Directed by Simone Scafidi
Written by Simone Scafidi
Starring Nicola Nocella, Camilla Fulci, Fabio Frizzi
Misunderstood, underrated, brilliant, enigmatic. Lucio Fulci is not the easiest of subjects to explore, so it seems fitting that a documentary exploring his life and work is somewhat unconventional. Italian to its core, Fulci For Fake is emotional and deeply revealing at times but it also contains some of the greatest criticism of Fulci’s films from his family and closest confidants and colleagues.
Instead of jumping right into various talking heads going down the list of Fulci’s IMDB page, director Simone Scafidi introduces us to an actor (Nocella) in the make-up chair while prosthetics are applied to transform him into the character of Lucio Fulci. Preparing to play him in a fictional role, the interviews are collected as pure research for the part. There are also a few bedroom scenes of “Fulci” and a scantily clad Italian actress shown during conversations about the real Fulci’s complicated relationship with women. While the focus is undoubtedly on Lucio, it’s really Camilla Fulci who steals the show here, offering a heartbreaking document of her profound love for her father as she is visibly struggling from a debilitating illness.
After the framing device is established, Fulci’s body or work is discussed at length and it’s a revelation. His thriller trilogy, One On Top of the Other aka Perversion Story, Don’t Torture a Duckling, and Lizard on a Woman’s Skin, are examined but not in the way you might think. The commentary on them does not exist in a vacuum. All three are looked at to gain insight into the director, and are offered up as prime examples of the “secret essence” of Fulci. Seeing his work through this lens is what makes Fulci For Fake so compelling. It’s more of a loving dissection of the classics and that’s why it’s totally devoid of any pseudo-intellectual critical analysis from an outsider. In fact, people like Fabio Frizzi and others go out of their way to condemn that kind of criticism that ultimately doesn’t amount to anything truly insightful. These are passionate artists talking about the films they love and the director they adore. Through that passion, we see what Fulci really means to the entire country of Italy.
Fulci’s propensity for “self-quoting” is mentioned as well, since he enjoyed re-creating death scenes in later movies. The suicide in The Psychic is repeated when actor Marc Porel dies in Don’t Torture a Duckling, for example. This echo makes a dead body that is obviously a mannequin, become such a beautiful and haunting image. It can also be a little confusing for fans, at times, who can’t remember what death happened in what particular film. Michelle Soavi (Cemetery Man), who began his career with Fulci, revered the director and claims that only the true greats can consciously add to their legendary status. One of the lasting quotes in the documentary exclaims, “Fulci created his own myth before we did.”
A myriad of Fulci’s early movies are mentioned here as well like White Fang, Four of the Apocalypse, and Rome 2072 but there’s one film that continues to rise to the top: The Beyond. Fulci had directed over 40 films before his greatest masterpiece, and it’s pointed out that The Beyond is actually very different from his other work. Out of all his great output in horror and film in general, those closest to him contend that in The Beyond, you see the “true face of Fulci.”
For Fulci diehards wanting a long form breakdown of his most famous works, Fulci For Fake focuses more on how interpretations of his films by the people closest to him help reveal the man behind the curtain.