‘Born in 1931, Bruno Mattei grew up in Rome, Italy, where his father owned a small film editing studio. At age 20 Bruno started working odd jobs at his father’s company as his assistant, then went on to other small spots. He wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps as a film editor, and soon found himself working as an editor for a number of directors, including Roberto Bianchi Montero and Nick Nostro. Mattei claimed to have edited over 100 films in the 1960s and early 1970s.
‘After working with famed Spanish director Jess Franco, Mattei made his debut as a director with the drama Armida, il dramma di una sposa (1970) under the alias “Jordon B. Matthews”. He eventually had more pseudonyms than any working director in the world. He returned to editing before making another comeback in 1976 with two low-budget Nazi exploitation films, KZ9 – Camp d’extermination (1977) (aka “Women’s Camp 119”) and Hôtel du plaisir pour SS (1977) (aka “SS Girls”).
‘Mattei followed these taboo-breaking films with excursions into porno films and mondo “shockumentaries”, all directed under his many pseudonyms, concentrating on “shock value” with films such as Mondo erotico (1973), “Libiodomania” and “Libidomania 2”. Always on the lookout for new exploitation avenues, Mattei followed with “nunsploitation”, with the softcore sex film The True Story of the Nun of Monza (1980) and the violent sex thriller L’autre enfer (1981). Both films involved a partnership with writer/director Claudio Fragasso, who helped him write and direct the back-to-back productions.
‘Using yet another alias, “Vincent Dawn”, Mattei directed Hell of the Living Dead (1980) (aka “Night of the Zombies”), a low-budged zombie picture inspired by other zombie cannibal movies such as Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (1979). “Virus” was filmed in Spain and used jungle footage from New Guinea and a patch soundtrack from Goblins “Dawn of the Dead” soundtrack, which was a minor hit in Italy and abroad.
‘After directing two women’s prison films starring Laura Gemser, Mattei moved to directing sword-and-sorcery flicks, starting with I sette magnifici gladiatori (1983). Both Mattei and Fragasso collaborated on the sci-fi/horror flick Rats: Night of Terror (1984), inspired by the futuristic movies of the early 1980s. Mattei considers this his best work, despite his still having to work with a very low budget.
‘He worked relentlessly through the 1980s, directing a pair of “spaghetti westerns”, some action flicks and about half of Zombie 3 (1988) after Lucio Fulci was taken off the production, though Mattei was not credited with it. In the early 1990s Mattei directed a series of erotic thrillers and a made-for-TV movie, Cruel Jaws (1995), which was inspired by Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975). Mattei continued making films, with more than 50 to his credit by the 200s.
‘In early 2007 his health began to decline rapidly after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Despite his doctor’s warnings, he went through with a surgical operation to have the tumor removed in May of that year. After the surgery he fell into a coma from complications, and died a few days later on May 21, 2007 at age 75. Though some people consider his films to be cheap, insipid and technically inept due in large part to their low budgets and poor production values, Bruno Mattei remains an influential cult film director around the world for his radical film making and willingness to direct pretty much anything with a taboo-breaking topic.’ — collaged
Bruno Mattei @ IMDb
Bruno Mattei DVDs
Tales From the Vault: Zombi 3
Bruno Mattei – Master of Rip-Off Cinema
BM @ letterboxd
Critique de Virus cannibale – Faites que je n’ai pas le virus…
The Bruno Mattei Show
WR427 – Bruno Mattei – Master of Rip-Off Cinema
RIP BRUNO MATTEI
BM @ Horreur.Com
Hommage à Bruno Mattei
THE BRUNO MATTEI VISUAL EXPERIENCE
BRUNO MATTEI – Interview discussing the making of RATS
Bruno Mattei interview (in Italian only)
The Last Works of Bruno Mattei!
Interview: Geretta Geretta
from Coming Soon
SHOCK: What was a nice American girl like you doing flitting around Italy in the 1980’s?
Geretta Geretta: Well even nice girls gotta eat! In actuality, my roommate at the time who has gone one to be a rather renown script supervisor, Dale Wyatt, was offered the role first… Guess Chocolate was ‘Dark Chocolate” in the first draft? Hmmmm…anyway she was horrified when she heard the pay. It was beyond low. Actually it was low for us, we were being paid like studio players or contract players. We got lunch, we got our name in lights we got a very small check each week. I think it was my second film in Italy. I did not really speak a word of Italian at the time. I translated the entire script with a travelers pocket dictionary, The set ups, the dialogue, everything… and low and behold it became a breakthrough for me.
SHOCK: What kind of man was Bruno?
GG: Oh, Man, the best! The absolute best. He had this funny little crooked smile. He used to yell at me from the moment I got on set until I left. The spats we got into! This was during my “difficult actress” stage! I didn’t know anything! I thought you were supposed to be like that! Actually, a kind Ad later told me “Uh, you’re picking up bad habits. Actresses as a rule don’t talk back like you do to Bruno.” I was thunderstruck! I mean, really, I had no idea.
SHOCK: People often mumble that writer Claudio Fragasso really directed much of RATS. Any truth to that?
GG: Hell no. And that’s a quote for the dopes! What people don’t get – and trust me. I hear the same crap regarding Dario and Lamberto when we were all on DEMONS – is that really talented people like Bruno, allow other people to have opinions, chime in, come up with stuff. But RATS is Bruno’s film. It’s classic Bruno.Come on. The rubber rats on the conveyor belt thing? So Bruno. On second thought, maybe I SHOULD say that it was all Claudio’s idea (laughs)! Only Bruno came up with that kinda of no-budget but brilliant kinda stuff. And no one knows or knew more about camera angles and set ups and how to get two for one and do 20 set ups a day than that old Italian veteran. Claudio had lots of good ideas and Bruno would sort of pull on his chin in silence then if he liked it he’d say ‘Va Bene”. And plenty of times he did not say “Va bene”. A nice girl can’t repeat what he would say when he thought the idea was “stupido.”
SHOCK: Did you think the fact that the sole African actress in RATS being called “Chocolate” was a bit lazy? Did you have any reservations about the role?
GG: Claudio came up with that name. I have been called worse. Didn’t even think about it twice. “Chocolate” .”Negra”. “Ragazza De Colore”. “Colored Girl.” “Foxy Lady”. At least they’re “calling ya” is how I felt about it. At the same time in the States, with the exception of Susan Seidelman, who cast me in SMITHEREENS, I wasn’t getting called anything so yeah, you go where the work is. We, meaning all of us in the film, felt it was tongue in cheek, I mean, there was “video” too, We all had those post apocalyptic names. It was an 80’s thang, ya had to be there!
SHOCK: The rats themselves are nasty. Did you ever get bitten?
GG: No, but Bruno was all about saving money so he re-used the dead ones for days! That was nasty and smelled!
SHOCK: What did you think of the flick when you finally saw it?
GG: I have to tell you…I never saw it! I don’t think it even had a premiere! Years – and I mean years – later I saw a VHS copy of it in those old arthouse rental stores. I never in a million years even knew anyone knew anything about those films. Shoot, I forgot about them! But every now and then an old friend from Rome would contact me in the States and say “Sis, they messed up your voice in the Italian dubbed version. It’s too sweet.”
SHOCK: Did you have any off-screen romances with any of your co-stars?
GG: Of course. I had big hair and a big heart! I was dating Gianfrancco Gianni before the film started and I had some sort of “special friendship” with Claudio for a minute. He used to come to my place and I helped him write the movie he got his directorial debut on. I even introduced him the money people. Bruno used to always say “Fuck, Janna (which was my name back then), if you were gonna help somebody why didn’t you help me?” Right up until almost the end when I saw him last around 2002, he would still laugh and say that. He was like an Uncle to me. When I had my directorial debut, man, it was so low budget, even using the roll outs, I didn’t have enough footage to get it to 80 minutes never mind 90 for distribution. He was Like “Come here give it to me”. And I let him, without even questioning it, splice my negative! He hooked that sucker up in like 20 minutes and then told me to run the credits real long thank everybody then put a surprise at the end. Bingo, bitches! My film was now 90 minutes. I loved him!
SHOCK: On that note, you did evolve into a very interesting artist but do you look back fondly on those wild days in Italy?
GG: Of course! I arrived as a Greenhorn model and I left… well, a name in that genre. Not bad for a knocked kneed girl from Oregon!
18 of Bruno Mattei’s 55 films
Private House of the SS (1977)
‘SS Girls is an example of Naziploitation. This cycle of Nazi sexploitation films are predominantly Italian in origin and emerged for a brief period between 1975 and 1977. In Bruno Mattei’s nazi-themed films, the settings are Nazi bordellos and are concerned with staging explicit sexuality.’ — WK
Women’s Camp 119 (1977)
‘This is a sleazy film. Make no mistake about that. There are lots of naked women being abused, whether they’re whipped, or forced to have sex with frozen pilots to thaw them with their body heats, or having their heads dipped in water, or getting raped by crazy Kurt. Wieker kills prisoners by removing their uteri and transferring them into infertile women in order to propagate the Master Race. The sole male inmates, both homosexuals, are forced to have sex with women, and understandably are somewhat resistant. Mattei’s take on the Nazis and their experiment is brutal, though I can’t vouch for its historical veracity or lack thereof, and while it never reaches the excesses of Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, Women’s Camp 119 is pretty graphic.’ — Diary of a Madman
Hell of The Living Dead (1980)
‘The curious thing about Hell Of The Living Dead is that its gore scenes are probably its least offensive aspect. The real issue here centres upon the inserted stock footage—the way in which it is used in-story, and the way in which it tied to the film’s philosophy. (Oh, yes, it has “a philosophy”: you can thank Fragasso for that.) The pilfering from La Vallée is always highlighted in any consideration of Hell Of The Living Dead, probably because that is quite a well-known production in its own right, but in fact the bulk of the re-used material comes from other sources: some of it from the French-Belgian documentary Des Morts (Of The Dead), which is an almost-silent contemplation of death and funerary rites around the world, but most of it from the Italian-Japanese co-production Nuova Guinea, L’Isola Dei Cannibali, better known as Guinea Ama (and recently released on DVD as The Real Cannibal Holocaust).’ — AYCYAS
The Other Hell (1981)
‘The director of this mess is credited as “Stefan Oblowski”, but don’t be fooled: it’s the dreaded team of Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso. These are the people who inflicted Virus/Night of the Zombies/Hell of the Living Dead, Rats: Notte del Terrore and Zombi 3 on an unsuspecting world. In The Other Hell, they manage to rip off Carrie, The Exorcist, The Devils and The Omen (among others), while the music is stolen from various Goblin-scored films, including Buio Omega. And don’t miss the Mario Bava riff — the scenes in the convent attic, which almost succeed in being atmospheric and disturbing. That is, until you ask yourself: “What is a room full of dolls hanging from chains doing in a convent?”‘ — Braineater
Violence in a Women’s Prison (1982)
‘There is no plot in Violence. It’s mostly just a series of erotic or gruesome vignettes that don’t lead to anything or tie together. Basically it’s just a bunch of women in prison. The people running the place are sadists. There’s no development or escalation of this conflict. Things kind of happen… Things kind of get resolved… Roll credits.’ — trashmenmedia
Women’s Prison Massacre (1983)
‘Emanuelle, a reporter, comes just a little too close to exposing a corrupt official, and is sent to prison on trumped-up charges. In the prison, the inmates are constantly humiliated and tortured by the prison staff. Overly affectionate prisoners are forced underwater, while others are obliged to look on. Emanuelle finds an enemy in the deranged Albina, who “runs the prison.” For the pleasure of the warden, Emanuelle and Albina are forced to fight each other with knives. Bad becomes worse when four men awaiting execution escape and take over the prison. Gore flows like water.’ — letterboxd
Rats: Night of Terror (1984)
‘One of Bruno Mattei’s most beloved films by fans, not because it’s great, but because it’s laugh out loud awful! The fun factor is high and the cheesy characters and English dubbing are both major players in providing the entertainment. Special mention also to the Rats in the film and their complete lack of enthusiasm in their roles as bloodthirsty maneaters, the poor buggers are kicked, stamped, thrown and torched all over the place! There are a couple of decent kills but I was expecting a bit more gore so marks off for that. Overall not quite as enjoyable as Zombie Creeping Flesh but still a good fun watch with friends and beers.’ — Lee/RT
Zombie 3 (1988)
‘Shortly before completing the sequel to his classic ZOMBIE, the legendary Lucio Fulci became ill and left the Philippines-based production. But when director Bruno Mattei (SHOCKING DARK) and writers Claudio Fragasso & Rossella Drudi (TROLL 2) stepped in to finish, the result became the most “insanely enjoyable” (The Lucid Nightmare) zombie romp in EuroCult history.’ — Diabolik
‘What Mattei is also known for is creating films so inept that they take on a certain charm all their own. That’s the case with Robowar – it’s a film with low-rent standins for most of the characters in Predator, from the superstitous soldier with the sixth sense to the agent who knows what’s really going on to the damsel in distress. And of course, Reb Brown is about the cheapest stand-in for Arnold Schwarzenegger you can find.’ — WMEM
Terminator II (aka Shocking Dark) (1989)
‘If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then a 1989 Italian film called Shocking Dark pays James Cameron the ultimate compliment: it openly steals from not one but two of his 80s hits. Now, it’s no secret that B-movie filmmakers have long taken ‘inspiration’ from hit genre movies – Star Wars, Alien, Jaws and Mad Max are some of the most imitated films of the 70s and 80s, spawning such cult B-movies as StarCrash, 1990: Bronx Warriors and Contamination. Shocking Dark, on the other hand, occupies its own special place in movie history. We’re not just talking about an attempt to evoke the general atmosphere of a successful film here – we’re talking about the wholesale recreation of entire sequences.’ — Den of Geek
Night Killer (1990)
‘Though it was released in Italy under the title Non Aprite Quella Porta 3 — which would have made it The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 for particularly fascinating and lax copyright law reasons — the 1990 film Night Killer is its own kind of riff on a then-contemporary icon. The quilt of a horror classic was made by husband-and-wife team Claudio Fragasso and Rossella Drudi (Troll 2, Zombi 3 and Zombi 4), with some post-production and gore footage courtesy of Bruno Mattei (Terminator 2: Shocking Dark, The Other Hell). Not quite Bad Dreams or The Invasion — the respective champions of ripoff and quilt cinema — Night Killer is nevertheless a special kind of whatsit that any fan of horror or psychotronic cinema should be amped up for.’ — Nashville Scene
Cruel Jaws (1995)
‘The coastal town of Hampton Bay is threatened when a tiger shark starts chomping up their vacationers in the king of all Jaws rip-offs, Cruel Jaws. Days before the annual Regatta celebration, the townspeople are faced with financial ruin if something isn’t done about their newfound shark problem. If that wasn’t enough, the owners of the local amusement park have been subject to a hostile takeover from a prospective businessman looking to cash in on their prized property. It’s up to the sheriff, the park’s owner, and a shark expert to head out and destroy the killing fish before the summer economy is slashed and the park is left for the bulldozer. Directed by Italy’s foremost expert on rip-off cinema, Bruno Mattei (under the name William Snyder), Cruel Jaws features a heap load of footage taken from Enzo Castellari’s The Last Shark, as well as snippets from the first two Jaws flicks, plus musical cues from none other than Star Wars.’ — Whistlejacket
Mondo Cannibale (2003)
‘You may think you’ve witnessed the most extreme examples of the Italian cannibal genre, but leave it to late Italian sleaze master Bruno Mattei – notorious director of HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD, RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR, SS GIRLS and CALIGULA’S PERVERSIONS – to lower the bar to depraved new heights. In this shameless rip-off of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, Mattei (under the name ‘Vincent Dawn’) unleashes the sleazy saga of a ratings-hungry American TV crew whose Amazon jungle report becomes a nightmare of gut munching, brain-scarfing, sexual atrocities, insane moralizing and much more. Claudio Morales and Cindy Matic (IN THE LAND OF THE CANNIBALS) star in this jaw-dropper – also known as CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST: THE BEGINNING.’ — Diabolik
In the Land of the Cannibals (2004)
‘If you’ve seen “Predator”, you’re always several steps ahead of the screenplay. The action sequences are poorly done and there’s only a disappointingly small amount of gory make-up effects to enjoy. Acting performances are weak and the total lack of sleaze is unforgivable. Cindy Jelic Matic stripped off all her clothes in “Mondo Cannibale” (which was shot back-to-back with this one), so the least she could do was show some ravishing flesh here as well. Oh well, at least these recent cannibal-exploitation movies don’t feature any gratuitous animal killings, I suppose. Unfortunately, I can’t give any praise to Bruno Mattei regarding this film, as it really sucks, but at least he kept the Italian horror industry running till the day he died.’ — Coventry
La tomba (2006)
‘This extremely low budget film was shot on a Digital camera so that there doesn’t work with me from the start. I was hoping Mattai would get back to his so bad it’s good film-making style but that never happens and by the ten minute mark I was wanting to turn this thing off. Needless to say but the performances are all horrid and Mattai still doesn’t know how to make a film move at a good pace. This one here goes very slowly with nothing happening for it. As with other Mattai films, this one here rips off countless other films including lifted scenes from Army of Darkness and a scene for scene remake of the dance sequence in From Dusk Till Dawn.’ — Michael Elliott
The Jail: The Women’s Hell (2006)
‘After the “golden age of Italian exploitation” concluded at the end of the ‘80s — no one told goremeister Bruno Mattei (HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD, RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR) to stop making ‘80s Italian exploitation movies! In the 2000s, Mattei produced nearly a dozen exploitationers with the same verve and whackadoo style that were hallmarks of his work in the classic period. For this Philippines-lensed filth fest from 2006(!), Mattei returned to the genre that established his reputation as a true maestro of EuroSleaze. When a group of women are sentenced to a jungle hellhole prison known as “The House of Lost Souls”, they enter a sweaty nightmare of sadistic guards, menacing lesbians and rampant nudity. But Mattei — here under his alias “Vincent Dawn” — also packs his final babes-behind-bars saga with enough degradations, perversions, jaw-dropping violence and over-the-top performances to set all-new standards of genre depravity.’ — American Genre Film
Island Of The Living Dead (2007)
‘Anyone not knowing who Bruno mattei is would probably take one quick look at this and dismiss it as cheap crap. It is cheap crap but maestro Mattei always did a decent job, no matter how tacky and silly the material was. Island of the living dead is a good example of this: the whole thing has a cheap look reminiscent of a daytime soap and some of the zombie makeup consists of dimestore halloween masks. The acting is awful and the dubbing atrocious but Mattei still treats it like a genuine movie. There are some decent locations in the Philippines, lots of cheap violence and a decent pace to ensure that you are never bored. I can’t really hate this but it isn’t for anyone. Mostly those of us that look back at the era of italian exploitation of the 80s with fondness.’ — Joachim Andersson
Zombies: The Beginning (2007)
‘Unless you live in another planet, people that watch this type of movies have seen Alien II This story line and progression of the movie, it’s that other way better movie. I like low, low, low budget movies, and I think this one actually had a few dollars, just to bad they forgot to pay the writer some money to come up with something original. Asian Zombies, I’m cool with that, but please, better dub would not have hurt. The movie in not even worth renting, but it was fun to see this people’s version of the space marines.’ — WhoFan
p.s. RIP McCoy Tyner ** Scunnard, Well, that’s always the goal-shaped hope, right? ** David Ehrenstein, Happy they creeped you out. The writers, I mean. Everyone, I think you know Mr. E is having an epic Emergency Sale of books, CDs and DVDs, and it continues, and it remains a great opportunity to pick cup some awesome stuff and help a good guy out. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. ** Bill, Yes, I too wonder whatever became of inthemostpeculiarway. It was one of those things where he (I think?) was here every day for a long time and then one day, without any warning, he’s gone forever with no explanation and no known social media presence to locate him elsewhere. A legend. I’ve read things by Kathe Koja and thought they were quite good. ‘When Susurrus Stirs’ looks very weird and kind of incomprehensible at a first glance. That actor looks very familiar from somewhere. Blasting! I love the sound of that. Yes, prayers that it has been preserved and is edging public. ** Sypha, Hi. I’ve only read Brite, Koja and a bit of King. People have often recommended Jack Ketchum’s stuff to me, saying they think I might dig it, but I haven’t started him yet. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi. A friend of a friend was the production designer on ‘Color Out of Space’, and I definitely want to see it by whatever means that entails. ** Steve Erickson, Like I said to Sypha, Ketchum is often recommended to me by people who think there’s some resonance there with my work or something. I’ll get one for my next train ride. That operation is a quickie. I’m guessing and hoping you’re feeling fairly chill about the whole thing now. Is the Dumont newer than the second ‘Joan’ film? I haven’t seen Christophe’s latest film and the one I assume they’re showing, ‘Room … (something).’ I was wary of it. The directors cancelled because of the coronavirus thing? Strange. The panic is picking up. ** Right. I thought I’d slide away from the high art stuff long enough to give you a weekend of fun trash courtesy of the trash maestro or cranker-outer (or both) director Bruno Mattei. Two days of fun are to be had if you just indulge appropriately. See you on Monday.