This interview has been a long time coming. Believe me. I spared no opportunity to hem and haw about writing up a series of questions for the animators of the upcoming Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated project. I’ve done much to pull my weight with that show and make people aware of it, reporting here as often as I can as new developments arise, I’ve even spoken about them on NPR but an interview is an intimidating thing because I am not you. Frankly, I don’t know what you would want to know about the project. Because of that disconnect, brainstorming questions can be frightening because if you don’t ask the right ones, you may wind up with shitty, unusable replies. You get what you give in this instance. But Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated curator, Mike Schneider, has been nothing but supportive. Have you been to their website? My logo is all over that bitch! And it’s huge! Mike also never retracted the opportunity to speak remotely with the artists on the project since he’s both a nice guy and doing so would be shooting himself in the foot.
Let me take a moment to assume that you know nothing about Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated. It’s a distinct possibility that these words that you are reading now are the first you have seen about this project. Allow me to fill in the blanks. Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated, fundamentally, is a remake of the classic George A. Romero horror movie for which it is named. But this is no mere regurgitation of a movie that has already been remade, it is much more of an epic collaborative art project than anything else. Quite literally, dozens of artists from around the world had either been invited to take part in it or had found it by way of the many news outlets (such as this one) that saw fit to spread the word. The end result will be a completely re-envisioned version of Night of the Living Dead animated from start to finish in a rapid fire kaleidoscopic presentation of artistic styles. From the trailers that are available you can see traditional line art cell animation, paintings, photo manipulation, puppets, clay, barbie dolls, manga and machinima by way of Garry’s Mod. There is even word that a portion of this is done with tattoos. The only rules were that the animators do it in black and white and use the original audio track. Otherwise, the artists were allowed to run wild and from the looks of available footage, run wild they did.
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Ennio Morricone is undoubtedly a genius and the maestro of Italian cinema, but part of his genius is including the right people in his work; Edda Dell’Orso is the voice, Franco De Gemini is the man with the harmonica, and Alessandro Alessandroni is his wizard of sound. Alessandroni may not be a familiar name to most, but his contributions to the Italian cinema have been countless and indispensable. Alessandro reflects on his long career in soundtracks with Cinema Suicide writer Tim Fife.
Alessandro Alessandroni was born in Rome in 1925. He began his musical career playing with the locals of Soriano nel Cimino; “I became a musician step by step while I was a student. My first experience (playing music) was in a small village where I spent my summer vacations. I learned to play the mandolin in a barber shop; I was 12 years old. I soon moved to the accordion and later took three months of lessons in piano. On my own I gradually learned double bass, tenor sax and guitar.” Alessandro at the time was studying economics at a university in Rome, but eventually gave into devoting his life to music.
Alessandro began performing in nightclubs regularly and eventually met future collaborator Nora Orlani, who soon after meeting asked Alessandro to sing with her vocal group 2+2. Alessandro eventually left the group to start his own quartet, I Caravels. During this time, he also was recording music for television series, commercials, and documentaries. Through this medium, he found himself working on movie soundtracks and eventually caught the ear of frequent Fellini collaborator Nino Rota. During an early 1960’s session for a Rota score, Alessandro began to whistle and Rota was instantly floored at what he had heard. “Nino Rota was a very good musician—it was a pleasure to work for him—and also a great gentleman.” Alessandro recalls. “He was excited with my whistle and I recall he summoned me into the recording studio and asked me to whistle for Fellini!”
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Chances are, when you think of Italian horror, the first name that comes to mind is Dario Argento. Like all great filmmakers, the director is often complimented with a collaborator who helps bring form to their art. Kurosawa had Mifune, John Woo had Chow Yun Fat, Scorcese had DeNiro and Dario Argento had Claudio Simonetti. Yet, unlike the aforementioned directors, they worked with actors and while Argento certainly has his actors and actresses, one of the strongest characteristics of an Argento film is often the soundtrack, Where most Italian filmmakers got in line to have Ennio Morricone score their films and for good reason, Argento took a decidedly sharp left turn and instead employed the synth heavy sounds of one of Italy’s premier progressive rock bands, Goblin. Cinema Suicide’s Tim Fife speaks with Claudio Simonetti about his realtionship with Dario Argento and his career in soundtracks that spans over four decades.
Claudio Simonetti was born in February 19, 1952 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. His father, Enrico Simonetti, came from Italy to have a successful career as a composer and became a popular TV host in the 1960’s and 70’s. Around the age of 8, Claudio wanted to walk in his father’s footsteps and began to play the piano. Claudio says that his father never pressured him into being a musician, but stressed that he should study classical if he was interested. “Even though my father played a genre completely different from mine, I think he influenced me especially in the way of playing the piano,” says Simonetti. “I was very lucky to have a father like mine; he was also a great friend.”
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One of the big draws to Italian Cinema is their use of atmosphere, using lush, clever, well composed soundtracks as a foundation for their images. Italy has produced a long list of brilliant composers throughout the years, and one of the most renowned and respected is Rome’s Fabio Frizzi. Fabio began his career working with famous Italian composers Franco Bixio and Vince Tempera, and went on to infamy scoring the soundtracks to Lucio Fulci’s most loved works. Cinema Suicide writer Tim Fife corresponded with Frizzi to learn about the history and the future of one of Italy’s most loved composers.
Fabio Frizzi was born in 1952 in Bologna, Italy, and grew up listening to Bach, the Baroque, and the Beatles. “I have been lucky,” Frizzi recalls, “I have loved music since I was a baby and had the chance to begin early. At 14 I had my first band, a quartet, and then many others until I was 19 playing Beatles, Rolling Stones, Mamas & The Papas, Crosby, Stills… today we’d call them “cover bands”, but we played with maniacal care on arrangements.” While his father pressed for him to attend college and become a lawyer, Fabio shopped himself around different publishing offices around Rome.
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I’ve been a pretty big advocate of Ghost Adventures since the documentary premiered on The Sci-Fi channel. A few of us are actually pretty big fans of the paranormal and if you’ve been around long enough you can see me praise Ghost Adventures and TAPS and shit on Paranormal State. I try to put my fondness for haunted house movies into words, but I can never seem to quantify my exciement for that sort of thing. Some of the most effective horror movies I’ve seen are spooky ghost flicks. These days, a quality haunted house movie is hard to come by. Producers and directors are obsessed with showing you too much. They don’t build tension or establish atmosphere, they cut to the chase and show you fucked up ghostly people floating around, raising hell. So the reason that the recent rash of ghost hunter shows appeal to me so much has something to do with their alleged nonfiction. They DON’T show you too much because they can’t and in the case of Ghost Adventures, whether you believe in ghosts or not is irrelevant. They pull off a perfectly spooky presentation with the documentary.
Zak Bagans, head of the Ghost Adventures Crew, is pretty busy right now with his current project but not too busy to have a chat with Cinema Suicide about the documentary, the paranormal and the development of the upcoming Ghost Adventures series for The Travel Channel. The interview continues after the jump.
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It’s no secret that I’m a huge frothing fan of both Take Out, Seth Landau’s first full-length feature, and his latest effort Bryan Loves You. These films are fine examples of what independent filmmakers working with limited funds can accomplish if their hearts are truly into their respective projects. At a time when everyone and their dearly-departed grandmothers are making movies in their backyards with the digital cameras they purchased at Wal-Mart, it’s nice to see creativity, quality, and, above all else, integrity in the world of low-budget and no-budget cinema.
With Seth’s highly-anticipated creepfest Bryan Loves You looming on the horizon thanks to the good folks at Anchor Bay, the kind individuals here at Cinema Suicide thought it would be hella swell to pick the writer/director/actor’s brain about his latest cinematic endeavor. After spending a few interesting hours in my patented Interview Via E-Mail Machine, a series of thought-provoking questions were constructed using an off-brand word processor and delivered electronically to the man himself. These inquiries were then answered and returned in a timely and orderly manner. Ah, the beauty and the power of the Internet and its inhabitants.
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Here’s a reminder for readers local to Providence, Rhode Island. Richard Griffin’s indie horror mashup of Lovecraft and Italian splatter, Beyond The Dunwich Horror premiers tomorrow, Friday, May 23 at 7pm and 9pm. Further details can be found at their Myspace profile.
In the meantime, why don’t you take a spin over to Kryptographik and check out the latest Kryptik Musings podcast, an hour spent with Richard and the cast of Beyond The Dunwich Horror that sheds light on all aspects of the film including future projects on the horizon for Dunwich’s producers, Scorpio Film Releasing.
Griffin and cast have quite the rhythm and they have a real passion for both indie filmmaking and horror in general. The moderator, Brian, the American half of the Kryptik team keeps the ball rolling and asks all the right questions. This is not to be missed.
Despite what you may think, the world of independent horror film is still very much alive. You may have never heard of films like Creature From the Hillbilly Lagoon or Splatter Disco, but writer/director Richard Griffin is making horror films on very small budgets, just like the movies you might have seen back in the era of drive-ins and backstreet movie theatres. Griffin worked for fifteen years paying his dues making car commercials for local Rhode Island television stations before he began his film company Scorpio Film Releasing with producer Ted Marr in 2004. Since then, the pair have made seven films and most have had decent distribution (most notably through Shock-O-Rama).
Scorpio Films will be unveiling their latest project, Beyond the Dunwich Horror next week in Providence. A modern update on the classic novel by H.P. Lovecraft and an homage to Italian horror cinema, it features cult favorite actress Lynn Lowry (The Crazies, I Drink Your Blood, Cat People) as well as an abundance of all the gore that you could want. Cinema Suicide writer Tim Fife talks with Griffin about his home town, his new movie, and plans for his next feature.
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