Exclusive Interview: Legendary Composer Fabio Frizzi on Working with Lucio Fulci, THE BEYOND “Composer’s Cut” Tour and More!
It’s virtually impossible to separate the ‘80s horror output of renowned Italian director Lucio Fulci from the amazing, distinctive music of Fabio Frizzi. Much like the long association between Fulci’s compatriot Dario Argento and prog-rock band Goblin, Frizzi’s scores for classics like The Beyond, Zombie (a.k.a. Zombi 2) and City of the Living Dead are often just as revered as the films themselves – for example, any true fan of ‘80s Euro-horror can identify the main title theme for Zombi 2 the instant the first beats of that drum machine kick in.
Among Fulci’s legions of fans, 1981’s The Beyond is widely considered the prolific director’s masterwork – and Frizzi’s moody, haunting themes for the film not only punctuate the constantly-building tension, but the score’s sizzling, dissonant electronic elements further enhance the surreal dream-logic.
Of course, if you’re reading this you know exactly what I’m talking about, and likely share my intense passion for Frizzi and Fulci’s many successful collaborations – and I’m hoping you’ve spotted our announcement for Frizzi’s North American concert tour (which we’re thrilled to co-sponsor), in which the composer leads an ensemble of symphonic and electronic musicians to perform his “Composers Cut” of The Beyond score in sync with a theatrical screening of the film.
If that weren’t enough reason to grab your tickets pronto, the show also includes FRIZZI 2 FULCI – a collection of new and epic-scale live arrangements performed against big-screen scenes from Fulci’s horror classics.
As the tour begins, I had the honor of talking with Frizzi about his long creative partnership with Fulci, his skill with matching the director’s eccentric but distinctive visual style, a few hints about Frizzi’s future musical projects, and much more!
Dread Central: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with Dread Central. Our staff and our readers are huge fans!
Fabio Frizzi: It’s a real pleasure!
DC: Your reputation among horror fans is particularly strong thanks to your scores for the films of Lucio Fulci. What brought you together for your first horror collaboration?
FF: We had worked together many times – always in genre films, but also in other directions, like westerns, comedies, and thrillers. He talked to me about this new adventure, Zombi 2, and it was the first time I entered this world. It was a strong, demanding experience — but in a way, it pushed me in a direction that would become one of my favorites.
DC: Your score for THE BEYOND is a fan favorite, so it’s only natural the “Composer’s Cut” performances will go over big with the same fans. How does the Composer’s Cut differ from the original score?
FF: I wanted to experience the live score to one of my most beloved films myself! The Beyond had the right characteristics, then a series of events that happened made me realize it was the ideal project to work on. My friend Bob Murawski, an Oscar-winning editor, owner of Grindhouse Releasing and the rights-holder of the film, was my first accomplice in this idea; then finding all the notes I had with Lucio at the time, and the original script – with my own notes included – convinced me to embark on this wonderful journey in time and cinema.
[The Composer’s Cut] is basically a re-reading of the original score, including all the songs that were not included in the film, substantially modifying some of them and composing a track that did not exist – which today acts as a kind of glue, connecting the original themes. In short, it’s a new twist on a great classic of genre cinema.
DC: Much of the music presented in the FRIZZI 2 FULCI concert has roots in rock and experimental electronics, but you’ve created new arrangements for a large and diverse ensemble. Do you feel that you’ve infused your themes with new life by expanding them for the stage?
FF: It was a big bet! Rearranging many themes that were originally played by the most diverse musical groups and instruments, and directing them towards a high-profile band to play on a stage, was a game with a lot of potential pitfalls. But I wanted to create a tribute to Fulci that he deserved… and I tried. The result immediately enchanted me: a whole repertoire, under the same spotlights, revealed in a fascinating way – my musical horror paradigm. Ultimately that bet went very well, and the FRIZZI 2 FULCI project has generated many spinoffs – including the Beyer’s Composer’s Cut. That probably won’t be the only one, either.
DC: How have audiences been reacting to this broader, more epic sound? I imagine it feels like experiencing THE BEYOND for the first time.
FF: The most beautiful reaction – or at least the one that excited me the most – was that of Antonella Fulci, Lucio’s daughter. She was in an auditorium in Spain, where I performed this Composer’s Cut in a symphonic version, with band, choir and orchestra. Eventually he joined me on the stage, and was so moved; she told me that, although he knew the film perfectly, she had relived the story very intensely, as if for the first time. To her it was a great gift. Sometimes I imagine Lucio attending the concert from up there – enjoying and approving it. In the end, he gives me some ironic jokes, in his usual style… but deep down, he’s happy.
DC: Your horror scores create a nightmarish soundscape, but many of the pulsing, rock-driven cues (particularly the main themes for THE BEYOND and ZOMBI 2) drive the pacing of the action and horror, as if the music were a character itself. Would you say this is more unique to Italian cinema?
FF: When I talk about film music, in my masterclasses and conferences, I always talk about it as a character – an actor who not only plays a role, but as I describe it, adds a narrative voice that guides the viewer in the right direction. This has always been my philosophy, and I think in Fulci’s cinema this idea of soundtrack had a hospitable home. Many fans and friends have told me this – these films are positively marked by these themes, and wouldn’t be the same without this music. It always seemed to me an excessive evaluation – but you get used to good things!
DC: Do you know if THE BEYOND might one day be re-released with this new score instead of the original, or as an alternate audio track for a future video release?
FF: Discographically, this tour is the celebration of a beautiful double vinyl record, made in my studio in Rome with my own band, an orchestra and choir, mastered at Abbey Road, and published by Cadabra Records. But I won’t hide the fact that sooner or later I hope to be able to see in theaters a version of The Beyond with this soundtrack. The real film, Lucio Fulci’s masterpiece, is perfect for its time… but I think this reinterpretation has a new and different charm.
DC: Your music has influenced an entire generation of composers, particularly in the horror genre. How does it feel to hear those influences coming through in other composers’ works?
FF: It’s a great satisfaction! I’ve always loved my job and have always considered it a great privilege. I love my fans as well, and I thank them for continuing to motivate me. Having the perception of being a teacher of music for cinema is the goal of a lifetime… for an artist, these things have enormous significance.
DC: After this tour is complete, do you have any new projects in the works?
FF: Certainly, yes! In addition to other events and repertoires, I’m completing the soundtrack of a great remake of Castle Freak for Fangoria. Then, perhaps, a new Composer’s Cut!
Frizzi and company will soon be touring “The Beyond Composer’s Cut” and FRIZZI 2 FULCI across the US. Here are the upcoming dates and venues:
11/15/2019 Memphis TN @ Black Lodge
11/16/2019 Kansas City MO @ Armour Theatre
11/18/2019 Chicago IL @ Thalia Hall
11/21/2019 Pittsburgh PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre
11/22/2019 Syracuse NY @ IMAX Omnitheater @ THE MOST
11/24/2019 Boston MA @ Coolidge Corner Theatre
11/25/2019 Brooklyn NY Murmrr Theatre
11/26/2019 Philadelphia PA @ World Cafe
12/02/2019 New Orleans LA @ The Church @ Hotel Peter and Paul
12/04/2019 Dallas TX @ Gas Monkey
12/11/2019 Portland OR @ Hollywood Theatre
12/12/2019 Seattle WA @ Freetown Abbey
12/15/2019 Denver CO @ Bluebird Theatre
12/17/2019 Little Rock AR @ Vino’s
12/18/2019 Jacksonville FL @ Sunray Cinema
12/19/2019 Lake Park FL @ Kelsey Theatre
12/20/2019 Atlanta GA @ Masquerade