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Music / Riz Ortolani

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Riziero "Riz" Ortolani (25 March 1926 - 23 January 2014) was a prolific Italian composer, conductor, and orchestrator, responsible for scoring over 200 films over the course of his long and successful career. Although he is best known for his work in horror and exploitation films, Ortolani's credits were actually quite eclectic, and in his day he was considered a serious competitor to the likes of Ennio Morricone.

Some of Ortolani's film scores include:

This composer provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: Ortolani's score to There Was a Little Girl incorporates melodies from various nursery rhymes, tying in to the film's themes of childhood trauma and the juxtaposition of innocence and evil.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Ortolani was a master of this trope.
    • In Mondo Cane, the most outrageous moments are often accompanied by music that sounds like it could have been the backing track to a contemporary pop ballad. Indeed, the main theme became the basis for "More", a contemporary pop ballad which was a hit in 1963.
    • His scores for Africa Addio and Goodbye Uncle Tom often feature sad, flowing melodies playing over scenes such as those depicting the aftermaths of violent massacres or slaves being mistreated in pre-Civil War America.
    • Ortolani would employ this method, to terrifying effect, on Cannibal Holocaust. Most notably, the lead motif is disturbingly serene and cheerful, and is played during the burning of the Yacumo village.
  • Typecasting: Although Ortolani worked in many genres, his association with Mondo Cane and its sequels often meant he got selected for horror and exploitation films, much to the chagrin of many reviewers, who often lamented how he was being remembered primarily for his work on disreputable films like Cannibal Holocaust and Goodbye Uncle Tom despite his abundant and varied résumé.
  • With Lyrics: The theme music from Mondo Cane attracted so much attention that it acquired lyrics and, under the title "More," became a standard.