Released in 1973 and 1974 respectively, BLOOD FOR DRACULA and FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN were interesting if not a little off-beat horror movies both of which were filmed in Italy. Paul Morrisey directed with the assistance in more ways than one of Italian film maker Antonio Margheriti, with the productions being overseen by Andy Warhol. The music for both of these gothic tales was the work of composer Claudio Gizzi. The composer has created two suitably dark but also romantically laced scores that not only work well within the context of the movies but are a pleasure to listen to away from the images they were intended to enhance. Both of these movies break the mould as far as the conventional tales of Frankenstein and Dracula are concerned, but with Warhol involved I suppose this was a foregone conclusion. Gizzi’s music is in my humble opinion some of the best written for Dracula and Frankenstein – in many ways rivalling the works of Bernard, Williams and also more recently Kilar. It is true to say that Gizzi’s music is not as powerful or operatic sounding as the composers mentioned but it has an attraction and an overall sound that is well suited to these stories and when watching either of the films it enhances, supports and embellishes without being intrusive or overbearing. On occasion, he even provides us with music that would not be out of place in one of the original Universal productions, for example in track number nine, on IL MOSTRO E IN TAVOLA BARON FRANKENSTEIN, – “The Creature Sees the Light”, in which Gizzi incorporates Wagner to a point. This cue begins slowly and is near atonal in its early stages with spidery and sinewy sounding strings weaving a web; aside from a almost harmonious one note motif or sound that counters this Then the composer introduces brass over the strings in a crescendo-like conclusion with trumpet taking centre stage. It’s almost like he is saying musically IT’S ALIVE! In many ways the composers approach to scoring these two productions puts me in mind of composer Harry Robinson’s take on scoring horror films for Hammer. He managed to keep it symphonic and also melodic for the best part but it also had a slightly more modern edge than say the scores of James Bernard, Don Banks, Tristram Carey etc.
Gizzi writes romantic and harmonious themes and does not immerse the film in too may non-musical statements that are so rife when it comes to soundtracks in horror films. Track number one on disc two, BLOOD FOR DRACULA, which is titled – “Old Age of Dracula (Main Title)” is such an example. It is a charming piece which opens with a delightful and romantic sounding piano solo; this is joined by woodwind and strings to create an almost pastoral sounding composition which is simple but hauntingly beautiful. This is a theme that recurrs throughout Gizzi’s score for BLOOD FOR DRACULA and is essentially the core material for his soundtrack. I must admit out of the two scores I am more drawn to BLOOD FOR DRACULA as it has a simple but alluring sound to it. But in saying this, both BLOOD FOR DRACULA and FLESH OF FRANKENSTEIN are interesting scores and although I have made a few comparisons between Gizzi’s work and that of other composers within the boundaries of scoring these types of movies, Gizzi’s scores remain refreshing and original sounding. This is a wonderful double compact disc to have. It not only includes all the music that has been previously released from both scores but a wealth of alternate and bonus cues, which are well worth having, with eye arresting art work and also a number of stills from both movies and informative notes. Well worth adding this one to the collection.