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As Women in Horror Month comes to a close, we celebrate the often unsung work of talented voice-over artist Carolyn De Fonseca.

Without her sultry, husky, and soft vocals, many of Italy’s dubbed actresses wouldn’t have magnetized for the screen as strongly. English-translated films needed a strong voice-over artist to bridge the creativity that Giallo and Italian Horror films often fought to prove and find with global audiences. That one-of-a-kind voice you’ll never forget was the incredible Carolyn De Fonseca.

De Fonseca passed away at the age of seventy-nine in May of 2009 in Rome, Italy, where she worked and lived for many decades with her husband, fellow voiceover actor Ted Rusoff.

Her onscreen performances as a supporting actress were relatively small in films like Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky (1990) and her last role as a tourist in Disney’s Sabrina Goes to Rome (1998).


Carolyn De Fonseca from Detective School Dropouts

Joining me in the exploration of De Fonseca as a voice-over artist is Andrea Canales, Director of Programming for the Phoenix-based Majestic Neighborhood Cinema Grill.

For over twenty years — from live screenings of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! with Tura Satana in attendance to hosting film events with Mink Stole, Heather Langenkamp, Adrienne King, Dee Wallace, and Kier-La Janisse — Canales has become quite a historian of the bizarre, the out-of-print, and lesser-known subgenres of the horror genre for women.

Here are ten films showcasing an introduction to Carolyn De Fonseca’s voiceover work that we highly recommend.

1. The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield (1968)

Main Character Voice Over and Narration for Jayne Mansfield

Directors:  Joel Holt, Arther Knight
Streaming: Tubi

Andrea: I picked a few of my favorites that I know that I’ve seen and heard her voice a lot. The Wild Wild World of Jayne’s Mansfield, the film is a wanna-be mondo documentary with Jayne touring Italy and Paris, and it was released after Jayne died. It shows the photos from the car crash, and it’s really sad.  They go inside the house after her death with Mickey Hargitay, her husband, and their two sons walking around; you get to see her house.

It’s really bizarre, but throughout the documentary, there’s Jayne’s “narration” — but that’s actually Carolyn’s voice. There’s a quality to her voice that is sensual, rich, and recognizable. Every time you hear it, you think, oh, that voice!

2. The Case of Bloody Iris (1972)


Supporting Character Voice Over for Carla Brait as Mizar Harrington

Director:  Giuliano Carnimeo
Streaming: Shudder, Tubi

Andrea: The Case of the Bloody Iris is a film in which she dubs for the character of Mizar Harrington, played by Carla Brait, with Edwige Fenech. She’s this sassy cabaret performer who challenges men to take her on. It’s not a huge role, as many of De Fonseca’s voiceover roles were supporting. I wonder if she had purposely chosen those roles or if that was all that was offered to an American actress living in Rome. Looking at the Wikipedia filmography, there have to be more uncredited roles not listed.

3. Anthropophagus (1980)


Principal Character Voice Over for Tisa Farrow as Julie

Director:  Joe D’Amato
Streaming: Shudder, Tubi (under the alternate title The Grim Reaper)

Andrea: In Anthropoghus, she’s the voice of Tisa Farrow’s character, a lead performance in the film. I think the thing about her is her impressive voice-over range. She can go from a quieter character like Farrow’s Julie to a much more boisterous role, like another of my favorites, The Eerie Midnight Horror Show.

4. The Eerie Midnight Show (1974)


Supporting Character Voice Over for Lucretia Love as Luisa

Director:  Mario Gariazzo
Streaming: Tubi   

Andrea: This film, also known as Enter the Devil, is super sleazy. She plays Lucretia, the mother of a girl whose daughter, Danila (Stella Carnacina), gets possessed. She’s cheating on her husband with Gabriele Tinti (Laura Gemser’s husband). The Eerie Midnight Horror Show is like an Italian Exorcist rip-off. Tinti’s character takes the stems of a bunch of roses out of a vase and flagellates Lucretia with the thorns. Can you imagine being in a studio and having to dub these things?

MB: How did they keep a straight face?

Andrea: Right?  How interesting it must have been. It must have been a wild time and fun, especially given the fact that she got to play so many different characters. I wonder how much direction she received or how often a director gave her detailed notes.

MB: These are all wonderful questions. On the Severin and Vinegar Syndrome physical media releases, they interview who they can. But nobody ever talks about the dubbing artist or that process for the film. I’d love to learn more about that process.

5. Slaughter Hotel (1971)

Principal Character Voice Over for Rosalba Neri as Anne Palmieri

Director:  Fernando DiLe
Blu-Ray: The English dubbed version is only on the Diabolik RARO Blu-ray at this time. The version for rent on Amazon Prime, YouTube, as well as the Kino Lorber Blu-ray are distributed in the original Italian-language track.  

MB: Costarring Klaus Kinski, Slaughter Hotel is also known as Asylum Erotica and The Beast Kills in Cold Blood.

Andrea: Slaughter Hotel is one of my absolute favorites. There’s no lead in that film as it’s more of an ensemble cast. Carolyn dubs for Neri, who plays the character of Anne. She’s like a feral woman in a sanitarium and a sex fiend. Anne is naked a lot, trying to bang the gardener, and she comes to an unfortunate end, pretty much like all the other women in that film. It’s a nasty, nasty film. There’s a textural quality to Carolyn’s voice because it’s so rich.

6. Bloody Pit of Horror (1965)


Supporting Character Voice Over for Moa Tahi as Kinojo

Director:  Massimo Pupillo
Streaming: Tubi

Andrea: In The Bloody Pit of Horror from 1965, Carolyn has a smaller dub role in that film as Kinojo, a model. A group of models go to a big castle for a photo shoot and meet the crimson executioner. As she is voicing her, Tahi’s character gets tied up in a giant spider web. Carolyn had the ability to pull from this range of emotions from sensuous to fearful, to heartbroken, and even funny.

7. Women’s Prison Massacre (1983)


Principal Character Voice Over for Ursula Flores as Albina                     

Director:  Bruno Mattei
Streaming: Shout Factory TV, Amazon Prime Rental

MB: I watched Women’s Prison Massacre (which, fair warning, does contain sexual violence), a double feature with Chained Heat at The Madcap in Tempe, AZ, when you were programming 35mm grindhouse films there. De Fonseca’s dub of Flore’s Albina is fascinating. She’s a relentless bully, and believe me; she is albino — the hair!

Andrea: Yes, her eyelashes and lips are even albino!

8. Arabella Black Angel (1989)


Main Character Voice Over for Tinì Cansino as Arabella Veronese

Director:  Stelvio Massi
Streaming: Shudder, Tubi

Arabella is struggling with her infidelity while caring for her disabled husband, Francesco (Francesco Casale). The pair end up bonding in a criminal and passionate fashion. De Fonseca also works alongside her husband Rusoff, who dubs for the role of Francesco. Also known as Angela, the Black Angel.  (Disclaimer: Contains sexual violence.)

MB:  De Fonseca is very effective, emotional, and husky, as Arabella is uncertain of her decisions. As far as linking up the sound, there are always going to be moments that are off.  But while I was watching, I was thinking about how she could sync up the English dub to the Italian dialect so well, making Cansino’s performance even more stunning.

9. Suspiria (1977)

Supporting Character Voice Over for Barbara Magnolfi as Olga

Director:  Dario Argento
Streaming: Tubi

Perhaps De Fonseca’s most famous voice-over. For many fans of the Argento and Italian Horror, Suspiria has been the gateway introduction of her voice as Barbara Magnolfi’s Olga. Olga is very bitchy, then soft, a snake in her own way, and Suzy Bannion’s (Jessica Harper) short-lived roommate away from the academy.

MB: That was my first time hearing her voice. Just how sassy she made Magnolfi with her “Mata Hari” speech and Porte-cigarette holder. Who can forget the “Princess Leia” buns and that fashionable apartment as well?

Andrea: That one is so iconic and recognizable.

10. Deep Red (1975)


Principal Character Voice Over for Daria Nicolodi as Gianna Brezzi

Director: Dario Argento
Streaming: Shudder, Pluto TV

De Fonseca would dub again for Nicolodi as Frau Brückner in Argento’s 1985 Phenomena (Creepers).

Andrea: Carolyn can go from this super sexy voluptuous siren role to Daria Nicoladi’s character of Gianna in Deep Red. Nicoladi had to be the comedic relief in that film. With Carolyn, there is an incredible range. She gets to be fun, comedic, and feral. There’s great banter with Nicoladi and David Hemmingway, as they have such fun chemistry. And to be able to dub such great chemistry is pretty awesome.

MB: Deep Red was born for Daria and Carolyn’s voice. I felt that dub WAS Daria’s voice.

Andrea: Yes, and you get so used to watching these dubbed versions of the films, right? I was preparing for a podcast to talk about Pieces, which she has dubbed for in the role of Grace.

I watched a version that didn’t have the dubbed version I’m used to, and it was such a weird experience. You are used to these audio cues that kind of cue you in when something is going to happen. When you’ve known a film so intimately, and you’ve watched it and experienced it so much, it’s unsettling to listen to it with a different score or a different dub. I’m so accustomed to hearing Carolyn’s voice. To me, that IS the voice of the character. But when you listen to the original language formats of Italian or Spanish, it’s so bizarre.

MB: It also takes away some of the laughs you get with an audience from the dub job. These dubs are a part of the integral process of the film. They are the fabric of what we remember. “Oh, that voice!” It’s comforting.

De Fonseca, Rusoff, and Edward Leo Mannix, who dubs for Jack Hedley in The New York Ripper, seem to be the most notable dubbing artists for the Italian genres.

Andrea: They are the voice for so many people, for generations, and we’re so used to experiencing these films with voice-over artists. That’s such a big presence. It’s unfortunate that there is not enough information or recognition about these talented performers.


The list is long and vast in De Fonseca’s supporting voice-over work from The Devil’s Honey, The New York Ripper, Burial Ground, Don’t Torture a Duckling, to Spasmo. Even De Fonseca is heard yelling in a clip from Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown (1997) featuring Sergio Grieco’s Beast with a Gun (1977) on the television with Helmut Berger slapping Marisa Mell’s character.

When searching IMDb, you must look under Additional Crew for the listed dubbing roles. But thanks to Wikipedia, Andrea and I were both able to discover more of her noted works.

I would love to see a documentary or featurettes showcasing the magic of Italy’s best English dubbing voice-over artists of the 1960s to 1980s.  Those familiar voices continue to stay with us fans of Italian Horror, Giallo, Grindhouse, Exploitation, and Euro Cult gems. With over one hundred English language dubbing roles linked to her career, there’s still not much known about De Fonseca’s life. But today, more attention is being paid to her work.

One distinct voice can stay with us throughout our whole cinematic life experience. And for both myself and Andrea, that is Carolyn De Fonseca.

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