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.