Sergio Martino

Active - 1965 - 2012  |   Born - Jul 19, 1938 in Rome, Italy  |   Genres - Thriller, Horror, Comedy, Crime, Science Fiction

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Biography by Robert Firsching

Prolific Italian genre filmmaker Sergio Martino was born in Rome to a family with impressive film credits. His maternal grandfather, Genaro Rigelli, had directed films in Germany for many years and helmed the first Italian sound film, La Canzone dell'Amore. Starting his career as an assistant director for Rigelli and filmmakers such as Mario Bava and Brunello Rondi, Martino eventually moved into directing himself, with the lurid 1969 documentary Mondo Sex. Over the next three decades, Martino was responsible for some of the more exploitative films in a number of genres, moving from spaghetti Westerns (Arizona, Mannaja) to giallo thrillers (Lo Strano Vizio della Signora Wardh, La Coda dello Scorpione) to gritty crime films, sex comedies (including the minor hit 40 Gradi all'Ombre del Lenzuolo with Marty Feldman), jungle adventures, and apocalyptic science fiction. There were many duds, such as the appalling Ursula Andress vehicle La Montagna del Dio Cannibale and the ridiculous L'Isola degli Uomini Pesce, but quite a few gems such as Tutti Colori del Buio, surely one of the more surreal gialli of the cycle; 2019 Dopo la Caduta di New York, a rousing Mad Max 2 knockoff; and I Corpi Presentano Tracce di Violenza Carnale, which played double-bills with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in America and was one of the first Italian horror films to gain a deluxe director's cut release on DVD. Like most Italian exploitation specialists, he worked increasingly for television in the 1990s, when the country's declining film industry precluded the necessary financing for low-budget theatrical releases. His brother is producer/director Luciano Martino.

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