig and meeting Fulci’s collaborators during our down time.
We clocked in countless hours of interviews and, sadly as
time went on, neither Kit nor I had the time to dedicate to such a massive
project for various reasons. So there it sat for years. I had been
itching to at least release something from all the hard work we’d done, and when
I went back to look at all the on-camera footage I had taken, I discovered that
what I had here was exactly what I wanted. You see, the last question we
asked everyone was, “What is your fondest memory of Lucio?” Thankfully we
were allowed to film those responses on-camera more often than not and watching
them one after another was quite a striking memorial to my favorite director.
Since this was the heart of the project in the first place, I decided to compile
all this footage and release it on DVD.
KK: I know we really enjoyed it, but how is
the DVD being received by the fans?
MB: I’ve been very humbled by all the emails
I’ve been getting and the great reviews I’ve read. Granted I put endless
hours into this project with the help of an amazing group of professionals, but
it’s those 90 craftsmen and women that we got to share their feelings about
Lucio who deserve the praise. I was just the conduit to bring their
memories to light.
Some have commented on the fact that it’s not a full-fledged
documentary, but it was never envisioned that way from the onset. The DVD
was to be an ancillary part of a Q&A interview structured book. This last
question was just a continuation of these interviews and the DVD a bonus to the
fans to see what these talents who brought us endless hours of enjoyment look
like in person. Since the DVD ended up being almost 4 hours long, I think
it has enough legs to be considered more than just a “bonus”.
KK: We definitely agree. It's great to
see all of these faces today from these movies that we watched over and over
again. When can we hope to see Volume 2?
MB: Since Volume 1 took 7 years for me to
complete, ask me again in another 5...
Since you've done a few conventions with some
of these Italian celebrities, such as Giovanni Lombaro Radice, Ruggero Deodato,
and Catriona MacColl. What has been their reaction to seeing their fans. Did
they even realize that they had this big of a following here in the states?
Those I've brought over thus far - Deodato, Lomabardo
Radice & MacColl - have done these types of things before and sort of knew what
to expect. It was great to see the reactions of the fans coming to the
tables literally shaking when meeting them, because that's what I originally
felt too. Fans of this genre aren't casual obeservers, but die-hards.
These films are part of their lives. While I've known them for years now,
I still can't quite explain how friggin cool it was to be sitting between two
stars of my favorite horror film of all time for an entire weekend.
I'm interested now in seeing how Al Cliver & Ottaviano
Dell'Acqua do at
HorrorHound in Pittsburgh in a couple weeks as neither of them have done a
convention ever before. I've stated elsewhere how taken Ottaviano was when
we went to his home with a poster & t-shirt from ZOMBIE with his face plastered
on it. He couldn't believe that people actually work clothing with him on
it. He got on the phone and called his brothers and was just so excited
because in Italy, stuntmen are forgotten. It felt so good to know that we made
someone happy simply because we care.
lastly, do you think the Italian film industry will ever make a comeback?
It's difficult to say. Italian horror
cinema will never be what it was back in the heyday of the 70's & 80's, but
there's obviously some renewed interest with Argento getting a US theatrical
release again, Bava's GHOST SON getting Lionsgate distribution on DVD, Soavi
behind the lens again for his fist horror film in over a decade and Deodato
currently shopping his official CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST follow-up.
Back when doing the DVD trips from 2001-2004, we were told by
practically every actor how Italian cinema was dead and if you did anything it
was for television. We can hope that it will grow again, and until keep
those classic names in the forefront to educate new generations.
thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Mike, as well as your hard work of
helping to not only educate horror fans out there, but also helping them meet
some of their Italian Horror Heroes!
For more information about Paura: Lucio Fulci
Remembered - Volume 1, head over to their website