Retrospectives and Restorations: “Danse Macabre: Italian Gothic Cinema”


The season of Gothic cinema was a short one, like so many in Italian cinema. Many – perhaps too many – titles within a smattering of years. From 1957 to 1966, in a crossroads of genres: peplum, spy, and spaghetti westerns, one rising from the ashes of the other as a reaction to the latest crisis. The usual Anglo-Saxon model (represented this time by the Hammer films) and the natural instinct for emulation merge with the typically Italian capacity to adapt stories and atmospheres to production resources. The castles and manors of Italy were transformed into a fantastic set, perfect for reviving ancient legends about witches and vampires, childhood fantasies populated with nightmares and demons. As Riccardo Freda, who with Mario Bava must be given credit for the birth of this genre, used to say, “true horror is what is rooted inside us from the moment of our birth. […] This is real terror, the anguish over what we cannot see, the noise that unleashes the terror we have always repressed. In all my films there are doors that open silently in the dark, blood-curdling creaking and moaning, a branch tapping against the window that sounds like the bony hand of a ghost”. And now the ghouls are back…

The Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale (Experimental Cinematography Centre – National Film Archive) presents a short retrospective with some of the most significant films of the masters of the Gothic – Freda, Margheriti, Pupillo, Mastrocinque – with incursions into the genre by Damiani and Vernuccio, and an early film by Corrado Farina, The Son of Dracula. On the one 100th anniversary of his birth, a tribute is dedicated to Mario Bava, with a cycle of five films, selected among the Gothic films and later Italian-style thrillers. To close the circle, at the Cinema Trevi, the screening venue of the Cineteca Nazionale, a long retrospective devoted to the films by another master of fantasy, Lucio Fulci, will take place from October 16th through 26th.


  • I VAMPIRI (The Vampires) by Riccardo Freda, Italy, 1957, 81’

Cast: Gianna Maria Canale, Wandisa Guida, Carlo D’Angelo, Emilio Petacci, Paul Müller, Charles Fawcett, Dario Michaelis, Miranda Campa, Angelo Galassi, Renato Tontini, Gisella Mancinotti, Antoine Balpêtre, Ronny Holiday, Joy Holliday, Barbara Wohl


  • LO SPETTRO (The Ghost)by Riccardo Freda, Italy, 1963, 97’

Cast: Barbara Steele, Peter Baldwin, Elio Jotta, Harriet Medin, Carol Bennet, Carlo Kechler, Umberto Raho, Reginald Price Anderson


  • IL FIGLIO DI DRACULA (Son of Dracula) by Corrado Farina, Italy, 1960, 25’

Cast: Lella Berti, Antonio Rossi, Gianpaolo Zancan, Elena Albert


  • DANZA MACABRA (Castle of Blood) by Antonio Margheriti, Italy, 1964, 90’

Cast: Georges Rivière, Silvano Tranquilli, Barbara Steele


  • 5 TOMBE PER UN MEDIUM (Terror-Creatures from the Grave) by Massimo Pupillo, Italy, 1966, 90’

Cast: Walter Brandi, Barbara Steele


  • LA CRIPTA E L’INCUBO (Crypt of the Vampire) by Camillo Mastrocinque, Italy, 1964, 82’

Cast: Christopher Lee, José Campos, Adriana Ambesi, Carla Calò


  • TOBY DAMMIT (episode from TRE PASSI NEL DELIRIO / HISTOIRES EXTRAORDINAIRES) by Federico Fellini, Italy, France, 1968, 43’

Cast: Terence Stamp, Salvo Randone, Antonia Pietrosi, Ferdinand Guillaume in arte Polidor


  • IL MULINO DELLE DONNE DI PIETRA (Mill of the Stone Women) by Giorgio Ferroni, Italy, 1960, 100’

Cast: Scilla Gabel, Pierre Brice, Dany Carrel, Wolfgang Preiss, Olga Solbelli, Marco Guglielmi, Liana Orfei, Herbert Boehme, Alberto Archetti


  • LA STREGA IN AMORE (The Witch) by Damiano Damiani, Italy, 1966, 110’

Cast: Gian Maria Volonté, Rosanna Schiaffino, Richard Johnson, Sarah Ferrati, Ester Carloni, Margherita Guzzinati, Ivan Rassimov


  • LA LUNGA NOTTE DI VERONIQUE (But Your Were Dead) by Gianni Vernuccio, Italy, 1966, 91’

Cast: Alex Morrison, Alba Rigazzi, Walter Pozzi, Lia Rainer, Sandro Luporini, Cristina Gajoni




  •  5 BAMBOLE PER LA LUNA D’AGOSTO (Five Dolls for an August Moon) by Mario Bava, Italy, 1969, 87’

Cast: Ira Fürstenberg, William Berger, Edwige Fenech, Howard Ross, Maurice Poli, Mauro Bosco


  • LA FRUSTA E IL CORPO (The Whip and the Body) by Mario Bava, Italy, France, 1963, 80’

Cast: Tony Kendall, Christopher Lee, Daliah Lavi, Luciano Pigozzi, Jacques Herlin


  • LA MASCHERA DEL DEMONIO (Black Sunday) by Mario Bava, Italy, 1960, 80’

Cast: Andrea Checchi, Ivo Garrani, John Richardson, Arturo Dominici, Barbara Steele, Antonio Pierfederici, Clara Bindi, Tino Bianchi, Mario Passante, Stanko Molnar


  • OPERAZIONE PAURA (Kill, Baby… Kill!) by Mario Bava, Italy, 1966, 83’ (digital restoration)

Cast: Piero Lulli, Erika Blanc, Giacomo Rossi Stuart, Fabienne Dalí, Giuseppe Addobbati, Giovanna Galletti, Franca Dominici, Mirella Pamphili, Luciano Catenacci, Valeria Valeri


  • LA RAGAZZA CHE SAPEVA TROPPO (The Girl Who Knew Too Much) by Mario Bava, Italy, 1962, 90’

Cast: Valentina Cortese, John Saxon, Leticia Roman, Tiberio Murgia, Adriana Facchetti, Luigi Bonos, Lucia Modugno, Jim Dolen, Milo Quesada



The CSC-Cineteca Nazionale (Experimental Cinematography Centre – National Film Archive) returns to the Rome Film Festival this year, with a series of important film restorations and revivals. The retrospective on Italian Gothic films includes the restored version of one of Mario Bava’s masterpieces, Kill, Baby, Kill (Operazione paura), while Boccaccio ’70 completes a process which ideally began during last year’s Festival with the screening of the episode Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio by Federico Fellini, to which we now add the episodes by Visconti, Monicelli, and De Sica (the latter with a splendid Sophia Loren, who just celebrated her eightieth birthday).

The digital restoration of Ricomincio da tre is an occasion to celebrate Massimo Troisi on the twentieth anniversary of his death, rediscovering his first great film success; whereas L’occhio selvaggio by Paolo Cavara is a real discovery that will bring back a film and a director that are unfamiliar to most. The restored version of L’occhio selvaggio will be accompanied by the presentation of a book published by Italian editor Bompiani and containing the film’s subject and screenplay, written with the collaboration of Alberto Moravia, Fabio Carpi, and Ugo Pirro.

An exceptional find is the short film Partire è un pò morire, a sort of “ad campaign” for Europe without borders, interpreted in the ‘50s by Peppino De Filippo. The short film will also introduce the International Meeting on The Audiovisual Market organized by MiBACT on the occasion of the semester of the Italian presidency of the European Union.

Thanks to the copies preserved at the Cineteca Nazionale and at Cinecittà-Luce, a well-deserved tribute will be paid to Pietro Germi, on the 100th anniversary of his birth. The screening of Il cammino della speranza, in particular, is also conceived as a tribute to actress Elena Varzi, who recently passed away.


  • PARTIRE È UN PO’ MORIRE (The Birds, the Bees and the Italians) by Gianni Mondaini, Italy, 1951, 11’ 

Cast: Peppino De Filippo, Margit Seeber


  • BOCCACCIO ‘70 by Vittorio De Sica, Federico Fellini, Mario Monicelli, Luchino Visconti, Italy, France, 1962, 200’ (full-length version)

Cast: Sophia Loren, Peppino De Filippo, Romy Schneider, Anita Ekberg, Tomas Milian, Marisa Solinas, Luigi Giuliani, Germano Giglioli


  • RICOMINCIO DA TRE (I’m Starting from Three) by Massimo Troisi, Italy, 1981, 109’

Cast: Massimo Troisi, Lello Arena, Fiorenza Marchegiani, Michele Mirabella, Renato Scarpa


  • L’OCCHIO SELVAGGIO (The Wild Eye) by Paolo Cavara, Italy, 1967, 97’

Cast: Gabriele Tinti, Philippe Leroy, Delia Boccardo, Luciana Angelillo



100th anniversary of Pietro Germi’s birth (September 14, 1914 – December 5, 1974)

Remembering Elena Varzi

  • IL CAMMINO DELLA SPERANZA (The Path of Hope) by Pietro Germi, Italy, 1950, 101’

Cast: Saro Urzì, Raf Vallone, Elena Varzi, Saro Arcidiacono, Liliana Lattanzi


100th anniversary of Pietro Germi’s birth (September 14, 1914 – December 5, 1974)

  • UN MALEDETTO IMBROGLIO (The Facts of Murder) by Pietro Germi, Italy, 1959, 110’

Cast: Claudio Gora, Franco Fabrizi, Eleonora Rossi Drago, Cristina Gaioni, Pietro Germi, Claudia Cardinale, Nino Castelnuovo, Lilia Landi, Saro Urzì, Antonio Gradoli, Antonio Acqua, Pietro Tordi, Toni Ucci, Cristina Gajoni, Silla Bettini, Alida Chelli


100th anniversary of Pietro Germi’s birth (September 14, 1914 – December 5, 1974)

Remembering Luciano Vincenzoni

  • SIGNORE & SIGNORI by Pietro Germi, Italy, 1965, 118’

Cast: Gastone Moschin, Virna Lisi, Alberto Lionello



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