Originally published on this site here, in Italian.
Original title: Zora La Vampira
Produced by: Vittorio Cecchi Gori; Marco Scaffardi; Carlo Verdone
Directed by: Manetti Bros. (Antonio Manetti; Marco Manetti)
Written by: Manetti Bros.
Cinematography: Federico Schlatter
Edited by: Federico Maria Maneschi
Special effects and Make-up: Rosario Prestopino; Corrado Rizzo; Gianluca Rizzo; Paolo Zeccara
Music by: DJ Gruff; DJ Squarta
Running time: approximately 105 minutes
Budget: According to Marco Manetti, the movie had “a big budget (…) Cecchi Gori had invested much money and made many theatres available“ (source: interview by Arianna Finos, August 18th, 2017 – January 27th, 2019, on Repubblica.it)
Receipt: According to Marco Manetti, it “failed at the box office“ (source: interview by Irene Vanni, February 3rd, 2010, on Horrormagazine.it)
Scenes from the movie in B/W
WARNING – THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Transylvania, year 2000. Count Dracula (Toni Bertoletti) is watching television, specifically the Italian public television RAI1. Fascinated by the lights and the cheap emotions transmitted on TV, he falls in love with Italy and decides to live there. Meanwhile, in Rome, Zombi (Chef Ragoo) divides himself between the Circolo degli artisti community centre and Zora (Micaela Ramazzotti), a young writer who enriches the grey capitoline walls with her name.
Here, amid urban decay and horror dictionaries pitted in hip hop sounds, a parody of Dracula to be seen begins.
But let’s proceed with order.
In 2000, the Manetti Bros. (Antonio and Marco Manetti) are working on a videoclip for Alex Britti. Through the singer, they know Carlo Verdone (who will play Commissioner Lombardi in the movie). The versatile Roman actor and director, who has always been a talent scout and regional icons relauncher2, has a look at some of their projects and chooses to produce one, which is already in pre-production: Zora La Vampira.
The movie, although released in “many theatres” and “with a big budget“, does not get the expected success though: Marco Manetti says it “failed at the box office“. About critics, the passage of time seems to register mixed reviews3.
However, thanks to his musical references4, to being in the full right in the filmography on Dracula and, we can say, to being a really nice movie, Zora has become a cult movie over time.
Still talking about references, even the title, Zora The Vampire, is a quote. In particular, it refers to the old Italian horror-erotic comics of the Seventies and Eighties, of which Zora was one of the most famous5.
The analogies with the comic, however, end with the title, with the nickname of the main character and with some quotations during the movie. Zora The Vampire, actually, is a parody of Stoker’s Dracula set in Rome in the year 2000.
And a good parody. The plot follows the key points of Stoker. The atmosphere is always between horror and comedy, avoiding dangerous imbalances. Laughters are guaranteed, comic timing is respected, the horror has its share. The vampire is a mix of the historical Vlad III, whose appearance is partly taken up, the seducer Lugosi and Murnau’s Nosferatu, with whom he shares the close connection with mice.
Zora The Vampire does not arrive in a cinematographic desert. Parodies of Dracula had already been made, even in Italy: Dracula In The Provinces, Lucio Fulci’s 1975 movie, although not a real parody of Stoker, talks about vampirism; and 1985’s Fracchia Contro Dracula, by Neri Parenti.
And yet, Zora has something more.
And above all, and this is the true mark of the movie, Zora holds the test of time well. We don’t miss smartphones and social networks, which is not cheap for a movie set in the youthful nightlife of a capital city. Some references to the era, such as the activity of the SAM8, are not so important9. Other reference to the era, such as the graffiti in favor of the PKK, show an Italy in which this was still associated with the Öcalan case rather than the bloody clashes between peshmerga, ISIS, Turkey, foreign fighters, Syria, regular armies, drones, Iraq, suicide bombers, secret services, mercenaries in the service of Uncle Sam, the Caliph, the Sultan, the Tsar to which we have been accustomed in recent years.
In short, a different Italy from that of today, yet quite similar, in which the same codes and symbols are used for different reasons: a Rome that is basically out of control10; an immigration entrusted to illegal operators; a Church in an identity crisis, between superstitions, pre-conciliar pulpits and social inspiration11.
In this context Dracula arrives and, as Stoker teaches, looks for a home.
I realize that I have talked for a long time and, in effect, I realize that I have left the technical side of the movie.
But at this point, however, I also realize one thing: that Zora The Vampire is one of those entertainment movies that have in themselves many other things; movies that, starting from a perhaps banal premise, like the umpteenth transposition of Dracula, tell much more.
Zora will appeal the vampire fans, those looking for a good horror comedy, those looking for something unusual and, after all, never repeated in Italy.
Scenes from the movie in B/W
Vv. Aa.. Il Mereghetti. Dizionario Dei Film 2011. Baldini Castoldi Dalai Editore S.p.a., Milano, 2010.
Cinematografo.it – https://www.cinematografo.it/cinedatabase/film/zora-la-vampira/37189/ (last visit 04/08/2019)
Horrormagazine.it – Interview to Marco Manetti by Irene Vanni, February 3rd, 2010. Retrieved from: https://www.horrormagazine.it/4756/intervista-a-marco-manetti (last visit 29/07/2019)
Indiegogo – https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/vintagerotika#/ (last visit 03/08/2019)
Italian Wikipedia – https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sindaci_di_Roma (last visit 03/08/2019)
Mymovies.it – https://www.mymovies.it/poster/0/?id=33548 (last visit 28/07/2019)
Repubblica.it – Sfida a Venezia per i Manetti Bros: “Con pochi soldi si lavora meglio”. By Arianna Finos, August 18th, 2017 – January 27th, 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.repubblica.it/speciali/cinema/venezia/edizione2017/2017/08/18/news/sfida_a_venezia_per_i_manetti_bros_con_pochi_soldi_si_lavora_meglio_-174088223/(last visit 29/07/2019)
Richard Benson, official site – https://www.richardbensonofficial.com/ (last visit 31/07/2019)
Roma.repubblica.it – Morto Massimo Marino, conduttore estremo delle notti romane. By Fabrizio Bocca, April 20th, 2019. Retrieved from: https://roma.repubblica.it/cronaca/2019/04/20/news/morto_massimo_marino_conduttore_estremo_delle_notti_romane-224491313/ (last visit 31/07/2019)
Vintagerotika – https://lacadelavega.wixsite.com/annexia (last visit 03/08/2019)
- I admit it: I have tried, but I have not been able to know if it was possible to see RAI in Romania, and in particular in Transylvania, around 2000.
- The recently deceased showman Massimo Marino, who appeared in Grande Grosso E Verdone, but also the guitarist and showman Richard Benson, who was in Maledetto Il Giorno Che T’ho Incontrato.
- Cinematografo.it reports very positive contemporary reviews, while a 2011 Mereghetti Dictionary, Vol. 2, pp. 3804-3805, gives the movie a star out of four.
- Including ad hoc compositions and repertoire pieces, the credits show songs by: Brusco; Carmina Burana; Joe Cassano; Cyanide; DJ Capua; DJ Enzo feat. Gruff; DJ Gruff; DJ Squarta; Dre Love; Frankie Hi-nrg MC; I.H.C .; Indelible Ink; Kaos; Macro Marco; Naples Central; Neffa feat. Francesca Touré; Piotta; President Arpi; Deep red; Rude MC; Very bad; Sovibes; Sud Sound System; Turi feat. Primo Brown.
- These comics have their following even today, as the Vintagerotika project (of which I was also a donor at the time of the crowdfunding), shows.
- And we are two years before 8 Mile, for example.
- Here too, we are a year before the G8 summit in Genoa.
- Acronym of “Squadra Anti-Mostro” (“Anti-Monster Squad”), a group set up to investigate crimes attributed to the so-called Monster of Florence.
- Indeed, there may be the risk that some of the less legal stories enthusiasts could believe the SAM, here commanded by Verdone, a pure cinematic invention.
- See the line of succession of the Mayors of Rome, before and after Francesco Rutelli (who administered the Capital in 2000), and dwell on the considerable number of Commissaries.
- And the movie is set in the year of the Great Jubilee.