The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires
The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires

I remember getting this soundtrack years back in the form of the Warner Bros. long playing record, this disc contained the story of the movie as narrated by the brilliant Peter Cushing. The album also contained sound effects and an introduction by David de Keyser and music composed by James Bernard and opened with a wonderfully pompous and anthem like Chinese march, which was actually composed especially for the LP release after musical director Phil Martell suggested to Bernard that the album needed something to both open and close it. Track 12, THE LEGEND OF ANCIENT CHINA is a proud and majestic sounding composition which always put me in mind of something that the late great Bernard Hermann might conjure up for a Sinbad movie or some other fantastic tale. There had already been a similar type of recording released a couple of years previous on the EMI label which featured a narration provided by Christopher Lee who relayed a story of Dracula complete with music by composer James Bernard with music from four Hammer horrors featuring on the albums flip side under the title of THE FOUR FACES OF EVIL. As an album THE LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES was a Hammer fans dream come true, not only did they get the story of the movie as told by their favourite Hammer leading man but they also got to hear the thrilling, dramatic and powerful underscore as provided by the studios music master James Bernard. Some of the background score on the LP was actually not taken from THE LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES, although there are small sections and passages utilised at times, the most prominent being the section at the end of track 13 PROLOGUE, some of the music featured is from other Bernard scores, i.e. Dracula, Frankenstein etc. But it worked and fans loved it.

Don’t forget this was before the days of GDI and also before Hammer scores were actually issued on any type of recording so it was manna from heaven for Hammer followers. This release from BSX records not only contains this recording, but also opens with 11 cues taken from Bernard’s actual score for the movie. I do realise that a number of these cues were released on the GDI Vampire collection, but personally I think it is so good to have them here on the same disc as the original LP story album. Bernard as we all know was Hammers favoured composer for films within the Dracula cycle of movies. The composers fearful and now famous Dracula theme still strikes terror into the hearts of movie goers and he utilised this three chord theme within this score also but a variation upon it so one knows that the arch vampire is involved even if we do not actually see him that much within the movie. Bernard managed to not only create an anxious and dark sounding work for the project but also built upon his past formula for Dracula and vampire movies and added little touches and interesting motifs which given the location that the story was set brought a certain amount of authenticity to the musical proceedings. This was also a rather more robust and dramatic sounding work and include some almost frantic string and furious brass interludes which accompanied the battle scenes and the kung fu action, the composer also employed this type of scoring to support the final fight between Dracula and Van Helsing. There is also an almost religious sounding theme present at times which is conceived from the original Dracula theme but arranged in a different way and is heard as good once again triumphs over evil giving the impression that even amongst all the evil and darkness that there is a shining light giving support and hope. Bernard also provide us with a rather charming tone poem for one of the female characters Vanessa Van Buren portrayed by the sadly missed actress Julie Ege, who was one of Hammers glamour girls. The theme is Chinese in its sound and performed on lilting woods which pick out a simple but pretty and charming melody which has certain similarities to Bernard’s love theme from TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA. The score worked very well within the film, but away from the images I have to comment that it is at times repetitive and also another observation is that the sound quality is not that good, in particular tracks 9 END CREDITS and track 10 THE SEVEN BROTHERS MEET suffer from slight distortion and also sound dull compared to the other cues. In fact the END CREDITS does sound as if it could have been lifted from either a DVD or a video, but I am sure it has not been. Track 10 is probably worse as it is longer in duration so one has more time to notice the imperfections.

But remember the GDI compilations, many tracks being faded at the end because they certainly had been lifted from DVD’s VAMPIRE CIRCUS also suffered from this type of editing. Saying that I am still pleased that this score has been issued and this package of original score and story album is a delight to have. Presented well by BSX records featuring some great artwork and excellent notes by the one and only Randall D. Larson. A must have for Hammer connoisseurs…

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