Just in time for Halloween comes Paura, an exceptional collection of Italian horror movie themes from the Cam Sugar archive. The Italian Cam label has recently partnered with the classical label, Decca, to issue classics of Italian film music by – thus far – Ennio Morricone, Riz Ortolani and Luis Bacalov. Cam Sugar also put out last year’s terrific Morricone compilation, Morricone Segreto.
Paura, which is the Italian word for fear, gathers together 25 themes from Italy’s Golden Age of horror. What is Italian horror? During this period, roughly 1970 to 1985, it meant giallos, gothic horror, Exorcist-knockoffs, zombies, nunsploitation, splatter and apocalypse dystopias. And that might only scratch the surface of the many hundreds of genre films Italy churned out back then.
Italian horror films also attracted some of the greatest composers, doing some of their finest work. Even when it was derivative (“Il Sesso del Diavolo” or “Cerro Torre” here), there was still something fresh, original, even unique about it – like the movies themselves.
I’m a big fan of many of these movies, so I know a lot of the music – particularly the giallo films. And the big names – Morricone, Nicolai, Ortolani, Cipriani – are all here. But some of the lesser-known beauties are here too: Berto Pisano’s lovely “Greta,” Daniele Patucchi’s grinding “E Tanta Paura,” personal favorite Goblin’s “Devil Dance” and the great Franco Micalizzi’s infectious “Bargain with the Devil.”
Six of the set’s 25 themes are previously unreleased, including themes by Daniele Patuccchi (from Frankenstein ‘80 and a great Carpenter-esque suite from Wild Beasts), Sante Maria Romitelli (from The Sensuous Dolls) and Marcello Giombini (from Un gioco per Eveline and Hotel Paradise): all new – and wonderful – to my ears.
The compilation is cleverly organized as “the strategic succession of sequences,” as though the various themes were the soundtrack to one film. It is a cunning approach that gives the listening experience drama and tension of, well, fear itself.
The result creates, from the disc’s notes, “a spooky menu full of mysterious voices, childlike lullabies, obsessive music boxes, obstinate harpsichords (a key instrument of the genre), especially its Gothic declination), crazy distortions and threatening synthesizers, without neglecting the panoramic openings of some great, romantic themes, able to soothe the atmosphere full of tension itself.”
Writing that good should tell you how well-conceived this package is.
Beautifully conceived and compiled by Italian golden age music historian (and Four Flies label owner) Piero De Sanctis – who also did the equally exquisite Morricone Segreto - Paura is the perfect Halloween treat for anyone looking for some of the greatest spooky music the holiday can serve up….Italian style. The cover artwork is outstanding and there's a track list to die for:
1. Ennio Morricone – Mio Caro Assassino from MIO CARO ASSASSINO / MY DEAR KILLER (Tonino Valerii, 1971)
2. Bruno Nicolai – La Notte che Evelyn Uscì dalla Tomba (Long Version) feat. Edda Dell’Orso from LA NOTTE CHE EVELYN USCÌ DALLA TOMBA / THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE (Emilio P. Miraglia, 1971)
3. Bruno Nicolai – La Dama Rossa Uccide Sette Volte (Edit) from LA DAMA ROSSA UCCIDE SETTE VOLTE / THE RED QUEEN KILLS SEVEN TIMES (Emilio P. Miraglia, 1972)
4. Stelvio Cipriani - Tribal Shake from REAZIONE A CATENA / A BAY OF BLOOD (Mario Bava, 1971)
5. Stelvio Cipriani – Il Sesso del Diavolo (Finale) from IL SESSO DEL DIAVOLO / SEX OF THE DEVIL (Oscar Brazzi, 1971)
6. Stelvio Cipriani – Deviation - M1 from DEVIATION (José Ramón Larraz, 1971)
7. Riz Ortolani – L’Etrusco Uccide Ancora (Titoli) from L’ETRUSCO UCCIDE ANCORA / THE DEAD ARE ALIVE! (Armando Crispino, 1972)
8. Daniele Patucchi – Giallo in Tensione * from FRANKENSTEIN ‘80 (Mario Mancini, 1972)
9. Ennio Morricone – Ansimando feat. Edda Dell’Orso from MACCHIE SOLARI / AUTOPSY (Armando Crispino, 1975)
10. Manuel De Sica - Black Dream from MYSTERY TOUR (1985)
11. Paolo Gatti, Alfonso Zenga – Cerro Torre from CESARE MAESTRI: IL RAGNO DELLE DOLOMITI (1980)
12. Berto Pisano - Greta from LA MORTE HA SORRISO ALL’ASSASSINO / DEATH SMILES ON A MURDERER (Joe D'amato aka Aristide Massaccesi, 1973)
13. Sante Maria Romitelli - Bambola Sensuale * from LA ROSSA DALLA PELLE CHE SCOTTA / THE SENSUOUS DOLL (Renzo Russo, 1972)
14. Adolfo Waitzman – Languidamente from PENSIONE PAURA / HOTEL FEAR (Francesco Barilli, 1978)
15. Nico Fidenco – Il Demonio in Convento from IMMAGINI DI UN CONVENTO / IMAGES IN A CONVENT (Joe D'amato aka Aristide Massaccesi, 1979)
16. Ettore De Carolis - Flavour of Death from IL CAVALIERE, LA MORTE E IL DIAVOLO (Beppe Cino, 1983)
17. Marcello Giombini – Un Gioco per Eveline – M11 * from UN GIOCO PER EVELINE (Marcello Avallone, 1971)
18. Carlo Maria Cordio - Absurd from ROSSO SANGUE / ABSURD (Peter Newton aka Aristide Massaccesi, 1981)
19. Stelvio Cipriani – Devil Dance performed by Goblin from UN’OMBRA NELL’OMBRA / RING OF DARKNESS (Pier Carpi, 1979)
20. Daniele Patucchi – E Tanta Paura – M2 * from E TANTA PAURA / PLOT OF FEAR (Paolo Cavara, 1976)
21. Marcello Giombini – Orinoco: Prigioniere del Sesso – M19 * from ORINOCO: PRIGIONIERE DEL SESSO / HOTEL PARADISE (Edoardo Mulargia, 1980)
22. Franco Micalizzi - Bargain With The Devil #3 from CHI SEI? / BEYOND THE DOOR (Ovidio G. Assonitis, 1974)
23. Stefano Liberati - The Prophecy (Vers. A) from the TV show I PENSIERI DELL’OCCHIO (1978)
24. Luigi Ceccarelli – Walking Through The Shadows from DIFENDIMI DALLA NOTTE (Claudio Fragasso, 1981)
25. Daniele Patucchi – Minaccia Sulla Città * from BELVE FEROCI / WILD BEASTS (Franco. Prosperi, 1984)
* - Previously unreleased.