EXPLORING: The movies of Filmirage

In 1980, Joe D’Amato started Filmirage, a production company that would help create his movies as well as the films of others. They released more than forty movies in fourteen years, which is a pretty good record. By 1994, D’Amato had made the move to almost strictly making adult films and had left theaters and even the horror movie shelves behind.

Here are the movies of Filmirage, some of the most disreputable blasts of sleaze ever committed to celluloid.

Anthropophagus (1980): The studio started strong with this release, a gut muching, busting and destroying downbeat beach epic that has a menancing tone that still strikes hard four decades after it was made. You need to get the insanely awesome Severin Video rerelease or watch it as The Grim Reaper on Tubi.

Absurd (1981): I hold firm to my belief that this movie was set in Pittsburgh during the Super Bowl XIV game against the Los Angeles Rams. It’s also my third favorite movie in the Halloween series, because it’s pretty much the second one all over again. I mean that as a recommendation. Severin Films re-released this film with all of their trademark quality and insanity. You can also watch it on Tubi.

Cuando calienta el sol… vamos a la playa (1981): This movie about Stefano, a boxer on holiday who falls in love. It has Giovanni Frezza in its cast, so beware.

Ator, the Fighting Eagle (1982): The first of the series of four sword and sorcery films, Ator is great if you love giant spiders, Edmund Purdom, Sabrina Siani and can deal with a hero who totally wants to get down with his sister.

Endgame (1983): This entire site sometimes feels like my love for this movie. I mean, end of the world psychic ninjas and mutated fishmen and Laura Gemser and George Eastman and just order it from You can get it from Severin.

L’alcova (1985): If you come home from the war and bring Laura Gemser to your wife who already hates you and has been having an affair with your secretary, things are not going to work out. They’re going to be crazy getting there, though.

The Pleasure (1985): Oh man, this movie is wrong on the kind of level that only an Italian sex drama written by Claudio Fragasso and directed by Joe D’Amato can be. TL:DR a girl falls for her father’s old lover, who wants to recreate her through the young girl.

A Lustful Mind (1986): When Alessio’s mother died, he lost his voice. After his father gets married again, he’s sent to live in the country to recuperate. And while daddy is playing with the new mommy, an aunt and an art restorer, his son is sailing the seas of mayonnaise wishing it was him doing all the actual sex.

Convent of Sinners (1986): Joe D’Amato. Who else would make a movie in which a girl is assaulted by her father, sent to a convent, falls for a priest and then has lesbian nuns accuse her of being possessed so that they can scissor out her sins?

Christina (1986): Christina is wealthy and neglected, which is exactly the kind of recipe for a D’Amato movie heroine. You’ve seen it before, but you can see Laura Gemser every day for the rest of your life and it’s still as great as the first time. Also: I apologize that this article has become “ways to mention how wonderful Ms. Gemser is.”

Delizia (1986): When a centerfold takes over her family home, all manner of lovemaking ensures. Lead actress Tinì Cansino claimed she was the niece of Rita Hayworth. Who are we to call her out?

Eleven Days, Eleven Nights (1987): Some people are content to watch 9 and 1/2 Weeks. Joe D’Amato was determined to make a better movie and he had Jessica Moore on his side, as well as the city of New Orleans as his majestic canvas. Way better than it has any right to be.

StageFright (1987): It’s not hyperbole when I say that Michele Soavi is at the same level as Argento, Fulci and Martino. Even in his first movie, a slasher written by George Eastman and produced by D’Amato, he’s immediately firing on every cylinder and unleashing sheer mayhem, as well as one of the best-dressed killers ever. Watch it on Tubi.

Ghosthouse (1988): Also known as La Casa 3don’t get us started — this Umberto Lenzi film is everything Filimrage: the soft darkness of shot on film madness with a synth soundtrack and characters who want to convince you they’re in an American movie but have been beamed down from another galaxy. Also, the fact that Lenzi used Humphrey Humbert as his name on this movie delights me every single moment of every day.

Top Model (1988): It seems like Filmrage delights in confusion: Top Model is the sequel to Eleven Days, Eleven Nights, yet there is also an Eleven Days, Eleven Nights 2. This one is way better, perhaps even better than the first movie. It also has a theme song that plays more than the one in Super Fuzz.

Too Beautiful to Die(1988): Let the rest of the world think giallo is dead. Just like disco, it will never go away. This high fashion blast of insanity tops my list of 80s giallo and you can get it from Vinegar Syndrome.

Witchery (1988): The next Ghosthouse film boasts Linda Blair and David Hasselhoff, as so many of the Filmirage movies were made with the hopes of conquering America through theaters and then, if that didn’t work, VCRs. You can watch this on Tubi.

Dirty Love (1988): Who would make a dirtier Dirty Dancing and cast Jeff Stryker in it? We all know the answer. Joe D’Amato. It also features the incredibly named Valentine Demy, who went from waitressing to lingerie model to D’Amato star while she was 17. Today, she’s still making adult films. By the way, the video box above is perhaps my favorite D’Amato ad object ever made, as it has a great tagline — “Dirty Love continues where Dirty Dancing dare not go” — and a sticker that screams “Directed by Joe D’Amato the maker of Eleven Days, Eleven Nights.” Who did they make that for? Me?

Zombi 5: Killing Birds (1988): I get the feeling that sometimes, all Joe D’Amato wanted to do was chill. The jury is out as to whether he directed this, but I say he did. Somehow he got Robert Vaughn to be in a movie about zombie birds, so God bless him. You can order this from  Vinegar Syndrome or watch it on Tubi.

11 Days 11 Nights Part 3 (1989):  I assure you that there’s a second film in this series and it came out two years after this one, while Top Model is also listed as the second movie. Look, things are confusing. What can I tell you?

Interzone (1989): An Italian post-apocalyptic movie written by Claudio Fragasso, Rossella Drudi and director Deran Sarafian (Alien Predator) that I somehow have not watched yet? How does this happen? And it has Tegan Clive, The Alienator, in the cast? I’m sorry to the readers of our site, I am really dropping the ball.

Blue Angel Cafe (1989): Tara Buckman, of Night Killer fame, is an exotic dancing lounge singer in love with a politician who loses his fortune and sobriety thanks to her adoration. You know, D’Amato could have made ten movies with Buckman and I’d watch them all. Sadly, he only made this and High Finance Woman.

Hitcher in the Dark (1989): Umberto Lenzi may not have made as good a film as The Hitcher, but darn it if he didn’t make perhaps a more fascinating one. Daddy issues, RV driving, murder on the highway, mind games, this was released in Italy as — you know it — Hitcher 2. You can get this from Vinegar Syndrome or watch it on Tubi.

La stanza delle parole (1989): With Henry and June seeming like it was going to be a big arthouse deal, Filmirage wondered, “But can you make a version more people want to jack off to?” Enzo Sciotti got the memo and made a poster that destroys minds and pushes young boys into puberty before they’re ready. The Laura Gemser is the nearly too rich cherry on top. “Based on the diaries of Anais Ninn?” Oh Filmirage, you crazy.

Any Time, Any Play (1990)A card dealer and a lounge singer fall out of love, into other beds and back into love, bringing organized crime down on them.

Deep Blood (1990): If you thought Joe D’Amato didn’t have a Jaws ripoff in him, then you don’t know Joe D’Amato. Or Federiko Slonisko. Or Michael Wotruba. Or David Hills. Or Kevin Mancuso. Or Joan Russell. Or Raf Donato, the name he used when he directed this. You can get this from Severin, who used our quote on the back cover, or watch it on Tubi.

High Finance Woman (1990): Tara Buckman and Joe D’Amato come together again for a story about a stockbroker — the title says so much — who has an affair with a father and son.

Metamorphosis (1990): George Eastman directed this version of The Fly was called Re-Animator 2 in Spain. If that doesn’t tell you why I love it, you haven’t been reading this site. You can watch it on Tubi.

Quest for the Mighty Sword (1990): Joe D’Amato could have made five thousand Ator movies and I would be defending every single one of them. This one — also known as Ator III: The HobgoblinHobgoblinQuest for the Mighty Sword and Troll 3 because it has the costume from Troll 2 — finds D’Amato reclaiming his character after Iron Warrior, a sequel he did not like.

Body Moves (1990): A disco fight. Yes, somehow Filmirage was trying to get into all the different hot angles of the late 80s and 90s and dance competitions seemed the way to money. You have to love them for trying.

Beyond Darkness(1990): Also known as Evil Dead 5, Horror House IIGhosthouse 6 and House 5, this Claudio Fragasso-directed film has Troll 2 star Michael Stephenson, D’Amato filming things and Laura Gemser making the costumes. You can get it from Severin or watch this tale of a child murderer coming after a priest and his family on Tubi.

Troll 2 (1990): Somehow, Joe D’Amato was able to send Claudio Fragasso, his wife Rossella Drudi, costume designer Laura Gemser and the Filmirage crew to Utah to make one of the strangest movies ever. I hate that people watch this ironically, because I just plain love it. It’s a pure example of a movie that came from another reality to ours and has no idea how human beings act. It’s literally like being in an ever-changing dream, including a moment where you piss all over your family’s dinner.

The Crawlers (1990): Known by many names, just like the man who directed it, you can call this Troll 3, Creepers or Contamination .7. It’s got killer plants, an attack on Utah and horribly dumb humans in it. You already know that I love it. Go ahead, watch it on Tubi.

Passion’s Flower (1991): Jeff and Gordon own a drug store and just when Jeff gets to town, he falls in lust for a woman that turns out to be his brother’s wife who wants her to kill him and he wants to kill them both and look — Laura Gemser plays a prostitute so kind that she gives Jeff a freebie when he forgets his wallet. Obviously, this movie is total science fiction.

Ossessione fatale (1991): D’Amato — and a few other Italian directors — realized that the erotic thrillers that American video stores and cabe wanted were just giallo. This time around, D’Amato went back to Emanuelle and Francoise to tell the story of a woman who turns the tables on a man, turning him into a captive slave and using him for pleasure. Of course she moves on and he falls in love.

Il diavolo nella carne (1991): Also known as War Baby and The Devil in the Flesh, this has three female nurses and a female doctor encounter commandoes and a wounded prime minister and, well, love comes from rough handling I guess.

Favola crudele (1991): The Dark Tale is the story of a 9-year-old who falls for the handsome of her dreams prince who is really a terrorist because didn’t Fulci lie when he warned us, “No one will ever know whether the children are monsters or the monsters are children.” Directed and written by Robert Leoni, who also wrote American RickshawSanta Sangre and My Dear Killer.

11 Days, 11 Nights 2 (1991): A sequel in name only, even though the character of Sarah comes back and is now played by Kristine Rose. After being married and quickly separated, she gets the new job of being the executor of the estate of Lionel Durrington, one of her past lovers and the richest man in Louisiana. Consider this Malibu Express with less guns and somehow almost as much sex. Which means it’s closer to Stacey.

A Woman’s Secret (1992): I love when American actors find themselves in Italian productions. This D’Amato-directed film has Margaux Hemingway (I mean, she’s also in Killer FIsh and They Call Me Bruce? so perhaps I should not be so surprised) as a woman whose New Orleans affair becomes dangerous. Also — Apollonia Kotero. Yes, the Apollonia from Purple Rain. How did Joe — who produced under the name John Gelardi and did cinematography as Frederic Slonisko — not get Laura Gemser, who was on set as the costume designer, into a scene with Apollonia? Maybe as fun sisters who have a Pretty Woman shopping scene?

Door to Silence (1992): I would assume that John Savage had a two-movie deal with Filmirage and followed Favola crudele with the last movie that Lucio Fulci would direct. I mean, it has a quote that doesn’t match the source material, one of my favorite Fulci tics: “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.” Yet when producer John Gelardi saw the film, he thought it was too slow, so he went back to New Orleans and shot some new scenes. Gelardi is, of course, Lucio Fulci. And he replaced Fulci’s name — supposedly his last few films didn’t do well — with the alias H. Simon Kittay.

Frankenstein 2000 (1992): As D’Amato closed in on the end of his directing career, he made what should have been a no-brainer, a film that had Donald O’Brien as the monster and Cinthia Monreale as the woman he died protecting, now animating him from her coma. It should be great, it isn’t, but it’s still interesting, which is more than most movies can say.

Una tenera storia (1993): This was Laura Gemser’s last film role, which makes me pretty sad. Let’s pause for a moment so I can collect myself. Ah man, who ordered all these onions? Anyway, Love Project is a soap opera pretty much, but you know, with sex. Cinemax sex. If you look at the credits and see a Daniele Massaccesi, that isn’t Joe. It’s his son. Look at softcore movies bringing families together.

Tales of Red Chamber (1993): The genius of D’Amato is that people thought that these films that he produced were straight up Asian movies that he imported. Well, Robert Yip is…Joe D’Amato. He made a bunch of these movies and they’re on the list, but any time I’m really down (like just a minute ago, thinking of Laura Gemser being done acting) I say Robert Yip out loud and I get happy.

Instinct (1994): Joe D’Amato used the name James Burke for this film about a woman who moves into the home of her dead sister and this is an erotic thriller, which we all know is a giallo.

China and Sex (1994): Filmirage closed up shop with one last Robert Yip-directed film. The end of an era, one filled with zombies munching people, houses filled with evil children, Laura Gemser and the hundreds of names of Joe D’Amato. Just seeing the name before a movie makes me feel better about this sad world. Take some time, track down some of their movies and see if you feel the same.

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