CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT.

 
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CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT was a contemporary take on the vampire, released in 1991, the film was directed by,  Tony Randel, and was scored by  Daniel Licht.  The plot is basically about the fight between good and evil and focuses upon Cindy and Lucy who  are eighteen and going away to college. As a ritual they must rid themselves of the dirt of their small  home town (Allburg) by swimming in an abandoned church crypt. They jump in and begin talking about sex when Lucy’s crucifix falls into the water and drifts down to land on Czakyr’s (an ancient vampire) head, apparently waking him up.  Later Mark who is a school teacher from a nearby town  gets directed to Allburg to help Lucy and her grandmother, who are suspected to be in trouble. Lucy becomes the target of a town turned into vampires, who crave her ‘virgin blood’. Mark, Lucy and an old wino shack up in an abandoned building outside of town but eventually get lured back to Allburg by the locals. There, with a giant glowing cross spearing the front of their Toyota, they take the town on and battle Czakyr. They win and life is restored to normality.
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The composer/musician Daniel Licht was born in Detroit, Michigan, USA. And grew up in the suburbs of the city. He attended the ROEPER SCHOOL as well as a summer school at BERKLEE SCHOOL OF MUSIC in Boston. He began playing music at the age of around eight his first instrument being the clarinet. He took up the guitar aged just twelve years and started his career in music while still in high school, often performing with a small jazz ensemble at clubs in the area. He finished high school, and went onto attend Hampshire College in Massachusetts and graduated in composition, jazz and world music. Licht moved to New York City and established himself as a musical artist in the Lower East Side creative music scene. He travelled to Germany, the Netherlands and Northern Europe to perform and compose music for theatre and dance companies. He created scores for such companies as Mercedes Benz and Sony.
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He then re-located to Los Angeles and decided to take his old class mate Christopher Young’s advice and started to score motion pictures. The composer first major score for a feature film came in 1991, when he wrote the soundtrack for the horror movie CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT. The soundtrack was a popular one and was issued onto compact disc by Bay Cities records. The composer scored several horror movies during his career, these included, THINNER, BAD MOON, AMITYVILLE A NEW GENERATION and HELLRAISER-BLOODLINE.

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It is probably true to say that Licht was one of the most underrated composers working in Hollywood throughout the 1990.s and into the 21 Century, his most prominent work in recent years being for the TV series DEXTER with the composer scoring all seasons of the series. In 2012 Licht started work on the video game series SILENT HILL and remained the principal composer on the project up till 2015. It was also in 2012 that Licht worked on the video game DISHONOURED and later its sequel DISHONOURED-DEATH OF THE OUTSIDER, which was released after he passed away in 2017. Licht died in Topanga, California aged just 60. His score for CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT was hailed as a triumph by soundtrack collectors and critics alike, and it was not long before the score was issued onto CD, it is a highly dramatic score and draws on the style and influences of Christopher Young and James Horner for its principal themes.

 

But, there is another side to the score which can only be Licht, the composer fashioning and creating his own musical identity and stamping it firmly upon the movie a style that would manifest itself in future projects such as THINNER and BAD MOON. CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT was quite a low budget movie, but this did not deter Licht from utilising full orchestra and choir to create a soundtrack that is grand and sweeping in its style and overall sound.

 


THE GIRLS THEME is a particularly romantic and melancholy cue, which does evoke the style of James Horner his theme for COCOON coming to mind instantly. The MAIN TITLE is a homage to Vampire movies of a bygone age, with its brisk pace and urgent sounding brass and strings, it could be the opening titles for any of the Universal classic horrors, the titles of the movie are even in black and white and throughout the movie there are many set pieces or even parodies of scenes from earlier horror flicks, likewise Licht at times kind of sends up what audiences have gotten used to as being music for horror movies, but the formula and the approach works and works very well indeed. A highlight cue on the score is track number six, BLOODSUCKERS BALL, Licht introduces a quirky percussive opening and to this adds chanting choir, more percussion, brass and sweeping strings, it is an impressive piece, that works well in the movie but is also affective away from the film’s images.

 
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The track races to its conclusion with snare drums being introduced that set a swifter pace to the proceedings, before it eventually thunders off into the night as it were. CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT may not have been the most illustrious of vampire movies, but rest assured the score by composer Daniel Licht is a grandiose and powerful one. Hopefully one day it will be re-issued for more to savour and enjoy.

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HELLRAISER.

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Just over thirty years ago I was flicking through the films and shows long players in HMV at the Trocadera in London’s Piccadilly Circus, and I came across an album by composer Christopher Young. It was HELLRAISER, now at the time I had not heard about the film or the score, what I did know was I had DEF CON 4 by Young and that was pretty good, so I got it. It was the UK pressing on Silva Screen so that was a label I knew also. The score for me is now an iconic horror soundtrack and one which I return to on a regular basis. The theme is haunting in a somewhat foreboding way and it is also one of Young’s most powerful themes for cinema. Last year the 3oth Anniversary edition of the score was released and of course I just had to get it, the work still sounds as fresh and vibrant as it did back when I first heard it and Young’s macabre sounding RESSURECTION theme is still as menacing and fearsome.

 

 

The film I think has also aged well and stood the test of time, it still attracts fans each time it is shown on TV or even when there has been a special screening in a cinema. Considering that this was a film that Young scored quite early on in his career it is a huge work, fully symphonic and filled to overflowing with so many complex musical compositions. I thought when I first heard the score immediately of Bernard Herrmann, Young’s style in my opinion was very similar to that of Herrmann, grandiose and driving with dark and tense undertones that conjured up a sense of fearfulness and virulence.

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The music keeps the listener on the edge throughout, but although it is tense and jagged sounding for the most, the composer does weave into the score music that is slightly less unsettling. But it is the sinewy and spidery atonal sounding cues that are the ones that create the chills and the shivers, all the time Young builds the tension and creates the powerfully dark moments via crashing percussive elements.

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Jagged rasping brass and ominous sounding strings. Add to this the mind blurring macabre music box sound that the composer creates for the score and you have one hell of a film score, and a score that just keeps giving because each time I hear it I find something that I am sure was not there before, half heard sounds, crashes, and flourishes, it seems that things get added to the score after each listen. I think THE CENOBITES is one of the most disconcerting tracks on the recording, there is so much going on, its like a chaotic jumble but at the same time it all makes sense, and still sends a bit of a cold shiver through me. Its as if it is all around you and there is no escape, everywhere you go you come face to face with something that you do not really want to be next to. But, this is done musically, Young creates an icy and unhospitable atmosphere via the various sounds he fashions for this sequence.

 

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In tracks such as UNCLE FRANK we hear Young’s dark and fearful music which evokes the guttural but melodic style of Herrmann, HELLRAISER is now a classic film score, no doubt about this, all I can say is if you have never heard this score you have missed out on some of the best film music written for the horror genre. Young returned to score HELLRAISER ll, and even though this was a strong score, nothing I do not think will equal the original score, which is filled with menace, dread and a real atmosphere of evil. A must have for any film music connoisseur.

MUSIC FOR STRINGS. ISOBEL WALLER-BRIDGE.

 

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There have been a handful of entertaining TV mini-series on in the UK recently, one being VANITY FAIR which has an outstanding musical score by composer Isobel Waller-Bridge. The score I am assured is as I write being prepared for a compact disc release, so in the meantime I looked around for more of this composer’s work, one release I did find was not a soundtrack but a collection of music under the title of MUSIC FOR STRINGS. However, if one did not know it could very easily be from a film or a TV score. It is a brief but interesting collection comprising of just six cues that run for about thirty minutes in total. The collection opens with ARISE, which is a rather forthright and driving piece, a background of strings provides the pace for the composition as the composer adds a subtle theme over the top of these, the re-occurring driving strings provide the foundation on which the remainder of the composition is built. It is one of those tracks hat if utilised in a movie would be the one that supports a journey or maybe a central character within the storyline making their way on horseback across the open moorland or wild countryside, it has this kind of sound and style. Something that would not be out of place in any period/costume drama. The next cue is slightly more subdued and has to it a beautiful central theme, THE LAST WORDS OF M, is a sombre yet melodic piece that for me evoked the sound and style of the French composer Georges Delerue who was always so consistent in creating themes and scores that were melodious, rich and romantic. When I say sombre I am not entirely certain that is the best way to describe it, as it is not gloomy or dull, I think it is an intensely emotive piece stylistically akin to that of Barbers Adagio for strings. The core melody rising and falling as it creates an impassioned and melancholy sounding musical persona. The music purveys a sadness and a highly poignant atmosphere, its melody being haunting as well as affecting, the composer fashioning a serious but at certain points uplifting composition. Track number three, IVY, has to it a more experimental sound or at least within its introduction as we hear electronic sounds that are given depth and texture by underlying strings, the composition then alters direction and becomes a heartrending melody that is performed on cello and violin the combination of the deep and sorrowful sounding cello and the touching and fragile violin supported by the string section is quite stunning and creates a highly expressive sound that is sensitive, passionate and alluring, the electronic sounds still being present throughout but not so pronounced as in the introduction. Track number four, BLOOM is a brief but delightfully light and easy-going piece, guitar combining with the string section and given a slightly more up-tempo or contemporary atmosphere using percussion that sets the pace. It is a fresh and airy composition, which for me personally had a slightly laid-back Caribbean musical identity to it.

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Track number five is a bit of fun I think, RUBY POLKA, is just a delight to hear, simple but effective it is a charming and enchanting piece. Track number six, UNTOUCHED BY A STORM, is the longest running track on the release having a duration of over seven minutes, and I think is probably the most accomplished and complex compositions on the recording, this I think is probably my own personal favourite within the collection, it is passionate as well as being powerful, filled with emotion and skilfully crafted. Sorry to make comparisons again, but it did evoke memories of vintage movie scores as penned by the likes of Korngold and Newman from time to time whilst listening to it, but in the main this a classical piece that has to it stature and beauty, the composer fashioning a meticulous and superb composition. Its harmonic beauty shines through and manages to infiltrate the emotions and the heart and soul of the listener, the best way to describe Isobel Waller-Bridge’s MUSIC FOR STRINGS is to say, this is film music which does not have a film, if that makes any sense whatsoever. I look forward to the soundtrack of VANITY FAIR being released and much more from this obviously talented British composer.

 

Available now on Spotify.