Just when you thought it was safe to return to the CD player along comes another terrifying collection of themes from the Hammer House of horror. Yes those nice people at GDI who brought you THE HAMMER FILM MUSIC COLLECTION VOLUME 1, were not content with leaving you with just a taster of the Hammer musical heritage, so they have put together another 25 themes to delight, tantalise and terrorize. If you thought that volume one was awesome, then volume two will most certainly entertain and wow you. In many ways I think that this second volume of music is better than its predecessor, not because the music is of a higher quality or sound quality is better, but because it seems to me to be a more varied selection of music a wider musical palette if you will. James Bernard is represented, but this time by just 6 tracks, but these half a dozen entries do represent some of the composer’s musical triumphs for Hammer, FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL, DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN, QUATERMASS 2 and THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES are all present and showcase Bernard’s evident gift when it came to the scoring of gothic horrors. But the remainder of the collection, is a varied, vibrant and thoroughly entertaining listening experience and like volume 1, this disc’s contents evoke many memories of seeing these wonderful Hammer productions for the first time, Whether that was at the cinema or on many of the late night showings on the BBC.  As I have already said the variety of music on this compilation is stunning and the composers that are represented read like a who’s who of British film music. Harry Robinson, with his lilting and bittersweet theme for DEMONS OF THE MIND,  John McCabe, with his superbly edgy music for FEAR IN THE NIGHT.  Richard Rodney Bennett, with his brief but highly atmospheric opening music for THE WITCHES, Malcolm Williamson, with his beautiful and haunting piano led opening for CRESCENDO, which for me personally evokes musical classics as  THE WARSAW CONCERTO  and THE LEGEND OF THE GLASS MOUNTAIN,  Don Banks, for his thundering and robust music for THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S SHROUD and also his equally driving theme for THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN and his swirling and tormented opening theme for RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK.  Paul Glass, makes an entry with his TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER, which is one of the latter Hammer movies and this is reflected in the modern sounding approach that was taken with the score.



 Gary Hughes, is represented by his rousing theme from THE PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER, which was an interesting and fairly fast paced adventure and contained a musical score that was even more adventurous, filled with numerous references to what is or were perceived to be salty sea dog Pirate music and being more YO Ho Ho, and shiver me timbers than Long John Silvers parrot. It is a shame that Hughes has not more entries on this collection, his soundtrack for THE VIKING QUEEN for example is one that in my opinion should be issued in the form of a full score compact disc or indeed the composer should have a compilation dedicated to his Hammer film music, THE SCARLET BLADE, THE VIKING QUEEN, A CHALLENGE FOR ROBIN HOOD and DEVIL SHIP PIRATES would I know attract soundtrack collectors like flies around a honey pot.  Benjamin Frankel, Humphrey Searle, Mike Vickers, David Whitaker, Carlo Martelli, Edwin Astley, all put in appearances, as do Italian Maestro Mario Nascimbene and American composer John Cacavas, the latter’s modern take on DRACULA being a solid and infectious sounding theme. The composer adding an upbeat almost pop sounding theme to the proceedings to accompany the infamous Count when he was resurrected in 20th Century England. But that was the beginning of the end for DRACULA as far as Hammers film cycle was concerned, because the idea of having Dracula roaming the streets of a 20th Century London did not quite gel or impress cinema goers, and quite often the gasps and screams that one associates with Hammer horrors were replaced by sighs and sniggers at the lack-lustre attempts by Hammer to bring them selves in the 1970’s. Plus once the Count was resurrected in the 20th Century how would you send him back in time, (where is that time lord Dr Who when you need him). Now there’s a project for Hammer THE TIME LORDS OF TRANSYLVANIA !  



The music however never suffered and was never wanting in any department, in fact at times it was surprising that Hammer’s production contained such wonderful music because of the budgets that were allotted to the music, but because of accomplished composers and also inventive and clever use of instrumentation these scores are now considered as classics, everyone of them..



hammer vol 1When GDI records first came on the scene, one has to remember that music from the Hammer horrors had not been that readily available, yes ok admittedly there had been a few compilations that had mainly been re-recordings and some of these were released as stories of Dracula etc with music tracked behind the narration, but I think you will agree with me that it was Silva Screen records in the UK that was the first label to make a concerted effort to release music from the Hammer Gothic Horrors, at first they concentrated upon James Bernard, simply because he was the composer that so many associated with the house of horror, because of his memorable and foreboding DRACULA soundtracks. But Silva also turned its attention to other composers that had written music for Hammer, but of course these were all re-recordings as the label were told that the original tapes were either lost or destroyed. Then up popped Gary Wilson and the GDI label, who had the original tapes to many of the Hammer soundtracks. The logical thing for GDI to do was release a compilation, a sort of best of Hammer if you will. THE HAMMER FILM MUSIC COLLECTION was the first compact disc of many in a series dedicated to the rich musical legacy of Hammer. This first volume which includes 25 themes is a real stunner of a collection, the disc opens with the taught and virulent theme from THE DEVIL RIDES OUT as composed by James Bernard and is a perfect opener for what is to follow, a compilation that thrills, excites and also oozes evil musical renditions which evoke numerous memories of those brilliant yet at times clumsy looking horrors. James Bernard is given the lions share of the disc’s running time, which I suppose is a fitting tribute to the man who was let us remember the studios composer in residence (or might as well have been) he scored movies for them from the mid 1950’s through to 1974 and was also involved on the TV series that the studio produced for ITV. The compilation boast 10 pieces by Bernard, including DRACULA and  the aforementioned theme for THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, which is still as threatening in its persona and atmosphere as it was when I first heard it back in 1968. Also included from Bernard we have THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED, THE SCARS OF DRACULA, TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA, THE LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES plus the haunting and mesmerising theme from SHE and the eerie sounding music from THE GORGON and for me what I consider the best of Bernard THE KISS OF THE VAMPIRE, which has a powerful and magnificent piano solo from Douglas Gamley.


So this compilation is worth owning just for the James Bernard material alone, but wait, there is more as they say!  Scottish born composer Harry Robinson or Robertson is well represented with four themes VAMPIRE LOVERS, LUST FOR A VAMPIRE, and the glorious TWINS OF EVIL, which are all from movies that feature the infamous Karnstein family of blood suckers. Plus there is also a brief piece from COUNTESS DRACULA which starred Ingrid Pitt who murdered maidens and bathed in their blood to regain her youthful looks. Robinson provided all four of the films with highly atmospheric scores, but it was TWINS OF EVIL that had been on many a collectors wants list to get some sort of release, its brooding opening building into a full blown riding theme that if tracked onto a western would fit like the proverbial glove, a style that composer Robinson turned to again on his HAWK THE SLAYER soundtrack a few years later. VAMPIRE LOVERS had been available before as a re-recording on an EMI long playing record alongside three other themes from Hammer horrors, but it appeared in the form of a suite which was arranged by Hammer’s musical director Phil Martell, what is included here is the films opening theme, a short but effective musical exercise in romantic music tinged with evil seduction. LUST FOR A VAMPIRE is a very lush and opulent sounding theme, full of romantic atmosphere and in my humble opinion was far too good for the film it enhanced. COUNTESS DRACULA was probably the most authentic sounding score that Robinson composed for a Hammer horror, he utilised cimbalom to great effect and further enhanced the film with lavish sounding strings that created an air of mystery.


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The film itself was not a great success at the box office, and that is probably why Robinsons score is at times overlooked. Another theme that is most certainly deserved of a mention is THE MUMMY, which was released in 1959 and starred Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, the thunderous, dramatic and vibrant score was the work of German born concert pianist, turned composer Franz Reisenstein. The collection as a whole is magnificent and will delight any fan of Hammer films and the gothic horrors that they produced. This excellent compilation takes us on a musical journey of terror and spans from the 1950’s through to the early 1970’s. Other titles that are also included are, THE BRIDES OF DRACULA, HANDS OF THE RIPPER,  BLOOD FROM THE MUMMYS TOMB, MOON ZERO TWO, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT,  CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER, WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH,  THE CURSE OF THE MUMMYS TOMB, CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT and DR JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE.  The music is conducted by Marcus Dodd’s, John Hollingsworth, Phil Martell and Franco Ferrara and all taken from the original sound recordings, there are no re-recordings here.

Taste the Blood of Dracula
Taste the Blood of Dracula (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The compilation concludes as it started with the music of James Bernard, and from TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA, we hear the beautiful and typically English sounding pastoral love theme from the score. This is a classic release a must have collection an essential purchase. Packaged wonderfully and the 16 page booklet is crammed with information courtesy of Marcus Hearne and an introduction from Hammer films chairman Roy Skeggs. Colourfully illustrated with posters publicity stills and photographs of some of the composers.



BEAR MCCREARY’S BEST WEEK EVER!Nominated for Second Emmy for DA VINCI’S DEMONS Main Title Theme

Named Composer of MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

Comic Con Appearances Including Performance of BLACK SAILS and Appearances on Three Panels

(July 29, 2013 – Culver City, CA) The week of July 15th may be Bear McCreary’s best week ever as a composer.  The week began with

the announcement that he would be performing at Comic Con as part of the sneak preview screening of BLACK SAILS, his second television series with STARZ, set to launch January 2014.  Later that day Entertainment Weekly revealed that McCreary is the composer on the highly anticipated ABC TV series MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. And on that Thursday it was announced that McCreary earned his second Emmy nomination for the DA VINCI’S DEMONS Main Title.”Collaborating with David S. Goyer and composing music for DA VINCI’S DEMONSwas a richly rewarding experience that forced me to rethink my creative process on a fundamental level,” said McCreary  “I am very proud of the work we created, and honored to be recognized in the main title category, alongside some of the best composers writing today.”

McCreary’s sweeping orchestral score for DA VINCI’S DEMONS was meticulously researched to accurately represent the time period, without being bound to it.  His score combines full orchestra, Renaissance instrumentation, choir and ethnic soloists with the renowned Calder Quartet and surging contemporary synthesis.

“For DA VINCI’S DEMONS, I looked to the real-life Leonardo for inspiration.  He famously wrote backwards and forwards, so I decided to do (try) the same thing with his theme!” said McCreary.  “It was a nice idea at the time, but proved rather difficult to produce anything with emotional meaning. It took a while, but ultimately, I think the end result works beautifully.  It’s emotional, and fits Leonardo’s character beautifully.  Yet, at the same time, it feels like a palindrome.”

It’s this sort of out-of-the-box thinking that led WIRED Magazine to call McCreary a “Secret Weapon” in a recent issue.  His unique combination of atypical instrumental background (he is a professional accordionist) with rigorous classical training prepared him to compose for disparate genres.  By the age of 24, McCreary was launched into pop culture history with his groundbreaking score to Syfy’s hit series Battlestar Galactica, for which he composed “the most innovative music on TV today” (Variety). It “fits the action so perfectly, it’s almost devastating: a sci-fi score like no other” (NPR). declared Bear McCreary one of the Ten Best Science Fiction Composers of all time, listing him alongside legends John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and Bernard Herrmann.

McCreary continues to write for the television show The Walking Dead.  Recently he lent his talents to Syfy and Trion World’s groundbreaking entertainment experience,Defiance, a combined launch of a MMO videogame. His film projects include Europa Report (currently available On Demand and in theaters on August 2nd) and Knights of Badassdom.  His other credits include critically acclaimed scores for series such asTerminator: The Sarah Connor ChroniclesEureka and The Cape. His swashbuckling score for Human Target featured the largest orchestra ever assembled in the history of series television and earned him his first Emmy nomination.  His videogame credits include SOCOM 4 and Dark Void.

What will this week hold for McCreary?  It’s off to a great start – with the release of the soundtrack for his music to CAPRICA on Tuesday and the release of the soundtrack for EUROPA REPORT on Friday, coinciding with the film hitting theaters.

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For more information contact Beth Krakower, CineMedia Promotions, 310.439.1403,, or @cinemediapromo on Twitter



Released back in 2001 by the ever popular and industrious independent soundtrack label Hexacord, IL CONTE MELISSA is the work of former film music writer turned film music composer Marco Werba. The movie is a romantic period drama set in the 1660’s. At this stage in his career Werba was relatively new to the film music arena, but the score that he penned for this movie is a classic in more ways than one and has about it a mature ness and style that is reminiscent of some of the Golden age film scores of Hollywood. The style in which he approached the project is perfectly appropriate for this type of movie and his music wonderfully enhances and elevates this romantically slanted drama, the composer utilizes woodwind, strings and harp to great effect and embellishes these with the use of choral passages which convey an atmosphere and feeling of the 17th Century. The works central thematic property can be found in the cue, IL RITRATTO DI ELENORA, which is the love theme from the score, the theme itself is quite short lived but it establishes itself swiftly because it is so lyrical and haunting. Although it is one of the works principal themes in its first outing it seems to lack substance, but this is made up for later in the score when the composer returns to it in varying arrangements and guises which are orchestrated cleverly making them fresh each time they are heard. There is also a secondary theme present within the score, but this in my opinion does not an introduction until the latter part of the soundtrack. In its first appearance the composer calls upon recorder to perform it, this is supported by a subdued string section and also what sounds like a mandolin, the theme r-emerges on a number of occasions again it is given a fresh sound by the composers inventive instrumentation and is also bolstered by choir at one point, which gives it a fuller and richer sound. This is an accomplished and also an enjoyable score, and hopefully there are still a few copies available. Since his work on this movie Marco Werba seems to have gone from strength to strength and has developed his inimitable style and sound, gracing movies with his romantically laced themes and also infusing a sense of drama and at times dread with his dark and formidable sound when necessary. Nicely packaged and presented by Hexacord.  Recommended.




In a very short space of time Marco Frisina has established himself as a composer of a very high standard, this release further consolidates his standing as a composer of integrity, worth and also as a music smith who posses a gift for melody that is second to none. The score is full to overflowing with rich and highly emotive sounding musical themes, performed by what sounds like a full symphony orchestra, with the string section of that orchestra working overtime to create wonderful melodies and haunting tone poems that will live with the listener forever. It amazes me that so much quality music can be found within just one of this composer’s soundtracks, the orchestration, performance and construction of this music is without a doubt created with much dedication, love and aptitude. To describe the music on this compact disc is for me very difficult, because it is such an emotional and engrossing experience to sit and listen to it. The composer combines delicate sounding piano with lush and vibrant strings that are supported by deep and sorrowful sounding cello which are themselves enhanced by gracious sounding motifs performed on woods, and chorale work that just bowls the listener over. To try and name one cue as outstanding is so difficult as every single cue is a delight and a thrill to listen to, but tracks 9 and 10, DA UN PAESE LONTANO and SERVE DEI SERVI DI DIO respectively, certainly include some of the most awe inspiring, magnificent and heartrending music that I have heard in many a year. Let us suffice to say then, that PAPA GIOVANNI II, is probably one of the best scores to come out of Italy in the last decade, and Monsignor Frisina, is one of the most interesting and creative composers to emerge from that country since Ennio Morricone. My advice would be to go out and purchase this soundtrack, and whilst you are there doing so order everything that you can possibly get by this Maestro.