Everyone loves a Scream-Queen, but where would they be without the countless victims that enabled them to reach the upper echelon of Horror royalty? Daniela Doria played one of these victims in FOUR Lucio Fulci films: City of the Living Dead (1980), The Black Cat (1980), House by the Cemetery (1981), and The New York Ripper (1982).
A few years ago, I bought Arrow's 2012 Blu-Ray of The The House by the Cemetery. Admittedly, not my fave Fulci film, but it still has its place and I still watch it. Arrow's Callum Waddell moderated the commentary track with Catriona MacColl. During the opening scene, Callum stated "I always wondered what happened to this lady, Daniela Doria, one of Fulci's regular victims."
"Everybody wonders what happened to her," said Catriona. "I have no recent news of her. I haven't seen her since we made the film (at the time) 30 years ago. She doesn't seem to show up at conventions either. So I can't tell you. You'd have to ask the 'Italian Brigade...'"
Then about a month ago, BOOM! There she is on Facebook under a different name, Daniela Cormio. Why she never turned up before in my searches, I don't know. Needless to say, I wasted no time in messaging her that I was a huge fan and that I'd like to ask her a few questions:
Horror Parlor: How did you get into acting? Was it something you always wanted to do?
Daniela Cormio: I never would have imagined being an actress. My great passion was classical dance. At age 10, I had participated in a contest at the famous Scala Theater and out of 2000 children, I had been selected along with a small number of others. I was so excited! After three years, I was dancing all day and sometimes even in the ballet, The Nutcracker, with Rudolf Nureev, and not coming home until midnight. My father decided to take me out of the theater because, he said I did not study enough and was not getting enough rest.
I was almost 18 when I was walking one day in downtown Milan, my home town, together with my mother. At some point we saw that they were shooting a movie and we went in for a closer look. The director of the film was a certain Stefano Rolla, who died 14 years ago at Nassiria in the attack. as he was there to shoot a documentary. As I said, we went in for a closer look. He saw me approach and told me that I had a face for movies and, in his opinion, I had to try to do a photo shoot. I followed his example and I began to take some photos and send them to a talent agency. Soon after they called for a part in ‘Classe mista’ (Mixed Class) and from there started my cinematic adventure.
HP: Talk about your earlier films: Classe Mista, Le Seminariste, Il ginecologo della mutua, and To Be Twenty.
DC: In order to be comfortable and close to productions, I moved to Rome where I met a guy whom I ended up marrying. In Classe mista, (Mixed Class), To Be Twenty, Le seminariste (The Seminarians), Il ginecologo della mutual, (The Mutual Gynecologist), Avere vent’anni (The Truck Drivers), I did not get great roles, but these films allowed me to get to know so many important, good and nice actors.
HP: After that, you did 4 great films with Lucio Fulci. How did you get involved with Lucio Fulci?
DC: For the first film with Fulci, City of the Living Dead, I went to an audition. For the other films, he called me directly.
HP: You were noticeably absent from The Beyond, perhaps Fulci’s crowning achievement. Did you audition? Was there some sort of schedule conflict that occurred that prevented from doing The Beyond?
DC: For The Beyond, I did not go to any auditions. I did not see the movie so I do not know if there would be a part for me.
HP: How did you get along with Lucio Fulci?
DC: I hadn’t known the real cinema until I made that first Fulci film. He was a very passionate man, and I was very fortunate because, he was always very kind to me. He was the type of person that did not change his mind about a person after their first impression.
Fulci's work was very professional and the set was fascinating. At first, I was impressed by the scenes and the sets, but then I got used to it. For example there were days when we were pausing in a cemetery and eating seated on the graves. I also have a nice memory of The Black Cat we shot in London. During that movie, Fulci and I bought two Airedale puppies, an English breed. I was the first to buy the puppy and then Lucio copied me and bought the sister. We called them Trevor and Violetta. In the hotel where we were, we could not keep dogs and I came in with the puppies hidden inside the water cooler. the day before we left, the two puppies destroyed the room and ripped all the upholstery off the walls. So, I was forced to flee from the hotel at night. After the production ended, Fulci came to Rome to pick up Violetta at my house.
HP: You've performed in some grotesque death scenes; the most horrific being the “organ regurgitation” scene in City of the Living Dead. Talk about filming this scene.
DC: That was probably the most disgusting scene I had ever done. It was tough because, I had that raw meat and intestines in my mouth. Luckily it was a scene that didn't last long.
For the (bloody) eyes scene, I had tubes next to my eyes that were hidden under my hair. They ran to a pump where someone laying down in the back would pump the blood, but the blood in my eyes did not bother me.
All of my scenes in City of the Living Dead were very tedious. To make the mask we wore when we became zombies we had to keep the chalk on the face for an hour until it became hard. It was very tiring because I was struggling to breathe.
HP: Please talk about your death scene in The New York Ripper. It’s yet another infamous scene in which you are fully nude, tortured, and ultimately killed with a razor blade. Did you have any apprehension about doing this scene?
DC: The scenes in The New York Ripper were also difficult. First of all, I was always naked and being naked in front of all the crew is very embarrassing because there are so many people, and then having that blade over me was distressing.
HP: Some actresses are uncomfortable being nude on screen. You appeared nude in a few films. Was it something you were instantly comfortable with, or did you have to work up the courage?
DC: In all the movies I did, there was always a nude scene and it was embarrassing for me every time.
HP: Lucio Fulci was seen by some as a misogynist. Speaking from experience, what do you think?
DC: Fulci did not have a beautiful character; it was pretty rough, but it did not seem misogynistic. I’d say it was bad for both men and women when they were not very nice.
DC: The Truck Drivers was my last movie, unfortunately. I had problems with my husband and so I abandoned Rome and returned to Milan to my family. I no longer wanted to go back to Rome, even to make movies. Instead I began to model for magazines and advertisements.
HP: Have you ever gone back and watched any of the films you did with Lucio Fulci?
DC: When I think of Fulci's films or I see them, I am very nostalgic. I think I was very fortunate to have such a special experience and to know so many exceptional people. Especially Lucio who was extremely intelligent.
HP: What have been doing since your departure from the silver screen?
DC: For some years I have been working in a dental practice.
HP: Lucio Fulci has never been more popular than he is presently. There’s even a comic book company called Eibon Press that is adapting Fulci’s most popular films, including City of the Living Dead in which you are prominently featured. Have you ever thought of doing any conventions so fans would have a chance to meet you?
DC: I never thought about doing conventions because, I'm always busy with my job.
HP: Finally, even though some actors are in horror movies, they may not be a fan of the genre. For example, Giovanni Lambardo Radice hates violence, yet he was in some very violent films. Are you a fan of the Horror genre outside of the films you were in? If so, what are some horror films you enjoy? If not, what do you dislike about the genre?
DC: I never watch Horror films. I can not do it. I like Thrillers a lot. I never miss a Thriller, but I stay away from Horror films. They give me too much anxiety.
HP: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I am honored and humbled. Fans will be absolutely excited to read about your experiences. On a personal note, I really hope that you do some conventions one day. I would love to meet you…even with the language barrier. Haha
DC: I'm happy to have shared my memories with my fans.
If you wish, you can drop Daniela a line on Facebook. I'm sure she'd like to hear from you crazy fans. (I recommend using google translate to deliver said messages, as English is not her first language and things may get lost in translation.)
(Photos used with the kind permission of Daniela Cormio)