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In the 1970's, then rising horror director Dario Argento had formed a
good working relationship with the celebrated composer Ennio Morricone,
utilizing him for The
Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1969), Cat Of Nine Tails
(1971), and other films. When he decided
to make a change in musicians, for whatever reason, taking a rock group
made up of Claudio Simonetti, Agostino Marangolo, Massimo Morante and
Fabio Pignatelli, collectively known as Goblin, history was made. With
the launching of Deep Red
(1975), a new and popular film group was born.
Unlike the piercing, whistling, screaming music of Morricone, Goblin
utilized hard rock throughout the film, with the exception of a
Morricone-ish child's hymn played at various intervals. This heavy metal
replacement for Morricone's uncanny assortment of sounds worked better
than anyone expected. Fans raved as much about the background music as
they did about the film.
Following Deep Red, a story about a pianist who happens to catch a
glimpse of a hatchet swinging murderer and tries to track him down
(until the end where the him is revealed to be a her), Argento brought
Suspiria (1977) to the screen, a tale of witches at a dance academy. Often
considered the best of Argento's various films, this movie also offers
argumentably Goblin's greatest scores.
A chimed, repetitive score, blended with organ and guitar, is played
throughout the film. If you listen closely enough, either intentionally
or unintentionally, it sounds like a distorted version of the child's
rhyme, Jesus Loves Me This I Know. Jesus, however, is notably absent
from the movie, except (again listening closely), when you hear His name
being derisively whispered, along with louder, more emphatic blasts of
"Witch" by demonic voices within the main title.
Goblin would be back also, for Tenebrae
(1982) a few years later, where Argento
shifted from witches and warlocks to the psycho killer theme again. Once
more, the rock score blazed, the blood splattered and this band blended
its soundtrack perfectly with the action on the screen.
"The music just makes you want to get up and kill someone,"
commented one fanzine writer, several years ago. Fortunately, he must
not have listened long enough to do so.
Though closely united with Argento for many years and most often
identified with his works, the group did several more scores for other
films. While terror was their focal point and genre of choice, so to
speak, they ventured into other types of movies as well. Squadron
Antigangster was a score for a crime drama about the drug wars, while
St. Helen covered the explosion of a volcano in southern Washington,
Though a bit slower and more subtle as far as music goes, Goblin is also heard
in Dawn Of The Dead, the second of the trilogy of zombie flicks created by
George Romero before sequalitis and remake-tish crept in decades later
There are other scores to add to the list, but sadly all good things come to
an end. Goblin, as a group, disbanded, though Simonetti in
particular would continue to work as a film composer for future Argento films
and others. He would later form Demonia, which is still active as of this
A few other interesting Goblin facts:
When the film Martin (titled Wampyr in Europe) and Patrick appeared in North
America, the film scores done by Donald Rubenstein and Brian May,
respectively, were the ones heard in the film. European distributors, however,
thought the music in both cases too bland and jired Goblin to redo the scores.
Thus in the European versions of these movies, there are entirely different
soundtracks. The former film deals with a young boy who believes himself
to be a vampire and as such, stalks people, then cuts their wrists to drink
their blood before an elderly cousin who believes the kid to be a true
nosferatu not just some crazed lunatic, drives a stake through his
heart. The latter film deals with a young man in a coma, who magically
develops psychic powers, with deadly results at the end.
When Deep Red hit the big screen in Europe, the soundtrack album that followed
was at the top of the charts in Italy for over 12 weeks.
On the English language DVD release of Tenebrae, both Argento and Simonetti,
who were doing commentary, were horrified to hear without their consent or
knowledge, the original end score for the film was replaced with some horrible
pop song. The two were not flattering in their comments and presumedly
complaints were so loud an alternative clip was also provided with the
original score intact.
Goblin's logo has always been a small devil playing on a violin. The logo was
taken from an old painting from the middle ages though the group itself
evidently did not know the story behind it. The story evolves around The Devil
& Tartini, where supposedly a demon appeared at the foot of the bed where
this composer was sleeping, playing a fiddle and convincing him how
great he could be with this instrument...if of course...he would sell his
While no one can be sure whether the people of Goblin ever made such a deal
with the devil, their lasting popularity (there are several CDs with reissues
of their scores and several websites in tribute to the band still existing) is