Founding father of the Giallo and Master of the Gore

On Thursday, October 19, Umberto Lenzi passed away, the director was hospitalized in the city of Rome when he lost his life at the age of 86 years.


From a very young age, he was enchanted by cinema, although at first he studied law and abandoned it almost immediately to embark on the journey for his true passion, making films. He made his debut in 1961 with the movie «Queen of the Seas.»

Throughout his prolific career – he directed 65 films in his 31-year career as a director – Lenzi went through practically every genre that was filmed in Italy, from the Spaghetti Western, the Macaroni Combat, and the Eurospy, however his most popular films. He filmed memorable within the genre of Giallo and of course gore, especially with the cannibal theme.


At the beginning of the ’70s Lenzi decided to turn his career around, impressed by the commercial success of the Giallo cinema, he decided to join this new sub-genre, four films stand out from his time there: Seven orchids stained in red, Ice razor, Spasm, and Eye (Eyeball). However, during the 70’s he began to explore himself within the sub-genre that would grant him worldwide recognition and that would immortalize him within horror cinema, the cannibals. His first exploration of this new terrain occurred in 1972 with «The Man from the Deep River» and exploded worldwide in the ’80s with Invasion of the Atomic Zombies, Eaten Alive, and Cannibal Ferox.

Cannibal Ferox


Also known as «Make them die slowly» and as «The woman from the deep river» at the time it was considered «the most violent film that has ever been made» which caused it to be banned in 31 countries, some of which took almost 30 years to lift this ban.

The film focuses on a jungle in Paraguay where a group of anthropologists has traveled to try to prove their theory that cannibalism is a myth and does not exist anymore, however they soon find a wounded man who tells them that he was attacked. by a group of cannibals, they will soon realize that the tribe’s attack is because they have been attacked by «outsiders» to exploit the region rich in emeralds and especially cocaine, the group is captured by the tribe and It is there where the violence that earned him the ban begins around so many countries.

The extreme graphic violence shown in the torture, mutilation, and murder made Cannibal Ferox a film banned and censored in many places but also practically immediately cult, a must-see classic for fans of the most extreme horror.

Nightmare City


In 1980 Lenzi filmed another of his masterpieces, Incubo Sulla città contaminata. On multiple occasions, Quentin Tarantino has mentioned that this is one of his favorite movies, a movie that he loves because of its «originality and quality» as well as mentioning that it is the movie he likes the most in zombie cinema.

When a journalist – played by the great Hugo Stiglitz – arrives at the airport to interview a scientist who works in a nuclear power plant, hell breaks loose, something goes wrong inside the plane and when the doors have opened a group of armed and angry people come out To annihilate everyone around him, soon this situation spreads to the entire city, the journalist tries to alert people to what is happening, however, he is censored by the director of his newscast who is pressured to do so by the army, These new infected need people’s blood – they sound more like vampires than zombies – but the only way to end them is by destroying their brains, soon the entire city is under the power of this new and terrible infection.

Lenzi stated on several occasions that this movie was not a zombie movie, but rather an anti-military and anti-nuclear movie, besides that its characters were not dead coming back to life but infected, which greatly influenced the gender for everything that has come after. Although at the time the criticism was too harsh with the film and they tore it to pieces, over time it has been reassessed until it has the more than deserved status of a cult film that it has today.

At the beginning of the 90s, Lenzi surprised the entire cinematographic world with his retirement, in 1992 he directed what would be his last film Hornsby e Rodriguez – Sfidia Criminale, and from that moment he dedicated himself to writing mystery and murder novels set in the 1930s and 1940s.

One of the greatest filmmakers that horror cinema has had worldwide has left, but he has left us a great legacy of films to enjoy, besides of course to the influence on many great filmmakers such as Tarantino, Fresnadillo, and many more. Goodbye teacher Umberto Lenzi, Rest in Peace.

Written by Alex De Saro