If you don’t already have a well-thumbed copy of Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide on your nightstand next to your secret stash of supplies and weapons for the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse that will ultimately be the downfall of all mankind, you’re most likely a fairly well adjusted individual and therefore have no place here. So pop back once you’ve worked a few of those screw loose.
There have been enough Zombie movies over the years to ensure that every man, his dog and next door’s two-legged cat has at least formulated the most basic of contingency plans should the dead rise up with a serious case of the munchies. It’s these cinematic renditions of the undead that not only carved out a cosy corner of the market for them to shuffle around in, but also cultivated the popularity of the genre and its perception over the years, and a huge portion of the credit lies with the accompanying soundtracks, because essentially it’s the music that has to capture the essence of the director’s vision for the audience by evoking a visceral emotional response to the action onscreen.
Skipping over Romero’s inception of the modern zombie in Night of the Living Dead in 1968, we can hop on over to the 1970s with Lucio Fulci’s seminal contribution to the genre with Zombi 2 (also known as Zombie Flesh Eaters and Zombie) and its soundtrack composed by Fabio Frizzi.
Fulci was infamous for depicting gory acts of depravity on screen and Zombi 2 is no exception. Set against the backdrop of a tropical island that becomes overrun with zombies, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Techland lifted the concept for Dead Island. After an abandoned yacht meanders its way into New York and is found to be housing a zombie, the boat owner’s daughter is notified and the unfortunate cop who was first on the scene is consigned to the morgue. Concerned for her father, the woman sets off for his last known location – a sun-drenched island where he was conducting research into a curse that reanimates the dead and makes them attack the living. Exploring themes of Voodoo reminiscent of ’30s and ’40s cinema whilst still adhering to the tropes established by Romero, the film was hugely successful and resuscitated the flagging career of Fulci.
The film is renowned for two scenes in particular; a gory eyeball gouging which later found its way into Fulci’s bag of movie tricks and the above scene in which a zombie with ‘nads of adamantium takes on a shark underwater. This particular scene is set to the title score of the movie, as is a ‘last stand’ scene at the climax as the few survivors attempt to hold off the horde with a couple of guns and some homemade molotovs.
Frizzi collaborated with Giorgio Tucci and Maurizio Guarini on the project. Tucci was an Italian airline employee who was the nephew of Frizzi’s Producer friend Ugo Tucci and was given the opportunity to work on the score as a favour. Maurizio Guarini played the keyboard in the band Goblin and worked on the soundtracks for a number of Dario Argento films.
The score for Zombi 2 captures a primal essence at its core, with the use of woodwind, percussion and melodic, thumping beats that escalate towards a frenzied climax, encapsulating the underlying Voodoo theme. What with it being the ’80s, Frizzi would have been remiss to overlook the power of the synth. Favouring the Yamaha line for the likes of the CP-80 Electric Grand Piano and the CS-80 synthesizer, together with Guarini he combined these futuristic sounds with a vintage twist by making use of the mellotron to produce a ghostly chorus of voices prevalent in the film’s title track. Frizzi didn’t shy away from the other ’80s staple that was the xylophone and building on the signature throbbing pulse that epitomises the rise of the walking dead with layers of wailing synth, he creates a disjointed sound that fits the atmosphere of the movie perfectly with tracks like these:
But the most outstanding track by far is the main title theme. Frizzi took the thudding undercurrent that laces the entire movie and using the mellotron and some heavy synth, he creates a haunting melody that oscillates between despair and Caribbean beach party – if the guests were all zombies. The oppressive, tropical atmosphere of Fulci’s vision can be defined by this single track and it’ll give you a serious case of the goosebumps:
The rhythmic pounding at the beginning is actually just Frizzi tapping a microphone – The More You Know. You can watch the epic zombie vs shark battle set to this piece here and the links for buying crap on amazon are coming up right after the break. It’s worth noting that the soundtrack doesn’t seem to exist as a standalone. Beat Records pairs it with Frizzi’s 1990 Cat in the Brain score and Blackest Heart Media have combined it with Budy-Maglione’s 1981 score for Cannibal Ferox.
Author Gamer Girl writes for FrontTowardsGamer.com and GamerGirlTalk.com. It is highly recommended you follow her on Twitter. Previously in Poison Popcorn: RAW MEAT. See previous Poison Popcorns right fucking here!