Fan of obscure horror? If so, the names Fabio Frizzi and Lucio Fulci should need little introduction.
But if not, here goes… For fans of niche horror, very little comes close to the cult reverence held for the Italian “giallo” genre of bawdy, gory, hyper-stylized, pseudo-slasher films from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Typified by the likes of Dario Argento’s Suspiria and Mario Bava’s Blood And Black Lace, the best of the giallo genre eschews tight plotting and believable set-ups for overwhelmingly dark moods and unsettling technical brilliance.
Although the two directors mentioned above deserve credit for a) inventing (Bava) and b) expertly honing (Argento) the genre, for many the ultimate director of giallo schlock is Lucio Fulci. The mastermind behind classics like The Beyond, Zombie Flesh Eaters (aka Zombi 2), City Of The Living Dead, The New York Ripper and many, many more, his scenes of underwater battles between sharks and zombies, of nipples being sliced open by crazed psychopaths, of faces devoured by cannibalistic fake spiders, not to mention his literally eye popping special effects, are the stuff of horror legend.
Behind every cult horror auteur, there’s usually an unsung soundtrack supremo, and in this case, that man is Fabio Frizzi. Although perhaps not as well known as fellow countrymen Goblin, who set the bar for giallo soundtracks very high with their work with Dario Argento, Fabio Frizzi has still racked up some of the best loved movie themes within the genre. From the intricate, brilliant choral-jazz-funk of The Beyond to the droning, doomy synths of Zombie Flesh Eaters (which, for me at least, is THE definitive zombie film theme of all time) Fulci commands just as much fan respect and admiration as Claudio Simonetti and co.
Which is why I was blowled over to find out that this Thursday, on Halloween night, Fabio Frizzi will be performing live in London at a special concert called Frizzi To Fulci, celebrating his numerous themes for Fulci with the help of a large live group called the F2F Orchestra. For horror soundtrack buffs like myself, this gig is the holy grail, possibly even moreso than the recent Goblin live shows, as the chance of seeing Frizzi perform live seemed even more remote.
Unfortunately, what with Halloween being Gay Christmas an’ all, I won’t be able to make the show (ironically, we’re hosting a triple bill of giallo classics, including The Beyond) but I jumped at the chance to interview Fabio Frizzi; to find out more about his background, his inspirations, and, of course, his work with Lucio Fulci. Frizzi To Fulci is sold out (there are limited VIP tickets available) so for those of us who can’t make what promises to be a very special evening, here is my interview with the soundtrack maestro himself:
Dangerous Minds: When did you first start writing and playing music and what was the inspiration?
Fabio Frizzi: I was attracted to music from a very young age, my father used to sing in a very big choir in Bologna, which is where we lived. When I was 2 or 3 my friends and family used to meet and sing together. When I was about 6 I was part of a small choir at school.
But then something strange happened when I was a teenager. I was still in love with music, but I wanted to do other things. I was a swimmer, and while it wasn’t a career, I was pretty good. At 14 I started to have problems with asthma and my doctor told me it would be better to stop swimming for a while. It was a tragedy for me, because, you know, at 14 you are still a baby! But my father had a great idea, he asked a guitar teacher to give me lessons, because he knew I still liked music. So I began and, day by day, I got better, This was at the same time that The Beatles were gaining popularity, so we were all listening to that.
At 15 I had my first group, which was classical, but after a while I moved from classical guitar to acoustic and electric, you know how guys are! But I kept going and it became my real love. I always say that my first girlfriends, when I was about 17, they had to come with us to the rehearsals, because for us Saturday and Sunday was dedicated to the music!
When I finished school my dad wanted me to become a lawyer, and I started studying that, but it was always secondary. I met a very big Italian publisher called Carlo Bixio, he believed in my talent and helped me as I put together my first group, Bixio-Frizzi-Tempera when I was about 23. But you have to remember that my father was already working in the cinema field. So it was easier for me than it would be for other people; I knew Italian actors, I would go to premieres and screenings, so it was easier, yes, but I was passionate. I studied, because, after all, it takes a while to get good at making music!
Read the full interview after the jump…