With the passing of the great producer Dino De Laurentiis earlier this week, it’s probably an apt time to run this installment of “Trailers from Hell.” For all his robust crassness, De Laurentiis usually aligned himself with the most distinctive directors around. Below, distinctive director Edgar Wright — most recently of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” — discusses a very silly film by another acclaimed distinctive geek auteur, Mario Bavo.
Personally, I find Bava’s films a little bit hard to watch straight through. On the level of narrative, they’re kind of a mess and I can’t live on visuals alone. On the other hand, what visuals. After the flip, I’ll present the regular trailer sans commentary, and also that Beastie Boys video Edgar Wright alluded to.
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Another link to cinema’s past has left us with the passing of the legendary Italian and eventually American producer at age 91. A truly old school style movie mogul with all the good and bad that went with that, creatively speaking, Dino De Laurentiis was instrumental in launching the worldwide vogue for European cinema, particularly in his partnership with fellow powerhouse producer Carlo Ponti and ultimate Italian auteur Federico Fellini.
During a period I personally consider Fellini’s creative prime, De Laurentiis co-produced two of the director’s most powerful films, the classic tearjerker “La Strada” with Anthony Quinn and the great Giulietta Masina, and “Nights of Cabiria” also with Masina, a great tragicomedy and a huge personal favorite of mine. He also produced two now somewhat obscure adaptations, a version of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” with Audrey Hepburn and “Ulysses.” Fortunately, the latter was not an adaptation of the James Joyce stream-of-consciousness meganovel, but Homer’s “The Odyssey,” and starred Kirk Douglas in the heroic title role.
No snob, De Laurentiis had a gift for commingling arthouse fare, quality middlebrow entertainment, and complete schlock — some of it fun, some it merely schlocky. Geeks cried foul when he eschewed stop-motion for an unworkable animatronic monstrosity and, mostly, Rick Baker in a monkey suit for his silly mega-blockbuster remake attempt, “King Kong,” but that movie was a classic when compared to something like the hugely regrettable killer-whale flick “Orca.”
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