Edwige Fenech Returns to Horror

Europe has produced many lovely and talented actresses who have had memorable careers in horror cinema and one of my favorite European “Scream Queens” is the beautiful Edwidge Fenech.

Fenech was born on December 24, 1948 and began her career as a model before getting into acting in the late sixties. She started out making European sex comedies and she would continue to appear in them throughout her career. But I think her most interesting work as an actress can be found in the Italian thrillers and giallo films that she made for great directors such as Mario Bava, Sergio Martino, Giuliano Carnimeo and Andrea Bianchi.

Edwige Fenech’s incredible beauty, sensuality and natural vulnerability made her the perfect protagonist in many giallo films, which rely on aesthetics as well as thrills for great effect. Fenech starred in many of the best Italian thrillers made throughout the sixties and seventies and all the movies she was in definitely benefited from her presence. No matter how fantastical the film plot was, Fenech was able to bring an element of realism to her acting roles that made her characters very sympathetic and believable.

The last horror film Fenech appeared in was Ruggero Deodato’s entertaining Phantom of Death (a.k.a. Un Delitto poco comune, 1988) with Michael York and Donald Pleasence almost 20 years ago. Fenech has continued to act in various Italian television dramas since then and she has also become a film producer and distributor. At age 60 Edwige Fenech is still unbelievably beautiful and I think it’s a shame that she hasn’t continued to act in more films

The Case of the Bloody Iris (1972)

Thankfully that will all change this week with the release of Eli Roth’s Hostel 2 (2007). Roth met Fenech in February of 2006 and asked if she would consider returning to the screen for a role in Hostel 2. Fenech agreed and took the part of an Art Class Professor in Roth’s latest film. For many giallo film enthusiasts like myself, it’s wonderful to see Edwige Fenech returning to the big screen again in another thriller. I don’t care for a lot of modern American horror films but I’m really looking forward to Hostel 2.

The original Hostel (2005) film seemed to divide audiences and critics but I personally thought it was one of the more entertaining and original American horror movies made in recent years. I enjoyed the film’s slow buildup which forced audiences to get to know the characters before they started to drop dead and I don’t understand the “torture porn” label that has been slapped on Roth’s movie. “Torture porn” seems to be a catchy term that modern critics have come up with to label particular horror films and divide a genre that they know absolutely nothing about. The term “Torture Porn” limits debate and I find it utterly useless as well as pointless.

Whatever you may think of Eli Roth, I think it’s terrific that he was able to coax Edwige Fenech into appearing in another horror film and I hope it will encourage her to take on more similar roles in the future. Hostel 2 opens in US theaters nationwide on June 8th.

If you want to see more of Edwige Fenech I highly recommend the following films:
5 Dolls For an August Moon (5 bambole per la luna d’agosto, 1970)
The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (Lo Strano vizio della Signora Wardh, 1971)
All the Colors of the Dark (Tutti i colori del buio, 1972)
The Case of the Bloody Iris (Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer?, 1972)
Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (Il Tuo vizio è una stanza chiusa e solo io ne ho la chiave, 1972)
Strip Nude For Your Killer (Nude per l’assassino, 1975)
Phantom Of Death (Un Delitto poco comune, 1988)

For more information about Edwige Fenech and her films I suggest visiting the great Cult Sirens site and if you’re interested in reading a review for Fenech’s upcoming film Hostel 2 I recommend visiting Michael Guillen’s terrific blog The Evening Class.

17 thoughts on “Edwige Fenech Returns to Horror

  1. I can certainly count myself among Edwige’s legions of devoted fans, and due to that I will certainly end up at Hostel II at some point while it plays in the cinemas… Unfortunately I have a very, er, different I suppose opinion of Roth and his films… He’s only as good as Tarantino to me, and as you know, that’s not very good. But regardless, I am very excited about getting to see Fenech in a role again, regardless of the fact that I’m still convinced everything that surrounds her will be utterly contrived nonesense 😉

  2. Lots of people seem to dislike Roth and his films but I haven’t really understood why. I’ve stayed away from interviews with the guy so if I knew more about him I might not like him much either, but I only know him from his films and I actually think he’s probably a better director than Tarantino. I guess they’re always going to be connected since Tarantino produced Hostel and Hostel 2 and his name is written BIGGER than Roth’s on the film credits.

    In general, I haven’t cared for many modern American horror films made in the past 20 years so I’m surprised I enjoyed Hostel so much. Between the countless remakes and “PG-13” horror flicks, I thought Hostel stood out and I loved Miike’s brief cameo. I can’t think of many other modern American director making horror films besides Roth that I actually like besides the old standbys like Carpenter or Romero and a few new directors like Brad Anderson. Hell, I even liked Hostel more than Romero’s last zombie film.

    I also thought that out of all the Grindhouse trailers Roth’s was easily the best. Normally I’d wait to see Hostel 2 on DVD but since Fenech is in it and all the previews I’ve seen on youtube look great, I plan on seeing it in a theater.

  3. Awesome Kimberly,
    God I love Edwige and it’s so nice to see your tribute to her. I went on a bit of a rant in the comments section over at Neil’s The Bleeding Tree blog about my excitement over seeing the new “Hostel” and my dislike for this whole ‘torture porn’ label.
    I didn’t care much for “Cabin Fever” but I thought “Hostel”, specifically the last hour, really showed Roth as a filmmaker to watch…and the “Thanksgiving” trailer is just brilliant. I actually like Tarantino a lot too (one of the few people we seem to disagree on) so ‘Hostel 2″ is a big must see for me this summer.
    I really hate how the media comes up with these generic terms for horror films, especially when they don’t have any grasp of the history of them. Would these people label “The New York Ripper” tortue porn? Or how about “Torso” or even Hitchcock’s “Frenzy”. I find it to be a really frustrating and lazy term made up for people who like their horror films to be PG-13 and mostly humorous. I like my horror hard and rated R and Roth obviously does too so I support him. He seems to be very much trying to continue in the tradition of his favorite directors who weren’t afraid of pushing the limits, which I applaud. I actually think one of the most enduring images from the past few years is that shot of him directing Edwige in “Hostel 2” while wearing a “Cannibal Holocaust” t shirt.
    It’s so great to see Edwige back in the spotlight. She is still incredibly beautiful and sexy and I can’t wait to see her on the big screen. Great tribute to her and fantastic photos…

  4. Very interesting. Did you see the recent Vacancy? For having a plot fairly similar (in terms of exploiting the “lost” in snuff-like ways) to Hostel, I thought it was about 100 times more interesting. I think my problem with Roth is that he has such a juvenile fratboy humour in all of his films (I would say his Thanksgiving trailer was great except for like the last five seconds which actually totally ruin it for me) which I’ve never actually found to be that funny.

    Or, even the bizarre direct to DVD feature Sublime had redeeming factors, mainly out of the fact that it was probably one of the most deeply affecting flicks I’ve seen in a long time. It’s flawed, but fairly innovative in the way that it actually plays upon male white guilt. Or what about Slither and Silent Hill? Cigarette Burns is a beautiful film but I guess you already mentioned Carpenter… in fact I’d say a lot of the Masters of Horror episodes from both seasons warrant attention in terms of American Horror.

    I’m really not trying to be irritating here it just sort of really suprises me that you would declare Hostel as one of the best American horror films of the last 20 years!

    Well, anyway, in other news, I think I’m getting a copy of Joel Seria’s “Marie Poupee” soon! I am pretty excited 😉

  5. Jeremy – Glad you enjoyed the post. Edwige is amazing and has made lots of great movies. Obviously I’m with you on the whole “torture porn” label. I don’t understand it at all. It seems ridiculous and I’m sure the critics who use it haven’t seen The New York Ripper or Torso, and they probably think Hitchcock is evil and hates women. 😉

    I thought Cabin Fever had some good stuff in it but I liked Hostel a lot more.

    Mike – You’re not being irritating at all! I enjoy chatting about movies and I like reading what you have to say even if we might not see eye to eye on Hostel. I seem to be in the minority when it comes to Roth and his film since most reviews and opinions I’ve read about him have been negative so I’m not surprised you don’t like him.

    I haven’t seen Vacancy yet but the commercials of the film looked like they borrowed a bit from Hostel. I also haven’t seen Sublime.

    I thought Silent Hill had a great look and some interesting stuff in it, but since I actually played the game a lot when it first came out it was nothing new to me so I guess I wasn’t that impressed with it. It’s made by a French man so I wouldn’t consider it an “American ” horror film even if it was made here and Roger Avary wrote it. The French have been making lots of great horror films in recent years that I think are superior to anything coming out of the US and I like the director Christophe Gans’ early horror film (Le Pacte des loups) a lot.

    Slither was fun, but I personally thought it was terribly overrated and couldn’t understand why all the critics loved it so much and why it had so many rapid fans. I didn’t find it anymore entertaining than something like Tremors. There were a ton of comedy/horror films made in the late 80s and early 90s that were similar to it. In other words, I’d seen it before.

    I think Roth writes what he knows and he knows frat boys. I don’t find his main characters particularly likable and I don’t think you’re supposed to like them. They just “are” and you can project whatever you like into them, but it was clear to me from watching Hostel that Roth didn’t particularly care for the frat boys in his film either and that’s one reason I liked it actually. The young guys were obviously younger versions of the men that ended up being their wealthy bored attackers in the film and I dug that.

    I’m not sure why the ending of the Thanksgiving trailer bothered you so much but as I mentioned, I thought it was easily the best one of the bunch. It was clear to me that Roth had seen a lot of early American slashers and he brought that experience to his trailer and carried it off great by the way it was shot and written. The other trailers seemed much weaker to me.

    I like the fact that Roth writes as well as directs his own films, unlike many other modern American horror filmmakers. He’s also really young and has only made a couple of movies. I think it will be interesting to see what he’s done in 6-8 years from now. If he starts letting other people write his scripts and pays attention to his critics, I think he’ll probably go downhill mighty fast.

    p.s. Carpenter is old-skool to me and I don’t think he really qualify as part of this conversation about “new American horror” even if he’s still making movies. He’s made a ton of great films that I love and he continues to do impressive work which is great though! 😉

  6. Haha, def. fair enough on Carpenter… and to be honest I thought Slither was fairly overrated and underwhelming as well, but it’s something I would rather watch again than Hostel.

    (Note: this next section is fairly rambling and disjointed!)
    I think my main aversion to Roth (which is pretty much more of a personal objection than something objective) is his use of humor. Cabin Fever, which you mentioned not caring for much, seemed more of horror-comedy, and then with Hostel a lot of the same comedy was there, but people often describe it as a lot darker? And sort of a more serious form of horror than what was being done in the mid to late 90s by-way of the postmodern ironic horror, but I don’t see it as any different. It’s just post millenium irony and pastiche instead of 90s irony. And I will admit to agreeing with you on the Thanksgiving trailer; up until the last ten seconds it could have been on a double (trailer) bill with THE PROWLER and DON’T GO INTO THE HOUSE, but at the end he interjects the MAIN thing that I can’t stand about his films; the utterly juvenile approach he takes to violence combined with sex. Obviously the image itself doesn’t offend me, it was the gleefully ignorant approach that takes away any actually grounding/illusion that the trailer had built up so far (especially in regards to the whole “throwback” thing). And it’s overly present in HOSTEL as well; while I was excited with Miike’s cameo, I ended up disappointed that it served no real purpose. “You can spend a lot of money in there” said with a sense of total winking self-approval.

    You could argue that Hostel is in a similar vein to films like The New York Ripper, but I would say The New York Ripper is far more successful because of it’s serious nature. While fanboy (which, one day you will probably be subjected to me ranting about my disillusionment with the general horror film audience) types are prone to laughing at the donald duck voice of the killer but the intent, decontextualizing something associated with ‘innocence’ and ‘childhood’ and subverting it into a mode of communication for a serial killer is pretty damn disturbing! I also think that Roth’s film lack the intelligence of Fulci’s films… Roth may be at least peripherally aware of the history of the genre, but that doesn’t mean he understands the pathos or even how to build tension other than by trying to blatantly deconstruct the local level of the films he’s seen.

    Hah, I don’t know. Maybe my method of viewing films has changed so much over the past few years that it’s significantly harder for me to let myself enjoy certain things. The problem is that right now, even if Roth doesn’t care for his frat boy types (which I could honestly argue that his inclusion as the victims being the same types that could grow up to be the clients was unintentional– Roth gives way too much credit to his protagonists for that, he’s gleefully reveling in their situations the whole way through [which I suppose just makes Roth a PoMo sadist in the vein of the whole GORE IS AWESOME!/idea of spectacle debate]), they make up a large chunk of his audience. I just can’t see any difference (other than budget) between HOSTEL and the other self-proclaimed MOST DISTURBING FILM EVER-taglined films like August Underground, Murder Set Pieces and the like. They’re just gore films with the flimiest thread of plots with totally half baked “philosophical ideas” behind them that serve no purpose except to lead up to the “money shot” which in gorno (as we were endearingly referring to it on message boards back in 2002) is really all you’re around to see, in the same way (most people) only stick around in porno flicks to see the actual come shot. So I really think that’s where the whole “toture porn” tag comes from.

    Okay that was way way way super disjointed and maybe I should wait to say anything else until I actually see HOSTEL 2 which I will be doing, as I said, just so I can see the lovely Edwige 😉

  7. I don’t think I have much to add to what I’ve already said, but I still appreciate that you took the time to reply Mike.

    I will say that I can’t argue with you about Fulci. Fulci is one of my favorite horror directors and I would never place Roth and Fulci in the same category (I don’t think Roth would either since he seems to call Fulci a “hero”). As I memntioned before, Roth is a young filmmaker with only a couple of movies under his belt and he has a long career ahead of him (The New York Ripper was Fulci’s 40th film and he made it when he was 55 years old). I have a really hard time comparing the two guys much less their films. It could easily be argued that Fulci didn’t really make a good film until he was 40. If you compared Hostel to what Fulci was doing when he was Roth’s age, I think Roth’s films may hold up a bit better or at the very least be as entertaining. I’m curious what Roth will be doing when he’s 40 and I hope he improves as a filmmaker but only time will tell.

    I have no problem with porn that pays off with a money shot or horror that pays off with gore, but obviously a lot of people do. I think both can have their entertainment value and serve a purpose – no matter how debased the general public finds it – so it seems we may differ a lot on that. I don’t need social commentary or any kind of philosophy in my horror films to enjoy them, but I actually thought Hostel had a hell of a lot more to say about social issues than most American horror films made in recent years. I went into the film blind knowing nothing about it and expecting nothing from it except maybe a few cheap thrills and I was personally surprised by all the underlying stuff going on in the film from beginning to end, as well as the way the film played out. I actually think it went over a lot of critics heads or maybe they just thought it was silly? Either way, I enjoyed it as well as Miike’s cameo. I think it’s obvious that some of Miike’s aesthetic informs Hostel and I appreciated that since I love Miike’s films.

    I’m worried that Roth may ahve went for for more humor over substance/ideas in Hostel 2 and that might ruin the movie even though the previews I’ve seen look good (of course a 2min. preview obviously doesn’t say much for plot, pacing, etc.).

    I came across this interview with Roth today that you might find interesting, or it might just annoy the hell out of you. Either way he does offer some insight into his films. It’s the first interview I’ve read with him and I can see how his sort of “fanboy” approach to cinema might bother a lot of people, but it doesn’t bother me. I think his bio on imdb offers more insight into where his films are coming from as well.

    I do have a problem with ignorant critics who have clearly not watched a lot of horror and decide to create a new attention grabbing label “title” like “torture porn” because it creates a “buzz” in these days of media saturation and catch phrases. A term like “trash” is clearly outdated as you’ve pointed out in your own blog and now critics are coming up with new lame things to label films with in 2007 and I just find it really ridiculous. I think Roth makes horror films, gory horror films, but no more gory than a lot of stuff that was produced in the 70s.

    Okay – I was obviously way off base when I said I didn’t have much else to say because I babbled on and on and on. 😉

    It’s funny, but I’ve never given Roth and Hostel as much thought as I have until today. I do still think Hostel was one of the best American horror films I’ve seen in recent years, but I also think horror films being made in Asia, Britain and France recently have been superior to anything being made in the US.

    Anyway, I do appreciate being able to discuss stuff with someone who won’t take anything I say about a damn movie personally! It’s really hard to discuss film, music and art these days without people feeling like you’re personally attacking them or insulting them if you don’t care for the same stuff. We may have to agree to disagree on Hostel and Roth in general, but I enjoyed reading what you had to say.

  8. I don’t think I have really much that’s original to add to this interesting discussion. I am looking forward to “Hostel 2.” One reason is that Edwige Fenech is in it. I’ve always found her to be very gorgeous. I think I tend to find European actresses to be extremely sexy. It will be neat to see her again. I have mixed emotions about Eli Roth. I actually liked “Cabin Fever” better than “Hostel.” I loved the concept of “Hostel.” It’s definitely different from your typical PG-13 horror movie starring pretty boys and girls from the CW. I loved the setting of the movie. I’m really fascinated by Eastern Europe. I’ve been to many countries in Western Europe, but I would love to visit Eastern Europe. The whole storyline I found very intriguing. I guess my problem with the movie is the first part of it. It seemed more like a fratboy comedy than a horror film. I cared for none of the characters. I couldn’t care less whether they lived or not. They typified the ugly American idea. Plus I think when the horror came it was too little. While I didn’t hate it, I was a little let down by it though. I’m hoping for much more from “Hostel 2.” I have loved the trailers I’ve seen for it. They have me interested. I do think Eli Roth is at least trying to do better than most of what goes for horror today. I can’t stand much modern horror. Probably the French are doing some of the most interesting stuff to me. I will give Roth props for trying to do something different than what’s mostly out there. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what I think of this one though.

  9. Kimberly, what an exquisite profile!! I’m impressed. Though I know you’ve resisted reading any interviews with Eli, I hope you’ll skim over the roundtable I recently conducted with him. I found Eli to be a truly enthusiastic and impassioned filmmaker and I’ve grown to appreciate his fierce, edgy sense of humor; not the least of which is the “porno” image he’s created of himself to promote Hostel 2 and its cock-fixations.

    Thanks very much for the tip of the hat. I’ve reciprocated and amended my original post.

  10. Hey, Kimberly.

    I hope my opinion on Eli Roth and his movies hasn’t diminished me in your eyes so much that I’ve been taken off your blogroll as punishment. 🙂

  11. Keith – Glad you’re enjoying the chat about Hostel even if you didn’t care much for the film. I do agree that the guys in the movie “typified the ugly American” stereotype and that’s realy one thing I enjoyed about it as well as the slow build up, which reminded me of movies like Night Train Murders. Anyway, I hope to catch the movie this weekend when I’m in Vegas and I think the previews look good.

    Maya – Great interview and thanks for the shout-out on your blog. I hope anyone who’s interested in Hostel and the Roth will stop by your blog and read the interview. I do wish someone would have asked him a few more questions about working with Edwige. 😉

    Damian – I’ve been re-doing my blog layout this week and moving music blogs to my “music links” section and I somehow managed to move your blog link there. Since the title of your blog reminds me of the song from the Thomas Crown Affair, I guess I placed it there by accident.

    Sorry about the mix-up! I wouldn’t want you to think I removed your blog link over something silly like us not liking the same movie. Variety is the spice of life! If we all liked the same stuff the world would be a really boring place. As long as you’re not calling me a sick sadistic monster because I love horror films, you’re okay by me! 🙂

  12. I am planning to see “Hostel 2” this weekend as well. I wasn’t sure if I was going to wait until it came out on DVD or not. My brother called me up and wanted to know if I wanted to check it out with him. His wife hated the first one, but he still wanted to see this one. He wasn’t that big a fan of the first one either. I think it had its moments. There was a great film in there somewhere. Those segments only shined some. I do applaud Eli Roth though for trying to do something different than the stale and lame stuff coming out of Hollywood these days.

  13. Whew! That’s good to know. I’ve been feeling slightly “under attack” about this subject lately. So, I’m not sure who I’ve offended and who I haven’t. Just wanted to make sure. Thanks!

    As long as you’re not calling me a sick sadistic monster because I love horror films, you’re okay by me!

    Oh, don’t worry. I would never do that to your face! 😉

  14. To me it’s been interesting to note that Ms. Feneche has been working behind the camera as a producer. One notable film she was associated with was Al Pacino’s version of Merchant of Venice.

  15. Kudos on the Fenech love. I’ve been watching most of her stuff lately, even the sexcoms. A lot of the gialli haven’t aged that well, but they’re still generally entertaining and sometimes even appear to have something interesting bubbling beneath their surfaces. My favorite is probably All the Colors of the Dark. Which do you think are the best?

    And you mentioned in one of your comment section responses that the French are making better horror movies than anything in the US these days. What movies are you referring to, and are they readily available?

  16. Thanks for the feedback Peter & Dennis!

    Dennis – Obviously I can’t agree about the “dated” element of older films (what do you expect from someone who writes a blog about 60s & 70s era cinema? 😉 ), but my favorite Fenech thrillers are 5 Dolls For an August Moon, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, All the Colors of the Dark and The Case of the Bloody Iris.

    As far as French horror films and thrillers go, I personally recommend checking out the work of dierctors like Alexandre Aja, Gaspar Noe, Christophe Gans, Fabrice Du Welz and Marina de Van. Most of them have movies that are available on DVD in the US such as Haute Tension, I Stand Alone, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Calvaire and In My Skin. Just make sure you rent the original French versions of the films with English subtitles because the dubbed American versions are often edited. I hope some of these suggestions are helpful!

  17. My final thoughts on Hostel 2 . . .

    Links to long posts I’ve made in other blogs in defense of Roth and his film here and here.

    I’ve been frankly horrified by some of the unprofessional negative criticism I’ve read in regard to Hostel 1 and 2, which I now more than ever think are some of the best American horror films made in recent years. Call me ridiculous or just plain crazy, but I also think most of the content in Roth’s films completely goes over people’s heads, or they’re too turned off by the way he promotes his films and the gore, or maybe they don’t like the black humor in them? Fact – the gore is actually rather mild in Hostel 2 so honest mainstream critics really should start rethinking why they don’t like Roth’s films.

    And for all the Roth haters out there…

    I’m not posting your comments or answering the emails you send me anymore. If you want to complain about Roth and his films, do it in your own blog.

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