Wednesday, July 18, 2012


This not Vincenzo Tomassi
If you watch Italian Horror movies (and we certainly hope you do if you’ve been reading this week) I’m pretty sure the name Vincenzzo Tomassi, also known as Vincent P. Thomas, is ingrained in your brain. Maybe as much as Dario Argento or Lucio Fulci. I dare say if you watch enough Italian cinema you might have his name emblazoned in your retina as if you had been staring at the sun through a card board cut out featuring only his name. His name appears bold as life on nearly all the popular Fulci films of the later 70’s and early 80’s. Today we focus a bit on Tomassi and his work that has made fans adore so man Italian classics as film editor.

This is not Vincenzo Tomassi

What’s a film editor? Why do you even need to care about Senor Tomassi? I wanted to get an “authority” on the subject and our beloved Princeton Review had a nice selection on the importance of choosing the correct film editor (full article HERE):

Film editors assemble footage of feature films, television shows, documentaries, and industrials into a seamless end product. They manipulate plot, score, sound, and graphics to refine the overall story into a continuous and enjoyable whole. On some films, the film editor is chosen before cast members and script doctors; people in Hollywood recognize that the skills of a good film editor can save a middling film. In the same way directors use certain actors they appreciate over and over again, they also use film editors they know and are comfortable with. Martin Scorcese, Spike Lee, and Robert Wise are a few of the directors who work with the same editors over and over again. Such relationships lend stability to a film editor’s life; otherwise, they must be prepared to submit video resume after video resume, in the struggle to get work. Editors can express themselves through their unique styles; Spike Lee’s editor, for example, is well-known for his editing style. The hours are long, and the few editors who had the time to write comments to us tended to abbreviate their thoughts. “Dawn/Dusk. Rush jobs. After test audiences, do it again. Lots of frustration. Lots of control, though,” wrote one. Just as directors do, film editors spend a long time perfecting and honing their craft. Like most industries, the film industry has embraced new technology. Assistant editors must now have strong computer skills to work in the industry. While some editors stay removed from the project during the filming process so as not to steer the director away from his or her concept of the film, many of them do visit the director on set while production is under way. Nevertheless, the majority of a film editor’s work is done alone. Despite that solitude, interpersonal skills are just as important as endurance is in an editor’s career. Film editors work closely with sound editors and musical directors as the film nears completion. Long hours and significant isolation while actually editing can make even the most positive-minded film editor question the career choice. But an interesting, well-edited film can restore faith in the profession.

Basically what this says is that the film editor puts all the pieces together into a story. You can imagine how important this person is to a production and since folks like Fulci chose Vincenzo Tomassi over and over again we can think pretty darn highly of the fella. The film he fastned together helped to congeal and cement the place of Italian cinema in the real of horror before the VHS market crashed into DVD’s and the Americans stopped accepting subtitled or dubbed films from around the globe (only revived by the blessed internet and DVD subtitle options some time later).

He was born in Latina, Italy on November 19, 1937. He started editing film in 1966 when he worked on The Upper Hand (Italian: Du rififi à Paname) directed by Denys de La Patelliere. He proceeded to gain regular work, editing up to five movies a year through the 1980’s. His first forays into horror were through the subgenre of giallo films produced in the early 70’s. The Weekend Murders, Feast of Satan and Cold Eyes of Fear are two notable entries in his early work related to horror. He also edited the Antichrist aka The Temptor which has strong cult classic appeal during the 70’s.

His work in the horror genre took off when he edited Let Sleeping Corpses Lie for Jorge Grau which would foreshadow some of his later work with Lucio Fulci primary working on zombie related horror features. Before he would step into the editing room with Fulci he would work on Black Emanuelle, the X rated “new experience in sensuality” that became a sensation throughout the world of softcore cinema. He would also work on Emmanuelle in Bangkok, Emmanuelle inAmerica, Emanuelle Around the World, Papaya: Love Goddess of the Cannibals with Joe D’Amato.

See his credit on the poster?

In 1979 he worked on Zombie with Lucio Fulci, considered to be a pivotal work in the Italian undead subgenre boom immediately followed in 1980 by his work in the other major subgenre explosion, cannibals, in Cannibal Holocaust. Both Zombie and Cannibal Holocaust are widely considered to have turned the table on traditional narrative story telling in Italy excluding giallo which was playing with more avante garde techniques. In the next five years he would edit City of the Living Dead, House on the Edge of the Park, the Black Cat, the Beyond, The House by the Cemetery, New York Riper, Manhattan Baby, Murder Rock, Raiders of Atlantis mostly working with Fulci, Deodato, Lenzi and Tonino Ricci. His final two films were Fulci’s. Voices from Beyond and Nightmare Concert aka Cat in the Brain (a beautiful love-gorefest for the fans).

Credits in which Vincenzo Tomassi is not listed as the Editor (tee hee hee):

Vincezo Tomassi’s work brought him to several different genres throughout his career, but horror fans are the ones who recognize his name the best. He worked with Ruggero Deodato (on a musical comedy of all things), Marino Girolami, Umberto Lenzi,  Alberto De Martino, Enzo G. Castellari, Michele Lupo, Jorge Grau and Lucio Fulci, all stars-dieties of the horror directing pantheon that was Italian cinema through the 70’s and 80’s. Tomassi died in 1993 in Rome, too young at the age of 55. thought he did have a short stint as a writer, he predominantly focused his cinematic contributions as an editor.

Information on Tomassi is somewhat sparse, so I encourage fans of his work to contribute any information they might have below in effort to better celebrate his life, personal or professional. His name is all over the films you adore, and you’ve seen it at least a hundred times before. I hope this gives a more dynamic picture of his work.

(see what I did there?)

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