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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Cool Ass Cinema Book Reviews: The Life and Times of An Italian Horror Film Star


By Giovanni Lombardo Radice (John Morghen)

260 pages; softcover; 1st edition 2017

The personal and professional life of actor John Morghen is laid bare in this vastly entertaining page-turner. One of Italian cult cinema's most recognizable faces, John Morghen minutely documents his cinema (as well as stage) experiences both on and off-screen. If you've ever wondered what working with Fulci, Deodato, Margheriti, Lenzi, etc, was like; or how Italians made some of the finest--and trashiest--examples of cult cinema, then you must buy this book. Easily one of the most candidly humble, eye-opening (and eye-gouging) autobiographies you'll read.

If you're a fan of Italian horror cinema then the chances are high you've seen Giovanni Lombardo Radice (best known to fans as John Morghen) in a movie at some point during your exploration of European gore epics. Appearing in some of the most grotesque productions ever conceived, Morghen has a great many stories to tell; and he does not disappoint in this, his recently released autobiography.

It's not all about the movies within these 260 pages, but everything in between as well; starting from his formative years and onto his life-long love of the stage--with the screen coming thereafter--his first film work being Ruggero Deodato's HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK (1980).

Radice is extremely frank about his experiences in both life, stage and screen. His recollections are told in a witty style, often laced with dry humor and never fails to keep the reader riveted. The stories of a more personable nature are equally as fascinating; such as the authors openness about his bisexuality and past drug use. These often intersect with his film work and his interactions with fellow actors; one particular story concerns his time hanging out with Gian Maria Volonte. Famous worldwide for his westerns with Sergio Leone (A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS; FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE), Radice met him at writer/director Duccio Tessari's house during one of their many parties.

Specifically for horror fans, Radice's 'Big Four' have some eyebrow-raising anecdotes attached to them; these tend to be both hilarious and harrowing to various extremes. One of the highlights of this tell-all tome are the dozen pages afforded Morghen's work on Umberto Lenzi's infamous CANNIBAL FEROX (1981); they're worth the purchase alone.

If you've listened to the riotous Lenzi/Morghen commentary track on the old Grindhouse Releasing DVD (both men's remarks were recorded separately), then you know FEROX, aka MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY, wasn't a pleasant experience for Morghen on any level. There's lots of new ground covered as well as some familiar, but slightly expanded memories. For the full Johnny versus Umberto experience, be sure to add Grindhouse Releasing's bluray of FEROX for even more bad blood between the two.

You'll learn about his first film work shooting a sex scene with Lorraine De Selle and working with David Hess and Ruggero Deodato; his love of the south and appreciation for Antonio Margheriti; you'll discover what Lucio Fulci's personality was really like; more of Johnny and Lenzi's Amazonian Adventures; writing a film script for a film directed by Lenzi; his experiences with his life-long friend Michele Soavi on and off-set; doing stunts while playing one of the lead villains in a Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson movie (one of the funniest sections in the book); filming THE OMEN remake and how it compared to horrors past; and many more intriguing stories. All his major works fans are most familiar with get extensive coverage from start to finish.

There aren't many English language autobiographies specific to Italian genre pictures, so that alone makes 'A Zombie's Life' a worthwhile purchase for fans. The highest recommendation and undoubtedly one for the shelves.

You can purchase this book at amazon HERE.

You can purchase this book (currently on sale) at Midnight Marquee HERE.

His official fan page on Facebook is HERE.

Mr. Morghen kindly granted CAC an interview March 10th, 2010. You can read it HERE.

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