Joe D'Amato  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Joe D'Amato, (birth name: Aristide Massaccesi) (December 15, 1936 in Rome - January 23, 1999 in Rome) was an Italian director of numerous horror and hardcore pornography titles. He is regarded as a master of Italian exploitation film. D'Amato's films are considerably dark, revolving around nihilistic and misanthropic tones and generally possessing what one reviewer referred to as "a contempt for all mankind."



D'Amato was familiar to the environment of cinema through his father who worked as an electrician at Cinecittà. He began his career as an operator, often working for Demofilo Fidani. His technical ability made him valuable on low-budget movies. He directed his first movie, a spaghetti western called Scansati... a Trinità arriva Eldorado, in 1972. He used a variety of aliases before settling in 1975 for Joe D'Amato, proposed by producer Ermanno Donati to resemble Italian American director names like Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma, which became his better-known pseudonym. His earlier films included westerns, thrillers, and softcore erotic movies, such as the giallo Death smiles at murder starring Klaus Kinski and Vow of chastity

D'Amato's somewhat unscrupulous methods (he often stole stock shots from other films and inserted them into his own as part of the narrative), the shocking content of some of his movies (one of his acclaimed earlier films, Emanuelle e Françoise le sorelline was an erotic thriller fantastique with a cannibalistic dinner scene) and his own penchant for creating publicity around himself (Antropophagus, features a monstrous cannibal eating a - fake - human fetus, Emanuelle in America contains scenes from fake snuff films that were made to look authentic) made him famous as an exploitation director. He worked under innumerable aliases during his lifetime, sometimes even selling scripts using a female name. Because of this, it is likely that there are still "undiscovered" D'Amato films, that is, films in circulation that he wrote or directed under an as yet unattributed pseudonym. It is widely believed that only a portion of his pornographic films have been identified as being his work. In his later years he would often finance his mainstream projects with money earned from directing pornography; during the 1990s, when Italian cinema was at a low point commercially, D'Amato directed at least 100 hardcore porn films for the european video market.

Those who knew D'Amato have said in interviews that while he was a very kind man who enjoyed filmmaking, and could somtimes make decent films, he was somtimes more concerned with making money than any kind of merit his films might have had. His entire career could be perhaps best be summed up in a line from his film Emanuelle's Revenge, spoken by a film producer playing a facsimile of D'Amato: "We're not making artsy-farty crap for intellectual faggots. We're out to make money!" This is particularly evidenced by the many "knockoff" films he made:

  • One of his earliest projects as a cameraman was a Western about a vengeful cowboy called Per mille dollari al giorno (For One Thousand Dollars per Day) in 1966, went into production a few months after the success of fellow Italian Sergio Leone's film, Per qualche dollaro in più (For a Few Dollars More).
  • Immagini di un convento (Images in a Convent) (1979) followed Walerian Borowczyk's Interno di un convento (Behind Convent Walls) (1977).
  • In 1981, D'Amato released Caligula 2, which he marketed as the sequel to 1979's Caligula, even using similar poster art.
  • Only months after the release of Conan the Barbarian in 1982, D'Amato wrote, directed, and released Ator the Invincible, about a Scandinavian barbarian who goes on an epic quest against fantasy monsters to save his beloved; two years later, when Conan the Destroyer was released, D'Amato quickly filmed and released Ator the Blademaster, which, while closely resembling Conan, also contained several clips of other movies which D'Amato had stolen and inserted, among them Where Eagles Dare. When it was announced shortly thereafter that there would be no more Conan films, d'Amato announced there would be no more Ator films.
  • Undici giorni, undici notti (Eleven Days, Eleven Nights) was released in 1986, just a few months after Adrian Lyne's 9½ Weeks.
  • Following the success of Sex and Zen, D'Amato directed a series of films in the Philippines, disguised as Hong Kong productions in the period of 1993-1994. The film named China and Sex, D'Amato credited as "Robert Yip" is particularly significant. He later displayed the expertise he gained in shooting "Chinese films", with Marco Polo: La storia mai raccontata (1995), a pornographic film starring Rocco Siffredi and Tabatha Cash.
  • He also released several porn films that were rip offs of Hollywood films Juliet and Romeo and Marco Polo

D'Amato had one son, Daniele Massaccesi. Daniele moved to the United States, where he entered into a lucrative career as a cameraman, working on such films as Cold Mountain, Hannibal, and Kingdom of Heaven.

Joe D'Amato wrote and directed three of the four Ator movies. One of the movies, Cave Dwellers, was featured on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Selected filmography

  • Heroes in Hell (1973) starring Klaus Kinski
  • Death Smiles at a Murderer (1973) starring Klaus Kinski
  • Emanuelle e Françoise le sorelline (Blood Vengeance) (1975)
  • Emanuelle in America (1977)
  • Emanuelle - Perché violenza alle donne? (Emanuelle Around the World) (1977)
  • Emanuelle e gli ultimi cannibali (Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals) (1977) aka "Trap Them And Kill Them"
  • Immagini di un convento (Images From a Convent) (1979)
  • Porno Holocaust (1979)
  • Buio Omega (Beyond The Darkness) (1979)
  • Le Notti erotiche dei morti viventi (Erotic Nights of the Living Dead) ([[1980])
  • Orgasmo nero (Black Orgasm) (1980)
  • Antropophagus (1980) aka "The Grim Reaper"
  • Caligola: La Storia mai raccontata (Emperor Caligula: The Untold Story) (1981) (as David Hills)
  • Absurd (1981) aka "Monster Hunter", aka Anthropophagous 2"
  • Anno 2020 - I gladiatori del futuro (2020 Texas Gladiators) (1982)
  • Ator the Fighting Eagle (1983) aka "Ator The Invincible"
  • Endgame (1983)
  • La Monaca del Peccato (The Convent of Sinners) (1986)
  • Blademaster (1987) aka "Ator The Invincible 2"
  • Killing Birds: Zombie 5 (1987) aka "Raptors"
  • Quest for the Mighty Sword (1989) aka "Ator 4"
  • Return From Death (1992) aka "Frankenstein 2000"
  • Troll 3 (1990)
  • {{Operation sex))

Selected films as producer only

  • STAGE FRIGHT (1987) aka "Bloody Bird", directed by Michele Soavi
  • GHOSTHOUSE (1988) aka "La Casa 3", directed by Umberto Lenzi
  • WITCHERY (1988) aka "La Casa 4"
  • HITCHER IN THE DARK (1989) aka "Fear in the Dark", directed by Umberto Lenzi
  • TROLL 2 (1990) directed by Claudio Fragasso
  • THE DOOR TO SILENCE (1991) directed by Lucio Fulci

Known aliases of Aristide Massaccesi

  • Sarah Asproon
  • Donna Aubert
  • Stephen Benson
  • Steve Benson
  • Anna Bergman
  • John Bird
  • Alexandre Borski
  • Alexandre Borsky
  • James Burke
  • Lee Castle
  • Lynn Clark
  • O.J. Clarke
  • Hugo Clevers
  • Joe d'Amato
  • Joe De Mato
  • Michael Di Caprio
  • Dario Donati
  • Raf Donato
  • Romano Gastaldi
  • Robert Hall
  • Richard Haller
  • David Hills
  • Igor Horwess
  • George Hudson
  • Gerry Lively
  • Kevin Mancuso
  • A. Massaccesi
  • Aristice Massaccesi
  • Aristide Massaccesi
  • Arizona Massachuset
  • Andrea Massai
  • J. Metheus
  • Peter Newton
  • Una Pierre
  • Zak Roberts
  • Tom Salima
  • John Shadow
  • Federico Slonisco
  • Frederick Slonisco
  • Fédérico Slonisco
  • Dan Slonisko
  • Frederick Slonisko
  • Frederico Slonisko
  • Frederic Slonisko
  • Frederiko Slonisko
  • Fred Slonisko
  • Chana Lee Sun
  • Chang Lee Sun
  • Michael Wotruba
  • Robert Yip

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Joe D'Amato" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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