Red Monks, The / I frati rossi (1988)

2.5 out of 5

Lucio Fulci produced this film along with Pino Buricchi, the producer of the excellent Colt 38 Special Squad. Buricchi, not the most prolific writer, penned this with director Gianni Martucci, a writer of a mere eight titles, and based upon a Luciana Anna Spacca story, her only credit. Between this less experienced writing team a whole host of good ideas we compiled and I frati rossi had the potential to be an exceptional film but it all falls down on execution as despite some occasional inspired flashes it all feels a bit flat, more like a made for TV quickie lacking the touches of those who could have made this a somewhat more enjoyable experience. Under the direction of a Mario Bava, a Jess Franco or a Lucio Fulci at the top of his game, three who would have been ideal for this material, The Red Monks could have been something special. Unfortunately in the hands of Gianni Martucci and with less than consistent cinematography from Sergio Rubini the viewer is left with a far more frustrating cinematic experience.

A ghost story, featuring but not starring a sinister cellar dwelling ancient monastic order, a love story, and a Templar theme that is retold with the aid of a flashback and even a flashback within a flashback offers plenty to entertain including the exploitation holy grail of violence, though off camera, and of course sex and nudity.

Gerardo Amato stars, along with Lara Wendel, of Tenebrae fame, who gets naked a few times and Malisa Longo who has an excellent exploitation cinema pedigree. A Lucio Fulci presentation I frati rossi is far from the worst of the Lucio Fulci Presents series of films however that is hardly a recommendation.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics