No one else was on that flight that night: frozen out by the blizzard, European tourists had no choice but to cry and tear up their Broadway tickets and dinner reservations. TWA was still in the air, along with the Concorde, but we were on neither. Alitalia? I’m not sure… but it was lights out that night, when even the stewardesses had fallen asleep and left the drink cart to ourselves. The Italians took as much booze as they could before I nipped a couple of tonics to keep my stomach settled from the diseases (the average commercial airliner bathroom is filthier than any factory farm or pigsty you can imagine). They spent as much time getting drunk as they did complaining about their lives, wives, and careers. I can still recall huge chunks of that night word for word…
Enzo on completing the special effects for Manhattan Babydoll, his 1983 cosmopolitan slasher: “That son of a bitch Fulci comes in and destroys the facilities at Cinecitta, just completely wrecks the place by blowing the sound system out with a reel of Catriona MacColl screams, then throws vodka all over the screens and starts pouring it into the mixers… He had just finished work on Manhattan Baby, not two days before the premiere in Rome… naturally I was the fall guy, the steward… I not only had to clean up his mess with Fabrizio, I had to deliver a carbon copy of his film—trash—that would presumably do even bigger business than his. I barely tried, yet this was exactly the case: Fulci wasn’t a company man, and I made sure Manhattan Babydoll made its money back. I bought wheat paste posters for New York, yes, when I tell you it’s true, I did.”
Giuseppe, his agent, on his slide into genre rip-offs in the mid-1980s: “But Enzo, you really should not have done Split Ligaments… not a true film, not authentic… Fulci was too erratic, too haphazard with the camera, always moving around. Today, American scientists would call him “ADHD” and give him pills to destroy his soul. Well, maybe for Fulci actually, they would calm him down and he would learn to cover a scene. Nevertheless, Split Ligaments, no, this was a rip-off of Fulci’s own Murder-Rock, itself a Fame rip-off but with a slasher and music by Keith Emerson. He had points on you, he had points on you. It’s undeniable.”
This was one of the few times during that flight that Enzo spilled his drink. He was getting belligerent.
“Fulci never had anything on me. Nothing: not ‘points,’ not women, not stories, not images, not money—well yes, money, successes, all that. But no, no—he is not… he’s not authentic. He is not an authentic man.”
Giuseppe asked Enzo to define “an authentic man.”
He thought about this for a while. All three of us looked out the window at the vast, texture-less white void outside the cabin, eight miles high. Enzo let out a long, sad sigh.
“One who is true to others before himself.”
Giuseppe didn’t ask further, and the two men didn’t speak for an eternity—10 minutes. And then it was back to the same bitching I can still remember so many years later.
—Follow Monica Quibbits on Twitter: @MonicaQuibbits