Music info Notes from the liner of the GDI compact disc release, issued in 2000.(c) John Mansell.


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Between 1956 and 1972, Hammer films produced seven Frankenstein films, four of which were scored by the companies more or less resident composer James Bernard. Bernard was a protégé of the great composer Benjamin Britten, Bernard began his musical career in motion pictures when Hammer signed him to provide the soundtrack to THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT in 1955. A year later THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN introduced the composer to the gothic horror, although he had already had an encounter of sorts with this type of story when he scored Webster’s THE DUCHESS OF MALFI for BBC radio. Bernard went on to score numerous films for the Hammer studio among them was a trio of further Frankenstein’s: FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN (1966) FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969) and FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL (1973). Selections from all three of these and also the original THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN are included on this album. Hammers other FRANKENSTEIN movies were scored by three well respected composers who were also called upon regularly by the studio to work on their productions.

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For the 1958 release of THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN Hammer turned to Leonard Salzedo to compose the music. Salzedo was born in London on September 24th 1921, his interest in music began at the age of just seven and he started to experiment with composition at the age of twelve. On leaving school the young Salzedo began to study piano as well as continuing his violin lesson which he had started whilst attending school. He later took lessons in harmony with William Lloyd-Webber and finally enrolled at the Royal college of music in 1940. Whilst there his violin tuition was provided by Isolde Menges, plus he was tutored by Herbert Howells in composition, Sir George Dyson in conducting, Dr Gordon Jacob in orchestration and finally received lesson in Chamber Music from Ivor James. Salzedo remained at the college throughout the second world war and completed his studies in 1944. Between 1950 and 1966 Salzedo composed a number of works for concert hall performances well as performing as a violinist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It was also during this period of his career that Salzedo acted as musical assistant to Sir Thomas Beecham, and it was Beecham who conducted Salzedo’s first symphony in 1956. Two years before this, however Salzedo had completed his first film score for the Hammer studios, which was THE STRANGER CAME HOME which was directed by Terence Fisher. “I got THE STRANGER CAME HOME because of Malcolm Arnold” Salzedo explained.


“ I had told him I was very keen to write music for the cinema so Malcolm spoke with John Hollingsworth who was Hammer’s musical director at the time”. Salzedo continued his association with Hammer for several years but THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN proved to be his final Hammer credit for over two decades. “ I was asked to score the Frankenstein movie because James Bernard was not available at the time. It was John Hollingsworth who approached me to work on the movie and he would direct the music, but during the scoring process john became very ill and was unable to work he had been told to rest by his Doctors, so it was Muir Mathieson who conducted my score of course he was another great talent in the film music arena”. Although Salzedo wrote the music for six Hammer movies and one episode of Hammer House of Horror for television the composers music does appear in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (1960), which contained an original score by Benjamin Frankel, for some reason a short sequence of the movie contained music by Salzedo for which he was not credited. “ I am not quite sure how this happened” said Salzedo. “ I think maybe the producers wanted a particular sequence scored and it was easier to just track my music to the movie rather than got back to Ben Frankel and ask him to provide more music”.


For their second Frankenstein sequel THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN (1964) Hammer hired composer Don Banks to write the score, Banks who was Australian had previously worked with John Hollingsworth on CAPTAIN CLEGG and NIGHTMARE, but his foray into Frankenstein territory was his first encounter with Hammer’s new musical director Phil Martell who would conduct a further five of Banks scores for Hammer up until 1966. Born in Melbourne in 1923 Banks began to study piano in 1928. During the second world war he served in the Australian medical corps, but found time to continue his piano studies along with harmony and counterpoint. After being demobbed in 1946 banks went to study at the music conservatory at the university of Melbourne. He remained there for two years and studied under Dorian Le Gallienne and Wademar Seidel. During the early 1950,s banks visited England to receive further tutelage in composition from Matyas Seiber. He also went to Florence in Italy to study further under the watchful gaze of Luigi Dallapiccola and then finally to Salzburg where he was schooled by Milton Babbit. Banks got into scoring movies in 1957 his first assignment being for a documentary entitled ALPINE ROUNDABOUT, scoring his first feature MURDER AT THE SITE directed by Francis Searle in 1958.

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His Frankenstein music is probably some of the most melodic in the Hammer series and led to his involvement in the movie HYSTERIA for which the composer provided a jazz score and also to the more conventional music for REPTILE, RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK and THE MUMMYS SHROUD. Banks was also reportedly responsible for arranging much of Mike Vickers music for the movie DRACULA AD 1972 for which he received no credit. He also worked on the Amicus production THE TORTURE GARDEN in 1967 the other half of the score being composed by James Bernard. In 1972 banks returned to his native Australia, and remained there till his death in 1980. According to Phil Martell Banks worked on films to live, the revenue providing a much needed supplement to the meagre income that the composer received from composing music for the concert hall or serious music.

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Hammer’s penultimate Frankenstein movie was released in 1970. THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN contained a score by Malcolm Williamson who had previously worked on THE BRIDES OF DRACULA and CRESCENDO for Hammer. Phil Martell had always wanted to utilise Williamson more on Hammer productions but the composers other commitments made this impossible. Another Australian, Williamson began his studies in 1942 at the age of eleven. He attended the Sydney Conservatory where he studied piano, violin and French horn. His tutor for composition was Sir Eugene Goosens. In 1950, Williamson visited England where he continued to concentrate on composition, this time under Elizabeth Lutyens and Erwin Stein. He decided to settle permanently in the United Kingdom in 1951, Williamson had his first two works for concert hall performance published under the guidance of Benjamin Britten and Sir Adrian Boult. In 1960 Williamson was asked to score Hammer’s THE BRIDES OF DRACULA, “ I remember after I was initially asked to score the Dracula move being sent along to see a handful of movies that had been scored by Jimmy Bernard, I feel that he is faultless, really polished. I would love to be able to compose in the way he does for horror films. I also went on set and watched David Peel in action and I was very privileged to meet Peter Cushing, a very dedicated man, loved and respected by all who knew him”. After BRIDES, Williamson became involved in writing music for many films and documentaries as well as symphonic music for ballets, culminating in 1975 with his appointment as Master of the Queens music. His second Hammer assignment was for CRESCENDO (1970), after which Phil Martell asked him to write the score for THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN.


“ I have to say that working on the Frankenstein movie was not enjoyable at all, it was a feeble attempt to re-create the original Hammer Frankenstein but it sadly lacked the presence of the original film. It was criticised by most people who saw it and at the time I felt that I had not provided the film with an adequate musical score. I used a tuba to represent the lumbering of the monster, but it just seemed to make the monster more clumsy and awkward; in fact, I would say that it was a ridiculous and ludicrous combination. It made the horror element somewhat farcical. But having said that I have recently watched the movie on television and it seems to have improved with age, the music and the film both, It doesn’t seem quite so awful now“.



There has over the past few years been numerous horror movies released and many of these have had as their subject matter Zombies, I suppose you could say it all started to snowball with SHAWN OF THE DEAD, but then,,,,, maybe not! Anyway there is another Zombie movie being released soon, COLLAPSE, so be ready to be scared stiff again. The music for this latest Zombie fest is the work of composer Vincent Gillioz, who in my humble opinion should be on the Hollywood A list of film music composers, his talent is immense and his attention to detail and also his efforts to remain original are evident and entertaining. The music for COLLAPSE is not a sweeping romantic score or indeed a soundtrack that contains a great amount of thematic material that is conspicuous or memorable, in fact it is one of the most dissonant and malevolent sounding film soundtracks that I have heard in a long while, in fact it is in many ways as chilling, unsettling and foreboding as the Roque Banos score for EVIL DEAD which to be honest is something that I am still recovering from. Gillioz has created a work that is overflowing with a malignant and fearsome atmosphere that contains a relentless and unforgiving onslaught of sounds both musical and otherwise which combine to conjure up a mood that is brimming with an intense sense of wickedness. The theme he has fashioned for the Zombies is in my opinion a kind of macabre march in which the music seems to drag itself closer and closer towards you, madly and chaotically instilling a sense of doom within the listener, the intensity of darkness growing the air of desperation and horror becoming overwhelming and the feeling of hopelessness to do anything about it being totally absorbing. The score is a frenzied and heart stopping triumph which does just what it should, scares you silly. The motif or theme that accompanies the Zombies is created by double basses slapping their strings against the fingerboard of the instrument at a pulsating and pounding walking pace, the action which is called the Bartok Pizz is accompanied by low brass holding a low note and finally bending it down. The best example of this inventive style of writing can be heard in track number 5, STORMING THE TOWN, which also has the added enhancement of electronic support that is grating and vibrantly edgy, a driving and threatening effect is achieved here, the cue possessing a rawness and savagery that is turbulent and aggressive and a sound that is highly effective and certainly original. There is a quieter and calmer theme present within the score the longest statement of this being within track number 3, MY SON IS SICK, the music is low key and performed on piano, but even though it has to it a degree of melodic melancholy there is still in the background an underlying mood that hints at things not being peaceful at all.


This theme or at least fragments and short phrases from it make appearances throughout the work but are short lived and soon become overwhelmed by the more harsh elements of the score. OK this is a horror score that for the most part is a thundering and unmerciful powerhouse of a soundtrack, but I for one enjoyed listening to it and hearing this competent and talented composer show us another side of his composing prowess. Recommended ? Hell Yes…. Released on Howlin Wolf records soon.