Joe D'Amato (aka DAVID HILLS; see below), born Aristide Massaccesi (December 15, 1936 - January 23, 1999), was an Italian director of numerous horror and hardcore pornography titles.
D'Amato was regarded as a master of Italian exploitation film. Fans of the genre widely hail him as the Ed Wood of Italy, while other fans refer to him as "The Evil Ed Wood"; those who use this term explain that, while Wood was interested in crafting art, D'Amato was more concerned with turning a profit, often disregarding any artistic integrity. In addition, while D'Amato and Wood's films are often similar in their poor acting, bad special effects, and cheap sets, D'Amato's films are considerably darker, revolving around nihilistic and misanthropic tones and generally possessing what one reviewer referred to as "a contempt for all mankind."
Born in Rome, D'Amato began his career as an operator, often working for Demofilo Fidani. His technical ability made him valuable on low-budget movies. He directed his first movie, a spaghetti western called Scansati...a Trinità Arriva Eldorado, in 1972. He used a variety of aliases before settling in 1975 for Joe D'Amato, which became his better-known pseudonym. His earlier films included westerns, thrillers, and softcore erotic movies.
D'Amato's somewhat unscrupulous methods (he often stole stock shots from other films and inserted them into his own as part of the narrative), the shocking content of some of his movies (one of his Emmanuelle films is a softcore porn film centered around human cannibalism), and his own penchant for creating publicity around himself (one of his films, Antropophagus, features a monstrous cannibal eating a fake human fetus) resulted in D'Amato's fame as an exploitative director. He worked under innumerable aliases during his lifetime, sometimes even selling scripts using a female name. Because of his aliases, it is believed that there are still "undiscovered" D'Amato films; that is, films in circulation that he wrote or directed under an unrecognized pseudonym. It is widely believed that only a portion of his pornographic films have been identified as being his work.
Those who knew D'Amato have said in interviews that, though he enjoyed directing, he was more concerned with making money than any kind of merit his films might have had. This is evidenced by the many "knockoff" films he made. One of his earliest projects was a western about a vengeful cowboy called For One Thousand Dollars Per Day, which went into production a few months after the success of fellow Italian Sergio Leone's film, For a Few Dollars More. In 1981, D'Amato released Caligula 2, which he marketed as the sequel to 1979's Caligula, even using similar poster art. Only months after the release of the Conan the Barbarian (with Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Earl Jones) in 1982, D'Amato wrote, directed, and released Ator the Invincible, about a Scandinavian barbarian who goes on an epic quest against fantasy monsters to save his beloved; two years later, when Conan the Destroyer was released, D'Amato quickly filmed and released Ator, the Blademaster, which, while closely resembling Conan, also contained several clips of other movies which D'Amato had stolen and inserted, among them was the Clint Eastwood war adventure flick Where Eagles Dare. When it was announced shortly thereafter that there would be no more Conan films, d'Amato announced there would be no more Ator films. A popular (and, as of 2005, unconfirmed) Internet rumor holds that D'Amato suffered the fatal heart attack that killed him while filming a pornographic film in his home.
D'Amato had one son, Daniele Massaccesi. Daniele moved to the United States, where he entered into a lucrative career as a cameraman, working on such films as Cold Mountain, Hannibal, and Kingdom of Heaven.
- Beyond The Darkness (Buio Omega) (1979)
- Emanuelle in America (1977)
- Emanuelle - Perchè Violenza alle Donne? (Emanuelle Around the World) (1977)
- Immagini di un Convento (Dreams in a Convent) (1979)
- Le Notti Erotiche dei Morti Viventi (Erotic Nights of the Living Dead) (1979)
- Orgasmo Nero (Voodoo Baby) (1980)
- Antropophagus (1980)
- Holocausto Porno (Porno Holocaust) (1980)
- Caligola: La Storia Mai Raccontata (Emperor Caligula: The Untold Story) (1981) (as David Hills)
- Absurd (1981) (as Peter Newton)
- Anno 2020 - I gladiatori del futuro (2020 Texas Gladiators) (1982)
- Ator l'invincibile II/Ator the Blademaster (Released in a director's cut as Cave Dwellers) (1984)
- Convent of Sinners (La Monaca del Peccato) (1986)
- Killing Birds (A.K.A. "Raptors" or "Zombie 5") (1987, with Robert Vaughn)
- Quest for the Mighty Sword (A.K.A. "Ator 4: Quest for the Mighty Sword") (1989)
- Deep Blood (A.K.A. "Blood in the Abyss" or "Squali" (1989)
- Troll 2 (1990)
- Return From Death (A.K.A. "Frankenstein 2000") (1992)
- Troll 3 (1993)
Joe De Mato
Michael Di Caprio
Chana Lee Sun
Chang Lee Sun