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.
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.
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.
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.
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.