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The Italian cult horror film that was inspired by The Beatles

The cultural phenomenon that was kickstarted by The Beatles affected various domains of art and society, including cinema. The artistic sensibilities championed by the band were sources of inspiration for many filmmakers while the Beatles were influenced by great works of cinema on multiple occasions which shaped their own work.

John Lennon famously cited the works of Alejandro Jodorowsky and Federico Fellini as his personal favourites. In fact, Lennon even asked his manager to provide $1 million in funding to Jodorowsky for his next project because he wanted to support the pioneering director. On the other hand, Fellini was determined to cast The Beatles alongside Brigitte Bardot in Satyricon – a unique film that Lennon compared to the band’s tours.

Over the years, many films like I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Nowhere Boy have dealt directly with the impact and the cultural significance of the band. Parallel to these, many composers have also engineered film scores in accordance with the musical compositions of the Beatles even though the films themselves had nothing to do with the band.

One such film was the 1979 Italian cult horror film Zombie Flesh Eaters which is also known as Zombi 2. Directed by one of the most respected Italian filmmakers in the horror genre – Lucio Fulci, Zombi 2 was conceptualised as a sequel to the extremely famous horror classic that is George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.

Zombi 2 revolved around a strange Caribbean island where dead people are brought back to life because of a voodoo curse. While the music of the Beatles does not seem to be the right fit for a horror film like this, composer Fabio Frizzi (Fulci’s frequent collaborator) was heavily inspired by the Beatles’ song  ‘A Day in the Life’.

According to the composer, horror films are all about subverting the expectations of the audience and this was the perfect subversion. ‘Seq. 6’ – the track that accompanied the famous eye-gouging scene in the film – was directly inspired by ‘A Day in the Life’ while other portions of the score had Caribbean musical influences which were meant to “pleasantly deceive” the viewers.

In a later interview, Fulci revealed that he knew the film was going to be a classic as soon as he wrapped up: “When we finished shooting Zombi 2, I said we had just made a horror film classic, without knowing it, and, to some extent, having fun like a circle of friends. I say that in reaction to those who think a film can’t be successful if it is not made under some tension.”

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