VAULT OF HORROR PRESENTS THE GATES OF HELL TRILOGY / COMPOSER: FABIO FRIZZI, WALTER RIZZATI, ALLESANDRO BLONKSTEINER / LABEL: DEMON RECORDS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Over the past decade, several labels have seen fit to reissue the scores to Italian director Lucio Fulci's Gate of Hell trilogy of films on vinyl: City of the Living Dead, The Beyond and The House by the Cemetery. As a matter of fact, all three have been reissued by Death Waltz Recording Co, and an expanded edition of City of the Living Dead – under its original title, Paura Nella Città Dei Morti Viventi – came out on Berlin's Private Records as well.
Throw in compact disc reissues from the likes of Beat Records, and one would think that fans' desire for these film scores would be satiated. Hopefully not, because Demon Records' new set, Vault of Horror presents the Gates of Hell Trilogy, might be the best version yet. Much like the label's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy vinyl reissues, this collection comes as a set of records in a hardbound book. Also, much like the two compilations of Italian horror score cuts under the Vault of Horror title, this collection comes with exceptional art by Graham Humphreys and liner notes by scholar Alan Jones.
It's astonishingly impressive stuff, and collecting these three scores together really creates an impressive listening experience. The first two films, City of the Living Dead and The Beyond, have scores by Fabio Frizzi, with The House by the Cemetery composed by both Walter Rizzati and Alessandro Blonksteiner. Frizzi's scores have a lot in common with each other – as Jones puts in his liner notes, City of the Living Dead is “the ultimate chill-out complete with countless catchy and creepy motifs,” with The Beyond's mood “desolation, the atmosphere agitated, the Mellotron neo-psychedelic, the musical motifs unforgettable.”
Rizzati and Blonksteiner's work on The House by the Cemetery is as different as the film is from the previous two Gates of Hell films. Those movies are epic, digging into the likes of H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, with the final installment of the trilogy going for more of a Henry James feel. While the score is, as Jones puts it, “synth-heavy with prominent electric guitar and bass keeping it prog-rock grounded,” it's less epic and more insular. The sweeping Mellotron choruses are absent, and the Blonksteiner contributions have a sly sinuousness to them which makes them instantly recognisable.
Each score gets its own essay in the hardcover packaging, which is made to look like it's some kind of decayed vellum. It looks pretty, and ties nicely into The Book of Enoch from City of the Living Dead, but it does make the text difficult to read at times. Additionally, when our copy of the book was first opened, the pages began to pull apart somewhat, making the structural integrity a mite dubious.
There are also gatefold spreads for each film by artists Humphreys, and each LP comes pressed on a different color of “nasty” vinyl, which are mixtures of orange, green and black and blue for each of the three respective films. They all sound good, with City of the Living Dead especially bombastic as it comes out the speakers, although The House by the Cemetery is somewhat muted.
It's an excellent package, and even if one already has each of these three, they'd be hard pressed turn to turn down this excellent collection of Lucio Fulci film scores.