• Symphony In Blood

    Released by: Troma
    Released on: November 10th, 2015
    Director: Luigi Pastore
    Cast: Sharon Alessandri, Nikol Brown, Federico Amorosi
    Year: 2010
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    The Movie

    There have been numerous attempts by young Italian directors to recapture the vibe and infamy which categorized the country's giallo boom of the 1970s. Sadly, there haven't been nearly as many success stories, with very few features coming remotely close to possessing the same sort of style or perverse beauty.

    Symphony in Blood Red gets a lot of things right from a technical aspect. Although there are times with director Luigi Pastore's debut film possesses the sort of cheapness which defines so many modern attempts at Italian horror, the look overall is one of a decently well lit and competently framed piece; the product of a crew who at least gave a shit to give Symphony in Blood Red their best effort.

    Story-wise, we've been here before, as a paranoid schizophrenic loses his shit, and runs roughshod over the city, while plenty of beautiful female flesh is set on display before being cruelly dispatched. Our killer is an equal opportunity slasher, however, torturing men and women alike as he embarks on his remorseless, eighty minute rampage.

    The film is clearly indebted to the works of Dario Argento, but decides to approach its story with more of a brutal serial killer vibe than anything supernatural. There are no gracefully shot sequences with artistic merit here, but instead frank and ugly set pieces of murder which make the most out of the special effects work from master Sergio Stivaletti. These killings are visceral, messy and mean spirited, although not without their perverse charm when it comes to Italian horror's legendary reputation for extremity.

    The handsome cast do a decent job with the screenplay written by frequent Bruno Mattei collaborator Antonio Tentori, while the score from Claudio Simonetti isn't quite on par with his classic 80s work, but certainly possesses flashes of evocative melody. It ranges from dark synth and disturbing soundscapes to delicate piano melodies, as well as the some heavy metal, getting the job done and lending the film a sense of the elder guard working with the new. Hell, Claudio himself even appears during a club scene, playing a gig with his band Daemonia.

    Perhaps it's the Italian apologist in me which enjoyed Symphony in Blood Red, or maybe I've just seen too many crappy gialli reboots, but Pastore's film is definitely a cut above the average also-rans from his country. There's a sense of seriousness here that is welcome; a lack of self-awareness combined with the desire to truly live up to the legends which paved the way. Granted, the killer's filming of his crimes is a cheap plot device, but the end results are stylish and evocative enough to offer a glimmer of hope into the world of Italy's up and coming filmmakers.


    Symphony in Blood Red looks pretty good here on DVD in an anamorphic widescreen transfer, with some nicely lit scenes making a positive impression, even though there are some night sequences which look incredibly murky and dark. It's disappointing, but at least there aren't any glaring artifacts or glitches to report. The subtitles are serviceable, but likely possess some translation errors, while the film's audio track is solid, if unmemorable. The dialogue on the Italian language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is balanced well against the soundtrack and background noise, while the murders possess some suitably horrid sound design.

    Extras are up to Troma's usual standard, including a "making of" documentary which features commentary not only from Pastore, but from Dario Argento, Luigi Cozzi and Daria Nicolodi. The disc opens with Lloyd Kaufman (dressed up like Dario) chatting with a very pretty (and very naked) Tromette by the name of Ophelia Rain, and contains the usual non-film related Troma extras, including an episode of "Kabukiman's Cocktail Corner" and a music video directed by Kaufman. Finally, the film's original trailer, and a "Minute with Dario Argento" feature is ported over from Troma's disc for The Stendahl Syndrome is included, making this a satisfying disc.

    The Final Word:

    If you don't dig giallo, then stay far away from this one. If you, like me, can get down with even the trashiest and most inept examples of the genre from the 1980s, then Symphony in Blood Red may leave you pleasantly surprised, if a bit nostalgic for Italy's halcyon days.