Paganini Horror (1989)

Luigi Cozzi, welcome back to B & S About Movies! We’re so happy to have you back and so pleased that you’ve gifted us with movies like Hercules and Starcrash. I’m so pleased with the magic that you’ve brought us today, a near last gasp of Italian horror at the tail end of the 80’s.

At La Casa di Sol, an ancient Venezian home of various composers, a young violinist (Cozzi’s daughter Giada) practices a Paganini song before she then decides to electrocutes her mother by throwing a hair dryer into the bathtub. We haven’t even started the movie yet and it’s already deranged!

A female rock band is told by their manager that they should find a new song. The drummer travels to a secluded location to meet Mr. Pickett (Donald Pleasence!) to buy an unpublished score by Paganini called “Paganini Horror.” The manager, the drummer and lead singer Kate (Jasmine Maimone, Nancy from Demons) agree to record the song and head to La Casa di Sol to make a music video with horror director Mark Singer (Pietro Genuardi, Cemetery Man).

So who owns La Casa? Sylvia (Daria Nicolodi, who beyond writing and appearing in this, wrote Suspiria), who is the young girl from the beginning all grown up.

Oh man, this movie. From the fungus found on the logs used to make Stradivarius violins killing people to invisible walls wiping out most of the audience, this movie is bonkers in the best of ways. There’s also Paganini himself, stabbing people and sealing them up in giant bass cases before setting them on fire, before daylight streams through the window and turns him into ash in the shape of a treble clef.

In the original cut, which was eight minutes longer with scenes of planets, galaxies and parallel dimensions that were supposed to give the movie a stronger science fiction touch, as well as a scene in which Pleasence’s character put on Paganini’s mask and clothes. Cozzi cut these scenes as producer Fabrizio De Angelis wanted a simpler horror movie.

The rules of why people are trapped in the house and whether or not its Hell are never really explained, but this is Italian cinema. There’s going to be plenty of bright red blood, lots of screaming, some 1980’s looking music video scenes and a masked Pleasence stabbing people. It’s a funhouse ride that is well worth taking.

You can get this on blu ray from the awesome people at Severin. I’ve only had a bootleg of this film for years, so I’m happy to finally add it to my collection.

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