22 May, 2007

Bruno Mattei: 1931-2007

aka Michael Cardoso / Norman Dawn / Vincent Dawn / David Graham / David Hunt / Bob Hunter / Frank Klox / Werner Knox / Pierre Le Blanc / Jimmy B. Matheus / Jimmy Matheus / B. Mattei / J.B. Matthews / Jordan B. Matthews / J. Metheus / Martin Miller / Erik Montgomery / Herik Montgomery / Stefan Oblowsky / Gilbert Roussel / George Smith / William Snyder

Before getting to the Jess Franco connections I would like to salute the late Bruno Mattei for his work ethic if nothing else. The fact that he continued to work while ill before his tumor caused him to go into a coma is indicative of someone for whom life was work and vice versa, not unlike JF. He wasn't as prolific as Franco, of course, but he had been in the Italian film industry for 5 decades and was very productive.

He worked an editor and then a director in many popular genres. An early example of his work as Sound Effects editor can be seen in Guido Malatesta's action packed peplum adventure, MACISTE CONTRO I MOSTRI/FIRE MONSTERS AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES (1962). I ran that last night along with a typical example of his later work as a director, ROBOWAR (1988), made in the Philippines when Mattei and his writing partner Claudio Fragasso were busy working on a series of low budget horror-sci fi projects lensed there, including their salvage job on Lucio Fulci's dire ZOMBIE 3.

ROBOWAR is a highly entertaining mixture of such mid 1980s Hollywood hits as PREDATOR and ROBOCOP. It's probably as well crafted as both. Given the fact that it was probably produced on a fraction of the budget and shooting schedules of those A-list features perhaps make it more impressive. It's certainly less pretentious and as fast paced. It's wall to wall firefights, explosions and macho posturing by Reb Brown backed by a supporting cast of Italian action regulars such as Romano Puppo and "Alex McBride." Antonio Margheriti mascot is listed in the credits but I couldn't find him in the film. The tropical locations are well rendered and the frenetic pacing is evidence of Mattei's roots as a skilled editor.

He began working in film the same year as Jess Franco, 1952. Besides editing the Italian versions of 99 WOMEN and EL CONDE DRACULA (both 1969), Mattei is listed by the imbd as the director of the hardcore scenes in the French version of 99 WOMEN. One wonders if Mattei was responsible for the cuts seen on the recent DARK SKY print of EL CONDE ... which some speculated was from an Italian source. Of course, the imbd is often incorrect concerning the career details of obscure Euro B filmmakers like Mattei. I assume this is the hard version out on the Blue Underground DVD. Can anyone confirm or deny this credit? Also, the Italian runtime of 99 WOMEN is listed in OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO and other sources as 108m. Is this spurios? This is presumably the Mattei edited version. If anyone has seen this and wishes to comment please do so below. I've never seen but sure would like to...

(C) Robert Monell, 2007

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