Friday, May 01, 2009

Franco Micalizzi "Chi Sei?"

Watching this cult film for the first time today helped me discover a soundtrack that is well worth hearing and knowing more about.

The film, better known as Beyond The Door - and The Devil Within Her - stars Juliette Mills (the Nanny on the 1970-71 TV series Nanny and the Professor), Gabriele Lavia (from Dario Argento's Profondo Rosso/Deep Red and Non ho sonno/Sleepless), Richard Johnson (The Haunting, among many others) and the demonic child actor David Colin, Jr. (Mario Bava's Schock/Beyond The Door II, who, after turning down another turn as the evil spawn in Beyond The Door III seems to have never acted again, according to imdb.com).

This 1974 film is one of the many The Exorcist (1973) knock-offs made in Italy and elsewhere between 1973 and 1977, although this one seemed to bear the burden of the better-known film's producers suing for (and winning!) millions and millions of dollars - even though their film, as Beyond The Door, is a rip-off of Rosemary's Baby.

Essentially, Jessica (Mills), mother of two, announces to her self-impressed/obsessed record-producer husband, Robert (Lavia), that she is pregnant. Robert can't imagine how or when it happened. But neither parent seems too happy about their impending arrival. Then Jessica's pregnancy advances much faster than expected and many strange things begin to happen, including the mysterious appearance of Jessica's former lover, Dimitri (or Dimitry), who may or may not have died years before, and the kids begin acting more bizarre than usual.

The film's exteriors were shot on location in San Francisco, and they all look stunningly gorgeous - even on this low budget. The interiors were shot in Rome. But given the mixed casting, and the obvious dubbing (the main stars do their own dubbing), it's pretty clear that everyone in the film is speaking English.

Italian composer Franco Micalizzi (b. December 21, 1939, Rome) contributes the film's melodic and fascinating soundtrack, something of a cross between the blaxploitation sound so popular during the period and a fusion jazz extravaganza.

Micalizzi, best known for such "poliziotteschi" Italian crime thrillers of the period as Roma a Mano Armata/Rome Armed To The Teeth (1976), Napoli Violenta/Violent Naples (1976), Il Cininco, l'infame, il violento/The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist (1977) and La Banda Del Gobbo/Brothers Till We Die (1978), has provided a remarkably jazzy soundscape here that probably works better outside the film than as a part of it.

The music, good as it is, seems very intrusive to the film - especially when singers are present. Micalizzi's music here sounds invasive to the film, which is why it is worth considering outside of the movie proper. The soundtrack, while not available on CD, can be downloaded from the CAM Records web site, iTunes or amazon.com.

The film's main theme, "Bargain With The Devil," is reminiscent of Gene Page's music for Blackula, with lyrics obviously sung and spoken by an American singer in praise of, all things, the devil.

"Robert's Theme" is a slow funk piece driven by soprano sax, where a singer sings lyrics that ends in the refrain "no hope." The soprano sax carries "Dimitry's Theme Part 2" as well.

There are many great jazz-fusion passages to be heard here, including "Jessica's Theme," driven by a moog synthesizer and a Tom Scott-like soprano sax solo. "Dimitry's Theme" is a menacing bit of funk with some great sax work cuing it all off. "Bargain With The Devil Part 2" is a tremendous bit of near disco funk that has some great electronic passages and flute highlights.

There are several great flute features, including "Family's Theme" and the excellent "Flute Sequence," (an odd scene in the movie where Lavia is pursued down a San Francisco thoroughfare by street musicians, including one playing a recorder - not a flute - through his nose, yes his nose). "Flute Sequence" previously appeared on the 1997 CD Easy Tempo Vol. 3: Further Cinematic Easy Listening Experiences.

Highly recommended - and yet another piece of evidence favoring the wondrous musical universe of Franco Micalizzi.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just so you know there is a Japanese CD of this but it is out-of-print and very hard to come by these days. Right now the best sounding version that can be easily purchased is the iTunes version.

There is a website called, "Soundtrack Collector" and it has a lot of information when it comes to various releases of soundtracks. That is how I know a Japanese CD of this is out there ... somewhere.

FulciLives said...

Micalizzi's CHI SEI? (BEYOND THE DOOR) is on CD out of Japan (2002 release): Culture Publishers / Volcano Records / Cam - CPC8-1208
- John Bender bipcress@comcast.net

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