Monday, May 4, 2015
"Baba Yaga" By Piero Umillani
Piero Umillani's diverse score to Corrado Farina's giallo horror film "Baba Yaga" sounds like at times like a soundtrack to a great American blaxploitation film, and at others some classic 70's horror films like "the Omen" or "Carrie".
This era of giallo filmmaking features a glut of Italian composers who are naturally gifted at making scores that mix up genres; they're very diverse but the skillfulness in the execution is always impressive. Not only does Umillani jump all over the map stylistically here, but he puts a lot of fresh touches on his music, so that nothing sounds by-the-numbers: the sexy opening titles feature a organ quartet laying down a tough, funky groove. A gritty blues rock song seamlessly transitions into jazz fusion. A celesta chimes a pretty melody, the harmony is provided by a clavinet that sounds like a classical guitar; this theme is later reprised with a mellotron flute in place of the celesta. A lounge jazz piano is accompanied by a cathedral organ. In one scene, an almost Mancini-esque vibraphone adds to the mystery.
This film appears to have been filmed with the actors speaking their native languages and then was overdubbed depending on the country of release; for example Carroll Baker speaks English and many of her co-stars speak Italian and are overdubbed for the English version. As a result, the dialogue can be truly bizarre and almost non-sensical, often resulting in the unintentional hilarity that makes these films so fun to watch. It could be that some of the metaphors get lost in translation from Italian to English. But let me be clear, this is an amazing film from beginning to end.
There are also plenty of tits.
And there's a virtual shitload of amazing cinematic ideas. The filmmaking seems more influenced by French new wave than more typical Italian giallo; there's loads of great images and the quick cutting you'd expect from Goddard (who is discussed at a party of intellectuals at the start of the film. "Goddard is Goddard". So true. It would be really weird if Goddard was Jean Stapleton). It's colorful and vibrant: occasionally reinforcing its vibrance is still black and white photography intercut with live action, the same motif is then used with close-ups of the pages of a graphic novel in place of the photos.
I can't recall having seen another film which features such well shot sex in one scene, and Jesus getting punched in the face in another. In fact I don't think I've ever seen a film with only the latter. If anyone can think of any great Jesus-getting-punched-in-the-face scenes from other films, let me know. The music is great, the film is great, see it immediately or risk living a life of regret.