Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Buffalora Returner

"I'm the watchman of the Buffalora Cemetery. I don't know how the epidemic started. All I know is that some people, on the seventh night after their death, come back to life. I call them Returners, but frankly I can't understand why they're so anxious to return. The only way to get rid of them once and for all is to split their heads open. A spade'll do it, but a dum-dum bullet is best. Is this the beginning of an invasion? Does it happen in all cemeteries? Or is Buffalora just an exception? Who knows? And in the end, who cares? I'm just doing my job."

So says
Francesco Dellamorte. However, it appears that he may be the one doing the Returning now, in a Michele Soavi written and directed sequel to his Dellamorte Dellamore, considered by many to be the last truly great Italian horror film (although I recently loved Federico Zampaglione's Shadow - more on that soon!). Fangoria is reporting that whilst conducting a recent interview with Dario Argento, Luigi Cozzi dropped this juicy bit of news:

“Michele has told me that he has started to write the script for a special horror project he plans to shoot between the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012: a sequel to his Gothic masterpiece Dellamorte Dellamore. He’s going to produce it himself and wants it to really be a great, strong, shocking Italian horror movie.”

Soavi has been conspicuously absent from the horror scene since his '94 masterpiece blew minds, although a couple of years ago he did tease a return to the genre with a project called Catacombs Club (which now seems to have evaporated into the celluloid ether).

Several years ago I caught a screening of his 2006 crime thriller Arrivederci Amore, Ciao (right) at a local Italian film fest, and although the story didn't make much of an impression on me, as a visual stylist it showed Soavi still very much at the top of his game. Years later, after only one viewing I still have some vivid images from that film indelibly printed on my psyche: an atmospheric monsoonal jungle - neon-lit noirish bars - a starkly cold hallway. He even had regular collaborator Sergio Stivaletti on hand to provide some animatronic FX, so it was obvious that his years of hiatus and as a TV director hadn't taken him too far from his roots.

It's curious that this should eventuate now, what with the other adaptation of Tiziano Sclavi's Dylan Dog comics - Dylan Dog: Dead of Night - just doing the rounds recently. That one stars Brandon Routh as the titular detective, but I'd love to see Rupert Everett and François Hadji-Lazaro reprise their roles in this.

Here is your obligatory Anna Falchi photo.

Perhaps listening to Manuel De Sica's score for Dellamorte will help you to ponder some of life's deepest philosophical questions: is there any real point to all this living, loving and dying? Is our perceived universe even real? Past this tunnel is the rest of the world...

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


The recent news that Monsters writer/director/cinematographer/editor/SFX wunderkind Gareth Edwards is the puny human selected to helm the new (American) Godzilla is awesome. I liked his Monsters a lot. Edwards has the sensibility to strike the right balance between SFX spectacle and character/story that could give this movie the gravitas and pathos that the big G deserves.

Of course we all know what happened the last time a studio other than Toho attempted this. It was bad. Unbelievably bad. However, balance was restored in 2004 when Toho (with the assistance of this badass) put a violent and final end to that Yankï gaijin kaijubortion. Ryûhei Kitamura's Godzilla: Final Wars saw the real Gojira completely fucking murder that fraud by throwing it into the Sydney Opera House. I actually stood around for a while one day as part of that sequence was shot, watching terrified people run down a debris strewn street not five minutes from where I live.

So, if there's one good thing to come out of that Hollywood fiasco, it's that it provides a ready-made and exhaustive primer on just what not to do this time:

Step 1: never hire Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich or Patrick Tatopoulos for anything. Ever. Again.

Step 2: just do the opposite of every single frame of that monstrous piece of shit.

Legendary Pictures is the company behind the new Godzilla. This instills a certain amount of confidence, as they're known for producing huge genre productions that comfortably sit at the smarter end of the mainstream spectrum (recent home to Christopher Nolan & Zack Snyder for example). Anyway, they've made a good start by offering the gig to Edwards.

Now, obliterate skyscrapers and melt tanks with your atomic heat ray, driven to destroy by the epic kaiju scores of Akira Ifukube and Masaru Sato. HERE.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

"Children of the night... what music they make"

Last night I crawled out of my rotting coffin, ascended from this vaulted cellar and took to the city streets. Not in search of human prey and warm blood, but to see Philip Glass and the Kronos Quartet perform their
Dracula score live in front of a screening of Tod Browning's magnum opus.

It was quite an experience, seeing a beautifully restored print of the 1931 Universal classic in Sydney's most atmospheric old theatre (right). All of the ushers were dressed in Transylvanian black (including long capes with crimson lining), which was a nice touch.

This was my first time hearing the 1998 score, and I was impressed by it's originality, Glass having seemingly avoided falling back on the conventional motifs common to most modern horror scores. This music isn't so much creepy or scary as it is dramatic, but thankfully not the melodramatic orchestral bombast that has always been the bane of Hollywood. The Kronos' small ensemble of strings and piano don't overwhelm the imagery, and the style - which is reminiscent in parts of traditional Hungarian and Romanian gypsy music - is perfectly suited to the film's moody Gothic atmosphere. A good example of cinematic revisionism done right.

Bonus trivia: you probably already know that the Kronos Quartet performed the memorable score for Darren Aronofsky's Requiem For A Dream as well as his visionary (and sadly overlooked) The Fountain, but did you know that Philip Glass contributed two original pieces to Michele Soavi's The Church?