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Fabio Frizzi • CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD

Written By:

Nicholas Spacek
fabio frizzi image

Out this week on 4K UltraHD Blu-ray  from Arrow Video is Lucio Fulci’s 1980 film, City of the Living Dead. The first entry in the Italian director’s Gates of Hell trilogy was followed by The Beyond and The House by the Cemetery in 1981, and all three films stand as masterpieces of Italian splatter horror. In addition to Fulci’s imaginative, skilful filmmaking and eye for colour, the trilogy also owes much of its success to the masterful scores composed for each. While Walter Rizzati and Alessandro Blonksteiner scored The House by the Cemetery, the first two films saw the director partnering with his frequent collaborator, composer Fabio Frizzi.

While Frizzi took a break from scoring films for most of the early ’00s, in recent years, he’s come roaring back with work for films such as Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich and the Castle Freak remake. Additionally, he’s revisited two of his Fulci scores, The Beyond and Zombie Flesh Eaters, in expanded Composer’s Cuts, which see him taking the musical ideas from 40 years prior and making them even bigger than they once were.

We spoke with composer Fabio Frizzi about his work with Lucio Fulci and his current plans.

STARBURST: In recent years, you’ve returned to and expanded the scores for Zombie and The Beyond. What appeals to you about revisiting your past work?

Fabio Frizzi: Let’s say that every time you pick up an older score written a long time ago, it’s always a confrontation with yourself. For example, I wrote Zombie in ’79. I was 28, now I’m a little older [laughs], so the first very interesting thing is the relationship with yourself, trying to understand how you were then, your ideas on music, but not only on music. This is a great psychological encounter with yourself, and obviously, there are many things that have changed. And even the movies. when you see a movie from Fulci, it’s always alive. It’s as if it’s done the year before.

When I, for example, redid The Beyond for the first time we did it in concert, Antonella Fulci, his daughter, was there. She’s a great friend of mine, and I’ve known her since she was a baby. She told me she thought this was a new way of seeing that movie, and I was so happy.

Bob Murawski is an editor from Los Angeles and the boss of Grindhouse Releasing. He had a copy of The Beyond without music, so I could work from scratch. There’s now a version called The Beyond: The Composer’s Cut with the new music, which is very similar to the old, obviously, but there’s something absolutely new.

Speaking of seeing things in a new way, how does it feel for you to see the deluxe restorations for these films?

I’m always in love with the older things. I love old cars. I love old guitars and things like this. So, obviously, when you see a movie in 35mm projected, it’s something great, but I think that these restorations can, first of all, keep the market alive. I know people, friends, and fans that have every single release of that movie and the other movies, so the market goes. But I can tell you that I’ve seen The Beyond recently, and with the 4K restoration, you see details that you haven’t ever seen before. It’s like two situations, but I think it’s it’s cool. It’s really cool.

Why was your working relationship with Lucio Fulci so long and fruitful, do you think?

Yeah, but you know, after so long, we often use the term legend, not just saying Lucio was a legend or Fabio was a legend. It’s something that the story in a moment that’s almost unknown: I went to the editing room, and Lucio was there, and then the editor. This happened some time ago, but it happened.

Lucio was the age of my mom, for example. he was like a parent for me. I think that I had a great respect for him. Maybe he could see a young composer with a great future in me. We were far in age, but I think we were near in passion because Lucio always – until the last time I saw him – was crazy for cinema, crazy for telling stories. I think that we catch each other’s quality in the best way.

After Lucio was gone, I met Antonella Fulci again because of the request to do another tour in America. We met again after a long time. So we hugged, it was a fantastic moment. She told me, “You cannot imagine how my dad was speaking about you. He loved your way so much.” And,  as many fathers don’t, he never told me. I said, “Well, it’s absolutely beautiful, more beautiful than I could suppose.”

Are there differences in making scores these days versus 40-plus years ago, and if so, what are they?

Practically everything has changed. Basically, from the technical view, I started – and it seems to me five years ago, but it was 50 years ago -with four tracks, a maximum of eight tracks. The Beatles did the first record with four tracks. Nowadays, we don’t have a limit. You open Pro Tools or Sibelius, and you can write on hundreds of tracks. But the way of doing musical commentary has changed a lot because we are, nowadays, fast in using things. We’ll take a look at the reels on the telephone, ta ta ta, and there is a receipt, and so everything changed, but I think that there is one thing that never changed. Basically, the white piece of paper is always there.

When you need to have an idea, you are just by yourself. Even if it is a great computer with many possibilities, the idea must come from here [points to head], despite the AI, but I don’t believe that it will substitute us. But my philosophy is always the same: if you want to do the best you can for a job, the only real secret is to let you go into the story, understand what the people around you – the producer, the director – want you to do and go. And this is absolutely the same 50 years before.

Given that you’ve toured extensively in recent years and released various albums and collections, what does 2024 offer you?

Well, let’s say that enthusiasm is the basis for feeling the many windows that you have on the table. It’s like a mosaic, our lifestyle. Let’s say that I discovered touring very late because I was just a musician in a recording studio. Then, exactly 10 years ago, I did Frizzi 2 Fulci in London. That has brought us – me and my musicians – really everywhere with great enthusiasm also from fans. We had our 10th anniversary in the Union Chapel on October 28th last year. It’s really something important.

When we did the Zombie Composer’s Cut, American friends would say “Please come and do it,” so I think that maybe in September, possibly in London, too. We are trying to build a good story going deeper into the movies. Every morning, I wake up, and I feel I will do it. The curiosity is my gasoline, and we’ll go ahead.

CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD is out now on 4K UltraHD Blu-ray from Arrow Video and is available to stream on ARROW

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