Scary Nights at Il Cinema Ritrovato

“You have no reason to fear the dead. They sleep very soundly”.
(Black Sunday)


Il Cinema Ritrovato paints its (cinema) doors black again, with a selection of the horror genre, from the depths of darkness to its greyer nuances. The choice on offer is rich and varied: from the nightmare tales of Black Sunday and The Tram (a look back at the birth of the Italian horror, with Mario Bava and Dario Argento) to the cults, such as The Wicker Man – The Final Cut and The House with Laughing Windows, even arriving at the aquatic visions of Revenge of the Creature and the dark comedy of Gremlins (act 1 and 2, the works of Joe Dante), to the noir-crime of I, The Jury

Get comfortable with Dante’s five hour work, The Movie Orgy, reminiscent of Ghezzi’s collage style, intertwining comic images with adverts and scenes of terror. Dream or nightmare, your choice. 

The horror thread travels through various sections of the festival programme and different locations, from Piazza Maggiore to Cinema Europa (the birthplace of Il Cinema Ritrovato 37 years ago), mainly found in the sections “Pratello Pop” and “Recovered and Restored”. 


THE MOVIE ORGY (USA/1966-2009) by Joe Dante

At the origins of the mash-up style, “What would ultimately become known as The Movie Orgy was conceived by Dante in early 1966, during his second year at the Philadelphia College of Art. […]  he decided to stage a “Camp Movie Night.” Securing a rental print of another vintage chapter play, The Phantom Creeps (1939), Dante proceeded to put on a seven-hour show by interspersing reels of the 12 episode serial with whatever bits struck his fancy: pieces of features, old TV shows and commercials, industrial films, cartoons, etc. In this nascent form, The Movie Orgy was a smashing success” (Howard Prouty).

Joe Dante will introduce the film at Cinema Europa. 



A cult on an international level from the unsettling atmosphere made only in Emilia, an emblem of gothic-noir-thriller cinema. “The idea came from one of the stories that Avati used to listen to as a child, next to a fireplace which cast a flickering light into the dark corners of a country house filled with strange sounds and phantoms” (Andrea Maioli).

Pupi Avati will present the film in Piazza Maggiore.


DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (USA/1931) by Rouben Mamoulian

Moving towards the origins of gothic cinema with the film adaptation of a literary masterpiece, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, in the section dedicated to Rouben Mamoulian’s works in the programme, with a new – shiny – digital restoration. “This is one of Mamoulian’s finest works. It is also the best cinematic adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella, which was filmed many times but no other adaptation has matched the disturbing verisimilitude of Mamoulian’s vision. […] Shown as the opening film of the very first edition of Venice Film Festival, this haunted vision of a man frustrated by society’s denial of his sexual and intellectual desires was subject to censorship after its first run and, when MGM brought the rights for Victor Fleming’s 1941 remake, it completely fell out of circulation for at least 60 years, during which it became the stuff of legends” (Ehsan Khoshbakht).


THE WICKER MAN (THE FINAL CUT) (GB/1973) by Robin Hardy

A must-see for horror fans, who enjoyed Ari Aster’s Midsommar and The Witch by Robert Eggers. The Wicker Man has everything: religious zealots, the disoriented Western gaze out of its comfort zone, rural societies, a carnal relationship with the earth and its gods/demons. “The Wicker Man burns brighter than ever across the scarred terrain of British Cinema. Famously championed by Cinefantastique stateside, as far back as 1977, as ‘the Citizen Kane of horror’, it took longer to ignite at home, but nowadays regularly ranks high in best film polls, with its star, Christopher Lee, having declared that in it he gave his greatest performance…” (Vic Pratt ).


BLACK SUNDAY (Italy/1960) by Mario Bava

The founding work of Italian horror and Mario Bava’s debut. “Black Sunday is also a film which represents the fantastic and the horrific through a strong emphasis on the body, going beyond the limits of what could be represented on screen at the time and thus running into censorship problems in certain countries…” (Alberto Pezzotta).


THE TRAM – Ep. Door into darkness (Italy/1973) by Sirio Bernadotte (Dario Argento)

“In the 1970s, when Dario Argento created the four episode miniseries Door into darkness for the Italian broadcaster RAI, he was attracted by the medium’s potential (especially the technical side) as well as the chance for his creations and nightmares to reach a much larger and more popular audience”(Roberto Pugliese).

«There also exists the intelligent criminal, perhaps who has nice cars, houses, a life of luxury, he can even seem like a good person, he also commits crimes, all right, only when we go to examine his hands, that we see that they are always white, clean, immaculate». Classic Argento in a nutshell. 


INLAND EMPIRE (USA/2006) by David Lynch

Lynch’s first movie to be filmed completely in digital. “There is a bit of this in the approach of Lynch, who has given up shooting in 35mm (and Peter Deming’s sublime lighting) to film in simple DV, nowhere near high definition. Does this make his movie any less spectacular? Not at all, since the depth of the image corresponds well to the uncertain contours of the nightmarish universe depicted and since the filmmaker has found new freedom in this shooting method” (Philippe Rouyer).


I, THE JURY (3D) (USA/1953) by Harry Essex

If you’re on the hunt for a dark but more unqiue atmosphere, a taste that can only be found in Hollywood crime dramas of the 1950s: I, The Jury (the cinematic adaptation of Mickey Sillane’s bestseller) will not disappoint. “The revelation of the screening, however, was the 3D cinematography. Seen “flat” on TV, the film doesn’t seem to be much of a 3D movie, with only a few instances of objects and people coming out of the screen. But the 3D screening revealed the brilliant John Alton’s mastery at creating depth, bringing the viewer inside the images. As one of a small handful of 3D crime films, I, the Jury is an unacknowledged 3D gem” (Max Allan Collins).


REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (3D) (USA/1955) by Jack Arnold

Let the creatures in: we’re now in the world of scifi-horror, with the impossible task of repeating the success of Creature of the Black Lagoon (1954)… “The Creature is not only visually impressive but also psychologically very interesting. […] This makes his adventure not only threatening, but also dramatic and even pathetic. And that encourages the audience to feel some strange sort of sympathy for this evolutionary forerunner of man, whose feelings we can understand and even share while finding him hideous, violent and dangerously irrational (Miguel Marías).


GREMLINS (USA/1984) and GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH (USA/1990), the first will be presented by Joe Dante himself

Speaking of animalia, we’ve reached the cult corner by a devotee of genre films, Joe Dante and his two Gremlins. A master of black comedy, and amongst the best titles of this era: “animated by a salacious and enthralling naughtiness, Gremlins is the other side of the coin of that good-natured cinema of the early 1980s, in the wake of E.T., it was dangerously caging the imagination of screenwriters” (Giancarlo Zappoli, Mymovies.it).

“They let me make the movie I wanted to make, though they really didn’t get it. For example, they just didn’t understand why I wanted to have the gremlins ‘break’ the film. They said: ‘Everyone will leave.’ I said: ‘No, they’re not going to leave. It’s a joke!’ I have found over the years that the process of breaking the fourth wall is more and more difficult. It’s become very difficult to be Brechtian in any obvious way… Nonetheless, they let me get away with the movie, and for me it was a more personal movie (Joe Dante).