Ivan Zuccon displays to a broad extent the current (and past) Italian silver screen: almost passed by in Italy but well esteemed abroad. It sounds unbelievable but his own words will confirm how it can be a director gets powerless to find a home distributor and has to put up with it, needing therefore to head onto a european (at first) and american (thereafter) market without even taking into account the possibility of looking around himself.
His latest work COLOUR FROM THE DARK prints another step further after movies like NYMPHA and THE SHUNNED HOUSE, and is now been exported to America in dvd…while in Italy nobody even talks about it.
The characters you drift on the screen seem to be animated by a primordial impulse (Geremy’s blind faith in Nympha, or the evil creeping under the main’s flesh in Colour From the Dark) suggesting you’re fascinated by the most instinctive (and beasty) side of beings.
Let’s say I try and juxtapose the two main elements which stir the human beings actions: instinct and mind. Actually I’m not attracted by the beasty behaviours of men, quite the contrary they scare me. But of course when you want to tell fearful stories it is natural to tell what really scares you, and that’s why you can find such primary elements in my movies.
In Colour From the Dark for example, the “mind” is well represented by Pietro, with his moral stiffness, his stubborness in trying to find a logical reason to all the evil suddenly bewildering his family. While Lucia embodies the wildest instincts,the reason getting overwhelmed by the most violent and grimmest drives. At the very end the reason will be squeezed by the evil driving everybody, degrading and corrupting everything.
You’ve always been able to well balance splatter (Bad Brains) and striking gothic horror (Colour from the Dark). Besides telling me which directors influenced both these veins, which is the element between the two you prefer to highlight?
I’m not very fond of splatter. I don’t like it When the make-up display gets gratuitous and an end in itself, I always try to keep that in mind while working. I think in COLOUR FROM THE DARK there is a proper balance between what is shown-off and what is just hinted, without exceeding into cheap effects but at the same time without being too conservatory.
How deep are you influenced by literature, both horror and not? Which novel are you reading right now?
I might say the aestethic aspect gets influenced by the movies I watch while the contents are often suggested by what I read. My ever favourite writers are William Burroughs and James Ballard. Unfortunately I don’t get the chance to read as much as I would like to, lately, and not even to watch many horror movies. After my baby’s birth, Miriam, I’ve been forced (even though it’s not a sacrifice since I love them) to watch a lot of cartoons and read a lot of fairy-tales. If you watch them intensively and with adult eyes, cartoons are a weird experience. In the TV programs for kids violence is pushed to the extremes,but deprived of all suffer. It’s peculiar to see the characters being hit again and again suffering no real harm. I don’t know if this is gonna affect my future works, could be, I don’t rule it out.
The latest novel I’ve read and which is somehow related to horror is Sara Gran‘s “Come Closer”. A nice book dry and straight with a movie-like wording and vision.
How is your approach when setting up on a new movie? You read scripts prepared by someone else, you take a look around then grab the pen…
A bit of both. I read the scripts I receive but usually they don’t tease me, authors nowadays throw themself deep into splatter leaving the importance of plot and characters behind. Afterwards I rely on trustworthy scriptwriters for the development. I’m not very into writing but sometimes I have to, to let my own ideas out.
We’ve seen different horror subgenres taking the lead during different times going along the fans’ taste (e.g. 80s splatter or the teen-horror trend started by Scream) and nowadays we’re undergoing this remake-mania. How long do you think this trend is gonna last and which will be the next one in your opinion?
If I knew what the next leading trend will be I’d already surely be working on a movie, ready to surf that wave before anyone else, but trends are difficult to predict. Timing is the key, you can make a movie based on themes which will then prove successful but if you release it too soon no one will ever notice it and if you let it out too late than you get labeled as a copycat but if you don’t follow the current trend then you’re snobby. Always follow your instinct is the best you can do, hoping your work gets noticed and relished, attracting someone willing to take his own part in making it popular for a broad audience.
I’ve recently interviewed Joe R. Lansdale and the talk has turned from horror in the movies to the everyday one, simply glancing around you can see how the economic crisis and the political/social instability are weakeking the whole world. Protests against G20 or the rocket being launched eastwards from North Corea are events which force us to think; what do you think about it (not only narrowing to the above mentioned events)?
It’s unfortunately the obvious but harsh truth: the everyday horror, the true life one, is always much more dramatic and threatening than the one we invent for the big screen. The aim of fear in the movies though is not to turn our minds inside out but rather to let us reflect upon what dismays us. From this point of view horror is a serious thing and I deem it relevant for society. Many label it simply as “teen-stuff”, and maybe partly it is if you think at serial movies like the SAW saga for example. But if we take a deeper look on the many authorial works, we find out they handle important themes and can be helpful to understand the most hidden drifts of our souls.
Lately which non horror movies affected you the most? Furthermore, what do you think about cases like Gomorra and Il Divo which “exported” italian social themes abroad?
The two movies you named are worth, but I think much more echo sould be given to fantasy works in Italy, instead of always going on full throttle on social movies. Cinema is also fantasy, creating never-never worlds, be they wonderful o threatening. Italians have always been able to tell and master the genres and we’ve often reinvented them, so I simply don’t understand this rejection I see among the insiders.
Non horror movies which lately stroke me? There are a lot and since I don’t exclusively watch horror movies the list would be hell long. Recently I’ve seen The Shipping News with Kevin Spacey, a remarkable and emotionally intense movie. I’ve found interesting the Coens‘ No Country for Old Men even though it didn’t freak me out as it did to almost everybody.
How are you promoting your (excellent) Colour from the Dark? Can you tell us about the troubles you’ve surely found (and still are finding) for the Italian distribution?
COLOUR FROM THE DARK is doing very well abroad. In March it’s gonna be released in DVD across the USA and recently it’s been screened in some cinemas for Halloween. I don’t even take into account the possibility of an Italian distribution anymore. Italian distributors and producers just keep on passing me by. well, I do the same. We ignore one another, for me it’s a closed matter.
These last lines are for you to leave a message/advice to the young directors who hang around the website.
To the young directors let me say they will find many obstacles, and deceives will be many more then satisfactions, but if their interior need is to be directors then they never have to give up and always believe in their own ideas…always.