There have always been movies that try to mimic or pay homage to a type of film before it, after all most filmmakers are also film lovers. Lots of horror films are done in the 70s exploitation style, grindhouse was big for a while thanks to Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, and lately there have been quite a few that are going for that 60s/70s surrealist feel. It Follows has sort of a Roman Polanski/Nicolas Roeg feel, The Conjuring films give a major nod to films like The Exorcist and haunted house movies like The Haunting and Ghost Story, and the many anthologies like the V/H/S series pay homage to Tales from the Crypt and Creepshow. But while these films are inspired by the films before them, they never seem to capture the exact essence. A film like Ti West’s House of the Devil comes very close to feeling like it is a movie from another time, but most don’t really nail it. Until Luciano Onetti’s Francesca, out this month.
It has been 15 years since the disappearance of Francesca Visconti, daughter of the renowned storyteller, poet and dramatist Vittorio Visconti. And now a psychotic killer is prowling the streets bent on cleansing the streets of damned souls. Inspector Moretti and Detective Succo are in charge of finding the killer and uncovering the link between the murders and the disappearance of Francesca.
Francesca is an amazing accomplishment. As a fan of Italian Giallo films of the 60s and 70s, I was absolutely stunned by the authenticity Onetti achieved with Francesca. I had not heard of the film previously and when I first held it in my hands I thought it was a reissue of a lesser-known giallo from the past. But upon looking it up I discovered it was made last year. The packaging, the atmosphere, the look of the film, the production design, costumes, actors, dialogue, makeup, editing and score are all spot on perfect matches to giallo films of the past. And in addition to the incredible design of the film it is also a great little story full of mystery, tension and horrific fun. For a new movie to make the viewer nostalgic is quite a feat.
The new special edition Blu-ray of Francesca not only had beautifully designed retro packaging but also includes the film on Blu-ray and DVD as well as the entire soundtrack on CD. For horror fans, especially those who love filmmakers like Dario Argento, Mario Bava, and Lucio Fulci, you must check out Francesca. It is the most accurate and authentic homage to a bygone era that I have ever seen. Highly recommended.