To­tal Re­call

Ital­ian hor­ror movie mu­sic spooks Ian Berriman out.

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents -

Ian Berriman, Reviews Ed­i­tor

Taran­tu­las chew­ing a man’s face off; a zom­bie wrestling a shark; a woman puk­ing up her in­testines… The films of the late Ital­ian hor­ror di­rec­tor Lu­cio Fulci are awash with out­landish gore and dream- like weird­ness, and the haunt­ing mu­sic of Fabio Frizzi is the per­fect ac­com­pa­ni­ment to their ( of­ten lit­er­ally) eye- pop­ping de­lights. For me, he’s up there with fel­low coun­try­man En­nio Mor­ri­cone and the likes of Bernard Her­rmann.

The com­poser’s eclec­tic CV in­cludes Westerns, bal­let, a chil­dren’s mu­si­cal and – par­tic­u­larly in re­cent times – a great deal of work for TV. But it’s his five sound­tracks for Fulci – from 1979’ s Zom­bie Flesh Eaters to 1990’ s A Cat In The Brain – that he’s re­mem­bered for, and rightly so. Asked what makes a great hor­ror score, Frizzi ex­plained, “The mu­sic must work as an am­pli­fi­ca­tion of feel­ings and must help the au­di­ence en­ter the mech­a­nism of the sur­re­al­is­tic”. At its best, that’s ex­actly what his mu­sic does.

His trade­marks? Thud­ding elec­tronic per­cus­sion that sounds like a heart­beat; mourn­ful, tremu­lous syn­the­sis­ers. In his Zom­bie Flesh Eaters theme, th­ese com­bine with an eerily in­hu­man “choir” that’s ac­tu­ally a Mel­lotron – the early tape- strip key­board fa­mously used by The Bea­tles on “Straw­berry Fields For­ever”. I also love the acous­tic gui­tar mo­tifs of City Of The Liv­ing Dead ( as a young man, Fulci stud­ied clas­si­cal gui­tar). But if you only lis­ten to one Frizzi score, make it 1981’ s The Beyond. Take the cue “Voci Dal Nulla”, which melds prog rock flute and mil­i­tary drums with omi­nous The Omen- style chant­ing; lis­ten­ing to it makes you feel like you’re be­ing marched to your doom by a dev­il­wor­ship cult.

Pleas­ingly, Frizzi’s in vogue nowa­days. La­bels like the ex­cel­lent Death Waltz Record­ings have reis­sued key scores on vinyl, while mu­si­cians like Um­berto have homaged his retro synths. But what I’d re­ally like to see is Frizzi scor­ing a full- length fea­ture film again. The com­poser’s favourite movie is Blade Run­ner. A se­quel in the works. In a 2012 in­ter­view, Frizzi joked, “If Van­ge­lis aren’t avail­able… Ri­d­ley, I’m here!” Yeah, how about it Ri­d­ley?

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