‘Zombie Flesh Eaters’ is an Italian horror film, directed by Lucio Fulchi and released in 1979. It was also released under the title ‘Zombi 2’, as an opportunistic way to make it sound like a sequel to George A. Romero’s ‘Dawn of the Dead‘ which was released under the title ‘Zombi‘ in parts of Europe.
The 1970s was a fertile period for European horror, and an explosion of horror films came flooding out of Europe, especially Italy – and Zombie Flesh Eaters‘ is undoubtedly one of the best Italian horror movies to come out of the era.
‘Zombie Flesh Eaters‘ was the center of controversy when it was released with criticism leveled at it for its extreme violence and gory content – needless to say, this just increased its notoriety, and the film became an instant classic with horror fans.
‘Zombie Flesh Eaters‘ is arguably the highlight of Fulchi’s output of the time and it provided a much needed shot in the arm for his career which was beginning to flag. But it wasn’t just the director who was producing some of his most distinctive work, the soundtrack to the movie was composed by Fabio Frizzi and it has gone on to be his most revered and loved of all his soundtracks.
Fabio Frizzi was born in Italy in 1951 and was passionate about music from a young age. In the 1960s he teamed up with Franco Bixio and Vince Tempera with the goal of creating soundtracks for TV and movies, and throughout the 1960s they created soundtracks and scores to many low-budget Italian movies, especially Spaghetti Westerns.
It was through this studio work that Frizzi first met director Lucio Fulci and was eventually invited to create the soundtrack for Zombi 2 a.k.a ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters‘.
Zombie Flesh Eaters: The Soundtrack:
The soundtrack itself is a wonderful mix of styles, and it swerves in and out of electronic/synthesized tracks full of doom, to clattering island drums and woodwind instruments that ties the film firmly to its stifling and claustrophobic Caribbean setting.
Fabio Frizzi worked on the soundtrack with Giorgio Tucci, who was brought in to help out, almost as an apprentice, in order to gain some experience in scoring soundtracks. In an interview with Cinema Suicide Frizzi stated:
“Giorgio was a good guy, he worked for Alitalia (an Italian airline company), but had a great passion for music. He was the nephew of Ugo Tucci, a friend of mine and producer of these movies. Ugo asked me to give Giorgio the chance to have an experience in scoring.”
The soundtrack is a bit of a Holy Grail for horror fans as it basically embodies all that fans love about the horror scores of the era – and the main theme combines slow and menacing synths, choral chants, and mellotron inspired madness. Its totally distinctive, steeped in atmosphere, and instantly recognizable from the first seconds of hearing it.
The theme to the film has pretty much become the National Anthem for Zombies.
Listen to the Zombi 2 / Zombie Flesh Eaters main theme below:
The rest of the soundtrack sounds like a cargo boat of haunted-synthesizers being washed ashore on a small tropical island. Tracks like ‘Maggots/Voodoo Rising‘ showcase Frizzi’s talent at producing genuinely disturbing and unnerving electronic pieces of music from sound-effects, before morphing into claustrophobic tropical drumming and wailing. The drumming is a recurring theme throughout the soundtrack and really distinguishes Frizzi’s soundtrack from other zombie films that went before it – it adds a feverish element to the score, which sits well with the tropical nightmare setting of the film. Listen to a couple of examples below to see what we mean:
Listen to ‘Sequence 2’
Listen to ‘Maggots/Voodoo Rising
Frizzi used vintage equipment such as the tape-loop keyboard the Mellotron, the Yamaha CS80, and the Prophet 5, and was known for his experimental techniques on some of the soundtracks he composed. In a recent interview Frizzi explained how he created the marching and foreboding bass drum sound in the main theme by tapping on a microphone and then manipulating the sound in order to create the desired effect (similar techniques can be heard in his soundtrack for ‘Fear in the Town of the Living Dead‘).
In recent years, artists like Fabio Frizzi have come back into vogue and many newer generations of musicians are starting to quote his work as an influence, or state that they first got turned on to electronic music by encountering his soundtracks on Fulchi films.
Another reason that the soundtrack is highly prized is the fact that it has never really been widely or permanently available – that’s not to say it can’t be found however. Recently, the wonderful Death Waltz records put out a limited edition red ‘blood-splatter’ vinyl version that captured all 8 Sequences from the film, but it has since sold out.
This is the cover art for the Death Waltz release of the soundtrack:
- Sequence 1
- Sequence 2
- Sequence 3
- Sequence 4
- Sequence 5
- Sequence 6
- Sequence 7
- Sequence 8
The soundtrack has only had a few releases over the years and the notable ones can be seen below:
- Woodoo Die Schreckensinsel Der Zombies (1989): The German release of Zombi 2/Zombie Flesh Eaters was called ‘Woodoo‘ and this was a release for the Swiss market on Center Music S.p.A. label. The track list is not unlike the Death Waltz release, but in a different order.
- Zombie by Fabio Frizzi (2000): Released on Blackest Heart Media, this compilation CD was comprised of 30 tracks that featured Frizzi’s score, but also included some tracks of dialog from the film, and curiously also added tribute tracks that were attributed to ‘rokOPERA’. This release was made available as part of a limited edition package with a graphic novel adaptation that was written by Stephen Romano. It is now out of print, but sometimes you can get copies on Amazon.com.
- Zombi 2 / Un Gatto Nel Cervello by Fabio Frizzi (1998/2011): This release combined two Frizzi soundtracks on one release, one of the them being ‘Zombi 2‘. It was first released in 1998, and then again in 2011 and is still available (Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk)
Listen to the soundtrack below:
Your best bet for getting a copy of this soundtrack is by checking the Frizzi double album that Features the Zombi 2 / Zombie Flesh Eaters soundtrack, paired with his score for ‘Un Gatto Nel Cervello‘ (Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk)
People wanting to explore more should also check out Fabio Frizzi’s soundtrack for ‘City of the Living Dead‘ (aka ‘Fear in the Town of the Living Dead‘), which is many ways sounds like a companion piece to his Zombi 2 soundtrack, with similar sounding tracks and musical treatments. Check it out on Amazon.com