Catacomba (2016)

Beyond the fumetti neri, Italian vietati ai minori (prohibited to minors) comic books go beyond the violence and sex that showed up in 80s exploitation movies. There were titles such as VampirissimoJacula (a female seductress married to both a vampire and human), Maghella (a witch character who was translated into an unreleased 1974 movie by Francis Leroi starring Playboy Playmate Jennifer Liano), Lucifera (a demoness from the Middle Ages who torments men and woman alike), Biancaneve (the erotic Snow White which was made into 1976’s La principessa sul pisello, directed by Piero Regnoli (the writer of Cry of a Prostitute) that features Susanna Martinková and 1982’s Biancaneve & Co which was directed by Mario Bianchi (Satan’s Baby Doll) and starring Michela Miti), Vartan (a Native American heroine based on French singer Sylvia Vartan), Zora the Vampire (which was made into a film by the Menetti Bros) and Sukia (a female vampire based on Ornella Muti).

Lorenzo Lepori (Beyond the Omega) and Roberto Albanesi, who co-wrote the script with Antonio Tentori (Island of the Living Dead), have taken those horror comics and adapted them into this anthology, which is just as concerned with violence as it is with sex. It starts with a man waiting for a barber, so he sits down and starts to reach the Catcaomba comic book.

In “Evil Tree,” Tentori plays a man who meets two biker women under a tree where they take physical advantage of him before murdering him to bring Satan into our world. It’s not much of a story, but the effects by Davide Bracci (Mother of Tears) and Sergio Stivaletti (The Wax Mask, which he directed, as well Demons) make this better than average.

“Alien Lover” concerns a wife’s infidelity with a stab happy alien, a fact that her husband was not ready to confront.

“Una Messa Nera per Paganini” may bring to mind Paganini Horror, but it tells its own story about the composer and the discovery of several of his hidden scores. Perhaps the remembrance of that Cozzi film is because that movie also had Pascal Persiano in it.

“La Maschera della Morte Rossa” has assisted suicide, occult rituals, necrophobia and rebirth, so basically something for everyone in the family.

Imagine if Creepshow went harder. Trashier and bloodier, too.

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