Spooky Soundtracks: Cannibal Holocaust

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It’s finally October, a month best known for bloodshed, candy stuffed with razor blades, and scaring all of the little kids on the block shitless. As we inch ever closer to All Hallows’ Evening your resident mustache bear thought it would be fun to go through some of his favorite horror movie scores. Wear a costume, pass out treats, don’t blow out any jack-o-lanterns, check your candy, and hold on to your butts: It’s Spooky Soundtrack time.

This week we’re diving headfirst into the sounds of Italy’s most iconic slideshows of despair, Cannibal Holocaust. Cannibal Holocaust is a movie that has earned quite a reputation for itself, built on the eerily realistic deaths of its stars and the very real deaths of several animals. A mere ten days after its premiere, the film was confiscated, and director Ruggero Deodato was charged with obscenity. After an article from a French magazine alleged that some of the actors killed on screen were actually killed on film, the charges were changed to include murder. Deodato, after having the actors sign a contract agreeing not to appear in any media for one year in order to give the film the feeling of ACTUAL found footage, eventually had to have his actors break that contract and give an interview on an Italian television show to prove his innocence.

Needless to say the film has a number of memorable aspects, but one that really jumped out at me upon my last viewing was the soundtrack. Created by Riz Ortolani, perhaps best known for this score as well as Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye and House on the Edge of the Park, the soundtrack presented is pretty much all over the place stylistically. Like most Italian films of the time, Cannibal Holocaust trades in the driving synth that dominated most American horror of the decade for strange guitar driven numbers and jazz like flourishes. The opening track for example is a beautifully unassuming acoustic guitar number that gives way to some tripped out, soaring keyboards.

After lulling you into a false sense of security, it hammers you with the most chilling track in the film, and one of the most hauntingly gorgeous horror themes in the history of schlock cinema. Opening with low, slow and oppressive synth, strings eventually slide in and take the track into a downward spiral of maddening depression. All the while strangely time synth beeps sound off in the background, adding an unnerving element of chaos to the number’s whirlwind of sadness.

Nothing too crazy just yet, I know, but that’s only because the soundtrack takes a little bit to get to some of the more eccentric numbers. Eventually you’re greeted with the rockin’ lounge stylings of the track “Drinking Coco,” complete with an absolutely ripping solo. Well, absolutely ripping for a jazzy rock style lounge number in a cannibal film, anyway.

Then of course there’s a track that I think can be best summed up as a pure porno number. It opens with a fat wah riff (think bow chicka-wow-wow) drenched it absolute sleeze before eventually turning into some strange kind of sexed up version of the Charlie Brown theme. Seriously.

Like I said, Cannibal Holocaust certainly isn’t lacking in diversity musically. There are certain themes that are revisited later on, such as “Adultress’ Punishment” or “Main Title,” but overall the repetition is relatively rare and Cannibal Holocaust is better for it. Italian horror films, especially the wave of cannibal films, are such a strange beast that an eccentric soundtrack like this feels almost necessary. Though the songs fall all over the music spectrum, they never really feel out of place during the movie and really help to enhance the violence and sheer insanity of what is happening before your eyes. At the end of the day, what more could you want from a horror soundtrack?

More porno tracks, that’s what.

What’s your favorite soundtrack to eat human flesh to? Do you eat it raw or cook it? Sound off in the comments below. I’m asking for a friend.

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