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Fulci's Murder Rock

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Posted 17th May 2009 at 06:07 PM by Sam@Cult Labs

From the annals of DVDisgo and DVDresurrections

Murder Rock

You've got to hand it to those crazy Italian exploitation directors, they knew how to churn out a watchable rip off of mainstream cinema's hit movies in double quick time. Conan The Barbarian inspired numerous spaghetti-fantasy movies like Fulci's Conquest and D'amato's Ator series. Dirty Harry kicked off a spate of right wing fantasies in which grizzled, tough nosed cops kicked the crap out of criminals.

But what of the early 80s dance movies craze...which brave B-movie hack is going to have a stab at ripping those 'classics' off. Prom Night had a big dose of disco fever in it and anyone whose seen Umberto Lenzi's woeful and hilarious Nightmare City will recall a TV studio hosting a disco number by some of the worst dancers ever to pull on a pair of leg warmers. At least they got slaughtered by zombies...

So that's alright then...

But for real barrel scraping dance/horror crossover nonsense you have to seek out that master of Gothic surrealism, sleazy giallos, pasta westerns and also the director of the worst Conan style fantasy ever made, Lucio Fulci.

In 1983 Fulci made Murder Rock, it wasn't his finest hour but as a piece of 80s euro-trash kitsch it's certainly entertaining. Media Blasters bring us a definitive 2 disc set of this whacked out freak-fest. Set in a New York dance academy where doubtless fame costs and right there is where they start paying in sweat, a series of horrific murders are taking place.

The murderer finds his female victims at their most vulnerable, normally when they are wearing flimsy, easily removed clothing or sometimes no clothes at all. A gloved hand looms from behind the camera, holding a wad of tissue paper soaked in chloroform. Once sedated the vicious killer kills his unfortunate victim by inserting a fine hat pin into their heaving chest until it pierces the heart.

Although not as bloody as a full on zombie gut munching session or a frenzied broken bottle attack, as seen in the directors movie New York Ripper, the method of killing is deeply disturbing as it is almost gentle, leaving the by now naked corpses flawlessly dead, with little sign of any struggle.

The police are at first clueless, but naturally the dancers fellow classmates who remain in the land of the living are under suspicion as they are all competing for a prized job offer. Their teachers new boyfriend, a drunken ex-actor with a shady past could also be the perp or is it the head of the school, the dance teachers ex-lover, who hates the sight of beautiful, unattainable girls and has gone mad with lust...

This movie owes its basic structure to the giallo model so of course everyone is a suspect and the conclusion is fairly laughable. The dancing is truly terrible and we are led to believe that these club footed cattle are New York finest, specially selected for an elite class. Fulci sets up his lack of knowledge of the finer points of dance with a break-dance montage as the opening credits roll which showcases the 'talents' of a B-boy crew who can only be described as Wack. The only move they seem to have mastered is the caterpillar which they do a lot...

C'mon, everyone could do the caterpillar.Even I could do the caterpillar, stood outside the school toilets, having a shifty ciggie, doing the caterpillar, impressing no one because everyone could do the caterpillar....

The music for all these deeply troublesome dance routines is by Prog rock dinosaur Keith Emerson of stadium striding 70s neo-classicists ELP. His pounding electronic euro-disco score is great fun, a mawkish ballad aside, with loads of noodly keyboard runs and funky bass-lines.

Fulci's inventive camera work is still very much in evidence and is exemplary. He lost his muse in later TV and video projects but despite the laughable but entertaining subject matter on offer here he still gets a lot of real atmosphere and chills into some of the murder set pieces and way the film gives us a hat pins eye view of some of the killing is pretty twisted. The daft dancing and wobbly music will be off putting for those lacking in irony but I'm a sucker for a bit of cheese so I loved it.

The extras include an Italian Language commentary with English subs by the Director of Photography. A good 30 minute feature on Fulci's career, further cast and crew interviews and stack of trailers for other Fulci movies and Media Blasters releases. Media Blasters are to be congratulated on treating a lesser work from the Italian horror master with the same respect that has been afforded to his other films.
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Total Comments 3


  1. Old Comment
    eiren's Avatar
    Great review!

    I enjoy Murder Rock too, apart from the musical numbers and the hair, there's some great bits.
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 18th May 2009 at 10:08 AM by eiren eiren is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Pete's Avatar
    Great review Sam been wanting to see this for some time.

    Although i think your being cruel saying Conquest is the worst CTB rip off.
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 18th May 2009 at 11:24 AM by Pete Pete is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Sam@Cult Labs's Avatar
    Good point Loops. Maybe I should award that to Ator the Fight Eagle.

    Beastmaster forever!
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 18th May 2009 at 04:20 PM by Sam@Cult Labs Sam@Cult Labs is offline
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