Words by Helen Knott / Pics by Wayne Fox Photography
Smart phones, prescription drugs, the Internet… What do they all have in common? Well, whilst in Dawn of the Dead George Romero was concerned with the zombifying effect of 70’s shopping malls and television, perhaps these are our modern day equivalents. A zombie satire about smart phones? It could work.
For tonight we’re sticking with the original. Boxxed, a suitably spooky Digbeth warehouse, is the venue for a rare screening of 1970’s classic Dawn of the Dead, with the soundtrack played live by Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin.
Goblin were tasked to write the soundtrack by legendary Italian horror director Dario Argento, one of the film’s producers. Romero only ended up using three of Goblin’s tracks in his English language version but Argento’s European cut utilised the whole score. That’s what we hear tonight, as we follow a TV reporter, her traffic pilot boyfriend and two SWAT cops as they deal with the aftermath of a zombie outbreak by holing up in a shopping mall.
The event is a co-production between Lunar Festival and The Electric Cinema, so unsurprisingly the music and film are given equal billing, with screen and stage set up in parallel. When the band starts, however, the music is very much at the forefront of the mix – making it difficult for those of us who don’t know the film that well to follow parts of the dialogue. Subtitles would have been helpful.
Still, having the music live not only showcases the talents of the band but also serves to guide the audience through the film’s narrative. So each time that the stabbing synths of the recurring main theme ‘Zombi’ kick in, you know some serious shit is about to go down. And like all the best soundtrack music the score beautifully sets the mood. The slow metal riffs on the film’s opening number, ‘L’alba dei morti viventi’, are reminiscent of Black Sabbath – with haunted house synth passages slowly moving up in pitch, conveying just the right eerietension.
It’s easy to see why, even thirty years later, Goblin’s mix of prog, metal and electro is considered so influential. The film has retained its power too. Although these days perhaps the most disturbing thing about it isn’t the Day-Glo gore but the way that the film cleverly blurs the line between human and zombie, both driven by their need to shop and kill.
In fact, the only remnant of humanity that seems to remain for the undead is this urge for retail… “Some kind of instinct. Memory of what they used to do. This was an important place in their lives.”
It’s unsettling stuff. I may even give Grand Central a miss for a couple of weeks.
For more on Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin, https://www.facebook.com/Goblin-Claudio-Simonettis-608532229212354/
For more from Lunar Festival, visit http://lunarfestival.co.uk/
For more from The Electric Cinema, visit https://www.theelectric.co.uk/
For more on Boxxed, visit http://www.boxxed.co.uk/