WARNING: MAJOR MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
Just a few days later, Picchio and screenwriter/producer Gianluigi Perrone e-mailed me asking to explain their side of the story. Being that I wholly believe that film is art and it’s open to interpretation, I welcomed the opportunity with open arms. Maybe I was wrong? I’m a big boy, I can handle it.
So, without further adieu, I present to you my exclusive interview with the Italian filmmaking team of Morituris. I’ll leave it for you dear readers to decide who’s right and who’s wrong. Again, beware of heavy spoilers.
Filmmaker’s note: Please, write that reading this interview is a total spoiler for the film.
MAJOR MAJOR SPOILERS
MR. DISGUSTING (BD): You were telling me Morituris is, in a way, based on a true story?
Gianluigi Perrone: Two true stories. Circeo massacre and Spartacus riot’s unknown story. Thinking to a slasher with gladiators could make you think to a horror comedy, so we decided to make it serious.
Raffaele Picchio: Yes, the first part of the movie is based on the infamous “Circeo’s massacre” which occurred in 1976. Nevertheless, we attempted to put the whole story in a more modern context. It was 1976, when three young, rich-upper class, fascist Roman guys pick up two Italian girls with the excuse of driving them to a party and allegedly with the help of a mysterious “fourth man”, rape both and killed one. The other girl managed to survive by faking her own death. Afterward, she significantly contributed to helping the Italian Criminal Court in convicting the three murderers. All four male characters of Morituris share some of the features of the 3 “true” killers.
BD: Where did the gladiator portion come from?
RP: Morituris was born with the idea of taking two different kinds of “horror”, merging and putting them in a slasher framework. It is worth stressing that it was our ambition to shoot a movie characterized by a strong Italian cultural identity. In the second half of the movie we start with (refer to; quote) the true story of Spartacus’ revolt. Nonetheless, afterward we attempted to further develop this myth by inventing a “new mythology” more suitable to the structure of modern slasher horror movies: the “undead” gladiators.
BD: What inspired the film in general?
GP: Look at the structure of the film, and it’s one of the most known classic thrillers ever. Otherwise, maybe somebody would be upset because of the unordinary slasher structure but I think it’s obvious that was wanted since the beginning.
You think their friends are going to be slashed (showing them as friends)? Wrong. It’s a twist. You expect the gladiators to save the girls? Wrong, they kill everyone when called back to the violence. You think that the protagonist will survive and the geeky one will die first? Wrong. The geeky one put the protagonist in the situation of dying and you hate him for it. You see him being the only survivor but when he dies you feel your watcher urge for revenge at the maximum point.
BD: Why do you feel women are portrayed so poorly in the film?
GP: Victims are portrayed. Characters in the film as no name being victims in a universal meaning. Showing the one of the most vile crimes against women (male rape in not considered in law and not common) is a way of showing the evil of mankind and it’s decadence. Look to the end titles and read “in memory of mankind”.
BD: What’s the point of the brother (who is torturing a girl and dropping mice in her vagina) that you cut to twice?
GP: Besides multiple tribute, you can see that some crimes happens not only in the hidden of a forest but also in the core of a metropolis like Rome. However, he’s not a brother.
RP: “Jacques” is one of the nicknames used by Andrea Ghira, one of three original killers. Mr. Ghira chose this pseudonym as a tribute to a famous boss of the “Marsigliesi”, a very powerful criminal organization controlling Rome’s drug market during the 60s and the first half of the 70s. Furthermore, let me underscore that Jacques is the only character who has a sort of “name”, and the only character (surviving the end of the movie) who doesn’t die. “Best-son” of a corrupted and sick society, he embodies the invisible cancer of contemporary society. To a certain extent, Jaques can be compared to Patrick Bateman, who is of course, the main character of the novel American Psycho written by Bret Easton Ellis. The mouse sequence can be deemed a tribute to this book and the link between these two characters.
BD: Why do you crucify the protagonist and not one of the rapists?
GP: The symbol of crucifixion is related commonly to martyrdom and sacrifice, most of all in Catholic countries. The girl who is crucified might seem like the silly one at first but her reaction is what gives the girls a way of surviving. For that, the other girl protagonist gets a reaction for herself and fights against the gladiators. The sacrifice of the red girl is the purpose of the other girl’s last struggle for life. At the end, she doesn’t survive but she fights for her life. She then has a death less violent and not so cruel as her sidekick. Heroes are not the winners but the ones who fight for an ideal. I think it’s wrong to say that the guys are cool. They’re not cool at all. They pretend to be cool, which is the less cool thing in the world.
RP: Moreover, if you had actually seen the movie, you would know that all characters, except for Jacques, get crucified in the end of the movie. Also, if you watched the movie more carefully you would have noticed that all the “tyrants” are beheaded by the gladiators whereas all victims die in a sort of “mystic contemplation”.
BD: Looking at the film now, would you say you can see why I’d be so angry with it, or would you say I completely missed the point? Would you maybe say it’s lost in translation?
GP: What’s missing is why everything goes wrong. The movie is half drama and half horror. In reality, things go wrong because evil deeds do damage to everybody, even the innocent. It is told clearly in the monologue at the beginning of the film so, if that’s a problem it should be the didascalism of that. It’s to clear the meaning.
There’s no point in hating women and as we know, we can shock. We didn’t show anything. Did you ever see scissors or the mice in the vagina? You see just eyes crying. No violence for free, at all.
BD: The FX work by Sergio is pretty great, talk about working with him.
RP: Sergio has a particular taste for certain kind of “old-style” effects. In Morituris, we needed this old-school approach and there’s no doubt we made the right call in choosing Sergio. In addition to that, Sergio has been collaborating with most part of the Italian indie-horror scene. Accordingly, he was pretty enthusiast when we asked him to work on our project. We are sincerely thankful for the significant contribution he provided in the shooting of Morituris.
BD: What horror films have inspired you?
RP: There’s a lot of stuff in Morituris. It’s our first work and I think it’s normal that one can find, in it, all sources from which we have drawn our inspiration, such as comics, music, novels, movies and so on. Nonetheless, rather than following a particular style, we have just decided to play with the “rules” of a classic genre.
GP: I think it’s easy to see that in Morituris there’s a big study on structure of slasher and deconstruction of genre. We tried to. Maybe we missed.
BD: What else would you like to add that we haven’t addressed. I’d love for my readers to have both sides to the story before they see the movie in the future.
GP: The tagline of the film is “evil prevails”. So happens. We didn’t mean to make a horror comedy but a surreal metaphor about the realistic process of evil actions. When a nuclear bomb falls, everybody dies.
RP: Leaving aside the personal insults, which are not worth replying to, in my opinion, writing such a spoiler and misleading review is unfair to both those who are eager to watch the movie and those who are just curious about it. In spite of your misleading review, I’m convinced that viewers will watch the movie with very open-minded attitudes…. and enjoy it!