Interview: Silvia Collatina, House by the Cemetery

Silvia Collatina… what can we say about her? She is sweet, kind and a real pleasure to talk to. We happen to share a birthday. I briefly met her in Indiana in March 2011, but had little time to talk… she was busy recording an audio commentary for Blue Underground’s release of The House By the Cemetery. We were able to make contact afterward.

Besides that film, you may have seen her in two other Italian horror films, Alligator and Murder Rock. She was the little red-headed girl with the freckles. Now, she is the red-headed woman with far fewer freckles. She was happy to indulge my questions and reminisce on her childhood and a film career that was cut tragically short due to some contract misunderstandings.

GS: You were very young when you worked with Sergio Martino on “Great Alligator” (1979). Do you recall him at all?

SC: I do remember Sergio Martino very well. He was a very polite and peaceable person! I really felt at my ease with him. We are still in touch and I can really say that he is a real gentleman!

GS: Was George Eastman ever on set?

SC: Frankly speaking, I do not remember him. I was very young and the only actors that still stick in my memory are Barbara Bach, Claudio Cassinelli and Mel Ferrer. I also remember speaking with Lory Del Santo; she was 19 at the time, but very friendly.

GS: Tell me about Mel Ferrer.

SC: Mel Ferrer was very friendly to me. He spoke Italian so we used to share lots of time together. I had a skeleton my mommy bought when I was five years old and I considered it my favorite puppet, like a doll! I took it there and during the lunch at the hotel’s restaurant in Sri Lanka (where we shot the movie) we spent time playing together with it. Very funny, isn’t it?

GS: On “House by the Cemetery” (1981), do you think that Fulci was more harsh towards children than adults?

SC: Oh, sort of… perhaps because he was aware he could get more from children (by being mean), (with the children) being so sensitive and vulnerable.

GS: You have called Fulci “unpredictable”, saying he could be “rude” or “affectionate” without warning.

SC: And he was! He managed to be rude and affectionate at the same time. But I think that in the end, everybody was fascinated by him — even for this bizarre behavior.

GS: You have said that you did not like Ania Pieroni very much. Can you explain why?

SC: Well, it was, so to say, I did not know her personally, so it was a feeling based on instinct. I mean I had that impression because she seemed like she wanted nothing to do with the movie and the other actors. And you know… children always have a sixth sense…

GS: You have called Bob and May a horror couple, and “the saver and the saved”. Elaborate.

SC: I saved Bob from Dr. Freudstein, but the other side of the coin was that he had to live with us “dead people” forever… so he had to pay a penalty for this salvation…

GS: When you say Bob and May are a “couple”, how do you mean that? Just that they are best friends, or is it something more?

SC: Bob and May are a couple in that they are very close friends. They have a very deep bond of friendship, perhaps even more (as Fulci wanted them to be!), like two little fiancees. But of course this was an innocent feeling, very naive, genuine and sweet as it must be for two children.

GS: In “Murder-Rock” (1984), how did Molly differ from your own personality?

SC: Molly is a very spoiled and mean little girl and that’s because of her disability. I am definitively sweeter and friendly, but we share the same taste for the macabre …

GS: Did you get to meet Geretta Geretta?

SC: No, my role in the movie was very short (but let’s say “remarkable”) and I worked alone with my wheelchair.

GS: You are a horror fan yourself. Is there any film you love the most or director whose work you follow?

SC: Oh, indeed I am a horror fan!!!! My favorite horror movie is undoubtedly “The Exorcist”!!! I am really obsessed with it! It’s a landmark for me. Conversely, there is not a specific director I follow most, in my opinion it’s the movie that makes the difference. Lots of directors make it big with a movie and the following ones don’t rate any consideration because they are of low quality. You can be a name in the field but it’s not given for granted that you will make all hits! And I am very objective, so that if a film is a rubbish, even if done by a famous director, I would never say “oh yes, how good it is!”

GS: By working with Paura Productions, you interact with many actors and directors. Any chance we will see you in a film again?

SC: I’d hope so… any proposal will be well accepted. But please … for horror movies only!

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