Posts Tagged With: Claudio Simonetti

On The Horns Of House And Hip Hop… PROFONDO ROSSO By The SIMONETTI HORROR PROJECT Reviewed

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VHS. Pal. Exempt from classification.

Claudio Simonetti (along with his avatar, the late, great Keith Emerson) represents a point on the graph where two of my main obsessions (’70s Prog Rock and ’70s/80s Italian genre cinema) coincide. It’s the Proggier stuff that Simonetti essayed with Goblin which holds a special place in my heart (their debut album – released when the band were still known as Cherry Five – sounds more like Yes in their pomp than Yes themselves have sounded at any time in the last forty years) but, like the Italian exploitation film makers with whom he collaborated so memorably, Simonetti’s output and his presentation of the jewels in his musical crown have changed to reflect perceived shifts in public taste. In recent years, for example, his band (whether branded Daemonia or Goblin) has affected a quasi-Goth image with vague suggestions of Death Metal.

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In the early ’80s Simonetti took a disco direction (signalled as early as the four-to-the-floor main theme he contributed to Argento’s Tenebrae in ’82) and the tape under consideration here, issued by DiscoMagic to promote the LP Simonetti Horror Project in 1990, finds him on the cusp of Hair Rock, House and Hip Hop.

Crammed onto the stage of a small theatre in Siena, Simonetti and his core band of gurning, shape throwing, fright-coiffed, leather jacketed and ripped jeaned desperadoes (Giacomo Castellano, gtr; Maurizio Colori, bs; Giulio Sirci, dr) mime their way energetically through the album tracks, augmented at various points by rapper Dr. Felix and “Mad DJ” Luca “The Scratcher” Cucchetti, the back of whose leather jacket is adorned with one of those unfortunate “smiley” images… is he on one, matey? Further musical (but mainly visual) distraction is provided in the buxom shape of one Andrea Simonetti, shaking her Titian tresses and ample booty impressively in a lycra jump shoot… whoever she is, it’s probably a safe bet that Andrea is not Claudio’s granny! Also competing for your attention are a human skeleton and several silly plush toys. The proceedings are regularly punctuated by clips from Argento’s movies and a brief one of the director himself emerging from between a pair of thick red curtains. The directorial duties for this 45 minute promo were divided between Simonetti and Dr. Felix who between them have obviously enjoyed Led Zep’s Song Remains The Same and its overuse of split screen mosaics, which are deployed to alarming effect on, e.g. the murder of Ania Pieroni in Tenebrae .

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As for the music,  things kicks off with Craws (sic)… 1987’s Opera is, by general assent, the final film in Argento’s imperial period but I’ve never been too crazy about Simonetti’s music for it. Does he look like he cares, posing away with his keytar? Swimming against the tide of this general dance music tone, the Tenebrae theme unfolds in rockier style than on the film itself… a pretty exhilarating reading. The previously exhilirating Phenomena, on the other hand, has mutated into sub-Cerrone mush, appropriately enough, I guess, given the film’s notoriously odd “Supernature” storyline. Demons provides one of the tape’s standout moment. Now underpinned by the ubiquitous “Funky Drummer” James Brown sample, Simonetti embellishes the original with satisfying flights of synthesiser fancy while Sergio Stivaletti’s screen creations do The Lambeth Walk and CS himself, decked out in his finest Byronic frills, discovers a dusty manuscript whose music converts him into a demon when he play it. Riotous stuff! Andrea, The Scratcher and Dr. Felix take centre stage (with the band doing hand jive behind them!) as the doc raps sacreligiously over the canonical Profondo Rosso theme. While you’re getting over the shock of that, Simonetti slips in a less radical albeit thoroughly underwhelming Suspiria make-over which neither incongruous guitar histrionics nor the return of Andrea, mincing around in a tutu, can redeem. She’s back again, ineptly miming the aria from Opera, for a romantic scene with Claudio. Two unfamiliar tracks, Elucubration and Ozone Free, feature original Goblin drummer Walter Martino on drums (though he doesn’t appear on screen.) As if to mollify disgruntled conservatives, Simonetti (in Jack The Ripper hat and cape) closes the proceedings with Profondo Rosso – Rock Version, which unfortunately equates to tacking on further sub-Van Halen guitar tedium. Simonetti leaps into the air, flicking his mullet, the frame freezes and we’re done… undoubtedly not soon enough for some, but you’d have to be a terminally po-faced purist not to find something entertaining and / or amusing in this uneven collection, much of which is available on Youtube.

Click here for Claudio Simonetti interview, elsewhere on this blog.

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Goblin Up The Years… CLAUDIO SIMONETTI interviewed in 2006

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For those of us fixated on the twin ’70s worlds of Prog Rock and Italian Horror cinema there are two points on the graph at which our obsessions meet and snuggle up. Firstly, there’s the recently deceased and sadly missed Keith Emerson, of The Nice and ELP notoriety, who also scored movies for Dario Argento (Inferno, The Church) and Lucio Fulci (Murder Rock). Alongside Emmo’s flirtation with Pasta Paura, there’s been an ongoing contribution from one band. That band is, of course, The Goblins… or just plain old Goblin, depending on which record cover or film credit you believe. To mark what now seems to be a never-ending world tour by this legendary combo (which currently constitutes keyboard whizz Claudio Simonetti plus whoever else he’s managed to round up in time to rehearse), we’re reviving a Simonetti interview from the fabled Freudstein vaults. Since it was taped, the Goblin saga has mutated into something approaching the Julio-Claudian family tree in terms of complexity, with more personnel changes than Spinal Tap and more competing rival line-ups than Bucks Fizz. Simonetti has also toured the Goblin repertoire with a more Goth / Death Metal-orientated band, Daemonia. Over to you, Pete Frame…

Half Brazilian (like future collaborator Dario Argento), Claudio Simonetti was born (19/02/52) in Sao Paolo, the scion of an eminent musical family, his father Enrico being a noted pianist and conductor. By the time the Simonettis had relocated back to Italy, Claudio was an accomplished keyboard player. During his national service he befriended guitarist Massimo Morante, who shared Simonetti’s passion for such heavyweight British Proggers as ELP, The Nice, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and Gentle Giant. “Yes, I started playing in bands covering the material of those guys”, remembers Simonetti: “I think everybody in the world was influenced by that music. It was obviously the big influence on the band I formed with Massimo, though subsequently we found our own voice.”

Demobbed in the early 70’s, Simonetti and Morante began recording demos with a mob of collaborators from which Fabio Pignatelli (bass) and Walter Martino (drums) emerged as fully paid-up band members. Martino had given way to Carlo Bordini and American vocalist Clive Haynes was recruited before the band (initially named Picture Of Dorian Gray, later The Oliver) travelled to London in 1974 in a misfiring attempt to hook up with Yes producer Eddie Offord.”Eddie had expressed an interest in working with us and we brought over some demos to play to him, but he was very busy at this time, he was on a world tour with The Yes, so we never get together with him” sighs Simonetti: “We stayed in London for about two months, played a few gigs and recorded some more demos, then it was back to Italy and we resumed recording in Rome.”Returning, deflated, to home soil, these Olivers – like their Dickensian namesake – were hungry for more.

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Their fortunes took an upward swing when the Cinevox label signed them to record an album, on condition that they change their name to Cherry Five, possibly to avoid confusion with the execrable soundtrack outpourings of Oliver Onions, i.e. the De Angelis brothers. Cherry Five’s 1975 self-titled debut album (on which Tony Tartarini had replaced Haynes as front man and Martino returned to replace Bordini on skins) has now been issued as a Cinevox CD and emerges as a surprisingly confident outing, albeit instantly recognisable as the work of a bunch of Yes obsessives (the harmonies, the tricky time signatures, Pignatelli’s pastiche of Chris Squire’s trebly bass sound … )

Cinevox, of course, were a label chiefly concerned with releasing soundtracks, and it was through this connection that the boys encountered Dario Argento, who was having problems scoring his giallo masterpiece Profondo Rosso / Deep Red (1975). Claudio remembers it like this … “Giorgio Gaslini had written the music but Dario wanted it played by a rock band and was searching for one which would be up to the job. He signed us after hearing the Cherry 5 album. After ten days of recording it was decided that we should come up with more of the music ourselves. Dario and Gaslini had been having disagreements about the music, also Gaslini had a very heavy schedule of concert work … he was a very famous jazz player… so Dario said: ‘OK guys, you’re on your own’. That was our big break, we did the main title music and other themes in the picture. The A-
side of the soundtrack album is the music that we composed, the B-side is Gaslini stuff arranged and played by Goblin” (as the band, minus Tartarini and concentrating on instrumental material, would now be known).

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“We were glad to have been granted this great opportunity, we were very young and very full of ourselves …. ” So, to Gaslini’s famous lullaby theme The Goblins added (among other bits of business) the equally celebrated, much re-released and remixed title piece, a stunning interplay between acoustic guitar-picking and church organ grandiloquence which makes me suspect that, while in London, The Goblins must have been tuning into classic Granada TV documentary series World In Action. During the Deep Red sessions drummer Martino left yet again to be replaced by Agostino Marangolo, whose brother Antonio also contributed additional keyboard parts. On the soundtrack to Mauro Macario’s 1976 picture Perche Si Uccidono, attributed to II Reale Impero Britannico, four of the eleven tracks are The Goblins’ interpretation of music written by Fabio Frizzi, no less… the guy who went on to score most of Lucio Fulci’s zombie epics. Antonio Marangolo gave way to Maurizio Guarini for the band’s other 1976 effort Roller, whose title track continues the big organ (ooh-er, missus!) sound of Profondo Rosso, though here in tandem with Morante’s soaring electric lead. Elsewhere those Prog influences are very much in evidence. Dr Frankestein (sic) emulates ELP and the eponymous Goblin runs the gamut from Genesis to jazz-rock, while Snip Snap hints at the funky shape of things to come. Roller remains one of only two non-soundtrack albums that were ever put out under the Goblin banner, though cuts from it were subsequently pillaged for the soundtracks of other films, notably Wampir (the 1979 Italian release of George Romero’s Martin), Luigi Cozzi’s colourised re-issue of the original Godzilla and Argento’s tenor tour-deforce Suspiria (1977 … Aquaman and Dr Frankestein appear on the original soundtrack album though not in the film itself). Goblin did however deliver plenty of original material for Suspiria, their dissonant cacophony of whispers, screams, strangulated synthesiser and found percussion providing the perfect accompaniment to Argento’s all-out visual, visceral assault. Just as the witches’ murderous daggers are wielded in close up by the director’s own skinny hands, so it is Simonetti’s voice that can be heard throughout the picture, muttering lines from the folk poem “Three Witches Sitting In A Tree.” It has gone down in fear-film folklore that Goblin completed the scoring of Suspiria before a frame of film was shot, and that the actors rehearsed and played their parts while listening to it. The truth is that this provisional score was completely revamped in postproduction. Another persistent rumour has it that the band Libra, whose relentless, percussion-driven score accompanies Dario Nicolodi’s accelerating mental disintegration in Mario Bava’s final feature Shock (1977), are actually The Goblins, working incognito for contractual reasons. In fact the connection was a very tenuous one, Libra comprising original Goblin drummer Walter Martino and transient members / fringe figures Maurizio Guarini, Alessandro Centofanti, Carlo Pennisi and Dino Cappa.

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In the same year the genuine Goblins scored Enzo Castellari’s cop saga La Via Della Droga.There was no doubt about who scored George Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead aka Zombie, coproduced by Argento in 1978. With Antonio Marangolo contributing sax parts, Goblin turned in what is undoubtedly their strongest soundtrack album. The others invariably boast a strong title theme but also a certain amount of straight filler and tend to peter out into lots of “creeping around corridors” stuff that doesn’t necessarily do much for the listener without its accompanying visuals. The band came up with several compelling themes for Dawn, and their characteristic staccato unison riffing, a la King Crimson / Mahavishnu Orchestra, has never been this tight and telling. Argento wisely beefed up the band’s soundtrack presence on his punchier cut of the movie, released in Italy.

Like any self-respecting Prog band, Goblin were obliged to release the dreaded “concept album,” which also appeared in 1978 with the Kafka-esque title II Fantastico Viaggio Del Bagarozzo Mark (“The Fantastic Voyage Of Mark The Bug”). This was full-on Prog with a distinctly Italian flavour, the vocals (courtesy of Morante ) delivered at times in the hectoring tone of a Roman market trader. “It’s a story about this beetle called Mark and his travels through the insect world, but it’s like … how to say? It’s a human story, but told in the insect world … an allegory!” An autobiographical allegory of certain members’ drug problems, it was later confessed! Perhaps those problems contributed to the band’s split later in 1978, apparently at the height of their powers. It’s also possible that there was friction with Argento, who has had well-recorded spats with Ennio Morricone, Giorgio Gaslini and Keith Emerson. Simonetti, however, offers a more prosaic explanation …” I think at that point, after all those years of collaborations, that we had nothing more to say. A lot of other bands from that era were also calling it a day round about this time … Prog Rock was finished, the new era of dance music was arriving.” Indeed, when sundry Goblins reconvened four years later to record the soundtrack of Argento’s Tenebrae, the results were distinctly disco-flavoured, with vocoder heavily to the fore on the main theme’s infernal toccata-and-frug, and drum machine throughout, complimenting the musicianly efforts of Pignatelli-Simonetti-Morante. Thus they were billed, as by now Cinevox owned all rights to the name Goblin, under which Zappa looky-likey Pignatelli was simultaneously recording Volo, an album of TV themes, utilising a rotating crew of collaborators, either with or without Simonetti and / or Morante. Pignatelli had taken on scoring duties for a succession of Italian genre pictures which generally lack the zip and zing of golden age Goblinry, their sequenced keyboard progressions coming across as leaden and predictable. Among the better ones are those for Joe D’ Amato’s 1979 outrage Blue Holocaust, with its pulsating main theme, and Luigi Cozzi’s Contamination (1980), whose genuinely epic title piece contains some of the niftiest mellotron work ever executed outside The Court Of The Crimson King. The rest of the album features several cuts filched from D’ Amato’s picture. The weirdest is undoubtedly that for Bruno Corbucci’s Squadra Antigangster (1979), a comedic crime-slime vehicle for Tomas Milian’s ever popular “Monnezza” character. This one boasts Chinese disco, the S/M droolings of demented dominatrix Asha Puthly on a track entitled The Whip and, bizarrest of all, the funk fiasco Welcome To The Boogie, in which guest vocalist “Charlie Cannon” not only welcomes us to said boogie but also invites the bemused listener to “wiggle his woogie” before delivering further astonishing non sequitur lines about, among other things, “funky” (or are they “spunky”?) donkeys!

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Meanwhile Simonetti’s solo scores were often the most entertaining features of exploitation pictures such as Enzo Castellari’s The New Barbarians (1982), Lucio Fu1ci’s Conquest (1983) and several Ruggero Deodato efforts. In collaboration with ethereal vocalist Pina Magri, he also contributed the pulse-pounding title piece for Argento’s much-panned Phenomena (1984, also collaborating on some tracks with Pignatelli) and the rather more lyrical main theme for Opera (1987), book-ending his Herbie Hancockesque electro contributions to Argento and Lamberto Bava’s Demons (1985) and gothy dabblings on its inevitable sequel, Demons 2 (1986). Simonetti’s contributions to all of these nestled cheek-by-jowl with a grab bag of contemporary rock tracks, Argento’s magpie “now that’s what I call hit-and-miss” scoring system an ill-advised attempt to drum up extra soundtrack album sales. When it came to Michele Soavi’s The Church (1989), producer Argento was ready for something more refined, dividing scoring duties between Keith Emerson and the axis of Pignatelli, Simonetti and Morante, who performed the looping cadences of Philip Glass’s compositions for the film. Argento’s directorial career marked time during the ’90s as the Spag Horror legend turned in a succession of misconceived mediocrities. 2001’s Non Ho Sonno aka Sleepless was a return to the giallo genre and a partial return to former glories. To stoke up expectations that he was back on track, Argento asked Simonetti to reform the classic Profondo Rosso / Suspiria line-up of Goblin for its soundtrack. “I met him in Barcelona at a festival in the late ’90s … ” remembers the keyboard wizard ” … and he said why not reform the band for my next film. So I contacted my friends and they agreed.” Although Goblin / Argento enthusiasts raved over the results (the predictably lush title piece has more than a suggestion of Profondo Rosso about it), ” .. .it was very hard to work together again,” confesses Simonetti, ” … because we hadn’t played for 22 years and we are now so different from each other. Every one of us likes different types of music. I think we were not ready to play together again.” Indeed, Non Ho Sonno could well prove to be the final hurrah. “That will probably be the last collaboration of that classic line-up of Goblin …. ” sighs Simonetti: ” .. .its not easy to play together and stay together.”

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“A marriage is easier to keep together than a band” drummer Marangolo muses during an MPEG that appears on certain video-enhanced Cinevox editions of the band’s CDs. The company has diligently kept all of the band’s work available since the early 80s, and released an ongoing series of “greatest hits” and “rarities” packages including such oddities as Chi? (the band’s 1976 performance of a popular TV programme’s theme tune), Yell (Pignatelli and the Marangolo brothers’ 1978 theme for another TV series, which was resurrected for The Goblins’ re-scoring of Richard Franklin’s Patrick) and Pignatelli, Marangolo and Pennisi’s contributions to the score of Armenia Balducci’s 1979 effort, Amo Non Amo. The proliferation of Cinevox “Best Of” compilations and bonus “tracks / alternate” takes on their new editions of original albums made for a certain degree of duplication, but in 2000 the company excelled themselves with The Fantastic Journey Of Goblin, Volume 1 (no sign of Volume 2 at the time of writing). This collection serves up the expected Argento collaborations, but with a bonus disc comprising material that had recently been discovered in the Cinevox vaults, a concert recording of the band (Simonetti, Morante, Pignatelli and the Marangolo brothers) delivering live renditions of tracks from Roller and Bagarozzo Mark, together with the inevitable Profondo Rosso theme. “I can’t imagine where they discovered that material” confesses Simonetti: “”We were a really good live band, it’s a great shame there are not a lot of concert recordings and absolutely no video” (in fact a bootleg DVD exists, documenting Goblin’s appearance at the San Remo Festival in 1978. I might even get round to reviewing that one in a future posting – Bob Freudstein.) Cinevox have also released Volume 1 of a remixes collection and Simonetti himself has continued to tinker… on his Simonetti Horror Project video there’s a dance version of the Profondo Rosso theme, with a black DJ rapping over the top to startling effect. The Goblin legacy continues to thrive, much to the delight of Simonetti: “Prog Rock was very popular in the’ 70s. Now it is completely out of fashion, yet there is still such strong support for the music of Goblin over so many years. We couldn’t have imagined that this would happen. It makes us very surprised … and very, very happy!”

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Green Goblins… CHERRY FIVE reviewed

CD. Cinevox. CD MDF 349.

In 1972-73, future Goblins Claudio Simonetti (keys), Massimo Morante (guitar), Fabio Pignatelli (bass) and Walter Martino (drums) were recording demos under the group name Oliver. Simonetti and Morante made the Prog pilgrimage to still-swinging London and managed to wangle an audience with legendary Yes and ELP producer / engineer Eddie Offord, who expressed an interest in producing them. Unfortunately this came to nothing, though when the band finally made it into a Roman studio in 1974 to record their debut album, it’s difficult to see how Offord’s participation could have made it sound any more like Yes than it ultimately did. By this point, Carlo Bordini had (temporarily) replaced Martino on drums and Brit Clive Haynes had recently been supplanted on vocals by one Tony Tartarini. When Cinevox released the album it came as news to the band that they, as well as their record, were now called Cherry Five. Possibly (and quite understandably) the record company were keen to differentiate their efforts from the bubble gum soundtrack offerings of Maurizio and Guido de Angelis, trading under the name Oliver Onions.

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If the title of album opener Country Grave-Yard is perhaps trying too hard to generate atmosphere, the track itself manages plenty of it, beginning with a hypnotic looping guitar riff that alternates for the duration with doomy verses and fluid, jazzy keyboard runs courtesy of Simonetti, who tackles hammond, synthesiser and mellotron with equal alacrity. When he and Morante are not doubling lines they are chasing each other’s in a pleasing facsimile of Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman’s trade-offs. Predictably, Pignatelli favours the busy, trebly bass sound of Chris Squire and Bordini’s crisp snare attack is all-too reminiscent of the work of Bill Bruford. The band’s vocal harmonies don’t quite attain the Yes standard and Tartarini is no Jon Anderson but then again, Anderson soundy-likeys aren’t exactly thick on the ground.

The Picture of Dorian Gray (which was itself another fledgling name for these pasta proggers) continues the Yes obsession (if you’re equally obsessed you’ll easily spot quotations from Perpetual Change, I’ve Seen All Good People and Yours Is No Disgrace) but also manages to pack in plenty of Genesis quotes, e.g. the juxtaposition of ostinato bass with swelling organ / mellotron passages, also Hackett-like guitar tweaks, encompassing violining and other textural techniques. The debt owed by this track’s climax to that of Genesis’s Fountain Of Salamis is unarguable. The Swan Is A Murderer (Parts 1 and 2, if you please) channels Squire’s bass showcase The Fish while its title suggets that the band’s eventual branding as Goblin, go-to giallo scorers for Dario Argento, was somehow pre-ordained.

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The 1982 Frank Zappa lookalike contest wasn’t even close…

Penultimate offering Oliver sounds like something off one of the first two Yes albums… implying greater things in prospect but not in itself anything to write home about. Its middle section has piano / guitar passages that suggest (to these ears, anyhow) one of the main themes that later Goblin offshoot Libra would supply for the score of Mario Bava’s Shock. My Little Cloud Land closes the proceedings in anti-climactic style and with a jokey little play out. No matter, the earlier tracks execute Simonetti and co’s Yes-emulating brief with aplomb… indeed, much of Cherry Five evokes the era of classic Yes more effectively than anything its avatars have achieved since Going For The One became one of the UK’s best selling albums in 1977, erroneously claimed by opportunist, revisionist cultural historians as “punk’s year zero.”

In a final, ironic parallel, just as Goblin’s subsequent succession of split-ups and kaleidoscopic regroupings have matched those of Yes, the 21st Century relaunch of Yes precursors The Syn has found an echo now that Tartarini and Bordini have recruited new players to tour and record under the Cherry Five banner.

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COMING SOON: If you enjoy Prog / Psyche / Fusion music, you’ll enjoy my upcoming blog The Ozymandias Progject (http://theozymandiasprogject.wordpress.com) Watch this space for further announcements.

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Deeply Double Dippy… PROFONDO ROSSO Reviewed

Deep Rehab

They tried to make her go to Rehab, she said No! No! No!

Region B Blu-ray / CD. Arrow. 18

Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso (“Deep Red”, 1975) is generally regarded as the greatest “giallo” ever made, the film that took the Italian Whodunnit genre to its toppermost peak of perfection. I’m sure there are giallo buffs out there who would dissent from this consensus and offer their own candidates for the crown: miscellaneous efforts from Bava (who, after all, founded the genre), Fulci and Martino all have their champions, and rightly so; Paolo Cavara’s Black Belly Of The Tarantula (1971), to cite just one title off the top of my head, is as compelling a thriller as you’ll see anywhere; and I recall that Mark Ashworth was always particularly taken with Giuliano Carnimeo’s Why These Strange Drops Of Blood On The Body Of Jennifer (1972.) You can’t legislate for personal taste… and why would you want to? Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that Deep Red is indeed the greatest giallo ever made (because it probably is.)

What’s more interesting at this remove is the whole question of getting fans to dip into their pockets a second, third or umpteenth time for the same canonical title. If you’ve lived and been following the genre long enough, you’ve probably owned Deep Red successively on bootleg tapes, various progressively more complete official VHS releases and DVDs… I’ve still got the Japanese laser disc, though my LD Player went on eBay years ago. Arrow had a crack at Deep Red on Blu-ray in the early days of the format, though the results were discouraging. Since they turned things around with James White’s masterly rendering of Zombie Flesh Eaters, Arrow have been serious players in the BD arena. But what you’ll be wanting to know is, is it worth your while forking out for their 4K Deep Red? Don’t be so forking impatient, I’m getting there…

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Their new limited edition box set (which I’m glad I pre-ordered at a reasonable price, given the rate at which it sold out) comprises two BD discs, one each for the 127 minute director’s cut and hour-and-three-quarterish export version (each a brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative) and a CD of The Goblins’ celebrated score, claimed here as “complete” though its 28 tracks come up short of the 34 contained on the Profondo Rosso disc of the recent Bella Casa Goblins box set, The Awakening. The longer version of the film comes with an optional short introduction from Goblin-in-chief Claudio Simonetti, plus a choice of  Italian 5.1 soundtrack with subtitles or English mono (a bit of a no-brainer if you’ve invested in a surround sound set up.) The disc of the director’s cut also comes with a raft of bonus material, most of which you might well have heard (Thomas Rostock’s commentary track from AWE’s DVD release) or seen before, including a quartet of tasty High Rising featurettes:  Rosso Recollections: Argento’s Deep Genius; Music To Murder For: Claudio Simonetti On Deep Red; Profondo Rosso: From Celluloid To Shop (Naomi Holwill directs as Lugi Cozzi gives us a tour of the shop in Rome); and The Lady In Red: Daria Nicolodi Remembers Deep Red.

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There’s one brand new featurette, Profondo Giallo, a visual essay, no less in which Michael Mackenzie talks over a bunch of clips and illustrative material, expanding on the familiar themes of sexual politics (as played out between Nicolodi and David Hemmings, the decimation of which in the export version make for an inferior viewing experience,  despite the fondness with which I recall my  introduction to the film via its Techno Film / Fletcher Video release) and supposed style over substance. It’s not a bad little visual essay, as these things go and if you’re anything like me, you’ll spend half of it thinking “Yes, that’s a good point” and half of it shouting “No, you’re talking bollocks, mate!” at the screen. If you ARE me, you’ll also be brooding about the fact that I compared the violent set pieces in Argento’s films to the production numbers in Hollywood musicals long before any of the people he cites as doing so. Still, it’s not worth going on a hatchet rampage over academic priorities…

What else do you get? A reversible sleeve including original US artwork and a new, rather nifty montage from Gilles Vranckx (which also fronts the box very handsomely), six post card-sized lobby card and fotobusta reproductions, a double sided fold out reproduction of American and Italian posters and a booklet featuring Alan Jones stuff that you’ll already be familiar with and a new piece from Mikel J. Koven (author of the very readable La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema And The Italian Giallo Film) plus the expected illustrations and restoration notes.DR4K

A pretty enough package but, given the familiarity of much of its bonus material, the desirability of this set boils down to its visual and aural elements… and they are pretty stunning. Grain is contained without DNR assaulting the eye and rather than the intensely… er, deep reds you might have been expecting, this restoration finally reveals, in all its subtlety, DP Luigi Kuveiller’s suffusion of pinks, purples and mauves… check out the scenes in which Hemmings explores and excavates The House Of The Screaming Child. There’s nothing much going on (the pacing of these sequences remaining the only obvious blot on the escutcheon of this “perfect giallo”) but it’s going on in a beautiful phantasmagoria of Art Nouveau design, before Argento threw himself into the full-on Art Deco insanity of Suspiria… and in anticipation of that, outbreaks of glorious Goblin prog in 5.1 ensure that the aural treats consistently match the feast being laid out before your eyes.

If you acquired one of these before the prices started getting silly, nice work. If not you probably won’t have to wait too long for a single disc Arrow edition of the director’s cut with the High Rising and Michael Mackenzie extras.

I wonder what they’ll come up with in a few years to make me want to buy it all over again…

DR Behind Scenes

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