søndag 20. mars 2011

Lost film #4: Paura

Italy, 1972

Directed by Luigi Russo

Rosario Borelli, Kai Fischer, Rosalba Grottesi, Patrizia Gori

Unfinished, unreleased or lost films have always intrigued me, and it is really interesting to try and piece together information about such projects. One lost film that is particularly fascinating is the thriller Paura (or Fear as it translates to in English), which was written and directed by little-known filmmaker Luigi Russo, who spent most of his career making various skin flicks such as the Blue Lagoon rip-off Blue Island (1982) with Sabrina Siani. Paura was Russo's directorial debut and it has never been released. Apparently, shooting was nearly completed but the was shut down when Russo ran out of money.

Due to its unavailability there is little information available on Paura but, fortunately, great Italian magazine Cinesex ran a piece on the film in early 1972. The article includes both pictures and a plot summary that helps give you an idea about what the film is like.

According to the plot summary in the Cinesex article, Paura opens in brutal fashion: a beautiful girl named Orsola is violently raped by three masked men. Orsola becomes pregnant after the rape and eventually gives birth to a deformed and grotesque son - a "monster". But in spite of his physical appearance and the circumstances under which he was conceived, Orsola loves her son and she wants to protect him from the gazing eyes of people who do not accept anything that is different. Hence, she takes her baby son and hides with him in the abandoned underground level of an old theater.

Cut to 20 years later. The "monster" is now grown up - having spent his entire life in the theater's abandoned underground level and never having seen other people than his mother. One day, however, an acting troupe consisting of four men and four women arrive at the theater to rehearse a play. Apparently, several of the actors are quite horny, and in between rehearsals they sneak off to look for isolated spots to have sex. Naturally, they end up in the theater's underground area and start to go at it without knowing that they are being watched by the "monster". Having never been exposed to sex before, the "monster" snaps after witnessing all the copulating, and starts killing the unsuspecting theater actors one by one.

From the plot description, Paura appears to be more of a horror movie than a giallo, and it sounds fairly bizarre. According to the Cinesex article, the killer only murders the men, whom he considers as sexual rivals (although he does kill one unfortunate woman too because her short hair made him think that she was a man!) and this is a rather unusual touch. The women figure prominently in the many sex scenes, though, and the Cinesex article includes several stills from a lesbian scene between the sexy platinum blonde Patrizia Gori and another unidentified actress. Below are some scans of this lesbian love scene:

The Cinesex article briefly mentions that Paura stars Richard Melvill, Kai Fischer, Rosalba Grottesi and Patrizia Gori, but it doesn't say anything about the roles they play. Let's take a little closer look at these four actors, though.

First off, Richard Melvill is actually a pseudonym that was used by Italian actor Rosario Borelli in a couple of early 1970s films.

Rosario Borelli as he looked in The Cynic, the Rat & the Fist (1977)

Borelli had been a popular leading man in the 1950s but when he got older he switched to directing and acting in violent photo-novels such as "Antar" and "Killing", and playing supporting roles in Euro-crime movies. At the time Paura was filmed, Borelli was in his mid 40s, so clearly it cannot be him who plays the monster (who is supposed to be 20). Presumably, he plays one of the actors - or maybe the director. No director is specifically mentioned in the plot summary but it seems likely that such a character could be present and it would fit Borelli age-wise.

Then we have Kai Fischer, a popular German actress known for numerous krimis such as Room 13 and The Monster of London City (both 1964), and Mel Welles' cult horror movie Man Eater of Hydra (1967).

Kai Fischer in a still from Room 13

Fischer was pushing 40 when Paura was made, so it seems like a fair guess that she plays the role of Orsola, the mother of the "monster".

Beautiful and likeable blonde starlet Patrizia Gori plays one of the horny young theater actresses, and she figures prominently in the pictures of the lesbian scene printed in Cinesex.

Patrizia Gori photographed by the famous Angelo Frontoni in 1973

Gori was just getting her career started when she appeared in Paura, and she seemed to be suffering from bad luck. Not only was Paura never released but her next film, the obscure giallo Crazy Desires of a Murderer (1973), was also shelved for several years. She soon found success, though, in sleaze classics such as Emanuelle and Françoise (1975), Cries and Shadows (1975) and Elsa Fräulein SS (1977), and was married for several years to porno director Franco Lo Cascio (a.k.a. Luca Damiano).

Also listed as a cast member is the gorgeous, raven-haired Rosalba Grottesi. Although she only appeared in a handful of films, Grottesi had enormous success as both leading ladies and femme fatales in photo-novels during the 1960s and 70s, and she would continue to play supporting parts in photo-novels up until her retirement in 2001.

Rosalba Grottesi in a photo-novel from 1973

Again, there is no mention about what kind of character she plays in the film but I think it is reasonable to assume that she plays one of the theater actresses.

This is pretty much all the information I've been able to dig up about Paura. As I've already mentioned, the shooting the film was apparently close to being finished and the footage is supposed to still exist. It has, however, never been edited or dubbed and, quite frankly, I find it highly unlikely that it ever will be after so many years. And that's a great shame because Paura sounds just like the kind of film I'd like to watch. It has some really cool actors, the plot sounds delightfully bizarre, and I imagine that the theater setting could be used to very atmospheric effect as it was in later films like The Killer Reserved Nine Seats (1974) and Stagefright (1987).

5 kommentarer:

Leonardo Tanzi sa...

Wow, I've heard about this one, sounds really great! Thanx for the info and scans ... i love those old Cinesex issues!

Johan Melle sa...

Yeah, those Cinesex and Cinestop magazines are really great. It's too bad they stopped making them around 1975 or so.
PAURA does indeed sound like a cool film. Btw, have you ever come across any other magazines where this film is mentioned?

Stephen Grimes sa...

Some of the screenplay from the CSC archive is reproduced in a 4 page article by Alessio Di Rocco in Nocturno's excellent 'Misteri d'Italia 3' dossier.

Richard of DM sa...

This does sound intriguing. I love and hate lost films. I love how you get to fill in the blanks with your imagination but hate the longing to see the real thing. Nice work!

Johan Melle sa...

Thanks, Stephen. I'll keep an eye out for that magazine.

Richard, I could not agree more about that love/hate thing with lost films. Well said!