In the annals of Italian cinema, Aldo Lado stands as a unique and captivating figure. His films, often characterized by their unsettling atmosphere, haunting visuals, and exploration of psychological torment, have garnered a cult following among cinephiles and horror enthusiasts alike. As a filmmaker, Lado possessed an uncanny ability to tap into the darker recesses of the human psyche, crafting tales that delve into the depths of madness, guilt, and forbidden desire.
Early Life and Influences
Born on June 11, 1938, in Milan, Italy, Aldo Lado’s early life was marked by a fascination with the macabre and the supernatural. Growing up in a postwar environment, he was exposed to the horrors of war and the psychological scars it left on society. These experiences would later find their way into his films, infusing them with a sense of unease and disillusionment.
Lado’s cinematic influences were diverse, ranging from the Italian masters of horror and giallo, such as Mario Bava and Dario Argento, to the psychological thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock. He was also drawn to the works of surrealist painters like Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, whose dreamlike imagery would influence his own visual style.
Early Career: From Documentaries to Dark Tales
Lado began his career in the film industry as a documentarian, exploring various social and political issues through the medium of film. However, it was not until the late 1960s that he turned his attention to feature films, starting with the drama “The Violent Four” (1968).
But it was his second film, “Who Saw Her Die?” (1972), that marked the beginning of Lado’s signature style. The film, which delved into the disturbing world of child abduction and murder, was a critical and commercial success, cementing Lado’s place in the horror genre.
The Giallo Influence
One of the defining elements of Lado’s films is his use of giallo, a subgenre of Italian horror characterized by its blend of mystery, suspense, and graphic violence. Lado’s films often feature a mysterious killer, clad in black gloves and wielding a sharp weapon, stalking their victims in a cat-and-mouse game.
This influence is evident in films like “Short Night of Glass Dolls” (1971), which follows an amnesiac journalist investigating a series of murders in Prague, and “The Night Train Murders” (1975), a chilling tale of two young women trapped on a train with sadistic killers.
The Power of Atmosphere
Another hallmark of Lado’s films is the powerful atmosphere he creates. Through the use of evocative settings, haunting music, and intense cinematography, Lado is able to draw viewers into a world of unease and dread.
In “Who Saw Her Die?”, the picturesque Italian countryside becomes a menacing backdrop for the protagonist’s search for their daughter’s killer. And in “The Humanoid” (1979), Lado uses the desolate landscape of a post-apocalyptic world to heighten the sense of isolation and terror.
Exploring Taboo Topics
Lado’s films also often touch on taboo topics, such as incest, pedophilia, and societal corruption. These themes add another layer of discomfort to his already unsettling films, forcing viewers to confront uncomfortable truths about human nature.
In “Maladolescenza” (1977), Lado delves into the disturbing relationship between a 12-year-old girl and her older brother. The film caused controversy for its explicit scenes and was banned in several countries, but it remains a testament to Lado’s willingness to push boundaries and tackle taboo subjects.
The Later Years: A Shift in Style
As Lado’s career progressed, he began to move away from the horror genre, exploring other genres such as drama and adventure. However, even in these films, his unique style and themes continued to shine through.
In “Last Stop on the Night Train” (1975), Lado’s take on the classic “Strangers on a Train” story, the psychological tension and twisted ending keep viewers on the edge of their seats. And in “The Perfect Killer” (1977), Lado explores the dark world of political corruption, with a touch of giallo thrown in for good measure.
But perhaps his most well-known film outside of the horror genre is “The Humanoid”, a sci-fi adventure that combines elements of fantasy and action with Lado’s trademark atmospheric visuals.
Legacy and Influence
Despite not achieving mainstream success during his lifetime, Aldo Lado’s impact on the horror genre cannot be denied. His films have inspired numerous directors, including Quentin Tarantino and Guillermo del Toro, and continue to be celebrated by fans around the world.
Lado’s ability to create an eerie and unsettling atmosphere, combined with his exploration of taboo topics, has left a lasting impression on the horror genre and cemented his place as a master of mystery and unease in Italian cinema.
|The Violent Four
|Short Night of Glass Dolls
|Who Saw Her Die?
|The Night Train Murders
|Last Stop on the Night Train
|The Perfect Killer