Director/producer/cinematographer Italian maestro Domiziano Cristopharo is changing the face of modern horror and has his scope on the North American market by creating some of the more extreme horror movie titles to surface in recent memory. Christopharo’s involvement with the film Sacrifice, directed by Poison Rouge, has proved to be one of the most shocking and extreme yet beautifully filmed titles to surface in years. The upcoming movie Torment, which Cristopharo also produces, is probably even more sexually extreme and intense. With other numerous creative and artistic yet extreme titles under his belt such as Doll Syndrome, Red Krokodil, Virus: Extreme Contamination, House Of Flesh Mannequins and many more, I wanted to find out what makes Cristopharo tick.
Pophorror: Let’s begin with the most generic question… what inspired you to make movies, to be an artist and how did you get your start?
Domiziano Cristopharo: I started realizing amateur short movies with the super-8 camera my father had. I still have it. I was 12 years old and I used to involve my parents and neighbors as actors. I used to sign the short films with the name of ENZO PARIS because my real interest was to realize only the special FX! We are talking about 31 years ago, and here in Italy, we didn’t have a school for that. Umberto Lenzi invited me to follow him on his set when I was 14, and then I started to study in a private school (where now sometimes I’m a teacher) and working in theater as an actor, costume designer and makeup artist.
After almost 20 years of working behind the scenes, I had the chance to film my first feature in Los Angeles called House of Flesh Mannequins as director, thanks to Domiziano Arcangeli.
Pophorror: We often talk about people’s fears of male genitalia being present in movies. Your titles have frequent male genitalia as well as female, of course. What is your opinion on sexuality in movies and what is your philosophy regarding this?
Domiziano Cristopharo: As theater/body art performer and dancer, the use of the body is the most obvious and natural expression for me. My movies are often not spoken and my actors and actresses not dressed. I think there is nothing more powerful than the pure essence. Life, death, blood, sperm, nudity… they are the eternal symbols of a circle of life. Actually, I’m considered an extreme director, but in fact in comparison to the most films you see around, in my movies there are just a few murders and a small amount of blood.
A naked body is not a sin, and if the female nudity is now allowed, I don’t understand why we cannot accept male nudity also without falling into stupid bigotry like the gay stigmata. I’m Italian. I grew up in a golden age of filmmaking where we had Visconti, Pasolini, Fellini… but also Martino and Joe D’amato. Nudity was a constant component of those films. Also, nudity by far is the basic component of all the fine arts. People that get easily offended probably never had a visit to a museum.
Pophorror: What film that you’ve been involved with has been the closest to your heart or means something special to you?
Domiziano Cristopharo: As independent director, I must say I do only things that I really wanna do, and that I really feel. So all the movies I did – in some way – say something special to me. If I really have to pick some, I will say Red Krokodil because to share the creative experience with Brock Madson was very intense. Also, this film marks a style change in my way to realize a film, style that I confirmed in the following Doll Syndrome.
Pophorror: Lets talk about your relationship with Poison Rouge. She has made a name for herself with the film Sacrifice. I also understand she got her screen debut in your first feature film, House Of Flesh Mannequins.
Domiziano Cristopharo: She is first a great real friend for me. We’ve known each other for 12 years. We started acting in sideshows together, then she helped me in House Of Flesh Mannequins. We kept cooperating in many films like Phanasmagoria and Hyde’s Secret Nightmare, and when the time of Sacrifice arrived, I decided to give the movie to her, because I was busy preparing Torment.
Pophorror: Let’s talk about the many upcoming projects you have in progress, such as a rendition of Macbeth, Torment, the latest P.O.E. film in the series, Phobia, and more. You are a busy man!
Domiziano Cristopharo: Some movies are just taking long post-production time, so looks like I do many things together. In fact, I really organize everything with a perfect schedule! When we have to work low budget like I do… if we don’t have money, we need time… and post production is the best amusing part, but sucks!
Pophorror: Has it been hard getting your films into the North American market or do you find you have more support shown for your movies in the U.S./Canada?
Domiziano Cristopharo: I never had – sadly – support here in Italy. My first feature was made in USA because no one wanted the script here in Italy. I proposed it for 5 years. Sending the script to the USA was the last desperate try, but the lucky one. All my movies arrive in Italy by import…
Pophorror: Let’s talk about Doll Syndrome and the negative response it has received due to male nudity we talked about before. Are you still having it released eventually through Wild Eye Releasing?
Domiziano Cristopharo: Looks like Wild Eye will release the movie in the first months of 2018. I hope this cooperation bring to both of us the best. Doll is a very different film, and I’m sure if get the right wide distribution/promotion, it could be a cult movie.
Pophorror: I notice you are acquaintances or an admirer of the famous porn director Mario Salieri. What is your opinion on pornography? Do you believe it should be considered an art form?
Domiziano Cristopharo: When people talk about porn, there is always a mark of shame on it. I can just say that studies made in some university revealed that the 70% of the people that have internet watch porn, and only the 14% admit to do it. So, this explains my thoughts about pornography better than other things…. we live in a society that creates a nonsense medieval stigmata on the things that people love more. And so, now we live in a golden cage that seems impossible to escape from. Frustration and moralism are everywhere because we fear what we actually enjoy. Crazy. About Mario, he is a very kind person, rich of culture, and a real cinema lover… We are going to cooperate very soon…
Pophorror: How did Unearthed Films founder and American Guinea Pig series creator Stephen Biro hear about Sacrifice and want to include it as part of American Guinea Pig?
Domiziano Cristopharo: Sacrifice is part of the Trilogy Of Death, 3 movies that include Torment and Xpiation which is in post production. This is a series born to be an Italian answer to the Japanese/American guinea pig series. The original title of Sacrifice was actually Like a Guinea Pig Sacrifice, referred to the destiny of the main character. But Biro asked me to change the name to not create mistakes with the AGP series… so we stayed in touch and when we finished the film, he was really curious about watching it… so I sent him a link, without expecting what happened next!