Interview: Tulpa director Federico Zampaglione talks Giallo, Fright Fest, sex, violence and fighting to the very end!

federico zampaglione



Italian born Federico Zampaglione is a well known musician in Italy, and is front man and singer in the band Tiromancino. Over the past five years he has experimented with directing horror, and in 2007 made his directing debut with A Dream House Nightmare, and shortly after in 2009 came his second feature, Shadow. With a huge passion for the classic Italian Giallo genre of horror, Zampaglione’s third feature film would be the stunning homage to Giallo, the cruel and quite brilliant Tulpa.

However, the road to getting his film absolutely perfect has been a rocky one. The film debuted at Film Four’s Fright Fests last year, and the film started out brilliantly and fans were loving the sex, violence and brutal and beautiful imagery on screen. However, the film lost its way and the Fright Fest experience left the director and his team needing to do just a little more work on the film to perfect it.

Having seen the new and complete version of the film (read my review here) I can honestly say that all involved have held their heads up high, taken the Fright Fest experience on the chin and come back with an almighty Giallo homage worthy of the title. The new version of Tulpa is terrific, and it was a pleasure to speak with the director about his thoughts on Tulpa, the Giallo genre, and also learn of his very exciting plans for the future.

It is doubtful that Tulpa will make its way to the UK in its entirety as the BBFC will no doubt request cuts, but when the film does get to our shores, it is an absolute must-see for horror fans. Zampaglione has proved himself as a director with real, raw talent and I cannot wait to see what he comes up with next. Check out what the director had to say in the following interview:


Federico, hope all is well with you. Please introduce yourself to our readers. Tell us a little about yourself, your inspirations and what you are doing right now.

I’m a professional singer  very well known in my country of Italy,  I have done 11 albums with my band TIROMANCINO. I really love the horror since I was four years old, and the chance to direct those kind of films is just a dream coming true. On the funny side all my fans now think I’m sort of bipolar, since my music is very romantic …right now I’m writing the new  songs for  the upcoming album but I always think about dark subjects.


Please tell us three interesting facts about yourself.

I’m a pretty good boxer  and I love sparring, I have a three years old daughter who seems to love the horror too and I’ll  probably shoot the next film about cannibalism …I think it’s  very scary and disturbing stuff.



Your new film, Tulpa, is a film dripping with Giallo goodness. Where did the idea come from, and what inspired you to make it?

The original concept comes from the crazy  mind of Dardano Sacchetti , the legendary screenwriter of Fulci and Mario Bava.


With your film Tulpa, and recent films like Amer and even Paura, do you feel there is still life in the classic Giallo? And do you feel the genre is making a bit of a much welcomed comeback?

Giallo will never die .


Directors like Dario Argento and Mario Bava are Gods among the classic Giallo genre. Do you have any particular favourite films of theirs?

I love those guys  and I look up to them , they are in the history books and I  fully respect their styles. They did so many good films that is not possible to mention just a few.


How was your experience making Tulpa?

Lot of fun and pure  freedom. The producers  and all the cast involved ,  gave me all the support I needed without complaining for the sex and violence .


Casting the gorgeous Claudia Gerini in your film was a very smart move. She was sexy, seductive and a lot of fun to watch on screen. How did you manage to cast her, and how did you convince and prepare her to be a part of Tulpa?

She’s my wife and it was not very difficult for me to get her involved, because she loves the genre and that’s why  she did all I wanted her to do in that film .. For an actor playing in a horror film is very exciting’s more physical  than other films, By the way she thinks that Lisa Boeri (female protagonist in Tulpa) is the more controversial role of her  entire career .  



In your opinion, do you feel Tulpa is the homage to the classic Giallo’s that you were hoping for? And how do you feel your film brings something new to the genre?

 We have a lot of  modern and colourish  visual stuff , the music is not the usual Goblinesque Giallo score  and the effects are made by brand new techniques..  so I consider my film a mix between old and new .  Neo  Power Giallo could be the right way to call TULPA


Having seen Tulpa myself, I must admit to being blown away by its imagery, sounds and astonishing use of sex and violence. How did you manage to create such bold and brilliant visuals and sounds on screen?

My brother  Francesco Zampaglione did take care of music  and sounds , and he’s very talented. I wanted to create a dark , nightmarish  but extremely sexy and seductive world where you can be attracted by ,  but at the same time scared …

watching beautiful women being murdered that  terrible and sadistic way  is a controversial experience .. you will end up  both loving it and hating on  it.






Do you feel today’s horror audience has the stomach for Tulpa?

Not everybody can do it  , this is a film  for people who want to  push themselves to the limits.


Giallo’s were always famous for their cruelty, especially towards women. Tulpa continues that tradition in terrific style, and you manage to make death both sexy and disturbing. It must have taken some skill to pull that off?

 You’re right, Gialli have always  been very gory and cruel but sexy indeed,  and  with Tulpa I wanted to take over that mentality …  Dardano Sacchetti  wrote some of the murders and I can tell you the guy is kinda sick… then I managed to shoot  those scenes even in a  more brutal fashion .. I showed the film to a bunch of friends of mine few days ago, and they all  gave up after a couple of murders. It takes strong stomach like I said  . On the good side the film is full of sex and nice girls  so you can close your eyes while  the blood is running and open them up right on the sexy moments , it’s up to you .





Tulpa played at the UK’s Film Four Fright Fest in August 2012. I was in the audience, and Tulpa was introduced as a real homage to the Giallo genre, and fans were very excited. Can you tell us your thoughts on that experience, and the strange reaction from the audience?

It was something very unexpected and I’m sure my good friend   Alan Jones was probably feeling worse than myself … given the hype around the film .. but in life, sometimes  you have to take your responsibility  and just put your own face on what you have done…no matter what . In any case, I will never forget that moment on stage.. one of the toughest of my whole life .


Considering that Tulpa brought on laughs from the audience rather than screams, I feel it took a lot of bravery to get up on stage after the film, and your whole crew must have been feeling quite upset. You held your heads up high though, and stood on that stage, and personally I feel that would have gained you huge respect. What was going through your mind when you got up on that stage, and how did you address the “issues” with the rest of the crew and cast of Tulpa after FrightFest?

Everybody was pretty damn embarrassed  right after that nightmarish  screening, but  afterwards we all went to a pub and we all  finally  got  badly  drunk .. I remember that  we have been laughing to death  about the craziness of the screening ..sometimes you can’ t take everything too seriously .  When it’s too bad, it becomes good !!!


I know you have been hard at work re-editing Tulpa to get it absolutely right. The fact you have taken the FrightFest experience and actually used it positively is something that I would expect fans to respect. Many directors would have given up, but you didn’t. You saw it as a challenge, and you made sure you created a much better version. Having seen the new version I can honestly say that it is superb, and I honestly feel those who re-watch the new version will have a lot of good things to say about it. Are you happy with your new cut of Tulpa?

Thanks very much, it has been a long process but I can say  yes I’m happy with what I have accomplished, but I re edited it with the priceless help of Julian Richards , the director of THE LAST HORROR FILM and SUMMER SCARES , who came over to Italy to help me solidly . He’s a very talented guy, a very good friend and on top of this he’s also my international sales agent..can’t get any better . Regarding the idea of giving up after that crazy  night at Frightfest… no man, as I told ya I’m a fighter and if they don’t knock me out cold ..I’ll always fight until the very end ..that’s the way I am.


Now that the film has been perfected, do you have any release plans for here in the UK?

Julian is in talk with some distributors.. let’s keep fingers crossed


How do you expect the BBFC to react to your film?

I’m afraid  they will beat the dog shit outta me …the film is pretty nasty and the type of violence involved is graphic and often women are the ones  taking  that punishment …  probably not an easy deal with BBFC






Moving on from Tulpa and Giallo’s, what can we expect next from Federico Zampaglione?

Like I said I’m thinking about a story based on cannibalism…very disturbing stuff , buddy. I would love to shoot this story in London .


What are your thoughts on the horror genre right now?

If you mean in Italy the situation is incredibly tough,  nobody really wants to invest money in there , in the other countries is way far better ..and particularly in UK some films  are very interesting , you guys have a very strong independent scene and so many good flicks are keep coming out


Do you have any particular favourite horrors that you have seen recently?

I really liked THE SEASONING HOUSE to stay on the UK scene , but I loved also THE KILL LIST  one year before…both seen at Frightfest, one of the best  horror festivals of the world.



seasoning house                            kill list



Can you share with us your favourite horror film of all time?

It is not easy to pick up just one  …  SHINING could be a potential candidate…but I would add also SUSPIRIA


shining                            suspiria


Finally, if you were to spend an evening in a pub talking films with any director alive or dead, who would it be and why?

I would have loved  to talk to Ed Wood , I’m sure it could have been  huge fun listening to his stories about his  crazy and wild moviemaking style..the guy was just terrific


ed wood


Federico, myself and the whole team at Horror Cult Films wish you all the best with Tulpa, and we look forward to seeing it arrive in the UK soon. We would also like to wish you all the best for the future, and we look forward to your next film!


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About Matt Wavish 598 Articles
A keen enthusiast and collector of all horror and extreme films. I can be picky as i like quality in my horror. This doesn't necessarily mean it has to be a classic, but as long as it has something to impress me then i'm a fan. I watch films by the rule that if it doesn't bring out some kind of emotive response then it aint worth watching.


  1. For good or bad, sexism and misogny have often gone hand in hand with the Giallo though haven’t they? I guess if you love the style it doesn’t bother one that much. As a big fan of this kind of movie I do come across the odd example that offends me a little, but for the most part I’m able to not take it seriously. Maybe that’s just because I love the style. In any case I think it would be very hard to make a totally PC Giallo!

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