Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 28th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1984
Director: Lucio Fulci
Cast: Olga Karlatos, Ray Lovelock, Claudio Cassinelli, Cosimo Cinieri
DVD released: July 11th, 2006
Approximate running time: 93 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English, Dolby Digital Stereo Italian
DVD Release: Media Blasters
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: There are only two weeks until graduation at one of New York’s most prestigious dance academies. Word soon gets out how only the three best students will be chosen to be part of a successful Broadway show. It doesn’t take long before the top students in the class start getting knocked off one by one. Is the killer one of the dancers who wants to get to the head of the class or is something more sinister going on?
Lucio Fulci had a long and varied career as a director. He wasn’t afraid to take chances and he worked in just about every genre. In the mid 1980’s after the release of Manhattan Baby would see Fulci is the most transitional period of his career. He would make two less then stellar SciFi films Conquest and The New Gladiators before ultimately returning to the thriller genre for the first time since he made his nihilistic masterpiece The New York Ripper.
Besides returning to the thriller genre with Murder Rock he would also return to New York City the scene of his pervious thriller. Murder Rock would also featured a more restrained style of violence from Fulci who just years before had pushed the boundaries of gore and sadism. Like many Italian films form this era Murder Rock would draw it’s from what was currently popular in Hollywood. Two obvious influences would be Flash Dance and to a lesser extent Footloose. Fulci even has a night club in which one of the girls is drenched by water while dancing on the stage which is almost exactly like a scene from Flash Dance.
Despite most of the cast being Italian or of non English origins Fulci decided to film the film in English. Actor Ray Lovelock mentions how he and many others still ended up being over dubbed by voce actors. The dubbing on this film is pretty damn good. The various performances are better then most Fucli films form this period.
Lucio Fulci pulls out all the tricks for this film at it filled with dazzling camera work that it enhanced even more by the films breath taking use of light and dark. Giuseppe Pinoli’s cinema-photography for Murder Rock is flawless as he paints very inch of every frame with the utmost care and attention. Two standout scenes are a Dream Sequence the directress of the dance school is being stalked by a man holding the same weapon as the killer uses. The other standout scene is when a girl in a wheelchair captures the killer’s identity with her camera while her babysitter is being murdered.
One must not over look composers Keith Emerson’s infectious score for the film which is highlighted by the tune “Paranoia”. Emerson like some of his previous score for films like Nighthawks and Dario Argento’s Inferno creates a truly unique score that perfectly captures the plenty of eye candy parading around through out the film. The film stills packs plenty of tension and suspense despite its lack of gore and this is mostly due it part to Lucio Fucli’s excellent direction. Going into a film that opens with leotards and break dancing I had my doubts that Fulci could pull off a solid thriller with so much stalked against him to begin the film. Overall Fucli proves that you don’t have to show every death in graphic detail in order to be an effective thriller.
Media Blasters presents Lucio Fulci’s Murder Rock in an anamorphic widescreen which preserves the films original aspect ratio. Colors are vivid and nicely saturated with flesh tones looking dead on in their accuracy. Black levels look exceptional as they remain solid through out. Details look razor sharp in the background and foreground as the image remains stable through out. There are no problems with compression, artifacts or edge enhancement. The source used for this transfer is flawless and Murder Rock has never looked better.
This release comes with two audio option English and Italian. Both are presented in a Dolby Digital stereo. Dialog is crystal clear and never too thin or muffled. The music and effects sound evenly balanced and never distorted. The music really sound great as Keith Emerson’s score makes good use of the stereo mix. There are no problems with hiss, distortion or any other audio defects. Both audio mixes are pretty close in quality and you can’t go wrong with either one. English subtitles have been included for the Italian language track.
Extras for disc one include trailer for Shadow: Dead Riot, Zombi 2, The Being, Witchery and Murder Rock. Also included with this release is a section titled Fangoria International which includes trailers for Chocking Hazard, Plaga Zombie Zona Muntante, Hiruko the Goblin and Blood Red. The main extra for disc one is an audio commentary with the director of photography for Murder Rock Giuseppe Pinoli. This audio commentary is moderated by journalist Federico Caddeo who navigates Giuseppe Pinoli scene by scene with his interesting questions. Giuseppe Pinoli remembers a lot about the production and listening to him talk is fascinating and entertaining. This audio commentary is in Italian and it comes with English subtitles.
Extras for disc two include a Lucio Fulci trailer collection and a brief photo gallery. Other extras include three interviews the first one is with Giuseppe Pinoli (director of photography). This interview runs about fourteen minutes in length and Pinoli discusses the various stages of his career and the film Murder Rock. The second and third interviews are both with actor Ray Lovelock who discusses how he got his start in the film business in the fourteen minute interview titled “Portrait of Ray Lovelock” and in the interview titled “The lead actor Ray Lovelock on Murder Rock he has plenty to say about the film and Lucio Fulci over the course of twenty two minutes. The final extra comes in the form of a twenty seven minute documentary titled “Tempus Fugit” which includes interviews with Luigi Cozzi, Antonio Tenteri, Dardano Sacchotti, Claudio Argento, Sergio Stivaletti, Ray Lovelock, Claudio Simonetti and Dario Argento. Everyone remembers Lucio Fulci with great affection and they talk about the importance of his legacy of a film director.
While other labels continue to neglect Fucli’s films on DVD by giving them bare bones DVD releases. Media Blasters continue too release fully loaded special editions DVD’s of Fulci’s films. Media Blasters Murder Rock release is without a doubt their best Fulci DVD release to date. Forget all previous releases of this title on DVD because Media Blasters release is the definitive version of Murder Rock on DVD, highly recommended.