THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF=AND OTHER FILM MUSIC BY BENJAMIN FRANKEL.

HE FOUGHT THE HIDEOUS CURSE OF HIS EVIL BIRTH. BUT HIS RAVISHED VICTIMS WERE PROOF THAT THE CRAVINGS OF HIS BEAST-BLOOD DEMANDED HE KILL…. KILL…KILL!!!!!!

(TAG LINE FOR THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF)

Hammer films from the late 1950,s and the 1960,s certainly made their mark upon the cinema going public all over the world, the music for these Horror classics also hit the right spot with collectors of soundtracks, sadly when the films were at their most popular the music from them was not available. Thanks to recording companies such as GDI many of the original scores have been saved and preserved forever on compact disc, and also labels such as Silva Screen put a lot of time and effort into having many musical excerpts from Hammer scores re-recorded. The latest hammer score to receive the re-recording treatment is THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, this is most certainly a classic horror movie in every sense of the word, released in 1959, it was this movie that marked the starring role debut if a very young almost unknown Oliver Reed, who was to become one of Britain’s most respected actors. Reed was paid the princely sum of £90.00 per week on this movie, at the time he was heard to say that this was a fortune. Directed by Hammers star filmmaker Terence Fisher, the film tells the story of Leon who is born on Christmas day to a mute servant girl, the girl who was raped by a beggar dies giving birth to the child and he is taken in by Don Alfredo, played by the excellent Welsh actor Clifford Evens. After a while Leon begins to realize that he has something of an attraction to the taste of blood, and is afflicted by Lycanthropy which makes him change into a werewolf at the cycle of the full moon. The child’s first victims are animals a goat and a kitten, but he soon progresses to larger victims in the human form. The films scenes of savage violence were a cause for concern to the censors, they cut over 4 minutes from the original version of the movie, John Trevelyan felt obliged to cut the footage, but at the same time wrote to Anthony Hinds at Hammer apologizing for doing so, the full version of the movie was screened in the United States and that unedited version returned to the UK in the early part of 1990, and is thankfully now available on DVD. The musical score was almost as harrowing and violent sounding as the content of the movie,  composed by the London Born composer Benjamin Frankel, this is one of the finest scores written for a Hammer production, and has been on the wish list of many a film music enthusiast to be released in its entirety. The score for THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF is a significant and very important one, as it is the first score for a film that is composed using the twelve notes of the chromatic scale,Frankel based his score for the movie on sections of his Symphony number 1.

The Curse of the Werewolf
The Curse of the Werewolf (Photo credit: jon rubin)

Frankel’s music on THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF is highly original and at the time of it’s composition was thought of as being  something of an experimental and modern approach to scoring a movie, but it supported, punctuated and embellished superbly the scenes of horror and mayhem that were unfolding up on the screen, driving the action and underlining the terror and almost chaotic and frenzied marauding of the werewolf in its search for blood. Frankel’s score also i thought created a greater atmosphere of urgency and also a sense of sadness and frustration. This 35 minute re-recording of the score is certainly well worth investing in, it is performed with an abundance of  energy by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, who launch themselves into the performance under the baton of world renowned composer/conductor Carl Davis. The compact disc also contains a suite of music from Frankel’s score to the 1950 movie SO LONG AT THE FAIR, the love theme from THE NET (1953) and over thirty minutes of music from the 1955 movie THE PRISONER which is a world premiere recording. The disc is presented well with striking art work and contains some very informative notes by the composers step son Dimitri Kennaway. This is a compact disc that should be in your music collection and  is worth a lot more than it’s meager £5.99p price tag.

 

 

 

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