As a film music collector, I never would have thought that I would be attracted to music from video games or any sort of game to be fair. But in the last decade or so music for games of any sort has certainly come a long way. I sometimes think this is better than some of the film music that is being written today. A recent video game GENSHIN IMPACT CITY OF WINDS AND IDYLLS contains a truly wonderful soundtrack, the composer credited is YU PENG CHEN and straight away I have to say that this is just a brilliant score, it is nearly two hours in duration and contains so many beautiful and affecting themes it is very difficult to come to terms with all of this emotive and quality music coming from just one video game.
It’s a soundtrack that has absolutely everything, intricate and subtle tone poems, female wordless voice and dramatic and driving passages that are inspiring and stirring. The composer utilises a wide range of instrumentation as in strings, brass, guitar, harp, woods and a scattering of percussion. The score which is spread over three discs is a delight to listen to and one that I returned to after my initial listen, but I also found myself going back to the start of certain tracks after I had heard them, it is honestly one of the best video game scores I have heard, in fact its one of the best scores from 2020 so far, I was thinking only the other day about the best of 2020 thus far, and I singled out four scores, I wont say what these are, but I hope that one of them will be in an awards list somewhere when the season for giving out awards begins. I now have to re-think that list and add this to it, along with another Yu Peng Chen, score for another game in the same series entitled GENSHIN IMPACT-THE WIND AND THE STAR TRAVELLER which has music that is equally alluring and totally mesmerising.
Both soundtracks are MUST have items, the second score is shorter lasting just under half an hour but is just as affecting and haunting. There is a light and delicate sound within both works, the fragile and poignant themes wash over the listener and have about them a calming and attractive sound. These are two soundtracks that you have to at least investigate, both are on digital platforms, will say if you are already a fan of the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Joe Hisaishi, then these two scores are for you. Lilting romantic sounds are showcased throughout, alongside proud and dramatically adventurous anthem like material. These are scores of immense diversity, vibrancy, and quality, highly recommended. Yu-Peng Chen, is known as Zhiyi Chen, a film music composer, music producer and musical director based in Shanghai, China.
He is regarded as one of the most talented and versatile composers working in the film and music industry. His career has spanned some fifteen years thus far, and during this decade and a half he has scored not only a wide range of films, TV shows and video games, but has also written many popular songs influenced by traditional Chinese culture. Chen graduated with honours from the Shanghai Conservatory of music. During his studies the young composer received professional training in both music production and composition from renowned musicians like An Dong. Chen has worked with numerous artists from different cultural backgrounds, which assisted the composer in becoming more fluent in various genres of music and he was able to add more variety and cultural influences to his music, giving him more of a musical pallete from which he is able to add colour and texture to both film, television and video game projects. He has also collaborated with many famous directors and musicians including Jing Wang, Weiqiang Liu, Weimin Ye, An Dong, and Guangrong Chen. He has also recorded with many world-class orchestras such as The Asian Philharmonic Orchestra, The China Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Budapest Film Symphony Orchestra. Chen has won several Chinese Academy Award nominations for his music from films such as LI BAOGUO and DA SHANGHAI. His music for THE FOUNDINGOF AN ARMY, won him the best music in the Golden Deer Awards. His other films like ON FALLEN WINGS and PHANTOM OF THE THEATRE also received countless positive reviews and comments from critics and fans alike.
(Genshin Impact is a free-to-play action role-playing game developed and published by miHoYo. The game features a fantasy-based open world environment and action-based battle system, using elemental magic, character switching and uses gacha game monetization for players to obtain rare characters, weapons, and other resources. A multiplayer mode allows up to four players to play together in the world and also tackle certain dungeons within the game. It was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Android and iOS on September 28, 2020. The game is also planned for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5).
So many composers so many soundtracks, its hardly surprising that a handful of composers and their scores do get somewhat overlooked, Jeff Grace is a composer I have always thought of as being talented, simply because of the wide range of genres he has written for. I think his score for STAKE LAND was the one that alerted me to his music, which I followed up with THE INNKEEPERS. But I thought a look at his scores might also bring him to your attention if you have not already discovered his musical prowess.
I am going to begin with a 2009 release, I SELL THE DEAD, which was a comedy horror. The movie I thought was a fantastic attempt at combining horror with comedy, which at times we have to admit does kind of fall flat. In this case I think it was successful, mainly due to Ron Perlman and Domnic Monogham who were supported well by the likes of, Angus Scrimm and Larry Fessenden.
The film which was written and directed by Glen McQuaid is set in the 18th century the film relates the tale of a pair of grave robbers, who have been caught by the law and are incarcerated. With only a few hours to go before his date with the guillotine, Arthur Blake (Monogham) tells his life story to Father Francis Duffy (Ron Perlman) an Irish Priest. Before long, Blake has told the listening holy man how he got started in the grim corpse peddling business working for seasoned ghoul Willie Grimes (Fessenden). The story is filled with Blakes experiences whilst engaged in grave robbing combining elements from other such tales as BURKE AND HARE, THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS and THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVIL’s, and adding its own comedic twist in places, there are Zombies, Vampires and other such creatures which he helped to dig up in this entertaining romp. The central characters Blake and Grimes like a comedy duo who managed to get themselves into all sorts of scrapes, the film is more like a comedy version of a Hammer horror film, the sets etc being atmospheric and very well done. The story was accompanied by an energetic and quirky sounding musical score by Jeff Grace, the composer providing the movie and its various horrific/comedic scenarios with a balanced and vibrant work. It is a soundtrack that maybe a few collectors missed when it was released, but the same can be said for the movie, although it is a brilliant film, and one that entertains on so many levels, it is probably something that even horror fans would not instantly think of.
The music is symphonic, which is something I am pleased about, Grace, inventing edgy sounds and adding a romantic atmosphere to these at times, giving the soundtrack a rich and robust style. In fact, I would go as far as to say that maybe the composer had listened to some Hammer scores and took his lead from these. Tremolo strings feature on numerous occasions, with mournful and apprehensive woods creating an eerie and dark mood. There is also an abundance of short sharp shocking passages performed by driving strings that are punctuated by either brass and percussion or laced further by other string instruments. If this is a score you have not yet heard, then I urge you to check it out. It was released by Movie Score Media but is still available on all digital platforms.
Another interesting Horror/thriller is THE LAST WINTER, like I SELL THEDEAD the movie was produced by Glass Eye Pix, and it also starred Ron Perlman, the music is a collaboration or at least it is credited to both Jeff Grace and Anton Sanko, the latter was responsible for the scores for OUIJA, FRACTURED and RABBIT HOLE amongst others, and the cues that he is credited with on THE LAST WINTER are quite complex and atonal in there sound and style, whereas the cues that are credited to Jeff Grace have within them melodic content that is quite rich and even grandiose in places, such as the opening cue NORTH. Grace employing strings and piano to fashion thematic material. Again, released by Movie Score Media, its well worth checking out. Jeff Grace is at times thought of as a composer of horror scores, but this is not entirely true, although he has scored his fair share of films within this genre, what I do like about his music is that it does have to it positive thematic qualities, even if the cue either begins or leads into something that is more atonal. Also each of his scores has their own identity, I do not think that there is a uniform sound or a set pattern to the style of this composers music, which for me is a positive, because with each project one gets a score that is right for the project,
COLD IN JULY (2014) is one such example of the composer writing in a non-uniform way, within this score he utilises electronics, which are highly effective. In fact, the score is all synthetic apart from piano, but the composer still manages to bring to fruition compositions that not only serve the movie well but are listenable away from the picture. The movie which was a tense crime thriller, is a fraught edge of your seat movie, and the soundtrack reflects this atmosphere and mood, Grace building the tension and adding depth and greater impact to certain scenes, with his subtle but dramatic score.
One of my favourite scores by Jeff Grace is from the movie HELLBENDERS (2012), (no not the Italian western), but a movie that focuses upon The Augustine Interfaith Order of Hell bound Saints, which is a team made up of blasphemous ministers who live in a constant state of debauchery, working to drag the worst of demons that are on earth back to Hell. The composers score is superb, with a driving opening theme, that sets the scene for much of the score, it is dramatic, dark and foreboding. Every cue of the soundtrack is entertaining, filled with a robust and vibrant air, each being entertaining and at times harrowing and exciting. Another for your collection, again on most digital platforms thanks to Movie Score Media.
I think the score that many collectors recall when Jeff Grace is mentioned, must be STAKE LAND, this is a horror and a half with a score that is superb. Horror movies in general I feel do not have the power if that is the right word to hold ones attention for the duration, often the plot evaporates or dips, and this is when one starts looking around and your mind wanders a little, but STAKE LAND I thought was an excellent post-apocalyptic movie, well directed and also extremely well portrayed by a not very well known cast. It is a film that has a real story that is alluring and interesting, Think, of the film THE ROAD and add vampires to the equation. Jeff Grace’s affecting score, supports and enhances each moment of the storyline, it not only punctuates and gives a greater impact to the proceedings but is becomes an integral component of the movie. The music of Jeff Grace is something that all of us should experience, he has worked on many motion pictures and television projects, his music has been performed by several well known orchestras and he has worked alongside the likes of Howard Shore as an assistant on THE LORD OF THE RINGS, GANGS OF NEW YORK and PHILIDELPHIA. Several his soundtracks are available from the likes of Movie Score Media and Milan records, as well as being available to stream on digital platforms. The composer has been the recipient of many awards for his work in film.
Other scores by Grace that are certainly worth checking out include, TRIGGER MAN, I CAN SEE YOU, ROOST, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, MEEKS CUTOFF, NIGHT MOVES, to mention but a few.
From the start of the score for Pompeii-Sin City by composer Remo Anzovino.it is apparent that one is listening to a work that oozes quality and a great artistic stature. The compositions are superbly melodic and contain haunting phrases and nuances that develop and build into subtle but affecting tone poems. The composer fashions a work that has many musical faces, each being expressive and vibrant in their own way.
These individual pieces combine to create an effective score which can be dramatic, romantic, and poignant. Composer Remo Anzovino.is one of the most naturally talented and gifted Maestros that i have heard for many years, the score is symphonically led with gracious and emotive piano performances scattered throughout.
The composer creates a sound that is directly and instantly attractive, his individual and inventive style being one that enhances and captures the essence and mood of this documentary film. His eloquent yet subdued compositions adding depth and giving the production a higher level of impact, whilst at the same time creating an abundance of atmospheres that maintain an alluring persona. It is a sensitive and wonderfully engaging work, that lace the movie with an ingratiating and rich sound creating various moods.
This documentary explores Pompeii, a city that has over the centuries been shrouded in mystery, it is also a city that has over this time period managed to influence civilisations, via its culture and art, which ranged from the Neoclassicism to the Contemporary. This film conveys the mystery, the story and the influential range of this City through images and words by the great artists and writers who experienced, visited and imagined it: from Pliny the Younger to Picasso, from Emily Dickinson to Jean Cocteau.
The film surprisingly doesn’t just deal with the volcano eruption, an event that has gone down in history and been re-told and passed down the generations, but it examines the everyday life of the City as it was, and relays the to the audience the day to day lifestyle of the inhabitants, how they loved, worshipped, worked, played and lived and their ultimate fate. It is a fascinating watch and supported wonderfully by a musical score that purveys the emotions of the City dwellers and events that took place within its streets and alleyways. The music that composer Remo Anzovino has written for this documentary, is not just music for film, it is music for the heart, music that is enriching, affecting, and haunting. There is in places a contemporary new age sound to the work, but it also posses and conveys a sense of the ancient and the religious. The re-occurring musical pattern is however firmly focused upon the melodic, the delicate and contains a style and sound that has to it a fragility that radiates a gracious and emotive aura. The solo piano interludes are superb, these intricate, intimate and delightfully touching nuances are at various stages enhanced by the use of lilting strings, that are in no way intrusive but supportive which give the compositions and even greater sense of the emotive.
The composer also utilises cello to heighten emotion and an atmosphere that is overflowing with melancholy, this is more prominent within the cue, DOG AT SUNRISE and I have to say I was reminded slightly of the sound achieved by Ennio Morricone on certain cues within his score for MOSES THE LAWGIVER, it is a heartfelt and sorrowful sound, but also one that is highly attractive and affecting. Then we have up-tempo styles which are sprinkled throughout the score as in LUPANARE TWIST, which for me evoked a sound that composers such as Francesco De Masi and Armando Trovajoli employed within some of their film scores of the 1960’ and 1970’s. This is a soundtrack that is varied, and filled with a diversity of styles, textures, and colours. The composer painting a musical picture of the diverse lives of the citizens of POMPEII and at the same time providing the documentary with an effective musical enhancement. The soundtrack album will be released on November 6th through Sony Masterworks, this is most definitely one score you should own.
Its that time of year again, when the nights draw in and its dark by four in the afternoon, the wind seems chilled and there is a definite musky smell of leaves in the air, pumpkins are harvested and people turn into demons for just one night, Halloween is a fun time for most, but it can also have a more sinister and dark side, especially if you run out of goodies for the trick or treaters, (does anyone know how to get eggs and flour off windows?) Here is SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT TWENTY FOUR, I know its not Halloween just yet, but I thought I would post this so you can decide on your listening requirements for the night.
IT’S JUST A BUNCH OF HOCUS POCUS!
So where to start, maybe with something that is not so scary, and does not take the meaning of Halloween too seriously. A film and also a score I love is HOCUS POCUS, a thoroughly entertaining romp, suitable for children of almost any age. A great looking film with a storyline that at times sometimes seems it could happen. Well, a talking cat, three witches back from the dead and three kids that make sure the witches do not get their evil way and basically save the world on all hallows eve. Yep its credible certainly.
The score for the movie is by John Debney, and it was this soundtrack that first alerted me to the talents of this gifted Maestro. When I first saw the trailers and also publicity posters for HOCUS POCUS I was under the impression that is was just another of those Disney kids Halloween movies, which in a roundabout way I suppose it is, but on going to the cinema to see it the first thing that struck me was the infectious and also powerful music that opened the film and the subsequent score itself. In the impressive opening sequence, we see the silhouette of a witch in flight on her broom reflected upon the coastal waters of Salem as John Debney’s exciting, sweeping and flyaway sounding theme gets proceedings underway. The short but highly effective main title which becomes one of the central themes of the score establishes itself quickly and conjures (forgive the pun) up a fantastic atmosphere that is filled with urgency and also mischief and an impish ambiance. The energetic theme subsides as the Witch lands in the autumnal and colourful countryside near a farm and the audience see that we are in fact in the late 17th Century and not in the present day.
The Witch entices a young girl Emily from her home and Debney laces the beginning of this sequence with the composition entitled, GARDEN OF MAGIC, a haunting and delightfully melodic theme that is introduced on piano and mirrored by glockenspiel and touches from triangle, this is further enhanced by woodwind and a light dusting of strings which then rise to develop the theme fully with horns creeping into the composition changing its mood and atmosphere to something that is far more urgent and dramatic as the abducted girls older brother realizes that she has been taken by the witch and sees that a green smoke is rising from the woodland where there lair is, he sends his friend to summon the elders of the village for help and then follows the witch and his sister into the woods in a desperate attempt to rescue her. The cue, GARDEN OF MAGIC was actually composed by James Horner. Horner had been the composer originally commissioned to write the score for HOCUS POCUS, and had penned GARDEN OF MAGIC when the movie was in pre-production because the character portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker had to sing it in the movie. Due to schedule clashes Horner found himself unable to continue working on the composition of the score and he had to pull out. Disney then had to find a composer and Horner and producer David Kirschner suggested John Debney to the studio. Debney utilized Horner’s theme and integrated it into the fabric of his own score, arranging it in a number of different ways and also combining it with his own original thematic properties. In fact track number 2, GARDEN OF MAGIC and THACKERY FOLLOWS EMILY are credited to Horner with Debney acting as arranger and conductor.
Debney’s score for HOCUS POCUS is in a word huge, it is performed by a 92 piece symphony orchestra with choral support and is filled with wistful and grand sweeping musical passages that at times give a gentle nod of recognition to John Williams or maybe in the real action set pieces a hint of Wagner. The work literally overflows with dramatic sounding compositions, and oozes poignant segments which are tinged with melancholy, these are perfectly complimented by and interspersed with comedic undertones that at times can really be filed under the Mickey Mousing style of film scoring simply because of their little nuances and strategically timed and placed appearances add much to the screen action and events. This I think is demonstrated to great effect in the cue, WITCHES LAIR, where one of the Witches Winnie Sanderson (Bette Midler) floors Thackery Binx with one gesture of her finger, Debney effectively underlines this action with a synchronized two note stab.
The soundtrack has never received an official release, the score was issued on a promo compact disc, but this is now ultra-rare and has a high price tag attached to it. The original release contained 19 tracks whereas this excellent expanded release from Intrada has a whopping 27 cues from the score and a further 5 labelled as EXTRAS at the end of the CD, it also contains the vocal SARAH’S THEME which has to be a bonus in any ones book of spells. The original promo, ran for 43 mins, here we are treated to 74 mins and 25 seconds of gloriously entertaining and effervescent music. Debney’s score is in my opinion just as entertaining as the film itself, the music being larger than life and as over the top at times as Bette Midler’s highly entertaining performance and as quirky as Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy’s brilliant characters, the music works with the movie and also has an identity of its own away from the images it was written to enhance, it is an imposing and attractive work that is even more impressive because it was the composers first work for the big screen. I cannot recommend this soundtrack enough, my suggestion is that you grab this very quickly, it will be gone before you can say “Trick or Treat” or “I am going to flour and egg your house”. Wonderfully presented with numerous stills from the movie and a thorough set of notes which are a delight to read.
The Halloween theme in movies has been paired with comedy storylines on many occasions, and for the most part these have worked, remember ABBOTT AND COSTELLO meet FRANKENSTEIN, THE WOLFMAN or DRACULA or indeed any monster or creature that Universal deemed it was ok for them to liaise with. There have also been a number of Haunted house comedic excursions, which are paired with a Halloween setting, but lets now focus on the scarier side of Halloween, So, who’s up for apple bobbing? I warn you I am extremely competitive. But seriously, this time of year we do tend to concentrate on the horror genre, and on all hallows eve many of us sit down to watch the best and at times the worst of this genre for our entertainment, but maybe we should. As I said the tradition in our house is to watch HOCUS POCUS, but maybe we should not be so light and flippant about this time of the year, Halloween is after all a time to be on our guard, it is a time that the dead the evil and the demonic have the upper hand and we are told once again walk the earth. So lets be careful out there, be cautious when you answer your door to trick or treaters, that cute little demon in a pumpkin suit, might be the kid from number thirteen, or is it actually a little demon with designs on taking over your soul and dragging you screaming to Hades.
It’s a season or holiday that we do make light of, even to the extent of the Pound shop in the UK selling Ouija boards, I kid you not, and they have sold out. We humans are pretty stupid when it comes to the unknown, the occult and the world of demons and spirits, so I know lets go to a pound shop buy this thing and conjure up some demonic individuals shall we?
Composer Christopher Young, has as we all are aware of composed his fair share of scores for Horror related movies, HELLRAISER being I think his most popular and well known, and his score for the sequel being equally as famous. The first soundtrack for the HELLRAISER series has remained within my top horror score line up for many years, this year however it has a rival and a recent score too.
It’s the Newton Brothers elegant and unnerving score for the Netflix series THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR, which I reviewed recently in Soundtrack Supplement twenty-three. Suffice to say it is a score you must own, no arguments. Another score I have been listening to recently is from a 2019 movie entitled THE LAST HEROES, it is an Italian production, and mixes a half comedic scenario with serious levels of horror, that are a homage to the many Italian horror movies that have been produced over the years.
The musical score is by composer Aurora Rochez, who recently wrote the atmospheric music for the horror picture CALEB, she employs an array of musical elements including samples, synthetic instrumentation and also uses conventional instruments throughout, each section supporting and embellishing the other to create an at times pop orientated work. However, there are some genuinely interesting moments of dark and sinister scoring present, and I have enjoyed returning to this score a few times during the past weeks. The film is an enjoyable romp and like the score has some genuinely affecting scary moments that are paired with just as many lighter sections. The film draws on the rich heritage of Italian made horror flicks, and begins in a very serious mode, but I would say around mid-way through I became a little confused as to if this was a real scary horror film or a spoof. But the score is effective, and also is a work that one can listen to away from the images and storyline.
Another score worthy of a listen from Aurora Rochez is THE WICKED GIFT, which like CALEB and THE LAST HEROES, are available on digital platforms. Do yourself a favour have a Rochez, Halloween/horror fest. Also look out for the interview with her which is coming soon to Movie Music International.
Lets go back to the 1980’s in fact to 1985, DAY OF THE DEAD is an American made zombiehorror film written and directed by George A. Romero and produced by Richard P. Rubinstein. The film was to be the third in the directors NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD series. Romero described the film as a “tragedy about how a lack of human communication causes chaos and collapse even in this small little pie slice of society. Music was by composer John Harrison, who also performed the music, it is a surprisingly effective score, and the composer manages to not only purvey a tense and nervous atmosphere, but also includes some foot tapping eighties stylised synth tunes along the way.
It’s a score I have always liked, mainly because of the up-beat moments, but it also has some great mood and action cues, which Harrison fashioned on keyboard whilst throwing into the mix short and urgent sounding crashes and stabs for added effect. It is a soundtrack that is easy to listen to, which is rather odd seeing as its from a horror movie. Its still a good one to pop into the CD player or seek out on digital sites and just let it play. Harrison was also responsible for writing the music for CREEPSHOW again a score which he performed.
A STEP TOO FAR?
CANNIBAL HOLOCUASTwas released in 1980, it achieved notoriety because of the graphic use of violence within it. The movie was banned in Italy and all copies were seized by Italian Magistrates, the director Ruggero Deodato was also arrested, initially on obscenity charges but later was charged with multiple counts of murder, because he had said that a number of actors were killed on camera during the filming. Although the director was later cleared of these charges, the movie remained banned in Italy and many other countries. This being due to sexual abuse and cruelty to animals. It’s not a film I would choose to watch and personally I am of the opinion that all copies should be destroyed.
The score by Riz Ortolani has achieved a certain amount of popularity, simply because of the infamous persona of the movie. Its not his best, and it is a score that I have but to be honest do not really listen to, I am surprised that a Maestro if his standing would have even considered scoring this, the composer providing the project with a lacklustre soundtrack, its only saving grace being a lilting central theme, which is in my opinion a direct rip off of Michael Holm’s sugary sounding theme for MARK OF THE DEVIL, which was written a decade before Ortolani supposedly penned this. Other than that, no thanks to the score and the movie, the music be vastly overrated and underwhelming in all departments, the film being a sickening and worthless piece of celluloid, which I would rather forget. In fact, when trick or treaters knock the door, trick them and give them this movie and its soundtrack, they won’t be back. But that is just my opinion.
DRACULA is a character that has featured in numerous movies, he is also a character that has inspired the creation of numerous other Vampiric Lords and Ladies, Vampires I think are probably one of the most popular creatures associated with Halloween, alongside Werewolves and monsters. The first official film to be based on the Stoker story, was as far as I know, the Universal Pictures version from 1931 which starred Bela Lugosi as the Count. Directed by Tod Browning the part of the films central character proved somewhat difficult to cast. Bela Lugosi had already played the infamous Count on stage and had been given rave reviews from theatre critics. But this did not assure Lugosi the part in the movie as Universal were already looking at several actors who they thought were more suited to the part and possibly would bring more to it. However, Lugosi was not one for giving up, he was on tour with the stage play in Los Angeles at the time that the studio was casting for the film and presented himself to the producer continuously putting himself forward for the part. Against all the odds, including the actor not being fluent in English, Lugosi was given the part, it was probably something to do with the actor taking a pay cut and agreeing to be paid just 500 dollars a week for the duration of filming.
The film’s producer Carl Laemmie Jnr instructed his writers to take their lead from the stage play and based most of the films screenplay upon it, he also told them to study the unofficial silent movie from nine years previous and create sets similar and get inspiration for the script from this. He wanted his vision of DRACULA to be something of a sensation when it was released, however things did not quite turn out that way, the normally meticulous and highly organised director Tod Browning seemed to be devoid of any of his normal down to earth organisational skills and also was rather lack lustre in his approach and attitude towards the project often passing directing duties to Karl Freund who was Cinematographer on the movie, Freund more or less took over the directorial duties and it was more like Browning was his assistant. The film never had an original score instead it was tracked with classical music, which was at that time nothing unusual, but seeing as this was supposed to be a landmark film, maybe the studio should have at least considered investing in an original score. It did however get an original soundtrack when it was restored and re-issued in 1998 when composer Philip Glass wrote music to accompany the movie.
The picture was premiered in 1931, but the studio arranged a showing two days previous to its official release, again nothing unusual as studios did this from time to time to get reactions of the audience, but this was something that was done more in advance of the films premiere, Universal used the early showing as an opportunity to orchestrate a publicity campaign, convincing certain reporters to say that members of the audience fainted in shock from the horror they were witnessing on screen. This of course was a shrewd PR move and it created a lot of interest in the movie, with many people deciding to go and see it out of curiosity rather than out of wanting to see the film. Whilst DRACULA was in production an alternative Spanish version of the story was being filmed at the same time as Browning was shooting his. The Lugosi version was being filmed during the day-time, the Spanish version of the film being made during the twilight and night time hours.
It was nothing unusual for an alternative foreign language version to be made in Hollywood at that time, often in Spanish, but also there were versions of certain films made in German, French and Italian. Directed by George Melford, again it is an adaptation of the Stoker novel and based upon the same stage play which starred Lugosi in the role of the infamous Count. Carl Laemmie Jnr was also one of the producers for this alternative version, with the screenplay being provided by Baltasar Fernandez and assisted by writer Garrett Ford who was not credited for his efforts. The part of Dracula was taken by Carlos Villarias who arguably delivered a more believable performance in the role, the actor being encouraged to look at the rushes from the English language film and to study Lugosi in the role and also to imitate his mannerisms.
A more recent incarnation of Stokers DRACULA came in the form of John Badham’ s DRACULA which was in cinemas in 1979. Dracula was played by Frank Langella and he certainly made the part his own, cutting an impressive and striking figure as the Count. This is probably my own personal favourite of all Dracula movies, there is just something about the film that is believable, plus it has good performances from all the supporting cast with standout performances from Sir Laurence Olivier as Van Helsing and Trevor Eve as Johnathan Harker and Donald Pleasance as Dr. Seward, this was a Dracula film that was not only horrific and graphic in places but it was all underlined with a sub plot that was filled with romance, and I for one was on the side of the Count more often than not as the story unfolded on screen. This is an impressive production that I never tire of. The music is by film music royalty, in the form of John Williams.
The composer providing a windswept sound that is filled with flyaway flutes, booming percussion, snarling brass and surging strings that punctuate, enhance, envelope and ingratiate each frame of the film. The music is filled with a lavish and romantic sound that is urgent but at the same time mesmerising, beguiling and attractive. I cannot recommend the film and score enough. The films screenplay was based on the Stokers novel but also took inspiration from the stage play that had been so successful back in the 1930’s. The storyline was altered as the makers of the film wanted this to be a story that revolved around romance and a love lost, the films tagline, A LOVE STORY says it all and this stylish offering is still enthralling and attractive when viewed today. The locations were also ruggedly beautiful and added much to the overall impact of the picture. The movie won The Saturn Award for best horror film in 1979, with Badham being nominated as best Director and Langella also being nominated as best actor.
The film is photographed by Gilbert Taylor whose camera at times caresses the characters and locations. The movie also has convincing make up created by Peter Robb-King. It is probably because the film was a serious and highly dramatic version of the Dracula story that it was successful and highly regarded by most, as audiences had become tired of the Hammer deviations and examples such as LOVE AT FIRST BITE, NOCTURNA and MONSTER SQUAD which were also released in 1979. Badham’s DRACULA was not popular with everyone, but it has in recent years become appreciated more.
Another big feature of Halloween are monster’s all sorts of them, and one lumbering and violent such monster is the creature that Frankenstein created. Hammer films were particularly active in bringing fresh stories of this monster to the screen, between 1956 and 1972, the studio produced seven Frankenstein films, selections from the scores were made available on a stunning compilation released by GDI records a few years ago.
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, in 1956, 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).
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 THESTRANGER CAME HOME which was directed by Terence Fisher. “I got THESTRANGER 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. 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 THEREPTILE, 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.
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 composer’s 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 the TV and it seems to have improved with age, the music and the film both, It doesn’t seem quite so awful now “.
DON’T GO IN THERE!
NO, I mean it do not go in there, don’t go into the unlit cellar, venture into the dark woods and as for opening that door, well just don’t do it. But guess what we always do, and in films you would think they would know better because the music is saying to them, run get out of here, do not go any further, or you will be sorry. If only they could hear the music, but there again they would probably still carry on the path they had set out on. There is just no telling certain people is there? Films that go in this kind of direction as in jumpy movies where the killer or the ghost jumps out at the central characters are not in short supply, I suppose the SCREAM movies could be put into this category of film, as well as being placed in the category of slasher movies. The SCREAM series of films were popular amongst a younger generation of horror fans, maybe because they were in a contemporary setting. WHATS YOUR FAVOURITE SCARY MOVIE? Well she should have said SCREAM, don’t you think? There have been four movies in the series plus a TV series. The music for the movies was the work of composer Marco Beltrami, it is probably true to say that it was Beltrami’s music for SCREAM that got him noticed by fans and also critics, it was because of the way in which he scored the first SCREAM film that he began to become much in demand, firstly on horror movies but then this extended to all genres.
The composer wrote a score that was at times almost operatic, it was an integral component of the movie, and lent much to the storyline that was unfolding on screen. The SCREAM series in my mind created an interest in horror movies, but this is the thing is it a horror movie, ok yes murder mayhem and a demented killer/slasher on the loose. But is it a horror or a thriller, mystery? Either way and whatever you think, its exhilarating and Beltrami’s scores have stood test of time, and who does not love wearing a SCREAM mask at Halloween?
VAMPIRES OR VAMPYR’S?
From a recent horror to something a little more seasoned, and a film and score that I do not recall covering before here on MMI. VAMPYR was released in 1932, its original German title being, Vampyr – Der Traum des Allan Gray,( Vampyr: The Dream of Allan Gray’) Directed by Danish film maker Carl Theodor Dreyer. The film was written by Dreyer and Christen Jul based on elements from J. Sheridan Le Fanu‘s 1872 collection of supernatural stories entitled In a Glass Darkly. Vampyr was financially backed by Nicolas de Gunzburg who starred in the film under the name of Julian West among a mostly non-professional cast. Gunzburg plays the role of Allan Gray, a student of the occult who enters the village of Courtempierre, which is under the curse of a vampire.
Vampyr was a challenging project for filmmaker Dreyer, as it was his first sound film and had to be recorded in three languages, thus this is why the movie has very little dialogue and the director decided to resort to silent movie style title cards that appeared throughout. The film was shot entirely on location and to enhance the atmospheric content, Dreyer opted for a washed-out cinematic technique, utilising soft touch lenses and filters The soundtrack was created in Berlin where the character’s voices, sound effects, and the musical score which was especially written for the film by Wolfgang Zeller, were all recorded.
Vampyr’s release date was delayed, and when it finally opened in Germany it was met but mostly negative reactions from audiences and critics alike. The director decided that he would re-edit the film and when he released it in France, the reactions were more positive. VAMPYR was looked upon at the time of its release as one of Dreyer.s weakest efforts, but in more recent years the film has attained something of a following, with much more positive reactions from critics, who often praise the way in which the movie is photographed and its ground breaking visual effects.
The score by Wolfgang Zeller, is a serviceable one and had to work hard to support the storyline mainly because of the decision to keep the dialogue to the minimum. Zeller was born in Biesenrode, which was part of the Kingdom of Prussia and the then German Empire. He was the son of a vicar, and at an early age studied violin, showing great promise and an aptitude for composition. After leaving high school Zeller continued to study violin Felix Bergerin Munich. He also studied composition with Jean Paul Ertelin Berlin. The composer fought in the first world war and after being discharged due to an injury he began to focus more upon music and made a living out of performing violin. From 1921 through to 1929 Zeller became the in-house composer for The Berlin Volksbuhne Orchestra.
His career as a film music composer began in 1926, when he wrote the music for the ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED, which was an animated movie directed by Lotte Reiniger. He then scored the first full length German film with sound in 1929, which was entitled MELODIE DER WELT and then in 1932 worked on VAMPYR. During the days of the third Reich and the second world war the composer was employed to write music for a number of propaganda films, After the war, the composer continued to write for the cinema, scoring anti-fascist films such as MARRIAGE IN THE SHADOWS which was released in 1947. The composers last scoring assignment came in 1959, for Bernhard Grzimek’s SERENGETI SHALL NOT DIE. The composer died in 1967.Sadly, his subtle and quite unassuming score for VAMPYR is not available on a recording, although there are selections from a handful of his film scores available on a compilation that is available on digital platforms. There are also short cues from VAMPYR on you tube, which will give you an idea as to the style the composer employed on the movie.
Another classic movie dealing with the vampire in this case was NOSFERATU. This is a movie that is so atmospheric, a silent classic that has over the years been restored and musically re-scored on a few occasions, the most memorable I think is the channel four version which contained a specially composed score by British Maestro, James Bernard. The soundtrack was released on Silva Screen, and contains a romantic sounding score in parts, but there is the unmistakable style of Bernard present throughout and the dark foreboding that he created for the infamous Count Dracula in the 1950’s through to the late 1970’s for the Hammer classics, he manages to fashion and formulate for the evil Count Orlock portrayed convincingly by actor, Max Schrek.
Bernard’s score for NOSFERATU-A SYMPHONY OFHORRORS is a masterpiece, the dark and foreboding chords are complimented by subtle and romantically laced interludes, it is a score to be savoured and appreciated, which it can be both within the movie and away from it. I would say that it is as good as the composers works for Hammer and is a score that sometimes is overlooked by fans and critics.
PSHYCO, but without the shower scene.
Often Horror movies old and new mange to instill a fear and dread in watching audiences without the use of gore or buckets of blood. The psychological horror is a sub-genre of film that I for one think are more disturbing than Horror movies showing graphic violence and scenes of copious bloodletting and such like. SAINT MAUD is one such movie, now this is unsettling to say the least and literally released just a few days ago. Writer and director Rose Glass has made a classy and complex psychological horror for your delight and delectation.
It centres upon a young nurse who works in a hospice, and after a deep religious experience and conversion, she takes it upon herself to secure her terminally ill patients salvation.
The musical score for the movie is an intense and mainly atonal listening experience, the music is the work of Adam Janota Bzowski, and I will be honest and say its not the easiest work for a horror movie to listen to, but within the film it is superbly edgy and chilling, maybe music would be the wrong way to describe the majority of the score, because it is more of a soundscape and sound design exercise, but one that works so well for the movie. Listening to the score away from the images and scenarios, is somewhat difficult, but at times there are glimmers of themes, notions of melodies and fleeting nuances that do catch one’s attention.
It is a sinister sounding work, and contains a real foreboding and guttural sound, darkness prevails throughout, and these half-heard melodies and hints of themes make it an even more uneasy listen. So, is it a good horror score, No… it’s an exceptional one, the composer experimenting with combinations of instrumentation and utilising conventional instruments and synthetic elements to create a foreboding and at times totally absorbing sound, the use of various percussive components too makes the work even more interesting, maybe put this on at Halloween, open the door to the trick or treaters and say TRICK!!!! and maybe add a manic laugh to boot.….and watch them run.
Let us go back to 2019 for the next psychic piece of horror, a disturbing watch with an equally disturbing score. DANIEL IS’NT REAL, music by producer and composer Clark, who with every new project seems to alter his style and approach. The score for DANIEL IS’NT REAL is again not an easy work to listen to in places, but I have to say I was surprised in a nice way by the inventiveness and the originality displayed within the score, the composer utilises varying styles, drawing on techno and house elements, to fashion and effective soundtrack, there are also a number of symphonic sounding cues within the score and tracks that I would probably call new-age music, but to be fair its hard to categorise or Pidgeon hole this score at all, there are some realy powerful and driving string effect pieces within the score, one of which SPIRAL CRACKERJACK put me in mind of the style employed by Johnny Greenwood in the film THERE WILL BE BLOOD, specifically the cue entitled FUTURE MARKETS. Which to me was Herrmann-esque to say the least.
The score for DANIEL IS’NTREAL is perfect for the movie, it underscores and enhances the more than unsettling scenario that is taking shape on screen, and because the composer provides the project with such an array of sounds and styles, it is also a soundtrack that remains not only fresh but entertaining in a twisted kind of way. I would recommend a listen, available on digital platforms, also why not try and catch the movie, it focuses upon a young boy (Luke) who is having problems because he witnessed a mass shooting at a coffee shop. Whilst at the scene he meets another boy (Daniel) about the same age and they soon become friends, but adults like Luke’s Mother is unable to see his friend. The boys become good friends and Daniel helps Luke through his parents divorce, the friendship comes to an end when Daniel tells Luke to mix his Mothers medication into a deadly cocktail which he says to Luke will give her superpowers. But, the cocktail of pills nearly kills her, the Mother convinces Luke that Daniel should be sent away and persuades him to lock him up symbolically in a dolls house that belonged to Luke’s Grandmother. The years pass and Luke is now at college but struggling over which way he should go to secure his future, his Mother is ill and has paranoid delusions, including an aversion to seeing her own reflection. Luke is concerned that he will become like his Mother so confides in his therapist. Whilst staying at his childhood home, Luke opens the dolls House and a now adult Daniel return’s. It is a thought-provoking movie, which is aided greatly by Clark’s atmospheric soundtrack. I hope that I have given you a few ideas about what films you might want to watch at Halloween or indeed what musical selections you might pop into the CD player on October 31st.
What I have noticed more and more in recent months is that there are so many new names or names I have never heard before scoring movies, and to be fair the majority of these new composers and their scores are really exciting and inventive. 2067, the movie contains a driving and dark sounding score, it is filled with robust action pieces and also has to it a sound and style that one would have expected to hear back in the 1980’s or in movies such as TOTAL RECALL and ROBOCOP. Composers, Kenneth Lampl and Kirsten Axelholm have fashioned a riveting and haunting work. With strings seeming to be the main stay of the work, with synthetics contributing much to support these and other instrumentation that is utilised. The sound achieved by the composers is an interesting and rewarding one, which begins right from the off with the opening being grand and attention grabbing, which can also be said for around ninety percent of the score, with the remainder having to it a lilting and somewhat melancholy leaning. In cues such as THE PATH TO RESOLUTION we are treated to a strident style of writing, with choir and strings combining with percussive elements and brass flourishes to create a daunting and affecting sound. This in fact could be Hans Zimmer in epic mode, the themes being simple but also effective because of the way in which they are layered, built and orchestrated. There are however lighter aspects and contributions to the score which at times reach a melodious and alluring level. This is a work that is dramatic and romantically laced both at the same time, the composers managing to balance the dark and light perfectly, it showcases sorrowful cello, bombastic brass, percussion and driving but anthem like strings, it may not be a fully symphonic work, but it is a work that at times is somewhat mesmerising, and also one that has a few surprises within it, which is demonstrated in the cue, REMNANTS OF A FORGOTTEN LIFE, this being a heart-felt and highly emotive piece. This is a score that I recommend whole heartedly.
Gordy Haab is a composer who we here at MMI think is a name to watch out for in the future, but there again saying that he is doing pretty well now. One of his recent works is for the video game, STAR WARS-SQUADRONS. As soon as one see’s the name STAR WARS, I think you become interested immediately and with Gordy Haab as composer, one just knows that this is going to be good, well, this is not just good, it is superbly outstanding.
It is obviously Williams-esque but there is far more to this than just a composer writing John Williams styled music, the work contains Haab’s own unique musical stamp, and I for one would not be sorry if this composer were to be given a STAR WARS spin off movie in the very near future, STAR WARS-SQUADRONS is a sweeping and romantic work and has to it a kind of swashbuckling and adventurous, air to it. making it exciting and nail bitingly tense in places. plus it is attractive as just music on its own, which is how I listened to it as I am not really a video gamer.
The exhilarating and thrilling theme laden work has the listener on the edge of their seat numerous times throughout it’s more than an hour duration. It is a work that I can honestly say I listened to and when it was over going straight back to the beginning to start again. The compelling and powerful soundtrack is unrelenting and commanding, take a listen to HYPERSPACE AMBUSH, rasping brass laced with sweeping strings and flyaway flutes along with booming percussion, create an energetic piece that I can only liken to the cue HERE THEY COME from the first STAR WARS movie as scored by Williams. This STAR WARS or at least a video game linked to it at its best, without John Williams being involved. Certainly, one for your collection, you will love this and return to it many times.
THEY LIVE INSIDE US, is a horror movie, it contains a score courtesy of composer Randin Graves, who has written a largely synthetic score, which I must admit did send shivers down my spine and make me feel rather uncomfortable listening on headphones. There is in certain places a similarity to the music from both FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH and HALLOWEEN, with little nuances and quirky sounds that could be from a score by Goblin or Fabio Frizzi, for me the work does evoke Italian horror movie scores from the 1970.s, such as SUSPIRIA and PROFUNDO ROSSO, which is not a negative at all, electronic scores are not really my favourite side of film music, but this one is effective as well as being highly affecting. The orchestration or the way in which the music and sounds (ie; a siren effect) are put together is inventive and entertaining, the composer creates mysterious and distressing interludes throughout that are attractively enjoyable maybe for the wrong reasons, as I know we all love to be scared at some point. Check it out for inclusion on your Halloween music list.
Staying with Horror, and going back to 1986 for the next soundtrack well the film at least, because the score will be released in November of this year for the first time. RAWHEAD REX, is an enjoyable creature-feature which is based on a short horror story by the ever-inventive Clive Barker and directed by George Pavlou. The story of RAWHEAD REX is set in the rural Ireland of the 1980’s. It focuses upon a Demon, that has been alive for millennia and trapped in the depths of hell, it is unleashed on a quiet local farming community. Remembered faintly through a pre-Christian myth, the only one that can stop Rawhead’s bloody rampage is a historian, who desperately must race against the time to stop the evil unleashing more carnage and inflicting bloody mayhem upon the vulnerable community.
The music is by composer Colin Towns who’s scores for films such as FULL CIRCLE and THE WOLVES OF WILOUGHBY CHASE are now looked upon as iconic examples of scoring. Towns is I think one of the many composers who have always created wonderful scores for both film and television but are sadly often overlooked by collectors. He is not just a composer but also a pianist, songwriter, arranger, producer, and has collaborated with many artists during his career. He has been involved with many productions for both the small and big screen, these in recent years include two popular TV series FOYLES WAR and DOC MARTIN for the ITV network. RAWHEAD REX is an accomplished score, it is in my mind everything a horror score should be, with crashing and atmospheric percussion, sinewy strings and abrupt growling brass, it has to it an otherworldly sound, which is assisted greatly by the composers use of choir and eerie voices. He also utilises organ within the work which has the desired effect of being apprehensive but at the same time manages to purvey a sense of sanctuary from the relentless chaos that the demon is inflicting upon the small, isolated community.
The composer also makes effective use of the hymn, THERE IS A GREEN HILL FAR AWAY, integrating it into the score,which again gives comfort to the listener and watching audience amidst a sea of sinister and dramatic compositions. There is also a beautiful pastoral sound to the work, so it’s a score that has everything and one I am confident will become a firm favourite, the soundtrack will be released on Silva Screen UK, in November, its one you should add to your collection, its been a long time coming but has certainly been worth the wait. Recommended.
Let’s stay with the Horror theme, shall we? Why not after all Halloween is nearly upon us, and before long Cadburys Crème eggs will be flooding the supermarket shelves once again. THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW is set in a small-town where the sheriff is contending and struggling with a failed marriage, a rebellious daughter, and a underperforming police department. He becomes involved in trying to solve the mystery of a series of brutal murders that have taken place, all of which have carried out on a night when the moon is full. The Sheriff becomes obsessed with tracking down the murderer, but as he delves deeper, he must try and convince himself that there are no such things as Werewolves, but is there? As the evidence is most convincing that these creatures are more than just folklore legends. The score by Ben Lovett,(or Lovett as he is credited here) is released on Lakeshore records, this is a classy horror soundtrack, and has to it certain quirks of orchestration and a style of composition that is a nod to the sound created by composers such as Bernard Herrmann and in later years Pino Donnagio. The soundtrack also boasts an alluring version of the song LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD performed by Valen, the original I think being recorded by Sam Sham and The Pharaohs back in the mid 1960’s. Listening to the song, makes one realise just how talented Lovett is, the sinister but thematically alluring musical arrangement adding much to the vocal performance.
The score too is inventive as well as entertaining, the Herrmann-esque style really comes to the forefront in tracks such as SECOND CRIME SCENE, and THIRD CRIME SCENE where there is an abundance of percussive elements and the composer utilises driving strings, pizzicato and brass flourishes, which are vibrant thematic and also threatening. These attributes can also be heard in SNOW HOLLOW KILLER, with nods to composer Pino Donaggio manifesting within the dark and virulent electronic support that Lovett enlists to fashion chilling and shadowy interludes. Do yourself a favour check this out, it is a classic sounding horror score for a contemporary movie. Can I also recommend the composers scores for I TRAPPED THE DEVIL and THEWIND, which are also on digital and streaming platforms such as Apple and Spotify.
Jerome Leroy’s score for CHI CHI EM EM is also another soundtrack worth taking a listen to, as is his music for KILLERS WITHIN which was released last year.
Composer Arturo Cardelus too has written an atmospheric soundtrack for BLACK BEACH which is released by Movie score Media, this is a very different style and sound from what we heard before from the composer, it is a brooding work, with dark and foreboding moods that are wonderfully employed and inventively orchestrated, well worth a listen.
BABYTEETH by Amanda Brown is also released digitally, the music is emotive and haunting, with the composer utilising piano, female voices, and strings to purvey a touching and poignant musical persona. This is just a short work, eleven minutes in total, but it is a rewarding listen.
ORIGENES SECRETOS-aka-UNKNOWN ORIGINS is a violent movie, a horror/comedy/thriller, that deals with a serial killer on the loose in Madrid. A comic book-store owner, teams up with a private detective in the hunt for the killer. The film is in Spanish and subtitled, the murders which are based upon the origin stories of various superheroes are graphic and disturbing, you have been warned. The score is a powerful one and the work of Spanish Composer, Federico Jusid. It is a commanding and appealing work which is for the most part symphonic, the composer also putting choral passages to effective use in conjunction with low and dark driving strings that are further supported via edgy and robust strings, both of these are further enhanced by brass and woods, ten out of ten for this one a must have.
For the next score I ask you to come back to 2018, it is a work I have to admit I skipped over at the time of its release, and on taking a listen again recently I have regrets about doing so. COLETTE has a beautiful score by English composer Thomas Ades, who created a highly emotive piano and string led soundtrack for the movie. All I can say about this touching and poignant soundtrack is please just listen, it is lush and opulent, lavish and haunting, with an abundance of glorious themes that literally melt one’s heart. I am sure the compact disc is deleted now, but thankfully it is available digitally. You will not be disappointed in any way it is a must have release.
Do you remember THE LEGEND OF HILLHOUSE which aired on Netflix last year I think, the music for that series was the work of the Newton Brothers, who are actually not Brothers, but I digress, they have just scored another nerve jangling horror series for Netflix in the form of THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR and I have to say it is a superb score, for a horror tale the music is surprisingly romantic and theme led, but I think that sometimes if the music for a tale such as this is gentle and subtle it makes the moments of horror and shock even more effective. I really like this score, it has so many wonderfully melodic pieces within it, the opening music faintly resembling something out of DOWNTON ABBEY because of the use of piano. But these romantic and absorbing themes lull you into a false sense of comfort, and the composers then musically pounce and terrify you. Another great work that you should own. In soundtrack supplement twenty four we go trick or treating and look at soundtracks that are sinister and chilling plus a few that make light of the occassion.
FILM AND TELEVISION MUSIC FROM AROUND THE WORLD. WITH MOVIE REVIEWS AND NEWS FROM ALL OVER THE GLOBE.