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italian maestro Fabio Frizzi has composed over 100 scores over his 50+ year career, including features, shorts and television, but is best known for his work with the Italian horror legend Lucio Fulci. On and off since 2013, Frizzi has paid tribute to his late friend and frequent collaborator with a live band dubbed Frizzi 2 Fulci.

“Fulci started giving me that legacy, and I’m trying to use it in the best way,” he told me at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA on September 17, where he received the Coolidge After Midnite Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the genre. The evening also included a concert by Frizzi 2 Fulci and a midnight screening of Fulci’s Zombie.

The show kicked off with the first-ever live performance of a previously unannounced Frizzi’s track Zombie composer’s cut. He recently revisited the afterlife for similar treatment – its composer’s cut hits theaters this fall – and it’s fascinating to hear the composer reworking his music after more than 40 years. As memorable as the original Zombie score is, the new snippet may be even better.

For the live show, Fabio Frizzi alternates between keyboard and acoustic guitar, as well as occasional vocal and conductor duties. He is joined by guitarists Ricardo Rocchi and Francesco Sagutobass player Roberto Fascianidrummer Federico Tacchiand keyboard player Alessio Contorniwho also plays flute and harmonica when needed.

As you’d expect, the band went on to play lines from several of Frizzi’s collaborations with Fulci: Zombie, The Beyond, City of the Living Dead, Murder to the Tune of the Seven Black Notes, A Cat in the Brain, Manhattan Baby, Four of the Apocalypseand Smuggling (during which each band member played a brief solo).

Much like John Carpenter’s recent foray into live shows, Fabio Frizzi has breathed new life into old material with his band, turning many compositions into full-fledged rock jams. Selected film clips and images were displayed on the big screen behind them as they performed.

Frizzi also sprinkled in selections that weren’t from Fulci films but are certainly in the same vein, including a medley of HP Lovecraft’s Cadabra Records audio adaptation. The image in the house and excerpts from three recent short films: Beware of darkness, the weeping womanand Saint Frankenstein.

After a remarkable 10-minute suite of the afterlifeFrizzi and company closed the hour-long concert with the music of Lamberto Bavait is Blast Fighter. On paper, wrapping up with a non-Fulci track might seem a bit odd, but the anthemic rock jam helped end on a high note.

After a brief intermission, Coolidge Corner Theater Special Programming Director Mark Anastasio presented Frizzi with the Coolidge After Midnite Award. “These awards were given to guests who have returned time and time again to be with our audience, and it’s an important part of midnight movie culture,” he began. “We gather here in this place together and experience the films that we love as a community.”

Lloyd Kaufman, William Lustig and Adrienne Barbeau have previously been honored, but Frizzi is the first composer to receive the award. Anastasio noted, “I think everyone in this room, especially after what we just went through, knows wholeheartedly that music is such an important part of filmmaking. Much of the emotion you get from watching movies comes from the scores that are composed for them.

Fabio Frizzi accepted the award with a smile plastered on his face, reminiscing Zombie. English is his second language, but he had no problem expressing his love for working with Fulci – first with his trio Bixio, Frizzi & Tempera, then more specifically as a solo artist. Although he has already scored giallo films for Fulci, Frizzi considers Zombie to be his first attempt at horror. “It was the start of four, five, six films of great importance in horror.”

Fulci allowed Frizzi to try new things, but the process wasn’t always easy. He shared a fun anecdote about when he first saw the notorious sequence in which a woman’s eye is impaled on a splinter of wood. He asked editor Vincenzo Tomassi to replay it and tell him where it had been edited to make sure it was a special effect rather than a real one. He also mentioned that seeing Fulci on screen while playing A cat in the brain it was like being with him again.

Fabio Frizzi brand

Although the Coolidge is known for its 35mm repertoire screenings, Zombie was presented via DCP. Luckily, Blue Underground’s recent 4K restoration is stunning. From the opening close-up looking at the barrel of a gun to the apocalyptic final shot of zombies crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, the level of detail is staggering.

Released after dawn of the dead in his native Italy, the 1979 zombie film is perhaps Fulci’s most comprehensive horror effort. It’s an impressive feat for a movie to have a single iconic moment, but Zombie has at least three of them: the aforementioned eye gag, the Jaws-inspired by the zombie versus shark scene, and the worm-infested zombie emerging from its grave that serves as the poster for the film.

“When I saw Zombie, I was left speechless,” recalls Frizzi, praising Fulci’s direction, cast, and special effects. “I think it’s a magic movie. It’s one of those movies you can see 100 times and every time there’s something new you can experience,” likening it to his personal favorite movie, blade runner.

Frizzi aims to bring its Zombie composer’s cut on tour in 2023. If you’ve ever enjoyed film music, you’ll want to devour his live show like one of Fulci’s flesh eaters.


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