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Stanley on Imago Mortis

Writer sheds light on Italy’s next horror flick

To elaborate further on the Stefano Bessoni’s Imago Mortis (an Italian giallo we guided your attention to here), co-writer Richard Stanley (Hardware) writes in to explain his involvement in the Medusa/Gaia production and to give us some clarification as to what ‘Mortis’ all about.

“I worked on two drafts of ‘Imago Mortis’ while myself and my writing partner Miss Maggie Moor were on vacation in Italy staying as guests of Signor [Dario Argento in a building used as a location in 'Bird with the Crystal Plumage,'" he tells us. Later, Stanley and Moor would collaborate on Vacation, Stanley's next film starring Bruce Campbell. "['Mortis'] was one of several stabs I’ve taken at the [giallo] genre and seemingly the first to bear fruit.”

“The plot concerns a death-fixated British film student getting way out of his depth in Rome as he attempts to uncover the truth behind a bizarre series of killings involving one of the darkest and most mysterious footnotes to cinema history – the lost art of ‘thanatography’!” he continues, now giving meaning to the film’s title which, in Latin, means Image of Death. “It’s a form first perfected in the dark ages by rogue Jesuit Girolamo Fumagalli who – inspired by Kircher’s principle of retinal retention – found a way of recording images in flesh, fixed for all eternity by the moment of death itself. Fumagalli was buried alive by the inquisition when his crimes became public knowledge and the thanatographic apparatus was thought to have died with him. Only now its deadly secret has been rediscovered.”

The process thus means a potential victim has to be secured (“a la Opera“) to remove their eyes and salvage the images. “As the new generation of budding ‘thanatographers’ are working on a sort of post-Matrix bullet speed version of Fumagalli’s process a helluva lot of fresh young subjects are required – and then of course there are the actual images those eyes are set to record!”

If you’re fluent in Italian, you can peruse Bessoni’s blog here where he has a page of production sketches (see above) and more.

Source: Ryan Rotten