“In this house, what you don’t know will hurt you.”
The career of Italian director Lucio Fulci spanned several decades and crossed all popular genres, from Westerns to Giallo, but it is for his horror films that he is most fondly remembered. Not all of them are great, but there was a period in the late 1907’s to early 1980’s when Fulci was on form. This period gave rise to the classics Zombie Flesh Eaters, The Beyond and City of The Living Dead.
Obscure European cinema releases and later 1980’s ‘video nasties,’ these films have since found a new audience with a younger generation thanks to DVD and Blu Ray. One of the coolest things about Italian horror films (aside from the gory violence), is the music. Death Waltz Recording Co. have recognized this fact, and have spent the last couple of years licencing and reissuing remastered versions of many cult soundtracks as lavish limited edition vinyl packages. I’m completely hooked on them, and I hope that the other classic Fulci soundtracks are given similar treatment, if they are available for copyright reasons.
Although this soundtrack sounds very similar to Fabio Frizzi’s work on Zombi (aka Zombie Flesh Eaters) and City of The Living Dead, it was actually composed by a previously untried composer named Walter Rizzati (in collaboration with Alessandro Blonksteiner, who composed 5 of the cues found here). The music is synth and guitar driven prog rock in the style of Goblin, and is perfectly suited to the creepy Gothic horror film it accompanies.
Haunting synth piano themes sit on top of heavy disco bass lines interspersed every few minutes by dissonant two note riffs (reminiscent of The Twilight Zone and Psycho). The soundtrack comes into it’s own when listened to in the dark, but it’s pretty creepy when played during the day, to be honest. The main theme wouldn’t sound out of place in a big-budget Hollywood movie. Everytime I hear it, it invokes the memory the little red haired girl Mae Freudstein (played by Silvia Collatina) trying to warn Bob (Giovanni Frezza) not to feed his curiosity about Dr. Freudstein! “Don’t go. Don’t go, you mustn’t!” (of course he does).
I’m pretty sure that 1970’s and early ’80’s horror soundtracks were created using synths because it was cheaper than employing a series of session musicians. One or two guys could sequence the whole thing in a small studio rather than employing a full band (as would have been the case with say, Goblin) or an orchestra.
This worked in the fans’ favour. As any John Carpenter fan will tell you, there is something creepy about synth soundtracks. They have an unearthly quality to them that just sounds wrong. At the same time, it couldn’t sound better – provided creepy synth-driven prog is what you’re after.
Death Waltz have established themselves as the UK’s leading vinyl label when it comes to cult horror soundtracks. From listening to this it’s easy to hear why. The mastering is perfect. The bass is rich and warm without compromising the glassy synth tones that balance the soundtrack out perfectly. This is a killer soundtrack to a classic (if not great) Fulci film and is a must for fans.
The House by the Cemetary is a prime example of a long-forgotten video nasty that has been resurrected on DVD/Blu Ray. Digital media is the way to go for watching the film itself. It has been restored beautifully with clear sound and picture quality that VHS viewers could never have dreamed of. When it comes to the soundtrack, though, analogue is definitely required. Death Waltz understood this from the beginning and haven’t disappointed here. Fulci fans need this record in their collections, and the forthcoming Fabio Frizzi classic City of The Living Dead (which also starred the now-legendary Scottish actress and accidental ‘Scream Queen’ Catriona MacColl) is also a must-have. Hopefully they will complete Fulci’s ‘Apocalypse trology’ and release The Beyond soundtrack, too.