One Christmas long ago, I got Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds. I was excited, of course, because I loved anything War of the Worlds. The cover was incredible, featuring a a Martian tripod melting the deck of an ironclad. As I flipped through the included book of artwork, my hopes steadily grew. It was full of paintings of tripods blasting old-timey looking British people. Now that was what I’d been wanting from a War of the Worlds adaptation!
The country was, in the autumn of 1938, primed for a panic. And 23-year-old radio actor Orson Welles was primed to give them one. At 8pm on October 30, 1938, he and the Mercury Theater on the Air began a broadcast that would, if you believe the stories about believing the story, send the whole of the country into a panic, convinced the planet was under attack by Martians.
It was common for Italian exploitation films to be graced with a soundtrack that was much better than the film surrounding it. Such is the case with Bruno Nicolai’s score for The Case of the Bloody Iris.
Morricone’s score is like a children’s church choir gone horribly, disturbingly awry. As accompaniment to a film that stalks the foggy labyrinths of Venice, you couldn’t ask for a more perfectly haunting and off-kilter collection of songs.
Despite Morricone’s much deserved reputation, it’s probably Bruno Nicolai who deserves to be crowned king of the giallo soundtrack. He wrote quite a few. Most of them are very good. Many of them are great. All the Colors of the Dark is the best.
The score maintains this blend of offbeat styles that still manage to operate as a cohesive whole, becoming tenser and more threatening. It makes perfect sense in a film about the unreliable nature of perception.