The last movie Lucio Fulci would direct, this came about when The Godfather of Gore — at the time, less in a stately role and he was a man suffering from physical, mental and financial trauma — was approached by Aristide Massaccesi (one of the many names for the man we usually call Joe D’Amato*) who read the short story “Porte del nulla” that Fulci had written. It was his idea to make it into a movie, to head to New Orleans and to bring his daughter Camilla with him as his assistant.
When Fulci got there, none of the equipment worked.
Another sign that this is a D’Amato production? Laura Gemser was the costume designer!
When attending the funeral of his father, Melvin Devereux (John Savage, The Deer Hunter, Hair) meets an enigmatic and gorgeous woman who knows him even if he doesn’t know her. She leads him all over the city of New Orleans and puts him in the path of a hearse that continually bedevils him throughout the film and leads him to a funeral home filled with coffins that all bear his name and at least one with his body inside.
Melvin starts to unravel, attacking people and demanding answers everywhere he goes. The woman keeps one step ahead of him, telling him that it’s not time for them to be together yet. And as he gets closer, death seems to be everywhere. In fact, when a psychic looks at his palm and realizes that he’s already dead, a doppelgänger of Devereux calls her and she drops dead.
Look, any Fulci movie that ends with a quote that doesn’t come from the source listed — “When you go to the gates of nothingness, no one will be near you: only the shadow of your death – Book Four of the Apocalypse” — you know that you’re getting into the kind of territory that I love in a film. This fear circle of a film, made at the end of the directing life of a controversial creative force, seems filled with an understanding that the end could be just around the corner.
After Fulci came back to Rome and turned in the film, D’Amato felt that it was too static, so he went back to New Orleans and shot new scenes to improve the pace, along with changing the movie’s soundtrack. When Fulci saw what he did, he wasn’t happy. He was probably even more unhappy that his name was changed in the credits to H. Simon Kittay.
Huh? D’Amato explained, “Just before Door to Silence Fulci had made a couple of bad movies which didn’t do too well in foreign territories, so we thought it was better to use the other name from a sales point of view.”
*Massaccesi used the name John Gelardi for the production credit for the movie.