I can't remember which summer it was, but it was decades ago and I was lying by a swimming pool, leafing through my mother's copy of the Daily Mail. I turned the inky pages and there it was: 'Video Nasties: how sick video tapes are warping young minds'. It told of the phenomenon of unregulated films suddenly widely available in myriad video shops that sprung from nowhere, accompanied by lurid images from said movies: SS Experiment Camp, Nightmares in a Damaged Brain, Zombie Flesh-Eaters. These pictures seared into my imagination, and as the good people at the Mail had kindly provided a full 'banned list' of the DPP's forbidden films, I knew exactly what to go after. I set about attempting to collect them all, bartering with shady dealers in seedy video shops, trading on the black market via 'wants lists' in video magazines. I got a part-time job in a rental outlet to feed my nefarious addiction, getting first dibs on whatever salacious cassettes had been removed from the shelves. Yet as my collection steadily grew, no film matched the maelstrom in my imagination sparked by those grainy black-and-white images in the Mail.
As my parents owned no video recorder, I spent months saving in order to rent one for a week at a time, delivered to the house by a certain Mr Allcock. As I had to conceal the contents of my obsession, I'd rise at 6.30 in the morning to watch The Evil Dead, sure of my thrills before anyone else awoke. Other times I'd cycle around the village calling on any friend with a video, a nasty in the rucksack on the back of my bike, hoping to find someone whose parents were out so the curtains could be drawn and the horror begin. Sometimes they'd come back unexpectedly and I'd have to make a quick getaway, the cassette still warm in my hands. Other times the coast would be clear for a few hours and we'd settle down to a marathon of depravity, feasting on Zombie Creeping Flesh, Tenebrae, Gestapo's Last Orgy, The House by the Cemetery. Needless to say, none of our minds were corrupted, it was simply a few hours' trip into a world less ordinary, made all the more alluring by the fact we were tasting forbidden fruit.
Oftentimes my sole viewing companion was my brother, George. Always a fan of the zombie film, we'd settle down, perhaps after a round of Horror Top Trumps, to indulge in the likes of The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue. One of the main attractions of these type of movies is their often superlative scores, commonly composed by such Italian luminaries as Goblin, Riz Ortolani and Fabio Frizzi. Already a keen practitioner of the piano, these incredible soundtracks obviously seeped into my brother's musical subconscious and years later have found new form in these incendiary recordings. But more than mere pastiche of past glories, George has injected his own particular dynamism and genius for arrangement into the mix to create something altogether more compelling, music that nods to the gems of the past while looking to the sounds of a whole new future. So enjoy these evocations of perhaps, paradoxically, more innocent times, and revel in the knowledge that young minds can indeed be warped so wondrously.
Dalla Tomba is due for release in 2019