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THE BLACK GIFT ("IL DONO NERO")


Writer S.Billotta
Artist E.Mammucari

Series of 3 episodes published by Montego € 2.32

Daniele Croce is a night security guard, …. who is also a vampire. He is not the usual type of horror vampire: he doesn’t have pointed canine teeth, nor does he rest inside a coffin. He looks like a regular thirty-year-old guy, with a regular kind of job, although his thirst for blood leads him to attack his victims and turn them into vampires albeit in a relatively painless way: with a syringe. Shame that his thirst gets worse and worse, until it combines with an ever more increasing and uncontrollable lust. The guy seems to have forgotten about his curse when he meets Aurora, a girl whom he had secretly followed for a while. But when Aurora is killed, her death removes all Daniele’s psychological restraints and his thirst for blood becomes revenge and explodes into an ever-increasing murdering madness.
This short series launched by Montego is a bizarre work. The story takes place in Italy – which doesn’t really matter a lot – and may be regarded as a horror story, although it can be hardly catalogued. As its plot develops, its language varies, going from splattering to a "metaphysical" horror language to mystery. Bilotta’s approach almost seems post-modern, although his plot stands out for his intention to keep away from any specific trend and avoids quoting other stories or movies. Therefore it’s rather difficult to find specific reference points for this story, which somehow reminds us of some minor and difficult movies such as those by Abel Ferrara or by David Croneberg, populated by hopeless characters moving in sordid environments. While Povero Pinocchio, which had been previously published by the duo Bilotta-Mammucari, is featured by a generous narration – although a bit over the top – Il Dono Nero, on the other hand, is more clearly written. It’s almost incredible to see how well the young writer and artist get on. Bilotta’s narrative style is doubtless strong but he cleverly avoids any kitsch details, typical of a class 2 horror, and keeps the dialogues simple while distributing his character’s monologues wisely. Mammucari’s art, apart from some minor mistakes in the featuring of the characters (which may have profited from a more precise style), is very professionally delivered. Although he clearly inspires his art from Toth, Mari and Ambrosini, his style is surely very personal. His female characters are effectively rendered, and so is the reconstruction of the city with no name, which is always in the dark and deserted, and which is the real character of the story, and not its simple background.
We should also say that Il Dono Nero is not a story suitable for everybody: Dylan Dog’s fans, for instance, may be disappointed. In Il Dono Nero there is no such a "laic humanism" which is typical of Sclavi. There’s no sun through the dark, no punch line which mitigates the horror atmosphere. Those who love sordid stories and characters with no-redemption chances, should like Il Dono Nero, which is surely one of the most interesting "made in Italy" horror stories of the last few years.

M.M.