So I just watched Berberian Sound Studio released recently on DVD. As you know if you’ve been visiting this blog, I enjoy a few schlocky horror movies and this one is a homage to the particular sub-genre of schlocky horror from Italy called “giallo” (yellow), based on the poor quality, yellowish, paper-pulp used to produce the cheap photo novels and comics of this entertaining, exploitation genre.
A bucket-load of these movies were churned out in the 1960s-70s, many were awful, but a few were actually quite good, i.e. scary, creepy, disturbing and fun, in a hysterical laughter kind of way. Films like Dario Argento’s Deep Red are thought of as the pinnacle of this type of movie. They are characteristic for grotesque violence, terrifying sound effects, weird prog-rock music and epilepsy inducing visuals and black-gloved killers.
As I said before, this is more homage to giallo, rather than a horror movie per se, or even a movie with a particularly strong plot. The basics are that Toby Jones is a mild, nature-loving English soundman from Surrey; Box Hill, no less. [Aside: all I can say is that it must have been a lot cheaper to live there or thereabouts in the early seventies, or perhaps that’s why he has to prostitute his art in the first place?]. Somehow he gets a job with a horror sound studio in Italy. The sound studio creates the sound effects, voice and foley post-production work for these, to his mind, ghastly movies. He finds himself starting to unravel at both the onslaught of imagery and sound generated in a horror movie environment and his extreme culture-shock. Much of the foley work is achieved by the violent murder of many innocent vegetables and, in places, this makes the movie extremely funny. There is also a particular dialogue between the Englishman and the studio boss about horses near the beginning that had me gasping for air.
Great film, if you are into horror or, for that matter, hulking 70s studio equipment, festoons of wiring and retro tape spool machines. Yum.
New Year’s only twenty minutes away here and I can hear the fireworks…
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!