Fulciuary: Murder Rock (1984)

Hey folks, it’s Friday the 13th, and I’m sure lots of you are out there watching the remake of that eponymous film. I know I’ll be out there watching it as well, but will the curse of this infamous day strike down our collective expectations. We’ll have to see. After all, Friday the 13th is a day that is considered very unlucky. Some people say the myth stems back to that date back in 1307 when the French King Phillip rounded up the Knights Templar and had them all killed. Others say it is a combination of superstitions about Fridays and the number 13. Well, for whatever reason people always expect for tragedy to strike when the day rolls around, and so as the second week of Fulciuary rolls around how will the Godfather of Gore fare tonight when we look at a little piece of work called….

Murder Rock (1984) starring Olga Karlatos, Ray Lovelock, Claudio Casssinelli, and Cosimo Cineri. Directed by Lucio Fulci. 

Candice Norman (Karlatos) runs a master class in dancing at The Arts For Living Center where she trains the next generation of Broadway dancers. With auditions for a new production drawing near and only three spots for dancers, tension is running high among the students. When pretty young women from the class begin to turn up dead from a needle to the heart, suspicion is cast all around. 

When Candice has a dream about a handsome man coming to kill her, she begins to seek out his identity. She discovers him to be former actor and male model, George Webb, and soon the two become entangled in a love affair. Lt. Borges begins to investigate the crimes even as the bodies continue to be found. The detective finds himself with suspects all around, and as the competition dwindles, none of the students know if this will be their last dance. 

Film Facts

--The score for the film was provided by Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.

--Murder Rock is also known as Giallo a Disco, Murder Rock:Dancing Death, Slashdance, and The Demon is Loose

--While the exteriors were filmed in New York, all the interior shots were filmed at Incir de Paolis Studios in Lazio, Italy.

--Fulci fans will recognize Olga Karlatos from her role in Zombi 2

The Bug Speaks

This is a film I desperately wanted to work. From the opening dance number (that’s right Dance Number!) and the first strains of Keith Emerson’s 80’s synthy score, I was really hoping for something good. Sadly it just didn’t turn out that way. While I did not find the film as vile as much of the criticism that I’ve seen, it is surely not the work that defined Fuci as a horror giant. 

The first and most prominent problem with the picture is the lack of gore. The amount of blood on display in this film could fit into a thimble. Perhaps Fulci thought that taming his excess and pairing it with Flashdance would lead to commercial success. Whatever the reason, it just doesn’t work. With no gore to look forward to, a plodding narrative, and way more footage of dancing than necessary, there is good reason that this is not counted among Lucio’s better efforts. There is a fair amount of nudity in the film, but most of it is loaded into the first 30 minutes of the film, and then even that abandons us. 

One of the things that make the movie’s failure all the worse is the wasted opportunity. All of the acting is well done, and no one seems to stumble along. Olga Karlatos is central to the film, and she brings off the most complex mechanic in the film skillfully. Ray Lovelock is perfectly used, and he really fit the bill as suspect/male model. Lovelock has the air of a dashing rogue, and it’s only his performance that makes it believable that Candice would begin to date a man that she dreamed killed her. For my money, the real treat to see was Cosimo Cinieri as Lt. Borges. Cinieri began is career in 1973 when he was cast in the Italian crime drama 1973’s The Bloody Hands of the Law. I absolutely love the way his gruff detective comes off. There’s a scene were he smack around a witness, and combining Cinieri’s performance with over-enthusiastic sound effects, it is worth a good laugh or two. 

Murder Rock is one of Fulci’s slicker looking productions. It has a very clean, crisp look to the footage, and many of the shots are very well constructed. The film also has a bluish tinge to a lot of the shots, and while this is entirely overdone in films now, I liked it here. Surprisingly, the scenes with the dancing were very well filmed, and there is one number that is very similar to the iconic water dancing scene from Flashdance (and the girl dancing is pretty sexy as well, not Jennifer Beals sexy, but close) Fulci also restrained some of his cinematic shorthand this time, and I only counted a single tightly zoomed shot of eyes. All of this might have been to gain wider acceptance, but for my Lucio dollar, I prefer the normal gritty look with all of Fulci’s signature moves. 

The only thing that really works in this film is the story. As far as gialli go, it’s not the best, but it’s not the worst either. The story left me guessing, and until the reveal happened I really had no clue who the killer was. However, I am not really sure if the ending works or makes much sense. When you put all of these parts together, it makes for a very disappointing film. Where the film comes on strong, with acting and clean camera work, just can’t seem to offset the fact that this doesn’t really have that Fulci feel to it. This is one for Fulci completists, but anyone looking for the magic of Lucio’s gore fests should look elsewhere. 

Bug Rating


  1. This was a great review, but it makes me sad. I love Fulci, and I should be rushing about to see one I missed, but alas, not this one.

  2. Hey LB, glad to see someone else isn't reviewing a Friday the 13th movie for today. (I went for Black Friday, which is related—somehat).

    So, was this Fulci's tie-in with Fraggle Rock?

    I don't know, a Fulci film without much gore seems a bit like a Taratino movie without '70s film-reference. Just doesn't seem like a good idea.

  3. One of Fulci's worst films indeed, but (as you pointed out) one of his best "looking" films--if not thee best. The cinematography in this film is top notch--which just makes the fact that film is a dud, even more sad.

  4. Oh, by the way, LB, I've officially changed my blog from it's old "Blog of the Realm" name to "The Realm of Ryan" so I can use my personal domain name,, for the blog. All the old links still work, so nothing's really changed. I just wanted the domain name to point to the blog, so I've "re-branded" and got rid of "The Blog of the Realm" name.

  5. I'm rather fond of this one, I have to admit, although I really can't explain the reason why.
    Perhaps - subconsciously - I always wanted to see a lite version of New York Ripper with added aerobics.


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