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Funky synth gets an anti-war makeover for Antonio Margheriti's "The Last Hunter"

Franco Micalizzi-'L'Ultimo Cacciatore'

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It wouldn't prove too much of a stretch to the imagination for most cult film fans to list Germany's Chris' Soundtrack Corner among the very best of film score labels currently making the rounds.

Cover art for "The Last Hunter" soundtrack
Cover art for "The Last Hunter" soundtrackChris Soundtrack Corner

The label's bullet-proof reputation has been bolstered as of late with the release of four highly anticipated Italian soundtracks, the first of which is Roman composer Franco Micalizzi's score to the 1980 Antonio Margheriti film, The Last Hunter. Margheriti's film-for which the director was credited under his usual Anglicized pseudonym of "Anthony M. Dawson"-was originally titled to cash in upon the success of Michael Cimino's 1978 war/drama The Deer Hunter as an "unofficial sequel," yet also blends with it the atmosphere and intrigue found within Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now masterpiece a year prior in '79.

The Italian film industry-as it was often want to do during its heyday-delivered these cinematic "homages" quick, and often with a fraction of the budget afforded to their Stateside contemporaries, yet there exists a indescribable, unique charm to these productions which has earned films such as The Last Hunter a passionate and dedicated worldwide fanbase. Micalizzi's score presents an equal amount of charm here, as well, capitalizing upon the composer and conductor's influential work within the Italian police films which populated the mid-to-late 1970s.

The maestro's score presents a musical palette which is clearly inspired by the crime score work of American composers Lalo Schifrin and Don Ellis, yet tempered with a heavy synth presence which keeps The Last Hunter checked firmly in between the urban sprawl and the hellish, humid jungle. Funky drums, soulful guitar and thick basslines drive the soundtrack's central themes home with the addition of catchy, memorable melodies, while the score's overall tone is dramatic and tense, yet never stuffy, balancing perfectly a measure between sparse thriller cues and pumped-up action.

Micalizzi's score here for The Last Hunter sounds as if it could feel at home within a film like Shaft or Dirty Harry, yet it's this off-centered feeling which ultimately endears the music to its Vietnam War setting, rather than setting it apart. It's as if Micalizzi is indeed attempting to fit a square peg in a round hole, with the end results working in spite of themselves, while also serving as one of the most enjoyable Italian soundtrack discoveries in recent memory.

Accolades should indeed be laid at the feet of Chris' Soundtrack Corner, then, not only for releasing Franco Micalizzi's score for L'Ultimo Cacciatore in its full, restored glory, but for the additional care and attention to detail paid to the indulgent liner notes, fantastic cover art and crystal clear sound. The label's hard work here offers further credence to their position as a leader of the soundtrack reissue pack.

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