When the first teaser trailer for what appeared to be cult director Luigi Cozzi’s unexpected comeback project surfaced on YouTube, it wasn’t very clear if the whole thing wasn’t merely a hoax. The shortish video, among stock shots from old horror films, offered glimpses of actress Barbara Magnolfi (Suspiria, The Sister of Ursula) and Dario Argento while Cozzi himself could be seen wrestling what appeared to be a person wearing a monkey suit. Was this really happening? Was the man who brought us Contamination, Starcrash, The Killer Must Kill Again (and the underrated Il Tunnel Sotto Il Mondo) and who’s been running Profondo Rosso shop in via dei Gracchi for the past decade really to come out of retirement?
The Blood on Méliès’ Moon official trailer dispels the doubts: Cozzi strikes back!
Cozzi´s last feature to date is an unremarkable documentary Dario Argento: Master of Horror, dated 1991. Cozzi’s last horror film, the astonishingly trashy Paganini Horror dates back to 1989. All the more exciting to witness the return to action from a filmmaker who positions himself as the Italian Ed Wood (as per teaser trailer) and who in the past has served up some of the most demented spectacles in European cinema’s admittedly rich catalogue. Cozzi, who started out as a journalist interviewing the likes of Antonio Margheriti, Mario Bava and Riccardo Freda, went on to direct a number of very strange features during the 1980s, finding the time in between his own ventures to assist Dario Argento both as writer and special effects person on many of Maestro’s films, from 4 Flies on Grey Velvet to The Stendhal Syndrome.
This new trailer, once again showing Cozzi attacked by a furry monster, this time identified (by Lamberto Bava, no less!) as a demon, features a good deal of graphic throat slashing and splatter, bringing to mind the recent work of that rising star of Italian gore scene, Luigi Pastore (who is to make an appearance in Blood on Méliès’ Moon). Apart from cameos from Lamberto Bava and Argento, film historian and screenwriter Antonio Tentori also makes an appearance in Blood on Méliès’ Moon. Lifelong admirer of genre cinema, Tentori has distinguished himself by co-writing screenplays for a number of cult directors in their twilight years. Tentori penned, to name a few, parts of Fulci’s stock-footage fest Nightmare Concert/Un Gatto Nel Cervello, Aristide Massaccessi’s Frankenstein 2000, as well as Bruno Mattei’s final zombie extravaganzas, Island of the Living Dead and Zombies: The Beginning.
Judging from the trailer, Cozzi has picked up right from where he left off with his Demons 6: De Profundis/Il Gatto Nero – footage of planets and stars is intercut with vicious razor attacks and assorted mysterious goings-on. Undeterred by non-existent budget, veteran filmmaker takes advantage of the digital technology to bring us his updated vision of terror. Working with very modest means hadn’t stopped the author of colorized Godzilla in the past, so why should it now?
With the release date still some way away (May 2016, all being well) there’s plenty of room for speculation, but surely it’s good news that, at last, our favourite filmmakers embrace their international status and make an effort to give us more of that crazy goodness that’s been missing from the screens since the late 1980s. There’s a good chance Blood on Méliès’ Moon will end up being a headache-inducing crapfest in the style of Sergio Stivaletti’s I Tre Volti Della Paura (2004). But as we’re clearly talking a very modest DIY film here, my sympathy is with the filmmakers. Somehow a low-budget train wreck of a film is always more welcome than a multimillion one.
Extra compliments to the filmmakers for showing that house in the trailer. The diabolical library in Via dei Bagni in Inferno, Mimsy Farmer’s residence in Perfume of the Lady in Black, this gorgeous building standing in the Coppedé quarter of Rome can also be seen in Mario Bava´s The Girl Who Knew Too Much – a true symbol of Italian genre cinema´s past glory.
P.S. – Whatever happened to ‘Axl Jaws’, the Blood on Méliès’ Moon co-director credited in the teaser trailer?