Omega Rising: Remembering Joe D'Amato

Synopsis: Omega Rising: Remembering Joe D'Amato delves into the career of the notorious Italian filmmaker, Aristide Massaccesi aka Joe D'Amato, the infamous director behind the legendary Video Nasties Anthropophagus: The Beast and Absurd.
96 min


I'm a copier, a cheater.

Ruggero Deodatos film had just come

out and had gone really well...

called Eaten Alive... No... Yes...

it was called Last Cannibal World...

It had done really well, it had been seized by the

censors, so we decide to ride their commercial success.

I had an associate called Fabrizio De Angelis, with whom I put

together a company in order to make Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals.

It came out well, with this combination, a little

horror and a little sex, that worked well...

We went to Fogliano, but

nobody believes we did.

We hired a lot of Filippino's from Rome, we put

some wigs on them and pretended they were lndio's.

They all fell into the trap.

At Fogliano there is an artificial

lake with two palm trees...

it could look like the Amazon and with these

Filippino's in wigs, it was perfect...

I first met Aristide

Massaccesi in 1971

when I worked on the first

film I had written.

A film directed by Michele Lupo,

with Giuliano Gemma.

Aristide, during this period, was a director

of photography and a camera operator.

I liked him because he was

simple and spontaneous

very friendly, and extremely brave.

I saw him shoot a scene,

precariously tied to a coach

with the serious risk of

harming himself.

I asked him if he was crazy.

He was a pleasant person

and he always had a joke so you

would always be laughing.

With Emanuelle e Francoise- le

sorelline (Emanuelle's Revenge)

I was involved by chance.

He had a script that was too short and

he asked me to have a look at it.

I admit to having stolen the

idea from an old film,

adding this idea of a man being

held captive in a cage.

A French film, that took the concept

from a previous Greek film.

It was an idea that had been

copied a couple times.

He offered me a role.

I didn't want to do the film,

especially my role.

It took place in a villa owned by

one of the producers,

Which was a five minute

walk from my house.

So, seeing as I needed the money...

the morning cf the shoot, instead of getting a

cappuccino, I went there and did my scenes.

That's the only reason I did it.

I've never seen the film.

I haven't the foggiest idea

of what came of it.

I doubt there is a film, in which Aristide put

any real effort in the framing of his shots.

That was not his role. His

role was to hurry up.

Most of his films were sold

before shooting,

he would get money from the

distributors and shoot them.

Often he would go so quickly that he would

finish a lot sooner than scheduled.

He couldn't go tell this to the distributors

though because if not they would say:

why the f*** did I give that

amount of money?

Once, one of his

distributors visited the set

and we didn't have a

thing to show him

so we pretend to shoot without any

film in the camera.

He explained the situation to us and

we went along with his charade.

The Anthropophagus project

was born by chance.

I had gone to his office for a visit and he

was dealing with a script that didn't work.

He only had the beginning:

a man that finds himself

shipwrecked on a lifeboat.

I told him, jokingly I will write it for

you but I have to be the protagonist.

The film was supposed to

be set in Greece.

I would often choose what films to do on the

basis of where they were going to be shot.

I wrote what you can

see in the film.

There weren't any great ideas.

The only original concept was this

man going crazy and

basically becoming a cannibal

after devouring his son.

As luck would have it, I didn't

even get to go to Greece

because all my scenes

were shot in Rome.

Talking about the film is difficult,

because there is nothing to it

just a few gruesome scenes that a

certain fraction of the public like.

I enjoyed writing them but I

can't say I liked them.

Absurd however, which can be

considered a sort of a sequel,

I had more fun writing.

Even though that too was a little

film, not a big deal.

Following Aristide's request I tried to conceive

a film that wasn't going to be too expensive

where most cf the action took place on one set:

a villa, in which this crazed man finds refuge.

It's your average horror film,

nothing exceptional... but it works.

My first meeting with Michele was in

a cemetery at night...

but I'm not sure it was Absurd

maybe another film... no it

was probably Absurd.

We needed a bunch of teens

with motorbikes.

Calling here and there they rounded

up a few friends and

among this group there was also Michele Soavi

and that's where he fell in love with cinema

and fell in love with Aristide,

because it was hard not to.

He even came on the following days

when we didn't need the

bikers anymore.

He would hang round and help, asking

if he could do anything.

Slowly a relationship began. Aristide

took him under his wing, like a son.

Michele was completely unaware of

what life on a set was.

He was bright and loved cinema, in fact

he had a developed aesthetical taste...

I met Aristide Massaccesi through his trusted

Assistant Director, Claudio Bernabei

with whom I was also a friend.

He was working on Absurd and for a scene

they needed kids with motorbikes...

...and of course being a

small production

they were looking for people who could

bring their own bikes with them,

at Manziana where they

were shooting.

He looked at me and asked do you have a

photo? I answered of me or my motorbike?

and he began laughing. It was

love at first sight.

I was very young, nineteen years old

and trying to find some work,

fascinated, as I was, by cinema.

At night, I would admire these spaceships that

would be shooting in the city, during the summer.

For me that was a dream, instead of

hanging out in bars smoking joints.

To be able to work in that world, at

night, was like a dream to me.

I was picked so I went to the

set with my bike.

It was a night shoot,

there was me and other teens and we

were supposed to taunt an old drunkard

on this minuscule set, made

out of 8 people.

I would see this little man, Aristide, climbing

on vans and shooting all over the place.

In six hours we had an

infinite number of shots.

I was paid immediately, which is

something very rare.

Usually you get paid weeks later but

instead his partner, Donatella Donati

came up to me smiling and handed me

my 50 thousand lira.

For the bit parts or as

an assistant.

Then Michele was an AD on a film I

directed, as always, produced by Aristide.

Seeing Michele as kept insisting, Aristide

decided to give him a chance in directing a film

and he asked me to write the script.

Actually, he asked me

to write two... for Michele and one for me.

The first film I wrote was... the one he called

Acquarius... Stagefright and I was supposed to direct it,

but I was having trouble with a restaurant I had

just opened in Rome and had to take care of it,

so I told Aristide Michele can direct the

first and I will do the following one.

So Michele directed Stagefright...

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Eugenio Ercolani

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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