‘Zeder‘ is an Italian horror film directed by Pupi Avati and released in 1983. The film has also been released under the title ‘Revenge of the Dead‘.
The plot centers round a novelist who is given a typewriter as a gift from his girlfriend. He soon notices indentations on the ribbon left by the previous owner’s usage of the typewriter. He copies and transcribes the text and discovers it was made by a scientist called Zeder who was researching specific zones of energy that were so concentrated they were capable of raising the dead. As he investigates further he uncovers a gruesome and terrifying truth.
‘Zeder‘ is a thoughtful zombie film that is dark and genuinely creepy.
The soundtrack for ‘Zeder‘ was scored by legendary (especially in the Giallo/Italian Horror world) composer Riz Ortolani.
Riz Ortolani was born in 1926 in Italy and his early forays into the music business was as a member of a popular jazz band. His entry into the movie soundtrack world was met with instant success – his first film score (for a film called ‘Mondo Cane‘, 1962) won a Grammy award and was also nominated for an Oscar. This initial success saw him inundated with offers for other films, and Ortolani went on to be involved with the scores for over 200 films, including horror and exploitation ‘classics’ like ‘Cannibal Holocaust‘.
Some of Riz Ortolani’s soundtrack work for the Giallo and horror films of the 70s and 80s was very distinctive and was sometimes at odds with what you would expect from soundtracks of the era. A great example is his score for ‘Cannibal Holocaust‘ which would have been Oscar material if it wasn’t for a film that was subsequently banned, and became infamous for its violent scenes and cruelty to animals. It has a stunningly beautiful opening theme. Listen to it below:
In later years his music would be featured in Tarantino films like ‘Kill Bill’, ‘Kill Bill 2‘, and ‘Django Unchained‘.
Riz Ortolani’s soundtrack for ‘Zeder‘ is a solid soundtrack that blends dark synth sounds with slashing string instrumentation. It is unsettling and thick with atmosphere. The main theme is an urgent sounding composition comprised of cascading synths, throbbing bass, and nerve-shredding strings. This theme is revisited a number of times in the soundtrack. Listen to it below:
Listen to ‘Zeder’ by Riz Ortolani:
The soundtrack also features a couple of tracks that seem totally out of place when it is listened to on its own, without the film to give context – notably ‘Reggae Thrilling’ is a Euro reggae-lite number that is used to set the atmosphere of a couple of beach-side scenes within the movie.
The soundtrack hasn’t yet had a full commercial release, which is a real shame, and as such it has become a highly sought after score amongst enthusiasts and obsessives.
The only outings that this soundtrack has had, have been a 1986 Italian release called ‘Triple Time Music‘ which was a compilation that featured selected tracks from scores that Riz Ortolani had composed for director Pupi Avati and the album included two tracks from the ‘Zeder‘ soundtrack.
There is hope that a future release of the soundtrack might become more widely available as in 2014 GDM/Intermezzo Media Records released a limited edition pressing of the soundtrack. Limited to 300 copies, it compiled 18 tracks that were taken from the original session tapes found in Ortolani’s archives. The release also included a 12 page booklet. If you are lucky, you can sometimes find a copy popping up on Amazon.com
You can see the track listing below:
1. Zeder (tema – titoli di testa) (02:06)
2. Zeder (seq. 1) (02:22)
3. Zeder (seq. 2) (01:28)
4. Reggae Thrilling (04:05)
5. Zeder (seq. 3) (01:16)
6. Reggae Thrilling (alt.) (02:11)
7. Zeder (seq. 4) (02:37)
8. Zeder (seq. 5) (02:22)
9. Zeder (seq. 6) (01:30)
10. Zeder (seq. 7) (03:03)
11. Zeder (seq. 8) (01:56)
12. Zeder (seq. 9) (01:27)
13. Zeder (seq. 10) (03:00)
14. Zeder (seq. 11) (03:36)
15. Zeder (seq. 12) (01:52)
16. Zeder (tema – ripresa) (01:35)
17. Zeder (tema – ripresa IIa) (01:16)
18. Zeder (tema – finale) (05:04)
Riz Ortolani sadly passed away in January 2014.