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1956, was a landmark year for Hammer films, it was in this year that the studio decided to embark on the ambitious task of producing re-workings of the classic black and white Hollywood horror movies, such as DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN and the MUMMY etc. Hammer films are certainly full of stars as Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and many others but some of the real stars or unsung heroes of cinema were working behind the cameras, one such important and talented figure was director Terence Fisher. It was Fisher who Hammer turned to asking him to helm the first of the horror remakes THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, and after the success of this production Fisher was also given the reins on a movie that would become one of the studios most iconic movies DRACULA.

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Fisher had worked on a handful of movies for Hammer previous to stepping into the world of the Gothic horror, five years before FRANKENSTEIN he had directed THE LAST PAGE and in the ensuing half a decade the filmmaker was involved with a number of productions, STOLEN FACE, BLOOD ORANGE, THE FOUR SIDED TRIANGLE, MANTRAP and MASK OF DUST to highlight just a few. After the success of both FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA Fisher was to become a much applauded horror director and Hammer returned to the filmmaker many times to make sequels of their first forays into gothic horror territory.

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Fisher however never restricted himself to directing movies that focused upon these two iconic figures in horror history, for example he turned to the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1958 when he directed THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES and also in the same year was responsible for the entertaining feature film THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH. As the decade of the 1950,s drew to a close Fisher triumphed again in 1959 when he was the director on THE STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY and THE TWO FACES OF DR JEKYLL, it was also in this year that the director brought to the screen an exciting and dramatic full colour version of THE MUMMY, a year later the filmmaker was responsible for introducing actor Oliver Reed to cinema audiences in the now classic horror movie THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF. The 1960,s was a busy time for the director and he worked on a number of projects which were varied and above all entertaining, THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and a number of FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA projects the 1960,s came to an end with Fisher taking up his familiar position behind the camera on FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED(1969). It was at this time that Fisher was to be involved in two accidents which kept him away from filmmaking for around three to four years, however when he was fully recovered he soon returned to making movies and in 1973 was responsible for Hammer’s FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL.

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Fisher went to sea as a young man, it was thought by his Mother that after the death of his father in 1908 this career would be the making of him and stand him in good stead for what life might throw at him, however Fisher never stayed at sea and after a period of some eight years he decided to return to dry land. He began to work in the textile or clothing industry and became an assistant display manager at Peter Jones. Whilst pursuing this career Fisher began to think of going into films at first he could not decide in what area he wanted to work but eventually became a film editor working his way up the ladder at Shepherds Bush film studios from clapper board operative to the editing room where he began to work on the films of Will Hay. Fisher then changed studios and went to the Teddington Studios which were run by Warner Brothers. In 1947 Fisher was invited to take up a position at the Highbury studios by the rank organisation who were offering an apprenticeship of sorts for aspiring young filmmakers. Fisher made a handful of shorts whilst there and was picked out by Sidney Box, who gave him a chance to try his hand at directing a full length feature. The rest as they say is history. Born in Maida vale, London on February 23rd 1904, Terence Fisher passed away on June 18th 1980, I know that we will never see his like again in the British film industry.

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Music in horror movies has to play a larger role than in most other types of film, but there again this notion is just a personal opinion and one which many will probably disagree with. I always remember seeing the original black and white Universal horrors and even at an early age thinking what an important role the musical scores played. I recall in particular one of the werewolf movies when actor Lon Chaney transformed from meek and gentle human into a fearsome and blood lusting lupine, howling as he ran into the fog shrouded night accompanied by a powerful and driving background score which underlined the ferocity and also the desperation of the creature. It was because of the Universal tales of terror that I progressed to the full colour horrors of the Hammer studio, DRACULA being one of the first that I managed to get into the local flea pit to see. The rich colours and also the dramatic music got me hooked instantly and I am glad to say I have never fallen out of obsession with these marvellous cinematic works of art. However as we all know there were other horror movies produced by the likes of TIGON and also AMICUS in the U.K. plus of course there were the AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL MOVIES, with the Edgar Allan Poe tales and lots of superb and eloquent overacting by Vincent Price. Hammer always insisted on having strong musical scores which was something that was the norm thanks to the companies original Musical Director John Hollingsworth. Musical genius Hollingsworth was instrumental in ensuring that the music for the Hammer horrors and also other genres of film that the company produced worked and supported the action on screen, Amicus who appeared on the scene some years after Hammers first foray into the gothic horrors such as DRACULA and FRANKESTEIN seemed to follow in Hammers footsteps when it came to the music department in their movies, often utilising the same composers as Hammer and even employing Phil Martell who had taken over as MD for hammer after the death of John Hollingsworth. Sadly both Amicus and Tigon films musical scores do not seem to have received the same amount of attention from record labels as Hammer soundtracks have and I realise it took many years for the Hammer gothic horrors soundtracks to make it any kind of recording, but considering the success and amount of positive feedback from collectors that these releases received I am surprised, “NO” ! dumbfounded that there has been nothing issued onto compact disc from the Amicus stable, yes of course the excellent WITCHFINDER GENERAL by Paul Ferris did only last year(2013) at last get an issue on disc by De Wolfe music representing Tigon plus we must not forget the excellent BLOOD ON SATANS CLAW which was finally released onto compact disc by TRUNK records a few years back.


But where are the excellent and richly dark soundtracks from films such as THE CREEPING FLESH, THE BLOOD BEAST TERROR, CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTAR etc. Where are the scores from the AMICUS productions such as, VAULT OF HORROR, DR TERRORS HOUSE OF HORRORS, THE TORTURE GARDEN, THE SKULL, THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, ASYLUM, AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS, MADHOUSE, and other such mini horror classics and AMICUS favourites. Languishing in a vault of horror of their own I am guessing. Plus there was also TYBURN films who produced a handful of films that are now considered an important part of the horror cinema genre, THE LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF and THE GHOUL instantly come to mind because of the actual movies and also because of the excellent musical scores penned by Harry Robinson, truly classic horror music, even if LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF was a little lack lustre in places.

So I suppose what I am saying is WHY stop at Hammer or why did the record companies stop at Hammer, when there is such a wealth of wonderful music out there somewhere that will tantalise, entertain and delight students of the macabre, the gothic and also the downright scary. We as collectors deserve at least a compilation or two of AMICUS themes, TIGON tracks and TYBURN scores. Silva screen, Tadlow, Prometheus or maybe Chandos please start your expedition into the dark and dusty depths that are the music vaults of terror.

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Tigon British Film Productions or Tigon Films was a film production and distribution company founded by the filmmaker Tony Tenser in 1966. The company is probably best remembered for the now classic Vincent Price horror, WITCHFINDER GENERAL (USA Title-THE CONQUERER WORM). Which was directed by the ingeniously clever filmmaker but somewhat insecure Michael Reeves who sadly died too soon. The studio also produced BLOOD ON SATANS CLAW, which was directed by Piers Haggard in 1971, both WITCHFINDER and SATANS CLAW have since their release attained a status of being iconic and cult movies and both have about them a real sense of authenticity. TIGON also produced a number of other horror pictures, THE CREEPING FLESH, THE BLOOD BEAST TERROR and THE SORCERERS among them all of which were scored by the late Paul Ferris. It also released the feature film version of the popular British TV series DOOMWATCH in 1972 which contained a score by renowned British composer John Scott(or Patrick John Scott as he was known in his early days of composing). The London based Tigon had offices in Wardour street Soho, the company did make forays into other genres of film but it was the Horror genre that it seemed to excel at and in many fans and critics opinions were one of Hammer’s biggest rivals, although saying this Tigon productions did have a very different look from the Hammer gothic horrors, WITCHFINDER especially being given a more realistic appearance thanks mainly to the inventive camera work of John Coquillon who’s somewhat watery and misty looking effects gave the production a touch of realism, this combined with the fresh and at times off beat approach towards direction by Reeves gave WITCHFINDER a persona all of its own.

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TYBURN films was formed by Kevin Francis who was the son of acclaimed cinematographer and notable director Freddie Francis.
Kevin had a career that led him from slaughterhouse employee to film company tea boy and then a gradual climb up the ladder to become a Hammer films employee, it was he who was responsible for giving the studio the idea for TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA given them the basic idea for the story, he then became a freelance production executive and had a glowing ambition to create a new company that would eventually be as respected as the famed Hammer studio. The problem that Francis encountered was that as the 1970,s dawned the tastes of cinema audiences began to change drastically, they no longer yearned for Gothic horrors but were drawn to the more cerebral storylines of films such as ROSEMARY’S BABY and the gore, realism and thrills that were purveyed by films such as THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and the numerous films that followed in the same ilk. Continuing to produce Gothic horrors was to be TYBURN Films eventual downfall and they disappeared from the scene, but before doing so did produce a handful of movies that were deemed to be fair examples of the horror genre. TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS was in fact Tyburn’s first release but had no mention of the company on its credits, instead it was billed as a WORLD FILM SERVICES release. The movie which had a tag line of AN ORGY OF THE DAMNED, boasted an impressive cast list that included Jack Hawkins, Joan Collins, Kim Novak and Donald Houston to name but four. Helmed by film maker Freddie Francis who was to direct all of the Tyburn horrors, the film was an effective tale but one that lacked real course mainly due to a weak storyline that at times would be amusing rather than disturbing, which in a horror movie could be a problem.


The film was a compilation type movie which had become popular with audiences at the time and included four segments or stories each one concentrating upon a different patient who was secured in an asylum, the music for the movie was written by Bernard Ebbinghouse, who was responsible for the music to PRUDENCE AND THE PILL and penned the theme for the popular TV series of the 1960,s THE HUMAN JUNGLE which was recorded by John Barry and his orchestra who took it into the hit parade in the UK. Ebbinghouse also worked as a musical director for artists such as Cilla Black, Andy Stewart and Cliff Richard as well as working on a handful of movies and some television productions. Tyburn’s first official release was to be PERSECUTION or THE TERROR OF SHEBA, the film starred Lana Turner, and was Tyburn’s attempt to cash in on the trend to install well known Hollywood actress’s in starring roles, which is something that Hammer had done with Bette Davies in THE NANNY. The music for PERSECUTION was the work of Paul Ferris, who if he had not died young would in my opinion been one this countries top film music composers.

Tyburn’s reign of terror was a short one the company never attaining the heights or realising the achievements that its founder Francis had wanted for it and although the company produced some interesting horrors its output paled in the brightness of the Hammer studios output, although saying this TYBURN did return in 1984 with a production for television, MASKS OF DEATH was screened on channel 4, and starred an ageing Peter Cushing in the role of Sherlock Holmes with John Mills as Dr Watson, directed by Roy Ward Baker and with a screenplay by Anthony Hinds it was a polished and entertaining production. The score was by Malcolm Williamson who had worked on Hammers THE BRIDES OF DRACULA, THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN and CRESCENDO, Williamson was the first non British citizen to be appointed Master of the Queens music. Peter Cushing was also the subject of a TV documentary in 1990 which was produced by Tyburn entitled, ONE WAY TICKET TO HOLLYWOOD a documentary that is highly regarded and also is considered by many as Tyburn’s finest production. The music was taken from existing soundtracks composed by James Bernard and Malcolm Williamson.

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AMICUS was indeed a success story and along with American International pictures was probably the biggest rival company to the mighty Hammer films. Amicus produced numerous movies and many were at times difficult to tell apart from Hammer horrors, the music department for Amicus was almost identical to that of Hammer, the company utilising the talents of composers such as James Bernard, Don Banks, Douglas Gamley, David Whitaker etc. Based at the famous Shepperton studios Amicus was founded by Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg, who had previously worked together in the 1960,s on the movie THE CITY OF THE DEAD, Amicus began its life by producing two musicals which were aimed at the younger end of the cinema going public, ITS TRAD DAD! and JUST FOR FUN enjoyed mild success at the box office, the company went on to produce a number of films that contained more than one story, this portmanteau series of motion pictures were particularly popular with audiences the producers basing their ideas upon the Ealing films classic DEAD OF NIGHT. One of these types of movies was THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, which I personally felt was one of the companies better efforts, directed by Peter Duffell it starred Denholm Elliot, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Ingrid Pitt, Joss Ackland and Jon Pertwee. The film was scored by Michael Dress, who had worked on a handful of films prior to scoring THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, Dress died in 1975 aged just 40 years of age. Amicus however were not just restricted to horror movies and turned their hand to thrillers and also were responsible for releasing some pretty unusual movies, the company at times co-produced with AIP MADHOUSE and SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN being examples of their collaboration.

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Considering the rich and varied musical content of the Horror genre as produced by TIGON, TYBURN and AMICUS it is surprising that an enterprising record company has not seen the market for these scores with collectors of fine film music. Even if the tapes no longer exist a re-recording surely should be worth investigation, a company such as Chandos with the aid of the talented Philip Lane surely could resurrect these classic soundtracks from the depths of obscurity. The compilations would be endless, with AMICUS, TIGON and also TYBURN being the central focus but with music from other classics such as CIRCUS OF HORRORS by Franz Reizenstein, CRY OF THE BANSHEE by Wilfred Josephs, THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS by Stanley Black, THE CORPSE by John Hotchkis, SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN by David Whittaker and THE HOUSE IN NIGHTMARE PARK by Harry Robinson making it into the running order somewhere.
We must also not forget the wealth of music that adorned Italian horror movies and the releases of TITANUS productions, plus the films of Jess Franco especially that directors version of the Dracula story IL CONTE DRACULA was said to be actor Christopher Lee’s favourite version of the tale because Franco stayed so close to Stokers original story often studying the book whilst on set, the music for this movie was the work of Italian Maestro Bruno Nicolai, who became well known via his involvement with fellow composer Ennio Morricone on the Sergio Leone DOLLAR TRILOGY, Nicolai produced a highly atmospheric soundtrack for IL CONTE DRACULA and was also involved with numerous other pictures within the horror genre that were being produced in Italy during the 1960, through to the latter part of the 1970,s either as composer or as musical director. But Italian horrors should and will have a section of their own on this site very soon.

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Your career in writing music to accompany drama came when you wrote the music for the theatre production of CYRANO DE BERGERAC, this was produced by your Father, what size orchestra did you have to write for and how much music did you compose?

The orchestra was small, I believe not more than 10 people
I think it was maybe 20-25 minutes at most. I was led by my father, an experienced theater director.

When you completed CYRANO DE BERGERAC did you then decide that this is what you wanted to do, or did you know before this that you wanted to write for the theatre or indeed write music?

At the end, when I sat in the darkness in the theater among the audience watching how the story on the stage unfolded and how my music smoothly followed the story it was such a kick, that I felt that’s what I want to do. Even though I had already written music before Cyrano, this was the first time I experienced it as part of multi-media production.

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During the 1980,s you moved to Sweden and whilst there worked on a number of European produced movies, are there many differences between scoring movies in Europe and working in the United States?

When I’ve lived in Sweden I was sure there were differences between scoring movies in Europe and in the United States, but I was not aware about what these differences were. I approached scoring the film in my own way, I didn’t have any school training for it at that time. The approach was based on my own experiences from theater, and my musical instincts. When I attended the USC film scoring program I discovered a different and much more effective way how to synchronize music to the production – the ways I had dreamed about.

What musical education did you receive and did you focus on one particular instrument whilst studying?

I started with different instruments as a kid, ended up playing bass, piano and composition at Prague Conservatory. Then I briefly studied electronic music and music concrete in Stockholm.

You worked on NASH BRIDGES when you were first in the States, what would you say are the main differences between scoring a feature film and working on a series for TV?

There is much less time in the TV world to write music than in feature film world. Personally I like to have time to develop themes even go back to cues and to do some adjustments as I progress with the writing of the score. I guess that would be difficult in the weekly TV schedule.

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RONIN I suppose is the score that most collectors of film music identify you with, what was John Frankenheimer like to work with, did he have a particularly hands on approach to where music should be utilized and what style of music was to be used etc?

John led me gently with a great artistic understanding and support, I was very lucky to have him as my mentor. I miss him very much.

He gave me complete artistic freedom and supported my musical decisions with my score structure in the movie. There was no “music temp” in the movie. John hated the idea of it, he certainly didn’t need it, the music style and direction was developed from scratch.

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Your score for ATLAS SHRUGGED PART 3 has just been released; when one of your scores is to get a compact disc release do you like to be able to have an input into what music will be selected for the disc?

I always take a full responsibility for what music goes on the soundtrack – including the sequence of the soundtrack. Of course I present the ideas of tracks and sequencing
to the producers for their input, but they usually let me do my job. I also often combine cues from the score, re-editing even remixing tracks for the soundtrack. I just want to have the music represent the movie the best way possible on the disc.

You have worked on a number of independent movies and also a number of films that have been produced by major studios; does the scoring process differ between the two?

Well, it depends. In studio productions there might be more people they have something to say about music and the process can be more structured. Independent productions can be very different.
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Stigmata has some great music which supported the movie wonderfully, the soundtrack also contained rock songs as is the norm these days, on STIGMATA the songs were written by Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, when you start to score a movie that will include songs are these already in place on the soundtrack and do you have to score around them or are they recorded after you have scored the movie or indeed do you work with the writers of the songs or the music supervisor to decide what will be scored and what sections will be tracked with songs?

Billy Corgan was hired before I came on-board, I had nothing to do with his part. All coordination between his work and mine was done with the music editors. The score was divided to two parts, one for Billy one for me. Later some parts of Billy’s half were overdubbed with my music.

Was all of your score for STIGMATA included on the CD release, if not do you think that maybe a full score release might happen one day?

I doubt that the full score will be ever released. That would be a nice surprise if somebody would do it.

I understand that you actually sent your demo tape to the director of STIGMATA before you scored RONIN, so did he hear your score for RONIN and then ask you to score his movie, how did you get the assignment for STIGMATA?

Yes, I actually sent selections from my scores to Rupert prior Ronin, and I am sure Rupert had heard my score for Ronin later on, but I don’t think this was the main reason I scored Stigmata.

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PIRAHNA 3DD is a very dramatic sounding score which mixes symphonic with electronic, giving it a contemporary sound and style, what size orchestra did you have for this assignment.


The orchestra for P3DD is hybrid, electronic mixed with live overdubs, mostly strings. It was not a terribly a large group, we did a few overdubs of an each part. The female soprano is local singer, a friend of mine.

Orchestration is an important part of the composition process do you orchestrate all your scores or if the deadline is looming have you used orchestrators?

I orchestrate the score at the same time as I am writing into my sequencer. The orchestrator has to convert my midi file to Finale, add dynamics and articulations as she/he can hear it in my demos. He/she then has to make sure that strings are divided properly and prep the whole score for printing. I don’t have my orchestrators do any writing.

ATLAS SHRUGGED 1 you scored and then ATLAS SHRUGGED 3 you have recently completed. I looked on the Internet for ATLAS SHRUGGED 2 but I cannot see any mention of this? Is there one? If not why did the producers jump straight to part three?

There is a Part 2, but I did not score it

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How do you set about scoring a movie, by this I mean how many times do you like to watch a movie before getting any firm ideas about what style of music is required and also how do you work out your musical ideas, do you use pencil and paper or go for the more modern approach as in computers etc?

I watch the movie as many times I need to, to be sure I understand every aspect of the plot and character development. I also analyze the temp track, if there is any, and discuss with the director the style of music, the direction and what he expects the score should do in every scene.
I use my sequencer for writing, but often, and especially with score which requires a traditional theme or approach, I work at the piano.

When scoring a movie do you like to begin with a central theme or do you develop minor themes within the score firstly?

It really depends. But surely it is important at the beginning of the writing process to look for the main theme, significant sound or motif as a voice of the movie. Sometimes it comes easily, other times it takes time to find it.

For PULSE I understand that you set up a link between the USA and the Czech Republic so you could conduct the orchestra. How did this work?

Yes, the score for Pulse was recorded in Prague by using an online link. I hear and see the orchestra, and I can communicate with the conductor over there, much the same way like I would use ‘talkback’ in a studio if it were recorded in Los Angeles. The orchestra is recorded to ProTools and after the session I can download music in my studio for the mix. It is a very effective way that I can add orchestra to my score without the extra costs of flying overseas.

Do you have a preference when it comes to orchestras or maybe particular soloists and even engineers and recording studios?

There are many great orchestras, personally I think Los Angeles and London performers are the best. Yes, I have preferences for certain soloists, engineers and studios. It is very personal.

Going back to PULSE this was a horror based upon an original Japanese movie called KAIRO did you refer to the original movie or score when you were working on it?

Yes, Pulse was based on a Japanese movie but the US version was very different and there are no intentional references in my score to it as far as I know.

Do you think that directors or producers using a temp track to guide the composer is helpful or distracting?

I consider the temp track as a sort of springboard and starting point of communication with the director. This way it can be very helpful to give me direction with the score. It is not really a distraction, it’s just a tool and should be handled as it.


BATTLEFIELD EARTH was co produced by John Travolta did he has any involvement in what style of music would be used on the film?

I did a demo for this project, and when I got the job the style and the direction of the score was more or less defined by this demo. Later during writing process I presented my demo sketches to John in my studio.

Staying with BATTLEFIELD EARTH it is a glorious score, everything that a soundtrack lover could ask for, I love the central theme what percentage of electronics were utilized in relation to the symphonic on this score and how long did you have to work on the score.

Thank you for the compliment! I feel very fortunate to have had a chance to work with John. I believe I had (what is pretty common) 6-7 weeks to write and produce this score.

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You did conduct we know, but do you always conduct your scores or is it sometimes not possible for this to happen?

I did conduct scores many years ago for my early productions. Today I prefer to have a professional conductor – I love to stay in the booth together with my engineer and my head orchestrator. This way I can make sure that all of elements from pre-recordings are working well together and that what the director and producers hear at the booth is the closest possible form to the final mix.

What composer’s classical, film music or contemporary would you say have influenced you?

Hmm, I don’t know. I went though many phases of my writing so I would rather leave this question for the musicologists to decide.

What do you think is the purpose of music in film?

Music in the movies can serve many different purposes. It can be emotional, help drive the plot, story or both. It can lead, or purposefully mislead, to manipulate emotions. It can create atmosphere, enhance relations, and create social, cultural and location references. It can create the sense of space and alter the feeling of time. It can comment on the plot or characters. There are many more examples of what it can do – depending on what the director expects and what they want the score to do.

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Originally released back in 1989 by Silva Screen Records, MUSIC FROM THE HAMMER FILMS was indeed a groundbreaking release, the compilation which was firstly released on long playing record in a gatefold cover later received a compact disc issue and has remained an iconic and popular release amongst collectors of fine movie music. Remember this was in the days before any of Hammers film music had been released in full soundtrack editions by GDI/BSX records and I think I am correct when I say that the only music that had been released was in the form of background music to story version from Hammer movies such as THE LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES and CHRISTOPHER LEE,S DRACULA album on EMI, which did have four tracks on its flip side that were promoted as THE FOUR FACES OF EVIL, these being the romantic and haunting SHE by James Bernard, the sensual and malevolent sounding THE VAMPIRE LOVERS by Harry Robinson, the gloriously dramatic and romantic DR JECKLE AND SISTER HYDE by David Whittaker and the jagged and chilling FEAR IN THE NIGHT by John McCabe all of which were conducted by Philip Martell.

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Hammer films from the 1950,s through to the late 1970,s always boasted strong musical scores and it was something of a surprise to many when the scores were not issued onto any recording format whatsoever. James Bernard’s iconic and fearsome sounding DRACULA theme surely deserved an entire release to its self, alas not. So when SILVA SCREEN announced this re-recording fans of Hammer went into raptures. The compilation features mainly the music of Hammer’s almost composer in residence Bernard and also boasted David Whittaker’s powerful music for VAMPIRE CIRCUS and Christopher Gunning’s beautiful but at the same time unsettling music for THE HANDS OF THE RIPPER. The music was performed by the world renowned Philharmonia orchestra under the baton of Neil Richardson, the whole thing being supervised by Hammer films MD Philip Martell. Silva Screen had obviously put a lot of time thought and effort into bringing the re recording to fruition and presented the release with glowing art work and informative liner notes, giving collectors a chance to see James Bernard, at the recording sessions with engineer Mike Ross Trevor and producer Eric Tomlinson at the mixing desk, the booklet also featured pictures of David Whittaker listening intently to the playback of VAMPIRE CIRCUS and Neil Richardson conducting the orchestra. The compact disc opens with THE DRACULA SUITE, which is such a fitting way to start any compilation of Hammer film music, James Bernard’s foreboding, dark and evil sounding DRA-CU-LA three note motif setting the scene for the Prince of chaos.

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The suite which is in five sections is made up from music that is taken from the original 1958 DRACULA and also DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS from 1966, the opening is instantly recognisable and still strikes a little terror into the hearts of anyone who hears it, Bernard’s simple but highly effective musical motif is as recognisable as Monty Normans, JAMES BOND THEME, as terrifying as Herrmann’s PSYCHO and as menacing as the JAWS theme by John Williams. After the familiar and dramatic opening the suite segues into the music that Bernard used to accompany Jonathan Harker on his investigation of the lofty hallway of castle Dracula, where he encounters a young woman, unbeknown to him she is one of the undead and attempts to turn Harker into one of her kind, this is interrupted by the appearance of Count Dracula who ferociously attacks the girl and also lashes out at Harker. Part three of the suite THE KISS OF THE LIVING DEATH is a piece of masterful scoring by Bernard his music acting as a hypnotic and alluring background to Dracula’s attempt to seduce his victims. Part four of the suite is FUNERAL IN CARPATHIA, which is a slow but menacing piece for strings woodwind and subdued brass that are all punctuated by a slow and deliberate sounding drumbeat. Part five is the finale sequence music from DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS, which takes place on a frozen river, where the infamous Count is dispatched by Father Shandor (Andrew Keir) with a single gun shot into the ice that releases pure running water, the vampire lord falls into the icy depths and is destroyed, but I think we all realise at this point that he will return. Bernard’s music is dramatic and feverish in places, supporting and underlining wonderfully the confrontation between good and evil and the Counts demise. The next section is from the 1971 Hammer production HANDS OF THE RIPPER, this starred Eric Porter and also Dora Bryan, with Anghard Rees as the beautiful but deadly Anna, who is supposedly the daughter of Jack the Ripper and is from time to time possessed by his spirit and goes on a killing spree, the movie was actually very entertaining and the score by British composer Christopher Gunning had within its make up a kind of James Bernard sound, but also had at its core a mesmerising and haunting theme for the films central character Anna that is luxurious and affecting. In my humble opinion this is probably one of Hammer’s best non James Bernard scores, Gunning unfortunately did not return to work on any other horrors for the studio, which is a great pity. For the next section we return to the music of Bernard and also to DRACULA. DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE was the third in the Christopher Lee DRACULA cycle of movies, and for this outing the Count becomes locked in a battle of wills and also stamina with a Monsignor played by the excellent Rupert Davies.

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The glamour in the movie was provided by Veronica Carlson who took the role of the Monsignors Daughter who was a prime target for the Count. Bernard’ s music was just as dramatic as his two previous works for Dracula but on this occasion the Dracula theme did not seem to be used as much the composer opting for an arrangement of the theme on which he based the remainder of his score.

VAMPIRE CIRCUS comes next in the running order a vampire movie with a difference and one that took the traditional vampire tale and twisted it slightly to come up with an ingenious and also an entertaining movie. The opening pre credit scene is one that must go down in Hammer history as being one of the most exciting and dramatic. Helped along by the powerful, sensual and mesmerising music of composer David Whittaker. The music for this compilation and re recording is represented by a near 10 minute suite that is just glorious. Whittaker’s darkly rich and evil sounding waltz like theme weaving its way through the suite and acting as the basis of the work, effective use of cimbalom that is strategically placed adding an authenticity and giving the music a greater depth and increasing the atmospheric effects of it within the film, bombastic sounding brass that is supported by thundering percussion and punctuated by strings making this a candidate for the best Hammer vampire soundtrack ever penned. I hope that one day the entire score will be released as only sections have since made it onto compact disc, within the excellent GDI series. For the final section on the compilation we return to the master of the Counts music James Bernard, for TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA the composer was asked by producer Aida Young to provide a more romantic sounding score, I remember Bernard telling me in interview that initially he was a little cross at the request, but then could see that the movie did need a love theme for the two young central characters in the story, thus was born the beautiful and quintessentially English sounding pastoral piece THE YOUNG LOVERS, which has endured over the years as one of the scores most haunting themes. In fact it ranks along side the composers romantic and mysterious theme for SHE, which was his own personal favourite. Of course Bernard utilised his DRA-CU-LA theme within the score and because of the presence of the love theme this already familiar and fearful sounding theme seemed even more threatening and ominous. The suite of music contained in this re-recording runs for just over 17 minutes, with ROMANCE AT DUSK being the highlight cue, beautiful and subdued woodwinds open the track that are underlined by a light strings, the central theme is then taken on by the string section who give it a more sustained working, the theme gradually builds and emerges into a poignant and attractive composition.

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The final cue THE VICTORY OF LOVE is a triumphant sounding version of the love theme the composer adding brass and percussion to the proceedings, telling the audience that evil has once again been defeated and love and good has prevailed. This is a collection that you as a Hammer fan should not be without, and yes I know these are not the original recordings, but they were arranged by the composers and also supervised by Hammers own Phil Martell, the compilation which was deleted was soon after resurrected with alternative art work the only difference being that the suite from HANDS OF THE RIPPER was a shorter version on the re release, if you can find a copy of the original release it would be far better, but if not settle for the re-issue an essential purchase.

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Hubert Bath was born in Barnstable on November 6th 1883, his connection with music began at an early age as he sang in church as a choir boy, his father who was a teacher was the choirmaster. Bath studied both piano and organ, and when he attended the royal academy of music he also studied composition. He began his studies at the age of 17, after completing his studies Bath began to write music and would often be diverse and varied in his musical style, he also did not restrict his writing to just one particular area of music. The composer does fall easily into the category of light music but he also produced some memorable and superbly harmonious scores for films. His most renowned and popular work being the gloriously romantic CORNISH RHAPSODY from the movie LOVE STORY, the composer is also credited with writing the score for the first British made full length non silent film which was BLACKMAIL in 1929 which was directed by a young Alfred Hitchcock. He wrote scores for a number of films that were produced by the famous GAUMONT and GAINSBOROUGH studios who were so industrious during the 1930,s and 1940,s. Bath worked on THE THIRTY NINE STEPS in 1935, a version of the story which starred actor Robert Donat and the composer also provided the score for RHODES OF AFRICA in 1936. Bath enjoyed considerable success as a composer of what is still referred to as light music, and penned a number of rousing marches, ATLANTIC CHARACTER, OUT OF THE BLUE and EMPIRE BUILDERS to name but three. OUT OF THE BLUE being used as the signature tune for the BBC radio show SPORTS REPORT for many years. The composer passed away on April 24th 1945 in Harefield, Middlesex UK.