PAGANINI HORROR (1989) Reviews and overview

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Severin Films released Paganini Horror in North America as a 2-disc set that includes the CD soundtrack score by Vince Tempera on October 29th 2019. Special features:

Play It Again Paganini: Interview with Director Luigi Cozzi
The Devil’s Music: Interview with Actor Pietro Genuardi
Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending
CD Soundtrack Score by Vince Tempera

Here’s our previous coverage of the movie:

Paganini Horror is a 1989 Italian supernatural horror feature film about a female rock band that inadvertently sell their souls to the Devil.

Directed by Luigi Cozzi (The Black Cat, 1989; Vampire in Venice; Contamination; Starcrash; The Killer Must Kill Again) from a screenplay co-written with Daria Nicolodi (Suspiria; Deep Red) who also stars, based on a storyline by Raimondo Del Balzo, the Fulvia Film production also features Jasmine Maimone (Demons), Pascal Persiano, Maria Cristina Mastrangeli and Michel Klippstein. Donald Pleasence has a cameo role.


An all-girl rock group heads to a remote villa for a music video shoot, they are in desperate need of a hit single and purchase sheet music from the mysterious Mr Pickett (Donald Pleasence).

They are told the music is a lost piece by the legendary violinist, Niccolò Paganini, and see this as their ticket to the top of the charts.

Little do they know, that this music is cursed and that they have just unleashed hell upon themselves. Soon, the spirit of Paganini is roaming the villa, armed with a murderous violin, and picking off the fame-hungry band members one by one… (88 Films synopsis)


“Cozzi […] uses the chance to give the film a garish, primary color paint job; even Argento would probably tell him to ease up on the blue. But by the very nature of its plastic meets puss creepshow, Cozzi eschews the more nihilistic viewpoint of a fair bit of Italian horror in favor of a kaleidoscopic, devilish good time.” Daily Dead

“It’s attractively shot, Paganini has a violin with a knife that shoots out of it, there are a couple of gnarly kills, everybody’s running around in silly costumes, the music is upbeat and catchy – including a couple, full-blown pop-rock performances – and they’ve got some great location photography.  On the other hand, the whole production is clearly low budget, and set pieces often look very cheap…” DVD Exotica

” …there are some “so bad it’s good” elements to keep everyone entertained. The haunted house locale (complete with an underground tunnel to another dimension) is fun and there’s a couple of scenes of nice gore. The acting is atrocious but in an enjoyable sort of way. Donald Pleasance is in about a minute and a half of this with an inexplicably (poorly) dubbed voice.” Letterboxd

” …absolutely delivers the entertaining goods if you’re in the right frame of mind. Outrageous music video performances? Yep, you get a couple of those. Nicolodi and Pleasence spouting out ridiculous dialogue with Shakespearean gusto? Definitely. Lots of super-saturated colorful lighting and random graffiti (“E=MC2?”) to distract from the lack of budget? You bet.” Mondo Digital

” …it’s just brainless entertainment, it has some gore – not to much though – and this crazy idea with Paganini walking around killing people with a sword stuck into his violin! I guess the concept is that he sold his soul to the devil or something similar.” Ninja Dixon

While there are some interesting camera angles and nifty colored lighting effects, it’s not enough to save the movie. A few moderately icky gore set pieces make the film mildly interesting from that standpoint, but again, it’s not enough. The story meanders and ends up nowhere interesting and the dialogue is absolutely horrible…” Rock! Shock! Pop!

“{Luigi Cozzi] strives for the same wilfully irrational dislocation of time and space that characterised Inferno (1980) and The Beyond (1980), but robbed of a strong guiding vision events lapse into the incoherent or else just plain inept. Things just, sort of, happen. Kate falls through a hole into hell. Marc burns to death. Eleanor morphs into a melting mutant (still clad in figure-hugging spandex).” The Spinning Image

“Though the Evil Dead-ish idea suggests similar fun, practically nothing worth retaining ever occurs. The pace, acting, gore, and dialog are miserable, while anything relating to logic is all but neglected.” David Andreas, Splatter Critic

” …the film turns into one of those standard “hysterical girls wandering around a house scaring themselves” movies so popular at the time. But still, in all, the Nicolodi influence on the script becomes apparent, as a major plot point revolves around the correlation between higher mathematics, music and the fabric of existence as manipulated by magick…” Third Eye Cinema

Choice dialogue:

“We can use the title ‘Paganini Horror’, it’s gonna be fantastic, sensational. I can see it. People are gonna love the music. No-one has ever done anything remotely like it before, except for Michael Jackson with ‘Thriller’ and his fantastic video clip!”


In the UK, “88 Films are proud to present this bonkers slice of Italian cult cinema, a camp classic in the making, ripe for re-discovery and destined to be your new favourite worst movie, now even more outrageous thanks to this rocking 2K restoration.”

  • Limited Edition Gloss O-Card slipcase [First Print Run Only]
  • Limited Edition Extensive Booklet Notes by filmmaker Eugenio Ercolani [First Print Run Only]
  • Brand New 2K Remaster from The Original 16mm Negative in 1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
  • Extensive Cleanup and Colour Correction Carried out in the UK
  • Remastered Uncompressed English Audio
  • Optional English SDH Subtitles
  • Remastered Uncompressed Italian Audio with Newly Translated Subtitles
  • Audio Commentary by Genre Expert Troy Howarth
  • Bloody Violin: Director Luigi Cozzi on Paganini Horror (31 minutes)
  • Interview with Actor Pietro Genuardi (26 minutes)
  • Remastered Trailer
  • Reversible Sleeve with Italian Poster Design

Cast and characters:

Daria Nicolodi … Sylvia Hackett
Jasmine Maimone … Kate (as Jasmine Main)
Pascal Persiano … Daniel
Maria Cristina Mastrangeli … Lavinia
Michel Klippstein … Elena
Pietro Genuardi … Mark Singer
Luana Ravegnini … Rita
Roberto Giannini
Giada Cozzi … Sylvia as a child
Elena Pompei … Sylvia’s mother
Perla Costantini
Donald Pleasence … Mr Pickett

Technical details:

82 minutes
Audio: Mono

Watch the trailer on YouTube

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