Before the release date of “Fotogrammi Mortali – Fatal Frames” elicits a chorus of bewildered “But … how …?” — this is the final entry to the Rossano Brazzi filmography. Not the last entry — with HIS vast career, we find a new film we didn’t know about just about every month! — but, chronologically speaking, this is the final entry – the last film Rossano made. It was released in 1996, after his death in 1994.
Horror-Thriller … a peeping Tom with a video camera is a serial killer.
This film is poignant not only because it is Rossano’s last film (and Donald Pleasence’s last film as well), but it also is his last reunion with the incomparable Alida Valli (of Noi Vivi), which is particularly moving, considering how far both of them had traveled in their respective careers.
“Fotogrammi mortali (1996): Regie: Al Festa Kamera: Filmdauer: Besetzung: David Warbeck, Linnea Quigley, Alida Valli. Inhalt: Ein eleganter Horror-Thriller im Stil von Mario Bava und Dario Argento. Ein Serienmörder geht um auf dem römischen Set einer Rock Video-Produktion. Seine grausamen Morde zeichnet der Killer, ein Peeping Tom des Video-Zeitalters, auf Tape auf. Ein Film über die dunklen Seiten des Filmemachens mit vielen Genre-Größen aus Italien und Hollywood. Neben der blonden Scream Queen Linnea Quigley und Alida Valli, der grande dame des europäischen Kinos,spielen Donald Pleasence und Rossano Brazzi hier ihre letzten Rollen.”
“Fotogrammi mortali (1996): Director: Al Festa Camera: Film-duration: Cast: David Warbeck, Linnea Quigley, Alida Valli. Content: A fashionable horror-thriller in the style of Mario Bava and Dario Argento. A serial-murderer on a Roman rock video-production set. The killer, a Peeping Tom of the video-age, captures his cruel murders on tape. A film-noir with many genre types from Italy and Hollywood. Besides the blond Scream Queen Linnea Quigley and Alida Valli, that grande lady of the European cinema, Donald Pleasance and Rossano Brazzi play their last roles here.
Artechock – the German international film database.
“I was on the set of the movie for a visit when it was shot in Rome, and met Brazzi in person — I only said “hello”. Off the set he looked tired and in poor health, but, when the movie was shot, he was as wonderful as ever. The movie, I have to admit, is not a very good one, and I’m very sad that this one will be remembered as the last Brazzi interpretation. Another actor, Donald Pleasence, was in the cast, and this was his last movie, too.”
“In your magazine you also mention the FantaFestival of Rome of this past summer: you talk about the Fulci movies but, in the same Festival, there was also the “premiere” of Fotogrammi Mortali-Fatal Frames. The movie is not available yet on video in Italy and hasn’t been shown yet in the theaters, but the director of the movie, Al Festa, who I know personally, assures me that it will be shown in the last days of September, or the first days of October at the latest.
The story is just about a psycho-killer who is also a peeping tom (the killer shot video tapes of the victims to send to the police), and Brazzi’s role in the movie is as a police chief (or “commissar”, as we say in Italy).
It’s not true that he died shooting the movie. Here’s the true story: director Al Festa began the production of “Fatal Frames” in early 1993. Brazzi and Valli were in the cast, as well as Donald Pleasence. The Brazzi role was a big one but, after one year of work, there wasn’t any more money to complete the movie. The production stopped for almost two years (it was during this time that Brazzi died, not while he was working on the movie). Then, the producer-interpreter of the movie, Stefania Stella, found the finances to complete the movie. The director wouldn’t cut ANY of the Brazzi sequences (or the Pleasence ones – after all this was their very last movie) – but instead introduced new actors to complete the story. As a result the story get a little confused at times (at one point we have three -!!!- commissars working on the same case), but all of Brazzi’s previous work is in the final cut, which is 2 hours and 20 minutes long (a little too much, isn’t it?).
The film is not very gruesome, except for some brief scenes at the beginning, but I frankly think that it is a bad movie (and that’s sad), in which the only good things are: Brazzi, Pleasence and some other actors’ interpretation (but, unfortunately, not Valli’s) and the strange and colorful photography of the movie.
Alida Valli has a very small cameo in the role of a blind Roman countess who lives in a sort of castle without electricity and, sometimes, does some spiritual sittings (all these scenes are pretty ridiculous also, because of the presence of secondary actors who act like they’re on a comedy set).
Last thing about Brazzi on the set: he was very tired and, it seemed to me, a little angry. A friend of mine who worked on the movie told me that both he and the other actors were unhappy with the producers who promised fees they didn’t deliver, at least during the first period of filming. Think about that: the electricians and the carpenters left the set after 2 weeks of work because they weren’t being paid at all. Things changed the second time, but unfortunately, Brazzi wasn’t there anymore.
When you come to Italy, the movie might be shown in theaters but, to be honest, I think that there is little probability of an “on-screen” release. The director Al Festa continues to tell me that the movie will absolutely be released in theaters, but in Italy we have few theaters and this season is full of blockbuster movies (in USA they open in August, here in Italy the right commercial time is from September to December). I think that the movie will be a “direct to video” release.
I also have to clarify one thing: I said in my last letter that Brazzi had a big role in the movie and that’s true but, because of the economic trouble of the production and, of course, his premature death, he was never been able to shoot many of the scenes that were written for his character (his role was subsequently taken over by British actor David Warbeck). The director left all the scenes already shot with Brazzi in the movie (even if the scenes weren’t the “Final cut”) because he wouldn’t remove Brazzi’s name from the cast credits. If I remember correctly, Brazzi appears in 3 scenes, one of which is in front of the popular Fontana di Trevi [Fountain of Trevi] in Rome (the longest scene). Seeing all the scenes with Warbeck (that Brazzi himself had shot), it’s easy to imagine what the movie COULD have been (Warbeck is a funny and “simpatico” guy, but as an actor…..xxxxxxxx)”.
Luigi de Angelis, Roma, CEJ (European Community of Journalists), film critic, editorial Tempi Moderni – La videorivista di Cinema
The DVD of this film is available from Amazon.com and can be purchased by clicking here.
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