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Goblin - A Profile

by Dale Pierce

August 2005

For films with Goblin-scores
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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, USA.

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 writing.

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 soul.

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 undeniable.



© by Dale Pierce

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


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