Tag Archives: Riz Ortolani



Released in 1989, KILLER CROCODILE was one of those horror rip off movies that Italian film makers seemed to do so well, basically this is the story of a group of environmentalists that head off to a tropical delta where they find someone has been dumping toxic and radio active waste into the Santa Domingo river, but the river not only contains the deadly waste but a even more deadly killer lurks beneath the water in the form of a mutant giant crocodile that has grown to a giant because of the effects of the radioactive waste. Many said it was based on JAWS which I suppose to a degree is true, but there again so many of these types of movies have been made in the shadow of the Spielberg block buster, PIRANHA for example, ORCA-KILLER WHALE and to a degree ANACONDA all took their cue from JAWS, plus lets not forget PIRANACONDA (wonder what that is about). KILLER CROCODILE does however manage to stand on its own two feet in the entertainment department, just about any way, and although not a great movie it’s watchable. Written and directed by Fabrizio De Angelis, KILLER CROCODILE is an entertaining enough horror flick, with plenty of blood and gore and ample helpings of tense and nervous action. The musical score is by respected Italian Maestro Riz Ortolani, who produced a soundtrack that not only serves the movie well but also has moments within it that are more than your run of the mill horror music, there is the obligatory JAWS sounding cue within the soundtrack that accompanies the hulking beast of a croc and announces his entrance, his attack and also his departure back into the dark depths of the murky river. Plenty of driving strings are present throughout the work, and a fair amount of what I refer to as tense lurking music, i.e.; the croc is hiding in the weeds so the composer underlines this with a dark but subtle musical presence, which gradually builds into a full blown version of the predators theme as it positions itself to strike at its unsuspecting victim, but although comparisons will be made between Ortolani’s croc theme and John Williams Shark theme and yes there are blatant similarities, that some would say verges on plagiarism, but  Ortolani,s central theme is made up of two very different sounding sections, there is the  darker murky side and also a full blown symphonic string theme which although dramatic is also melodic and sweeping in its overall impact. The composer makes effective use of strings for the action passages and punctuates and enhances these strings with percussive elements and added synthetics to heighten the tension and provide the listener with some highly dramatic writing. There are also a number of cues within the score that are hauntingly melodic.


Track number 15 for example, contains an almost classical sounding theme which the composer relays via the string section and subtle and delicate woodwind, this I felt evoked memories of his music for THE VALACHI PAPERS and in places his romantic sounding themes for movies such as THE YELLOW ROLLS ROYCE and AFRICA ADDIO, Ortolani I suppose is along with Mario Nascimbene and Ennio Morricone one of the most prolific Italian composers who has written for the cinema and television, he also managed to successfully break into scoring films outside of his native Italy and of course co-wrote one of the most successful songs of all time MORE from MONDO CANE and it is this romantic sound that the composer also integrates into his score for KILLER CROCODILE, so as collectors of film music we have the best of both worlds in this release, tense and harsh sounding action cues that are accompanied by softer, easy listening and romantic interludes. A score well worth checking out. With a great cover and sound quality that is also very good. But hurry these are ltd editions available from Kronos records, get yours now before they are all “SNAPPED” UP.




Composer Riz Ortolani has been associated with numerous European / Italian and also American made movies. His style of composition lends itself particularly well to the genre of the romantic variety, but he has also penned a number of films scores that are certainly hard hitting, for movies such as THE VALACHI PAPERS, DAY OF ANGER, THE GLORY GUYS, DAYS OF FURY, THE 7TH DAWN, THE McKENZIE BREAK, BATTLE FOR ANZIO and THE HUNTING PARTY to name a handful of examples. The composer’s career began in 1954 with LA VACANZE DEL SOR CLEMENTE but it was not until 1962 that Ortolani was thrust into the limelight with his score and also the haunting and popular theme for MONDO CANE entitled ‘More’. Ortolani was one of the very few Italian or European composers from the silver age of film music who managed to work outside of his native Italy and become successful.  He was called upon by numerous directors and filmmakers to enhance their films with his beguiling and attractive themes and although at times his scores were a little sparing in quantity, the composer made up for this in the quality department. IL CONSIGLIORI (1973) aka COUNSELOR AT CRIME was directed by Alberto de Martino (BLAZING MAGNUM) and starred Heavyweight American actor Martin Balsam, who played a ruthless San Francisco mob boss Don Maggadino, and popular Italian actor Tomas Milian who is Maggadino’s lawyer or Consigliori. The movie is a prime example of Italy’s Poliziotti genre and contains a couple of terrific car chases and some great visuals of San Francisco and Sicily. Ortolani fashioned a score that works on a number of levels and includes a particularly relaxing and haunting central theme (‘Tomas Theme’) which is in many ways similar to his main theme for THE VALACHI PAPERS; the composer utilising to great effect the string section of the orchestra to create a simple yet enduring and bittersweet sound that has now become associated with the Maestro. The theme can be heard throughout the score, but it surfaces in varying arrangements or as part of another cue creating a continuity to the work. The composer also employs a more laid back lounge or jazz influenced style within the work which for the most part is low key and basically could be used as a background to a dinner party but none the less these interludes are pleasant and also welcomed. Then there is the more dramatic and slightly atonal style that the composer adds to the mix as in track number two, ‘The Advisor’ which begins in an almost sinister style but then launches into an upbeat pop led piece. Again this is a composition that is repeated at various stages of the score.
One particular cue that I think stands out is track number eleven ‘Pupi Siciliani’, and although it is downbeat and even mournful to a degree, it also posses a lilting and near romantic attraction to it. This is an interesting release and one that I know will be welcomed by Euro Score collectors; another solid release from Chris’s soundtrack corner..



Riz Ortolani is one of the few Italian composers to have achieved major success not only in his own country but also in the United States and elsewhere. His score for MONDO CANE which he co-wrote with Nino Olivero gained him much recognition and the song “More” was an international hit and was recorded by hundreds of artists all over the world. Ortolani is one of the most lyrical Italian composers. He creates simple but wonderfully haunting melodies and has the ability to elevate a film’s storyline and scenario to a greater level via the placing of music and the style of music he employs. He is no stranger to police dramas and Giallo films and has scored numerous romantic films and westerns. Many think that Ortolani was not suited for Spaghetti westerns because his music was romantically slanted or at least not as raw and savage as other scores within the genre by other composers. He disproved those ideas when he produced the high energy and action packed theme and score for DAY OF ANGER and THE HUNTING PARTY.



LA FACCI VIOLENTA DI NEW YORK is a score with many styles within its perimeters. The CD begins with a cue that could easily be mistaken for the work of Lalo Schifrin; Ortolani employing bass, punctuated by piano and supported by a backing track of tense sounding percussion which is tense but not overpowering. Track two is the first outing for the central theme and Ortolani begins with a short introduction of strings, then male solo voice is introduced and mirrored by woodwind with punctuation coming from piano. Percussion is added to the equation as voice, woodwind and trumpet work together to bring the central theme more fully into focus. All this is augmented by strings which add a romantic atmosphere, together with the inclusion of guitar – a cue which put me in mind of the style of Francis Lai. The melody is haunting and the orchestration is perfection. Track three is another variation on the central theme and on this occasion the composition is led by solo guitar, which is then joined by subdued trumpet and underlying strings with piano and percussion creating a mid tempo beat. The score relies greatly on the central theme but Ortolani manages to create new edges to the composition on each outing and arranges and orchestrates it with a freshness and a vibrant musicality so that it remains interesting and above all entertaining. Track five is a nice lounge or easy listening jazz led piece in which the composer makes good and effective use of piano, bass, organ, electric guitar and brushed percussion, creating a club-like atmosphere. Track six is another laid back composition with guitar taking the reins whilst being supported by percussion and piano. Jumping ahead to the final cue, track nineteen is the final cue and is a particularly attractive version of the central theme, performed on a lazy sounding trumpet with luxurious strings supporting and embracing it. The trumpet fades and the strings come into play more prominently with a beautiful working of the theme, bringing the music to a close. The style here is similar to Ortolani’s haunting theme for THE VALACHI PAPERS – lush and emotive.
The score contains some dramatic and tense compositions which I suppose must be taken for granted in a film of this genre but Ortolani also creates numerous relaxed and highly poignant moments within the score which makes for a highly rewarding listen. The composer also makes effective use of Spanish guitar throughout the work and which is a reference to one of the main characters from the film. This score is perfect for lovers of jazzy cool tracks, laid back easy listening music, action cues which are tense, along with romantically laced compositions. In fact there is something for everyone here. The soundtrack for LA FACCIA VIOLENTA DI NEW YORK has certain affiliations with American scores for films of a similar style and the liner notes make appropriate comparisons to Don Ellis’s FRENCH CONNECTION scores and Schifrin’s DIRTY HARRY. There are also moments which evoke Luis Bacalov’s WE STILL KILL THE OLD WAY and, of course, there is also definitely some original Ortolani in there as well. This is a very entertaining soundtrack and one which I recommend.