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Author Topic: CLAUDIO FRAGASSO  (Read 3610 times)

Jay

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CLAUDIO FRAGASSO
« on: 18 Jul 2007 - 11:58 »

CLAUDIO FRAGASSO INTERVIEW by Jason J. Slater

FILM:

L’AVVOCATO DELLA MALA (1976) [co-screenplay]
PASSAGGI (1978) [?]
NAPOLI: I 5 DELLA SQUADRA SPECIALE [co-story/co-screenplay]
L’ALTRO INFERNO/ THE OTHER HELL (1980) [screenplay]
LA VERA STORIA DELLA MONACA DI MONZA/ THE TRUE STORY OF THE NUN OF MONZA (1980) [screenplay]
VIRUS (1980) [assistant director & scriptwriter]
DIFENDIMI DALLA NOTTE/ DEFEND ME FROM THE NIGHT (1981) [screenwriter]
EMANUELLE - REPORTAGE DA UN CARCERE FEMMINILE/ VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN’S PRISON (1983) [assistant director]
I VIOLENTI/ BLADE VIOLENT (1983) [screenplay]
SCALPS (1983) [assistant director]
WHITE APACHE (1983) [assistant director]
RATS - NOTTE DI TERRORE (1984) [screenplay]
PIACERE (1985) [scriptwriter]
LEVIATAN/ MONSTER DOG (1986) [director]
STRIKE COMMANDO (1986) [scriptwriter & story]
11 GIORNI, 11 NOTTI/ 11 DAYS, 11 NIGHTS (1987) [scriptwriter]
APPUNTAMENTO A TRIESTE (1987) [screenplay]
DOUBLE TARGET (1987) [co-screenplay]
THE SEVEN MAGNIFICENT GLADIATORS (1987) [screenplay]
INTERZONE (1988) [scriptwriter]
NATO PER COMBATTERE/ BORN TO FIGHT (1988) [scriptwriter & story] note: play 3rd prisoner?
TRAPPOLA DIABOLICA/ STRIKE COMMANDO 2 (1988) [co-director & scriptwriter]
TROLL 2 (1988) [director & scriptwriter]
ZOMBI 3 (1988) [scriptwriter & story]
GYPSY ANGEL (1989) [co-story]
LA CASA 5/ BEYOND DARKNESS (1990) [director & scriptwriter]
OLTRE LA MORTE/ AFTER DEATH (1990) [director]
ROBOWAR - ROBOT DA GUERRA (1990) [scriptwriter] note: play ‘Martin Woodring’/robot?
NON APRITE QUELLA PORTA 3 (1990) [director]
TERMINATOR 2/ SHOCKING DARK (1990) [co-director, story & scriptwriter]
TESTE RASATE/ SKINHEADS (1993) [director]
PALERMO MILANO - SOLO ANDATA/ PALERMO MILANO - NO RETURN (1995) [director]
SANGUE D’ARANCIA (1996) [director & screenplay]
BELLA COPPIA/ THE KILLING COUPLE  (1996) [director & screenplay]

Claudio Fragasso aka ‘Clyde Anderson’, ‘Drago Floyd’ & ‘Drake Floyd’
Born in Rome, Italy, 1951 and began as an assistant director to S. Amadio in 1973

Jason J. Slater: What was your first film in the Italian film industry, and how did you get the job?
Claudio Fragasso: I started work as a writer and began making Super 8 films which were produced by my wife (Rossella Drudi) and myself. The first film that I wrote was experimental and won lots of prizes. The film told the story of a group of young people who live in a part of Rome. I had already written seven or eight screenplays and they were mostly police crime films. I also worked on a number of scripts but my name was never on the film credits. I worked like this for about five or six years. My first ‘proper’ film was Difendimi dalla notte/ Defend Me from the Night and this was released in 1981. The film could only be seen in underground cinema clubs and won a handful of prizes and awards throughout Europe.

Have you worked with a particular director in the past who has inspired you?
The only director who changed my outlook towards cinema was Sergio Leone. I never actually worked with Leone but we knew each other quite well. The director I have worked with most is Bruno Mattei, and I was more of a co-director than an assistant. I used to write the stories and scripts, and was more involved with the more difficult scenes such as action, gore and splatter. For example, most of the special effects scenes in Virus/Zombie Creeping Flesh were made and directed by myself. I was influenced greatly by George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. I used to prepare the gory effects personally which was great fun! (laughs)

Where and when did you first meet Bruno Mattei?
I first met Mattei in 1976 when I first wrote La vera storia della monaca di Monza/The True Story of the Nun of Monza and L’altro inferno/The Other Hell. Both films were filmed back-to-back with the same crew and were shot directly opposite my house. And now, this convent has become a police station for the D. I. A. squad who were set-up to fight the Mafia! (laughs). On the top floor of the convent, we were shooting La vera storia della monaca di Monza, and on the ground, we were filming L’altro inferno at the same time! When we had run out of negative film stock, I would run up the stairs to where Mattei was in charge of La vera storia della monaca di Monza, and ask for more film so that I could finish my movie! (laughs). It was like this: La vera storia della monaca di Monza was low, low, low budget, and L’altro inferno was even lower! (Drudi laughs loud as she also co-wrote these films). We even used the same costumes and actors! I was very much influenced by the film Carrie when directing L’altro inferno. Basically, it was Carrie in a nun’s convent!

Were you happy with the film?
I started working on 8mm when I was 14. The first scene I shot was an action scene with friends of mine. We were so young at the time, I had to steal my brother’s trousers for them to wear so they would appear older. I filmed the action scene in a nearby bar, and ever since, I have been fascinated by killings and mass murder. I remained that way ever since, and this is why I enjoyed making L’altro inferno so much. I loved the fantasy and death side to the film, for me, it was like becoming a little boy all over again. Quintin Tarantino is not the only one! (laughs). It was very difficult to make a gory film at the time because of strict censorship, but that’s calmed down now.

Was it your choice to have Goblin score for the film?
I liked the music very much in Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Also, I was the one who asked Goblin if I could use their score for L’altro inferno. I remember that someone else was very interested in using this music, so I took it first.

You are not credited as director on L’altro inferno. In fact, that credit belongs to a ‘Stefan Oblowsy’ which was understood to be Bruno Mattei sheltering under a pseudo.
I always took my name away from such films as I wanted to have it credited to something serious. I was more stupid then! (laughs). In Italy, a director is only considered a proper artist when he makes something political. I was afraid to make such a film when I was younger as I felt I would have ruined my chances to do so, but not now. I’m more interested in different genres of cinema, whereas before I was labelled as a horror and action director. Back then, I was ready to make a serial killer film and then a western. I now prefer a challenge.

Where did you shoot Virus, and why select an obscure team of actors for the leading roles?
(Fragasso laughs when I question him on Virus) The film was shot in Spain as it was an Italian and Spanish and Italian co-production. Most of the other actors came from Spain. 2 or 3 of the actors came from Italy, such as Margit Evelyn Newton and Franco Garofalo who was credited as ‘Frank Garfield’. Garofalo was a good friend of mine, but soon after Virus he went completely crazy and had to change his career. I didn’t want to shoot the film in Spain as the first scenes were supposed to have been shot in Africa. I thought it would have been a good idea to represent hunger in the world through the living dead. I liked the idea of having factories that produce food from dead bodies. It was as if America were trying to stop famine in the Third World by them eating their own dead! The first draft of my script was on a more global scale and would have been expensive. There is a scene where a Captain Toronte on the ship ‘Divine Comedy’ brought masses of dead people to the factories so that they could be made in to food. However, we had to film on a very low budget, and ended up in Spain shooting these scenes in an abattoir (laughs). Although Mattei’s name is on the film, I directed the gory zombie scenes. 

It has to be said that Virus is a graphic splatter film.
It was even more gory before it was released. I had to cut a lot of the more ‘offensive’ scenes. It was like Oltre la morte/After Death which was also shot as a very strong horror film. The video cassette that was released in Italy is a piece of shit as it’s missing all the blood and gore.

Did Mattei give you freedom on the set of Virus to make the film gory as possible. I did hear that Mattei was never too keen on these horror films.
Yes, no one could ever stop me when I started filming although Mattei did try when I was preparing the stronger scenes. My creativity became spontaneous when I worked with the make-up artists, and no one really knew exactly what I was doing! (laughs).

How did Margit Evelyn Newton react to having zombies yank her eyeballs from INSIDE her mouth?
She didn’t mind as we used a mask. Actually, I didn’t film that special effect, and if I had my own way, I would have made it even stronger. I thought that scene was way too soft. You see, Virus was cut because the producer was worried that the film would not be granted an 18 certificate.

Were you ever surprised to hear that Virus was once regarded as a Video Nasty in the UK?
No, I expected that. I believe if the film had been shot the way I wanted it originally, with the dead bodies on the ship and the factory mincing the corpses, it would have been a huge success and helped my career. Anyway, Virus was very successful during the early 80s theatrically and on video.

Rats - notte di terrore/ Rats - Night of Terror came out when the Italian post-apocalypse was very popular. Was it a fun film to make with all those live rats?
We killed lots of rats! The whole film crew suffered a great deal because of those rodents. The rats would attack each other before we had the chance to shoot a scene with them in it. That used to give me and Mattei a headache. I remember saying to the rats before an important scene “Could you please wait a little longer before you start eating yourselves?” (laughs) When I wrote the script, I studied the life of the rat in many books and tried to capture the atmosphere of Willard, another rat film. However, I soon got bored of that and threw myself into the blood and guts of a splatter film! I had a lot of fun making Rats - notte di terrore, but as I had already won the contract for Monster Dog, I couldn’t wait to finish it and get on with the new film. Although I had fun making Rats - notte di terrore, I wasn’t happy with the film. When I first saw it in the cinema, I said it was the most disgusting thing I have ever done. For me, it was my goodbye to Mattei and our collaboration together. I had to eat my words as I was back with Bruno a few years later!

Like Virus, where did you find the cast from? Apart from Richard Raymond, the others are completely obscure (Cindy Ledbetter ventured in softcore porn and Janna Ryan appeared in a few Italian action films)
(Fragasso laughs loud) I tried my best to find these people with a lot of care and attention! There’s weren’t that many people in Italy at the time that would make this type of film. Italian actors have a tendency not to make a sacrifice and put themselves through much. But I did! I would put them in situations where lots of real rats scampering all over them. Did you notice that they weren’t real black rats? They were white rats and each individual rat had to be hand-painted black. These animals came from experimental laboratories and were going to die anyway. At least they died as actors… Not all of them were destined to be killed, and some are still running around the set! I started a new race of rat actors! They’re looking for a new producer, go to Hollywood and get their own back!   

In 1983, you made two violent westerns, Scalps and White Apache.
Both films were shot back-to-back in the Spanish desert where Leone made his westerns. I never did like those films, and ended up working on them because of economical problems. During shooting, my blood level soared and brought back my love for film-making. Now, my films are made out of passion, not economic reasons.

Could you please explain who was the director of I violenti/ Blade Violent as it is credited by a ‘Gilbert Roussel‘? Was it Bruno Mattei who is credited as director on Emanuelle - reportage da un carcere femminile/ Violence in a Women’s Prison as ‘Vincent Dawn’?
I directed all of I violenti, whereas Mattei directed Emanuelle - reportage da un carcere femminile. Both films were shot back-to-back like the nun convent films so we could use the same crew and actors. You can see the difference between my and Mattei’s film as mine is much stronger than his! I used the ‘Gilbert Roussel’ pseudonym because my film was a co-production, and the French financier, Jean Lefait, wanted a French sounding name. I was still going through the phase where I didn’t care what name they gave me! For me, it was good fun.

Why did you work as director for Aristide Massaccesi and his Filmirage production company?
He asked me to direct Troll 2 and La casa 5/Beyond Darkness after I parted company with Mattei. My wife (often credited as Sara Asproon) also worked for Massaccesi, and together, we co-wrote the script for 11 giorni, 11 notti/11 Days, 11 Nights which was different from the horror films. Mattei was a better editor than director, and I started working with him as a co-director. For me, Mattei is one of the best editors in Italy. I am very grateful towards Mattei for all his excellent editing work, because I certainly couldn’t have done the films without him.

What were the circumstances behind Leviatan/ Monster Dog, and how were you able to hire rock star Alice Cooper as acting lead?
I met the producer, Eduard Sarlui, after I had finished Rats - notte di terrore. Sarlui asked me “Can you make a dog film for me?” (laughs). I said, “Of course, most certainly, what a good idea!” We met Alice Cooper in Spain, and offered him the part since we still didn’t know who to cast for the lead. I developed a good working relationship with Cooper, he’s a good man.

I read that Cooper has given up the booze for a life of golf…
Cooper has a passion for horror films, and every night, we would watch them together as if we were little boys! Even then, Cooper had a love for golf. So much so, that he had a miniature golf course constructed in his hotel room.

There seems to be a lot of confusion as to how much of Zombi 3 Lucio Fulci directed. What really happened?
It was supposed to be a direct sequel to Fulci’s Zombi 2/ Zombie Flesh-Eaters written by my wife and I. When we had finished the script, I met Lucio Fulci and we spoke extensively about the film. At that time, Fulci and myself were working full-time for the producer, Franco Gaudenzi, and soon after, Fulci left for the Philippines to shoot Zombi 3. Later, Fulci had finished directing while Mattei was making Nato per combattere/Born to Kill. Unfortunately, Fulci was ill and the end result wasn’t as good as we had hoped for. In fact, we were 20 minutes worth of footage short of completing a feature film. Gaudenzi was now very worried and asked me how we could save the film. After discussing the possibilities, Gaudenzi said that I could cut the existing scenes but was not allowed to make them longer. So, my wife and I wrote extra scenes, and Gaudenzi then said that I had to go to the Philippines to shoot the new footage. I filmed for 15 days with Mattei’s help, although most of the directorial duties were mine. However, I really didn’t want anyone to know what happened as I had the greatest respect towards Lucio Fulci. I knew that Fulci would have spoken badly about the film, and I preferred it if he thought Mattei was at fault, not me! (laughs). It wasn’t a very lucky film, I think it was jinxed. I say this because of Fulci’s illness and it was very difficult to reason with him at the time.

What ever happened to Luciano Pigozzi [aka Alan Collins] who is credited as a ‘Plant Director’? His role seems to have been left on the cutting room floor.
Pigozzi’s scene was cut. Fulci didn’t respect the way the scene was written and later edited it badly. Like I said before, I knew he was ill as I discovered that the film was missing a lot more scenes. Also, other sequences would go on and on! As Fulci knew he was short of a decent running time, he simply filled it up with these ridiculous long scenes where nothing happened. And Luciano Pigozzi was one of those actors who starred in a very long scene (laughs). So it was CUT!
 
Was Zombi 3 Deran Sarafian’s last Italian film? He directed Interzone as well as acting as lead in Zombi 3. Also, I note that Italian action regular Mike Monty does his bit as ‘General Morton’.
It wasn’t difficult to hire Mike Monty for Zombi 3 as he lives in the Philippines. But Deran Sarafian asked to star in the film as he didn’t have any money (laughs). Yes, it’s true. In Italy, Sarafian didn’t have an idea on how to earn money, and I helped him out by casting him for the film. However, Sarafian wasn’t very grateful after shooting was completed. At that time, we were very good friends, but he had a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and left, forgetting all his pals! Unfortunately, it happens.
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vigilanteforce

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Re: CLAUDIO FRAGASSO
« Reply #1 on: 18 Jul 2007 - 12:08 »

Damn, this is great Jay! Clyde Anderson is a legend ;) Will have to print this and give it the attention it deserves.
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IL COMMISSARIO

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Re: CLAUDIO FRAGASSO
« Reply #2 on: 19 Jul 2007 - 22:41 »

Jay, is this a more complete interview of the one in your EATEN ALIVE! book? I recognize it from there. You should definitely get this book Vigilanteforce. It's one of the best reads out there on these movies.
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