Stylized Giallo Winks At Fulci

Nightmare Symphony is yet another “modern” giallo looking towards the genre with a backwards glance at giants like Lucio Fulci, including a score which easily could have fit the 1980s. Co-directors Domiziano Cristopharo and Daniele Trani work from a screenplay by Antonio Tentori, taking inspiration from Fulci’s own A Cat in the Brain.

Nightmare Symphony is a stylish homage to the genre and Fulci with several fun scenes, despite budgetary limitations and maybe the strangest car chase ever filmed. It’s not a classic but a new giallo steeped in the genre’s history, backed with a stout cast and filmmakers who understand what makes a giallo tick.

Nightmare Symphony isn’t the first film to exploit the movie-within-a-movie dichotomy for lurid effect

The sadistic storyline is a clever take on the art of filmmaking and the director’s struggle. Most famous as the director for 1981’s Fear No Evil, Frank LaLoggia plays a fictional version of himself in Nightmare Symphony’s starring role. He’s an American director working in Italy on a horror film called A Peacock’s Tale.

The line between the movie and reality blur when a mysterious killer wearing an outrageous peacock mask begins murdering people close to the production. Frank’s visit to Italy descends into a maelstrom of gruesome deaths as he nears the film’s completion. His journey is a sly deconstruction of struggles in the filmmaking process from the director’s perspective. From demanding producers to girlfriends wanting a role, the metaphor is punctuated with gore and creative visuals.

Nightmare Symphony isn’t the first film to exploit the movie-within-a-movie dichotomy for lurid effect. The gore and kills are relatively slick, almost artistic in disposition and approach. It is not mindless giallo fodder made on a whim. Stylish visuals and the classic giallo-sounding music combine for an arty atmosphere. However, some scenes don’t particularly work, becoming tedious and even pretentious. Running only 80 minutes, the opening act begins with a mostly useless intro for Frank which easily could have been rewritten or cut.

Paranoid tension and unnerving suspense underlie Frank’s dark adventures finishing his film, all culminating in a spectacular finale. Nightmarish and often surreal, everything vividly pulls together making Nightmare Symphony worth a look. There may be a few hiccups along the way but veteran giallo watchers will find something worth their time and money in the stylish slasher.


The 2.35:1 presentation offers pleasant but mostly flat video clearly made with modern digital cameras. The clean, almost sterile imagery contains interesting homages to classic giallo scenarios but otherwise appears uninspired. Reel Gore Releasing encodes the 81-minute main feature on a BD-25 in crisp, efficient AVC. No technical issues in the transfer or encode are present.

Picture quality is a little inconsistent, possibly a byproduct of having two directors and a limited budget. Detail ranges from vivid and refined in spots to murky shots boasting muddier definition. The opening scenes on the train are bright and mildly washed out. Black levels are serviceable with excellent shadow delineation, looking sharp in the gorier moments.


The movie’s textured audio is a mixture of Italian and some English dialogue, heard here in 2.0 DTS-HD MA quality. Antony Coia provides a dated but lucid retro soundtrack perfectly suited for a giallo, outfitted with legendary composer Fabio Frizzi’s original theme. Nightmare Symphony embraces the genre’s past with its sonic signature.

There’s a driving force behind the music which fits the gory visuals and art-house set pieces. Dialogue is clean and intelligible, though the energetic soundtrack steals the show with a loud stereo mix which can become overbearing. Dynamics are mildly limited as a result with underwhelming bass.

Optional English SDH and Swedish subtitles play in a white font inside the widescreen 2.35:1 projection.


Nightmare Symphony is from Reel Gore Releasing, the new Blu-ray label under the auspices of horror retailer DiabolikDVD. The Blu-ray is coded for all regions. A limited edition of 1000 units available on DiabolikDVD’s website includes a slipcover and a Reel Gore collector’s card. The general retail release arrives in a red case.

A competing Italian release includes a director’s commentary and slightly more bonus material.

Behind The Scenes Bloopers (08:42 in HD)

Interview With Director Domiziano Christopharo (13:48 in HD) – Exclusive to this Reel Gore Releasing disc.

Interview With Screenwriter Antonio Tentori (06:15 in HD) – The Italian actor who does appear in the film also came up with its screenplay.

Nightmare Symphony Original Soundtrack (42:30 in HD; 2.0 DTS-HD MA) – You don’t see this very often anymore, the complete retro soundtrack from Antony Coia is available with 14 different track selections.

Teaser (01:21 in HD)

Trailer (01:47 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

Nightmare Symphony
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


Less a symphony than a stylishly clever mess, the surreal slasher is a hit-or-miss modern giallo with nods to Lucio Fulci

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 47 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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