LOST BOYS. (31 YEARS ON).

 

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LOST BOYS was released in 1987, directed by Joel Schumacher, this horror comedy soon established itself amongst audiences old and young as an enjoyable romp which had sinister undertones. One of the film’s most noticeable attributes was its soundtrack, this was a combination of both score by composer Thomas Newman and a collection of rock orientated songs. The score by Newman has sadly never been given an official release although it is rumoured there was a 2 CD set doing the rounds a while back, but unofficial so as far as most serious collectors and fans of the composer was a big negative. One cue was released from the score on the soundtrack compact disc which was released a time of the film being in theatres.

 

 

But, it was rather an odd track that made it to the recording, it being a fairground sounding piece entitled , TO THE SHOCK OF MISS LOUISE, I cannot pretend that I was not disappointed when hearing this particular selection on the album, but, I also have to say that LOST BOYS the song soundtrack is one of the most played song scores in my collection and LOST BOYS is a perfect example of songs and score working well together for the movie, complimenting and augmenting each other. The film is fast paced and focuses upon two Brothers, Michael and Sam Emerson who are basically dragged away from their home by their Mother, Lucy after a messy divorce to settle in the small town of Santa Carla which is on the California coast. She chooses Santa Carla because her somewhat senile (or so he likes people to think) Father lives there. The town looks like a normal beach side town, but there is a history of people going missing and missing posters etc are scattered everywhere.

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The audience is alerted to the fact that all is not well right from the off, when the song PEOPLE ARE STRANGE plays over the films opening credits, but you know what it’s like the main characters seem clueless to the danger. Both Michael who is the older sibling and his Brother Sam begin to frequent the boardwalk, the former becoming infatuated with a local girl who’s name is Star, whilst his Mother gets a job at a video store that is run by a well known and respected bachelor Max. Michael is disappointed as he finds out that Star seems to be with a local motor bike gang leader David (Keffer Sutherland). Sam meets up with two local brothers, Edgar and Alan Frog who are experts on comic magazines and give Sam copies of certain comics to acquaint him with Vampires, who they then tell him have become a problem in Santa Carla. They also inform him that they are Vampire Hunters, which is something of a surprise to Sam. Michael won’t give up on trying to get to know Star and is caught talking to her by David who throws down a challenge to Michael to follow them on his motor bike if he dares. Michael chases the gang along a beach, but a mist descends, and he cannot see where he is going almost going over the edge of a cliff only managing to stop when he hears the sea crashing on the rocks below.

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It is not long before Michael is taken to the gang’s secret hideaway which is the remnants of an old hotel which lies under the cliff. David offers Michael a drink from a bottle, Star pleads with Michael not to drink from the bottle telling him it is blood, but Michael does not believe her and drinks the liquid in the bottle, thus being initiated into the gang. Later In the evening the gang with Michael in tow head along the beach to a bridge, where they all hang from and one by one they drop into the darkness, Michael falling after them. The next day Michael wakes up at home but can’t remember the events of the night before or how he got home. He becomes sensitive to sunlight and suddenly craves blood. He attacks his Brother but is himself attacked by the family dog, who saves Sam from Michael’s blood lust. It soon becomes apparent that Michael is not a full vampire and is kind of in limbo between being human and the undead. Michael asks Sam for help as his transformation to a fully-fledged vampire won’t be long coming as he has already begun to develop supernatural powers.

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But, Sam concludes that he may still be able to save his brother from becoming a blood sucker as he has not actualy killed anyone. Sam enlists the help of the Frog brothers who tell him Michael can be saved but only if the head vampire is killed. The two vampire hunters devise a way of finding the head vampire as they think it is Max from the video store, Max goes to dinner with Lucy and the boys are there and they give Max garlic. But he passes the test and feels no ill effects from it. So, the three boys turn their attention to David, Meanwhile David entices Michael to the beach where the gang embark on a blood-filled fest as they attack and feed on members of a rival gang who are having a beach party. But Michael is disgusted at the sight and makes his escape, He meets up with Star who tells him she is too a half human half vampire, and has not killed, in fact David had intended Michael to be Star’s first victim and once she had killed him she would become a vampire. Michael begins to weaken and is fast fading but manages to lead Sam and the Frog brothers to the Vampires hideaway under the cliffs. They try to stake the vampire gang who are sleeping but are awoken by the clumsiness of the Frog boys, however they do manage to stake one of the vampires and make their escape being pursued by David who has to retreat because of the sunlight. This is a tense and highly volatile and at the same time comedic sequence within the movie, and one of its many stand out sections. The Frog brothers, Sam and Michael make their getaway with Star and a half vampire child named Laddie. The six of them make their way to Sam’s house and along with the family dog barricade themselves in armed with a longbow, stakes and holy water which is in water guns.

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As night falls the gang attack and get into the house, Their Mother is out on a date with Max and their Grandfather is also out for the evening. The Frog brothers and the dog take care of one of the vampires by pushing him into a bath filled with garlic water his flesh melting from his bones as he plunges into the bath. Then Sam kills another gang member with a longbow and arrow, the arrow passing through the vampire into a stereo and electrocuting him. Michael takes on David and is forced to use what powers he has, in the end he impales David on a set of antlers and kills him. But, the half vampires remain the same. So, David was not the head vampire, Lucy returns home with Max who reveals himself as the head vampire. A tense stand off ensues and Max moves to attack Lucy but is stopped by a jeep that crashes through the building, hitting Max and impaling him on a wooden fence, as the vampire expires Star, Michael and Laddie return to normal. The house is wrecked, it is chaos and carnage, but the grandfather manages to find a can in the fridge and as he opens it and says, ONE THING ABOUT LIVING IN SANTA CARLA I NEVER COULD STOMACH, ALL THE DAMN VAMPIRES.

 

 

LOST BOYS is an iconic movie and is held in high esteem by many lovers of horror movies worldwide. As I have said it is such a shame that the score for the movie has never been released, but maybe soon that might change, who knows. It is a worthy contender for a release but until then I suppose we will have to make do with the soundtrack compact disc that has been around for a few years now, which is all songs save one cue.

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The soundtrack album as we all know it is a varied collection of rock songs and includes DON’T LET THE SUN GO DOWN performed by Roger Daltrey, it is without any doubt in my opinion that the most effective song on the soundtrack is CRY LITTLE SISTER. By Gerard Mc Mann it sets the mood and the atmosphere perfectly, it is dark and sinister and conjures up a richly fearsome and otherworldly ambience. Other cues that are noteworthy include, PEOPLE ARE STRANGE, ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, GOOD TIMES, INXS/JIMMY BARNES, LOST IN THE SHADOWS, LOU GRAMM, and I STILL BELIEVE, Tim Cappello. But saying this all the cues are effective within the movie and also make for an entertaining listen away from the movie.  The film spawned sequels, but to be honest they were not a patch on the original. Its hard to believe it was so many years ago that the movie first hit the cinema screens, and is deserved of the status it has achieved.

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LES AVENTURES DE SPIROU ET FANTASIO.

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Composer Eric Neveux has been responsible for numerous wonderful film scores over the last few years. His score for IL ETAIT DE FORET still haunts me, in a nice way of course. He also wrote some outstanding music for the movies HIDEAWAYS, RICHARD THE STORK, ZOMBILLENIUM, CEZANNE ET MOI, as well as composing for TV on series such as BORGIA seasons 1,2 and 3, UN VILLAGE FRANCAIS, DIGNITY and FLIGHT OF THE STORKS. To say that Maestro Neveux is talented and innovative is certainly a vast understatement. One of his scores that has been released recently is LES AVENTURES DE SPIROU ET FANTASIO. Right from the word go this is a score that delights and entertains, it is a soundtrack that I feel is written in a retro style and evokes the themes and sounds of the 1960’s and 1970’s when films had themes that the watching audience could pick up on and maybe even leave the cinema humming or whistling them. The work for me evokes the quirkiness of composers such as Michel Magne and Francois De Roubaix whilst at the same time evoking the jazz sounds as displayed by composers such as Lalo Schifrin when he worked on series such as MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and Jerry Goldsmith when he worked on the FLINT films. It also contains some very original orchestration along the way and the composer makes effective use of both symphonic and synthetic mediums. I love the way he utilises organ and husky sounding woods, which are underlined and supported by percussive elements, the composer marvellously creates a sense of tension, apprehension and incorporates a style and sound that remains rhythmic and upbeat throughout.
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I am a sucker for big bold upbeat themes that fuse big band sounds with that of driving symphonic performances and we have enough of these in this score to keep everyone happy. Maybe I should not compare the music of this talented composer with that of others, but I am just attempting to relay to you what sort of sound he has managed to achieve here. Every cue is a delight, each track is entertaining, and every note is a joy. Just when you think it cannot get any better, it suddenly does, it is one of those scores that just keeps delighting the listener. It is light, it is melodic and highly thematic, which for me is a perfect film score, because it manages all of this and works well with the movie too. This is a work I cannot recommend enough, it is grand and robust, lilting and beautiful as well as being powerful and superbly enriching.  All I can say is more please, and maybe Eric Neveux for the next Bond movie, now theres a thought. If you thought Brian Tyler’s end theme music for IRON MAN was cool, then boy are you in for treat with this score.

THE BLIND DEAD.

 

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Directed by Spanish filmmaker Amando de Ossorio, TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD is probably the film that the majority of film buffs associate with he director. The production is now regarded as a classic and I have to say I agree with the film having the iconic and cult status it has been given. Before directing the movie De Ossario had already made several westerns that did not make much of an impression on cinema goers and critics alike. He also directed the offbeat and quite bizarre Vampire movie MALENKA in 1969. But he certainly placed his own style and individual fingerprint upon the horror genre when he embarked on his series of movies that were in the BLIND DEAD cycle of films.

 

The first of which was TOMB OF THE BLIND DEAD, and had three sequels RETURN OF THE EVIL DEAD, THE GHOST GALLEON and NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS. All the movies focus on a group of undead Templar Knights who had been put to death because of their wicked practices and worship of Satan. These eyeless and fearsome Knights rise from the dead to seek out the living and drink their blood, but because of their eyes being eaten by crows as they were left hanging after being killed they have to rely upon sounds to track down and capture their human prey.

 

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The Templers rise from the dead and appear as skeleton like figures shrouded in dirt encrusted robes riding fearsome looking steeds which are too skeletal in appearance. The films storyline is somewhat thin and un-complicated but because of the way in which De Ossorio handles the direction it is also an incredibly effective and atmospheric movie, the director creating some of the most haunting and fearful imagery seen in a horror movie. Yes, the film has its flaws and also has moments that can get a few unintentional laughs, but on the whole.

 

 

The scenario of the Templers being blind and having to rely on the sound of their victims to track them is an ingenious element of the storyline and also somewhat unfortunate for the human characters who seem to purposely go about their day and night making enough noise to (excuse the pun) wake the dead. Also, they do get into a bit of an uncontrollable state and often become hysterical and loud thus sealing their own fate. However, after they begin to realise that it is their sounds that the Templers are picking up on they begin to be silent but even this does not help them as the undead can apparently hear the beating of a human heart.

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The musical score is by highly respected Spanish composer, Anton Garcia Abril, who provided the movie with a serviceable soundtrack and although not outstanding it works well with the images on screen. The composer employing a Gregorian chant sound that is punctuated with unnerving stabs and sounds, it is a fusion of instrumental and vocal performances with the composer often utilising screams and  percussive elements to enhance and support the storyline and build a taught and foreboding atmosphere. The opening credits music is heard at various stages throughout the movie or at least variations of the theme of sorts, and the sight of the Blind Dead accompanied by the apprehensive and unsettling sounds is most effective. It is a shame that the scores for the BLIND DEAD series were never released although there are examples and snippets from the soundtracks available on sites such as You Tube. Hopefully soon a record label in Spain will maybe attempt to restore the soundtracks and remedy this.  The composers music is I suppose quite modern sounding given the period in which it was created, and on taking a listen to it one can appreciate that Abril’s music, sounds and ideas have influenced many other horror film scores that have followed, THE OMEN  for example.   The film also contains a handful of sex scenes which to be quite honest are surplus to requirement and the director need not have bothered, as there is enough going on for the watching audience in the way of dusty corridors, blood letting and the impressively gruesome appearance of the undead Knights Templar. I think De Ossario inserted these as a kind of homage to Jess Franco or at least was trying to emulate the filmmaker. But, it is the effectively spine-chilling atmosphere and gruesome imagery that make this movie attractive to students of the horror genre. The director was also responsible for creating the make up for the Templers which is so effective and is really something that must have been conceived in a nightmare. The sight of the skeletal phantom like Knights riding their ghostlike horses filmed in slow motion is more than effective, it is resoundingly affecting also. Its not the greatest movie ever made, but it is a worthy addition to any ones Horror film collection. And why stop at just adding the first of the series to your collection, the second movie in the cycle, RETURN OF THE EVIL DEAD, which is loosely based upon George A Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, the plot revolving around the Zombie like Knights Templar who are looking for revenge on the village and its inhabitants that had 500 years before put them to death. The village celebrates the event annually and burn effigies of the Knights, but after they offer a sacrifice the Knights awaken and mount their terrifying steeds and converge upon the village murdering anyone and everything in their way.

 

The surviving villagers head to the deserted Cathedral where they try to keep the Knights at bay attempting to escape death at the hands of the sword wielding Zombie’s. Again, directed by De Ossario it is in my opinion slightly better made than its predecessor its plot being more interesting and containing more action, although it is not in sync with the storyline of the previous movie, the location of the village changing from Berzano to Bouzano for example, it remains entertaining. Music is again courtesy of Anton Garcia Abril.

TALKING FILMS AND MUSIC WITH COMPOSER GHIYA RUSHIDAT.

Ghiya Rushidat in my opinion is one of the rising stars within the film scoring fraternity, she has written some wonderfully lyrical music for the projects she has been involved with and has the ability to produce small intimate works as well as grand and lush scores. As well as being an accomplished pianist and composer she is also a film producer.  My thanks to Ghiya for answering my questions, and also thank you to Jason Drury for his help in contacting the composer.

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Can I begin by asking you, what do you think is the purpose of music in film?
Music is a subconscious form of feeding the audience with information, emotions, and thoughts. It makes them anticipate or get shocked by an event. It allows them to connect better with characters and their stories and triggers their emotions. Music excites you in a battle scene, it gets you on your toes when a thief is about to enter a house, it makes you cry when the hero dies, or makes you laugh even better when a character says or does something funny. The art of music (or silence, meaning when to use music and when not) can be very underrated. Imagine a horror film with horror music, and imagine the same horror film with comedy music, see what difference it makes here? One of my favourite quotes by Star Wars (1977) director, George Lucas, who said that “the sound and music are 50% of the entertainment in a movie”.

 

 
I understand that it was TITANIC that made you want to write music for films, was this also the first time that you realised that there was music in films?

The first time I was “aware” of the music was when I saw Little Mermaid at the age of 5. The score by Alan Menkin and the mermaid’s theme captivated me for years and I can STILL hum the melody although I have not watched the movie again since then.

 

Do you collect film soundtracks at all?

Yes, I do. I am a sucker for collecting soundtracks and physical albums. I have all music on my phone but still go old school for vinyl and CDs when it comes to film scores.
Do you come from a family background that was musical in any way?
Not at all! None of my family members (close or distant) has anything to do with music or even played an instrument. They all appreciate music and my mother even used to listen to Tchaikovsky and Mozart while pregnant with me. She used to sing to me all the time and I would play by ear whatever she sings and start improvising on it. So, I guess I am just born with it 🙂

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What musical education did you receive?
I have been classically trained as a concert pianist since the age of 12. I received my Bachelor’s degree from Jordan, my Licentiate LRSM from the Royal College of Music in UK, and my Diploma D’etude from France. I also received courses in musical theory, composition, and conducting from Trinity College in UK and a couple more courses here in the US and mentorship programs in Film Scoring.
TITANIC and James Horner had a big influence upon you, but are there any other composers either from film music or other genres of music that you would say have inspired and influenced you?
For sure, each composer has their imprint and their voice that inspires me. I listen to almost all composers and love their music and the way the convey emotions. I especially enjoy the music of Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman, Brian Tyler, Sarah Schachner, Pinar Toprak, Michael Giacchino, John Powell, Neal Acree, Rachel Portman, Alan Silvestri, and the MASTER John Williams. I can go forever with my list but I will stop here for now. What James Horner scores do you like the most and for what reasons? A Beautiful Mind cue of the Kaleidoscope and Avatar’s Jake’s First Flight are two tracks I always meditate to. They uplift me and my soul, the build-up is insane and makes me feel like I am soaring or having an out of body experience! I love his scores for almost anything, really!

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When you are working out your themes for a movie project, do you use piano and then develop them into orchestral pieces, or do you use a more technical method?

Being a pianist originally, I always start with the piano. It has all the harmonies I need to “visualize” the arrangement and orchestration. Do you think that many of the film scores today are lacking a central theme that the audience can identify with? Yes. I don’t really remember when I last left the movie theatre humming the movie’s theme.

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PEN OF MIRRORS, which was a short was released in 2014, how did you become involved on the movie, and what size orchestra were you able to utilise on the score, the music is so effective within the movie, but it never overpowers, how much music was there in the film?
Thank you! Music was 80% of the film, it was composed to script and not to picture, so despite how challenging that might sound, it was super fun and creative. We did not have the time or the big budget to score with orchestra, but we did use Nicolas Laget’s talents in recording the flute and drums, and of course mixing the score.

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You at times have scored smaller films with lower budgets with a rather large-scale score, which is something that James Horner used to do in his early career, do you prefer writing for a large orchestra as opposed to writing for smaller ensembles? I love writing. period. There are times when the score does not need more than a piano and a flute, for example, and there are times when we need a large-scale orchestra. Of course any composer would DREAM of recording with orchestras all the time, as it is a different experience and very grand, it gives me Goosebumps every time I do it, but I also enjoy and embrace minimalism and the intimacy of an instrument or two depending on the musical vision of the composer and the director or producer.

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When working on a film is there any set way of approaching it for you, by this I mean do you develop a central theme initially and then develop this and maybe build the remainder of the score on it?

Working with a theme makes it easier and more structured for me, so if we have a theme I would go from there and start playing around with the arrangements and rhythms. There is no set way, but it all depends on the conversation between me and the head of the project I am scoring. Sometimes the theme is not necessary and can be a burden to the score, so we opt out of it. It all really depends on the story and its elements and what we want to convey to the audience.

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Also, is there a set routine or schedule when you are scoring a film, ie Main Title through to end credits, or do you tackle smaller cues first?

 

I go with what my heart tells me, I know it is not very systematic, but I improvise and work with the scenes that speak to me first and I take it from there. It has been working great so far as I am tackling that raw intuition and unleashing its creative vision.

 

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You have worked on films, tv series, documentaries and ads, is it harder coming up with a piece of music for short running time as opposed to creating a theme for a movie where you have the duration of the film to introduce and develop it?
It is definitely more challenging when you only have 5 minutes to create a full story in music, you don’t have the luxury to do much, but it also gives you that discipline and focus on making sure you don’t just “clutter” the film with music. Which is a great way to learn. Short films teach us to prioritize and condense thoughts in a short period of time.

Is orchestration an important part of the composing process for you and do you orchestrate all of our music for film?

Orchestration is everything. It is the sparkles and shimmers of the piece. You might have all the ingredients to a recipe, but you would need to know the measurements too, and this is kind of what orchestration is to me. I have orchestrated all of my projects except for two when we had a bigger budget and less time, I needed to manage time and priorities.

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Do you conduct all of your scores, or do you have a conductor so that you can focus upon the actual recording of the music?
I always have a conductor, while I LOVE being with the musicians while recording, I would rather be in the control booth listening to the overall sound and making sure I have my undivided attention on the score and the sound of it through speakers.

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You have recently released a compilation of your film music, are there any plans to release any more of you film music maybe a complete score?
Yes, I am in the works right now of releasing my first physical album, new tracks and music of video game and film scores, with Buy-Soundtrax, I am so excited and there you go, you are the FIRST to know now! 🙂

 

 

We look forward to that, soon I hope. You also produce films as well as acting in them and composing the scores, is it difficult trying to fit in all these careers and as a producer are you more conscious about what the composer is doing on one of your productions?

The acting part was VERY random. A producer and director I work with was here in Los Angeles shooting a TV series and was like: we have a few lines for you. I went for the experience and it was fun, I would never do it again though because I suck at acting. Producing, however, is a different story. I am passionate about starting from scratch on anything. I LOVE movies and storytelling, and there is a business side of me that wants to be unleashed and the music composition career is not enough for it to blossom. I really enjoy producing movies, but composition is my main passion and career.

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Going back to PEN OF MIRRORS how many times did you watch the movie before getting ideas about where music should be placed and the style of music that you would write? Have you encountered the TEMP TRACK and is this something that you think is a useful tool for composers?
As I mentioned, it was all written to script. I was handwriting it with pen and paper while spending a few hours at a lake every day. Then the picture came, and I started putting the music to it and tweaking as I go. It was a magical experience for me and the director who never even shared with me a temp track. A dream come true for every composer!!

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Do you have any preferences regarding studios when you record your film music, and have you ever recorded in London?
I am recording soon in London. My favourite studio in Los Angeles would be The Bridge, because I love working with Greg Curtis and the acoustics of the facility is impeccable. I didn’t get the chance to record there yet but hopefully soon.

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What is next for you?

The album, a meditation album, two shorts, a VR game, and a feature coming. And hopefully more as days unfold.

 

VIRGIN WITCH.

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Released in 1972/1973 VIRGIN WITCH was filmed in Surrey in the UK and its not a bad movie to be fair, on watching the film one would think that it was a Foreign movie made in Italy or Spain as the style of direction and the cinematography resembles that genre greatly. One of the movies outstanding attributes is the really pleasing score by composer Ted Dicks. Its one of those scores for a horror movie that one thought would never get a release, but thanks to Trunk records here we have it at last. The composer makes effective use of cymbalom which he incorporates into most of the cues which themselves are jazz orientated or at least laced with a jazz sound throughout. The atmosphere that the composer creates is one of apprehension and tension but also at the same time the music has to it a themeatic quality that is easy on the ear and somewhat beguiling and seductive.

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Dicks also fashions unsettling moods via the use of percussion and organ, which is at times reminiscent of the Italian film music style employed by the likes of Nicolai, Ferrio and Piccioni. The soundtrack is one that I think collectors will embrace and love, its been a long time coming forty-six years in fact, but the music in my opinion has stood the test of time, maybe a little better than the movie it was written for. Dicks was not a film music composer he was a jazz/pop artist and composer and his jazz or light music roots do shine through as the score progresses. Dicks was probably better known for writing novelty songs such as RIGHT SAID FRED and THE HOLE IN THE GROUND which were hits during the 1960’s and performed by Bernard Cribbins. Dicks worked with lyricist Myles Rudge on many occasions and the titles highlighted entered the British top ten in1962, both being produced by the late George Martin for Parlophone records. Dicks also teamed up with Rudge in 1965 and scored a big hit with A WINDMILL IN OLD AMSTERDAM which was recorded by Ronnie Hilton.

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The score for the VIRGIN WITCH is I have to say a million miles away from those examples of the composer’s work, the soundtrack being dark and at times ominous and threatening, but the composer achieves these levels not with grand orchestral gestures and colours but relies more upon an intimate and minimalistic sound. Often being performed by a small ensemble of instruments, woods, bass, drums, and cymbalom, with a saxophone adding a certain sultry and somewhat Smokey feel to the proceedings at certain key moments within the work.

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With Organ too bringing a touch of the macabre and sinister. Trunk records should be congratulated on taking the time and having the foresight to release this score it is a welcome addition to their already varied and interesting catalogue, which includes gems such as BLOOD ON SATANS CLAW and works by the likes of Basil Kirchin, Tristram Carey, Ennio Morricone, Piero Umiliani, Malcolm Arnold and their like. Well worth adding to your collection and worth looking at their website.
https://trunkrecords.greedbag.com/

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