An orgy of ’70s Italian horror and vintage audio

Featured, Industry News — By on December 31, 2012 08:54

I tuned into last Friday afternoon’s film review show on BBC 5 Live just as co-hosts Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode were listing the latter’s favourite 12 films of the year. Having “wrestled, and wrestled, and wrestled” to separate his top two, Dr. Kermode (he’s a Visiting Fellow at the University of Southampton) finally gave up and awarded top spot jointly to ‘A Royal Affair’, starring Mads Mikkelson (best-known to most of us as Le Chiffre in ‘Casino Royale’), and ‘Berberian Sound Studio’ starring Toby Jones, who we saw on TV in the UK over Christmas, under 4 hours-worth of makeup, as Alfred Hitchcock in ‘The Girl’.

‘A Royal Affair’ is a lavish period drama from Denmark, full of illicit romance and political intrigue, while ‘Berberian Sound Studio’, set in the 1970s, is the story of a Gilderoy (Toby Jones), a down-on-his-luck British sound recordist, who lands a job creating and overdubbing sound effects for a Z-list Italian horror film, and ends up wishing he hadn’t. The reviews suggest Peter Strickland’s singularly odd, claustrophobic psychological thriller owes a lot to the work of David Lynch and Roman Polanski.

The Italian slasher movie Gilderoy’s working on, “The Equestrian Vortex”, is described as “a blood-soaked orgy of torture and misogyny” about “revenant witches haunting a riding school” (that’s by Jonathan Romney in The Independent). ‘Berberian Sound Studio’ itself is an orgy of analogue recording and mixing hardware. Gilderoy becomes completely wrapped up in the job of capturing creepy atmos and gruesome sounds of human atrocity – a lot of which seems to involve stabbing, slashing and pulping pieces of fruit – then over-dubbing the audio in the studio, using original, vintage equipment. Toby Jones immersed himself in the technology and got into the mindset of the obsessive sound man by spending tim with the film’s own sound recordist, Steve Haywood.

For more detail on the film, click here to read the production notes.

‘Berberian Sound Studio’ is released on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK today, Monday 31 December, when it also pops up on-demand on cable and satellite.

 

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