Podcast Episode 92: Frizzi, Fulci And The Fever Dream Of Italian Horror
A discussion of 'spaghetti' horror of the 70s and 80s
I'm in the mood for Italian horror thanks to composer Fabio Frizzi coming to San Diego to perform scores from his films. So let's talk about Frizzi, Fulci and the fever dream of Italian horror.
Film composer Fabio Frizzi helped defined Italian horror in the 1970s and '80s.
But this past week he came to San Diego where I not only got to see him in concert but I also got to cook a big dinner for him and his band. Then I got to see him perform again in Los Angeles for Beyond Fest at the Egyptian where he played the score to "The Beyond" live.
It was a transcendent experience. All films should be experienced like this.
From the opening percussion you could feel the music rise up from the floor and into your body, making the horror even more visceral.
But Frizzi's scores are not only about the horror. They are about elevating a genre film to tragedy. Helping achieve this at the Composer's Cut screening of "The Beyond" at The Egyptian, was singer Giulietta Zanardi whose haunting voice seemed to channel spirits from another world and breath life into an abandoned house. Frizzi, Zanardi, and the entire band provided a breathtaking concert both in Los Angeles and San Diego.
And all that got me thinking about Italian cinema and spaghetti horror in particular.
My introduction to Italian horror happened when I was a teenager and I went to see "Suspiria" (1977).
"The only thing more terrifying than the last 12 minutes of this film are the first 92." That was the perfect come on for Dario Argento’s "Suspiria."
It is the film that got me hooked on Italian horror cinema. I went to see it with a friend when I was in high school. If my memory serves me right, it was the second feature on a double bill at the Jerry Lewis Cinemas in Chula Vista (although by that time it might have been renamed the Fiesta Twin Cinemas, but it was the first multiplex in my neighborhood).
From the moment "Suspiria" started I was riveted. The bold imagery, the lurid colors, the pulsing rock score by Goblin — it was an audacious and seductive new world.
But imagine my frustration when my friend (who had driven) bolted out of her seat after the opening murders and insisted we leave. It would take a couple years before I actually got to see the end of the film — this was before VHS was booming and it wasn’t the type of film to play on TV.
But perhaps that taste of Italian horror without the satisfaction of a full meal is what provoked my obsession. I could only imagine what followed and I hungered to see more. And when I did I was enthralled.
Every frame of "Suspiria" is a work of art. Argento was my first love in Italian horror and "Suspiria."
But Lucio Fulci and Fabio Frizzi soon followed with films such as "Zombie," "The City of the Living Dead," and "The Beyond."
For this podcast I speak again with Frizzi, as well as with musician Ryan Nestor who came to the San Diego concert and who staged a live score for a screening of "Suspiria" at UC San Diego.