Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Cinecocktail Calibro 3 / Cinecocktail 4: The Italian Horror Show

These two new releases from Italy's BEAT Records present an interesting take on the Italian film music compilation CD idea by also including a bonus documentary DVDs.

The selections of tracks on the two CD's are a mixed bag, with the poliziotto disc probably shading it on account of not including the kind of late 80s and 90s electronic and rock guitar driven cues found on the horror one. A case could, however, be made for the poliziotto compilation inherently being the easier to make coherent anyway on account of the filone's shorter lifespan, as primarily a 1970s phenomenon, and the narrower range of styles characteristically utilised by its composers.

Both discs feature a number of previously unreleased tracks, like Lalo Gori's infectious theme for Calling All Police Cars and a different take of Francesco De Masi's 'Fay' from The New York Ripper, along with much-compiled favourites like Franco Micalizzi's 'Folk and Violence' from Violent Naples and Ennio Morricone's 'Lizard in a Woman's Skin' theme from the film of the same name.

Unfortunately while the DVDs while they are certainly a good idea – the more we get to hear the people behind these films speaking for themselves the better, as far as I am concerned – their execution leaves a bit to be desired.

The horror documentary, Hanging Shadows, features interview clips with the likes of Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava, Michele Soavi and Roger Fratter, discussing their theories and practice, and presents a good overview of the genre's rise and fall and place in the wider history of cinema, with other contributors including critics, writers and producers.

The one major omission, however, is that there's not really anything about the role of music in the Italian horror film, nor anything from the composers whose music is featured on the CD.

The disc is also marred by some unnecessarily gimmicky direction and the inclusion of decontextualised clips from recent low-budget straight to video type productions by the likes of Fratter that don't really add terribly much to the experience or our understanding. Though a similar criticism might be made of the extra, a music video featuring Menti Criminali and Acid One, the sheer coolness of hearing three guys rapping in Italian about Fulci, Bava and so on proves highly endearing.

Similar post-production trickery also afflicts the documentary on the poliziotto disc, Il Genere. It's different in that it discusses the filone cinema more generally and has more emphasis on the music, with the interviewees including Alessandro Alessandroni, Francesco De Masi and Edda Dell'Orso alongside directors such as Mario Caiano and Umberto Lenzi, both of whom emphasise how much things have changed for the worse in the Italian cinema along with the fact that the B-films they and others made are now better received than they were on their original releases. These interviews, some taking place in the individuals homes or studios, others in what appears to be the context of a festival or awards ceremony, are intercut with footage of Franco Micalizzi and his Big Bubbling Band performing live.

Another problem is that the interviewees aren't identified on screen, meaning that if you don't already know De Masi as the man with the harmonica, Alessandroni as the whistler or Dell'Orso as the voice you may find it difficult knowing quite where to place them and their contributions at first.

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