Let’s start soundtrack supplement 43 with Jakob’s Wife, it has an atmospheric sounding soundtrack written and produced by Tara Busch, and in the initial tracks I have to remark that it evokes the sound of Italian cinema from the late 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s, it would be easy to say that this has a Morricone flavour to it but there is much more here. The composer has created a tense but at that same time bittersweet instrumental sound, and a score that is filled with varying degrees of uneasiness darkness and the sinister. It certainly evokes many of the scores composed by Italian Maestros for Giallo and Horror movies from said period and comes complete with mesmerizing female wordless vocals, delicate but shuddering solo piano, hissing string passages, frenzied and jangling effects and a calm but at the same time chilling church organ cue plus there is a rock orientated song Bloodletting that stands out.

Although this is a soundtrack that has a malevolent musical persona it also contains short but welcomed respites of intricate musical nuances that are delightfully effective. I would say that this is in the main an electronically realized work, but maybe along the way features solo conventional instruments, the combination of these two styles is not only effective but appealing. The harshness at times of the synthetics complimenting the less abrasive sounds of a solo performance. Either way there is no doubt at all that this is an affecting score, with synth chorale effects lacing the tense and apprehensive soundtrack. It is an inventive work and is successful in supporting the storyline as well as being an interesting listen on its own.  The cue Her Lust Part 1 for me is a kind of a contemporary, macabre, and fuzzy sounding version of the cue La Resi Di Conti from For A Few Dollars More, I can almost hear the rhythm of those familiar chimes from Morricone’s composition amongst the electronic tension, but maybe that is just me. As the cue develops it does take on a more modern style, with effects and percussive elements being added. This a score that I think is an accomplished and alluring work, it has to it a mysterious and other- worldly aura that I think will become popular amongst collectors.

The Affair (The Glass Room) is released on Movie Score Media, and again the label has discovered and made available a score that maybe ordinarily collectors might not have become aware of. The music is by composer Antoni Komasa-Lazarkiewicz who has provided the movie with a mesmerizing soundtrack in the classical style. Cello and strings feature throughout as does piano, in this elegant and emotive score. The romanticism or at least fragments of a romantically laced theme run through the work, with the at times subdued soundtrack adding even greater depth and emotive qualities to the storyline.

At times, the music reminded me of the work of Phillip Glass and Michael Nyman, but it also contains the qualities and hints of a style that composers such as Magne, Delerue, and Korzeniowski have employed. Subtle, and understated but always powerful and supporting, this is a wonderfully melodic and melancholy sounding work, and one I recommend to you.

Il Cattivo Poeto (The Bad Poet) is set in 1936, where we see, Giovanni Comini being promoted to Federal, the youngest in Italy. Subsequently he is ordered to go to Rome and is told he has been chosen for an extremely sensitive mission in which he is instructed to observe and keep an eye on Gabriele D’Annun to ensure that he does not stir up any trouble. D’Annunzio is a nationally revered poet who is the State thinks is becoming restless and Mussolini fears that he could damage the alliance with Nazi Germany. However, Comini becomes obsessed with the poet and his work and puts his own career in jeopardy because he begins to doubt the ways of the party of which he is a member. The score is a lilting and quite sparse affair, with the composer Michele Braga utilising piano, strings, and woods to create a melodic and emotion filled soundtrack. At times, the composer also enlists horns that he deploys as background and also martial sounding timpani and percussion, but these initially are again a background, until that is track number ten, Fermare il Duce, when these elements are allowed to flex their musical muscles slightly. The score is a delight, as it is for the most part subtle and unassuming but remains melodic. The end cue of the score is quite affecting and becomes grandiose with percussion rumbling to announce a working of the scores central theme by strings, underlined and punctuated by piano and further embellished by percussion and brass. Worth a listen and available on digital platforms.

To the small screen next and a extremely good score by composer Mark Isham, The Nevers is an HBO series and has recently begun to run on SKY in the UK. There seems to be a landslide of new series on the box recently and all as far as I can see are worth a watch rather than watching repeats of repeats on the BBC and ITV channels. The Nevers is an action-packed fantasy drama, in which we encounter a group of Victorian women who find that they have unusual abilities and are surrounded by enemies but are also on a mission that could change the world. The musical score is also an action filled work, the composer is of course no stranger to the world of film and TV scoring as his polished, inventive, and entertaining score for this series displays. Largely symphonic in its rendition, I feel that this could possibly be one of Isham’s most appealing scores.

It is literally bursting with rich and vibrant themes and has an energy, inventiveness, and melodic aura that maybe I have not heard from the composer in a while. I love the cue We Have Time, as it is a melancholy and affecting piece for piano and strings, with cello also adding its sombre but eloquent voice to the proceedings, it maybe understated but it is filled with emotive power. This style and sound continue in the next cue, The Event, with the emotional content growing and developing, the string section and solo cello also combining to create a truly transfixing sound, which grows even more as the cue progresses realising more and more emotive content. The Nevers is a score one should own. Please take a listen to this beguiling soundtrack.

The same can be said for Isham’s atmospheric work on Judas and the Black Messiah, which is another score you should check out. Both are available on digital platforms.

The movie The Operative was released in 2019, It focuses upon the disappearance of a female spy and her boss who is intent on finding her before she endangers the mission, they were both assigned to. Directed by Yuval Adler the movie stars Martin Freeman and Diane Kruger and has an impressive musical score by composer Frank Ilfman, who has written so many amazing soundtracks in recent years. The Operative is no exception to Ilfman’s high standard with the composer I thought at times evoking a Barry-esque sound. The music is edgy but thematic, conjuring up mystery and intrigue. The soundtrack is again available digitally via Movie Score Media and is amongst the labels recent surge of new releases, this is one that you must take a listen to.  

A composer who I think is very talented is Holly Amber Church, who has scored a number of horror movies, her most recent film score is for another horror, Bad Impulse, in which once again the composer creates a work that is filled with not only edgy and jumpy sections but also it has real thematic quality, even when the going begins to get really dramatic and action led for example, there are still hints and fragments of thematic nuances. The score itself is quite unsettling, it has sinewy and uneasy sounding passages, the composer utilising electronics, and thundering effects that at times seem distorted and filled with menace. Again, another score you should take a listen to, in many ways reminiscent of the style of both Joseph Bashir and Christopher Young, harrowing, terrifying and haunting.

Another horror soundtrack next for your delectation so get out from behind the sofa and listen to Baphomet.  The Richardson family celebrates their 28-year-old daughter’s pregnancy in Northern California. The celebration is interrupted when a Satanic cult member, Aksel Brandr, pays them an unexpected visit. Aksel, on behalf of the cult’s leader Henrik Brandr, offers to pay the family a large sum for ownership of their land. Jacob Richardson, the father, rejects the offer due to the priceless sentimental value of their home.

Henrik and his cult, displeased, begin to put devastating curses upon the Richardson’s, trying to force them off their land – even if it means murdering them. After suffering unexplainable tragedies, the Richardson’s seek help from Marybeth, a white witch high priestess. They soon discover a terrible secret about their home, revealing why it is so valuable to the cult. They realize they must protect their property from the cult at all costs, and a violent battle between good and evil ensues. So, a typical day in the neighbourhood then? The score for Baphomet is the work of Fabio Amurri with the recording also including a handful of hard rock/thrash songs by various artists. Amurri’s score is a serviceable one, but at times springs into something that is quite harrowing, grand, and perplexing, it is a score filled with chaotic and menacing passages, and a mix of both synthetic and symphonic although I suspect the latter is minimal. The mix of score and song works very well and the two very different styles surprisingly compliment one another. Amurri, graduated from the “G. Rossini” Conservatoire in Pesaro, where he studied Classical Composition and Electronic Music. The score for Baphomet is inventive and includes some eerie and disturbing sounds which add to the already uneasy storyline. Check it out on digital platforms.

Well, here is something different, An Extremist group travels back in time to assassinate Christ before the Crucifixion. The fate of the world depends on a genius with no faith…and a man who has lost his. Different, yes, and the score well its brilliant, penned by composers Chris George and Jim Carrol. Black Easter has to it a driving undercurrent for the majority its duration, the composers creating, introducing, and developing so many themes which for me are evocative of the style of the late Jerry Goldsmith in places, it sounds grandiose and melodic and although relatively brief certainly makes an impression upon the listener. It could be symphonic, but I think its almost totally synthesised, but the music is still melodious and appealing. The Love Theme is gorgeously thematic and lush, with action cues being driving and other cues such as Pain of Loss and Resurrection being inspiring, and emotive. Another one for the collection.

Luz, the Flower of Evil is another interesting movie, released in 2019 this Spanish made Fantasy, Horror, Western certainly leans towards the filmic notions and styles of filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky. Set in the mountains, in a community led by a preacher named El Señor, a new child who is supposed to be the new messiah, is born, and with him destruction and redemption are unleashed. Soon, everything changes, not only for the town, but in the preacher’s home as his three daughters start to wonder about the real origins of God, the nature of love, pleasure, and inner freedom. A thought-provoking story and movie which has a highly atmospheric sounding score by composer Brian Heater. I say atmospheric as in it suits the scenarios of the movie, but it is not a soundtrack I would say stands up away from the images on screen, how can I put it? It’s an acquired taste in certain areas. But nevertheless, it still does have its moments that are innovative as well as interesting, and as everyone’s taste is different it could appeal to many. Why not investigate the score on Spotify.  

Other releases that you might want to peruse include the varied and original music for Domina by Samuel Sim, Nathan Barr’s edgy but stunning score for the Netflix TV series Halston, which also includes a handful of songs.

Oxygen by Rob, is also worth a listen, as is Jordan Davis’s music for Rubaru which is delicate fragile and wonderfully melodious,

Also mention must be made of Assassins Creed Valhalla-Wrath of the Druids, the game score by Max Aruj.  Composer Matthew James has also written an 80’s sounding synth/soundscape score for The Djinn.

And Nicholas Brittel has provided a gloriously fun and alluring soundtrack for Disney’s Cruella. The cue Baroque Ball is so evocative of so many French composers such as Lai, Legrand, De Roubaix and Magne and has to it an almost 1960’s retro flavour the composer utilising female voice to relay the central theme. This one is a winner for sure and a score that I have already listened to over and over. So, what better way to close soundtrack supplement forty-three, with a soundtrack that I am confident will impress and entertain, go check it out.   


There is certainly no doubt whatsoever that by the time the 1970’s dawned that Hammer films were indeed struggling financially and also finding it difficult to maintain the standards that they had done in the glory days of the studio which many agree was in the late 1950’s and throughout the 1960’s. They had in fact probably been responsible for their own slow demise because of their insistence on up-dating the Dracula cycle, which many have never agreed with, myself included. Because how do you go back when you have placed a Gothic horror character into a contemporary setting? However, amongst numerous movies that the studio did release in the seventies, there were some shining examples that had a feint glimmer of vintage or classic Hammer productions as in Vampire Circus and The Vampire Lovers, even if they did have to resort to exposing certain parts of various ladies anatomies to get audiences interested. However, one movie that they released in the early 1970’s that was different and well, quite intelligently made was Demons of the Mind, that was in UK cinemas in 1972. I cannot really say that this is a movie that has a cult like following, but I do look upon it in a similar way because it is a polished and also thought-provoking motion picture.

Demons of the Mind is also different from what we would ordinarily expect from Hammer, and that is probably why it was less than a runaway success at the box office, it seemed that many people were saying it’s a great movie, but it’s a Hammer horror. Well, yes, it is a Hammer film and yes it has degrees of the horror element, but there is so much more to this motion picture that provokes interest from the audience. When I think of Demons of the Mind, I also remember films such as the studios excellent Fear in The Night also from 1972, which I think is the closest we will get to a British version of a Giallo movie all’a Argento etc. With films such The Bird with the Crystal Plumage coming to mind. And Crescendo again from 1972, which is a truly underrated movie. Hammer were great at Gothic horror’s but were also exceptionally good at the psychological or cerebral tale. Demons of the Mind was a favourite of composer Harry Robinson who worked on the movie.  As he said in interview.

“I think out of all my Hammer scores I prefer Demons of the Mind, to anything else I did for the studio. I also thought the film was particularly good. It was a horror I suppose, but it was also a film that made you think a little. It was to be called Blood will have Blood, but the censors decided that you could not have blood in the title twice – why I am not sure? The film called for a score that obviously matched its storyline, but I also had a chance to be melodic on this picture which was a nice change from all the atonal and loud non- musical stuff. I used traditional instrumentation and enhanced this with a moog synthesiser”

Demons of the Mind was directed by Peter Sykes, who had before this directed the experimental psychedelic movie The Committee in 1968, which was probably better known for its soundtrack by Pink Floyd. He had also directed a handful of The Avengers TV series from 1966 through to 1969. Sykes went onto work on several movies but none that exactly fired up cinema goers, the big screen version of Steptoe and Son for example, and The House in Nightmare Park, which starred Frankie Howard and Ray Milland. Both movies being released in 1973. He also helmed Hammer’s To the Devil a Daughter in 1976, and in 1980 directed several episodes of the popular UK TV soap Emmerdale Farm, now called Emmerdale. Demons of the Mind focuses upon a well to do widower Baron Zorn, played by Robert Hardy, who keeps his adult children Emil (Shane Briant) and Elizabeth (Gillian Hills) under lock and key, locked away from everything. He lives in constant fear that they will go mad as their Mother did.

He then decides to invite doctor Falkenberg (Patrick Magee) to stay and see if he can help his children who are kept sedated and apart because of their incestuous attraction to each other. The doctor’s unorthodox ways do not however improve matters and when there are murders locally the villagers call in a holy man to track down the murderer. The role of Gillian was originally to be played by Marianne Faithful, but she eventually declined, the part played by Robert Hardy, was also offered to both Dirk Bogarde and Paul Schofield who both declined.

The film also starred Yvonne Mitchell as the housekeeper and Michael Hordern as the Holy man. With Paul Jones as Carl Richter. Writer Christopher Wicking was not pleased about Hardy being given the lead role, as he wanted either Bogarde or Schofield, but when they turned down the part Hammer films felt that they could not ask their leading actors Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing to even consider the movie. Thus, enter Hardy. The film has definitely improved with age if that is at all possible.

Talking to composer tom howe.

I think its true to say that thousands if not more people are already familiar with your music because of the success of the Great British Bake-Off series, how did you become involved with the series, and when you are working on the series do you recycle any of the cues that you may have used previously because I would imagine it’s a very tight schedule?

I had worked with the director, Andy Devonshire, recently on a documentary and he asked me if I was up for getting involved. Neither of us realised how successful the show would become! The first season Andy came round to my studio with coffee and donuts and literally sat with me as I wrote the music, so I had instant feedback. A particularly useful way of working when you are trying to find a sound. He is incredibly easy going and let me just get on with it, but when I did something, he liked he would comment and then I would move further in that direction. As I move through each season I have more and more music to play with. I now have music for each moment, so I write less original material each year, but I reuse themes and ideas in new pieces.

What size orchestra or ensemble do you use when working on the series?

I made the decision to keep the music more chamber size and not over do anything. I didn’t have budget for orchestral sessions and the music in the early seasons was made up of my samples, myself on clarinet, guitar, piano and percussion. As the seasons moved on, so did the quality of orchestral samples (companies like Spitfire Audio and Cinesamples came to the foreground when they hadn’t existed before) and so I was able to develop the palette into a larger sound when needed using the samples. I still lean heavily in guitar and clarinet. I think that each episode is an hour in duration and as far as I can hear the music is continuous is the score for the series more or less a wall to wall score as in continuous? Pretty much! You have also scored several feature films, is there a great deal of difference working on a TV series and scoring a motion picture? I am always trying to acheive the same things whether it’s film or tv, find the emotional beat/score the action etc.., but when a TV show runs and runs as the Bake Off has it is a total delight. Each time I start a new project I have the pressure of having to find “the sound”, whether that’s sonically or thematically, but in the case of Bake Off each new season feels familiar and I know exactly what I need to do. I work with the same editor (Simon Evans) each time and we have a real rapport and short hand, which takes time to establish, but after 11 years it’s innate!

Most of your scores have been for TV series, with some of these running for many episodes, when you are scoring a series with numerous episodes do you get to score these in the order that they will be screened, and do you think that a catchy theme or something that is melodic can help viewers identify with the series?

This varies each time. Often the episodes are out of order, but not by that much. So you might have 2 or 3 edits running at the same time so I might score 1 and 3 then do 2 and 4 or something like that. If it’s a drama series I have read the scripts and had conversations with the right people to know what the arc and overall story are so I can get a sense of what the music needs to do over a season arc. I absolutely think that a catchy theme or sonic motif can help the viewers identity with a series. You think of all those shows from things like Knight Rider to Game Of Thrones and how those musical nuggets become so important. What musical education did you receive, and were there any areas of music that you focused upon more than others? Musical family, Instruments from young, choir school, studied at school and further education too. I focused on guitar heavily and wanted to be in a band for a long period. I did a lot of session work and pushed that, but education wise the most useful thing I learnt and continue to try and constantly get better at is orchestration.

Were you always conscious of music even as a child, and were any of your family musical at all?

Yes always. My Dad played drums, guitar piano and organ (in church) and my parents sung in the church choir. My Dad used to always buy records on the weekend and then we’d turn it up loud and listen through.

Do you work on your own orchestrations and do you feel that orchestration is an important part of the process of composition?

I do and my demos are always fully detailed with the information I want (see your question in Upside Down Magic) and it is part of the process for me, but I know there are all kinds of methods. There is no right or wrong way, but when I write a melody or line I naturally have an inclination to break it across different instruments or change the colours as I move along. I suppose that’s a taste thing, not sure, but I know plenty of brilliant composers who start with a sound or something else and achieve what they are looking for.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman is a wonderfully thematic score, do you think in recent years there has been a trend for films to be scored with soundscapes as opposed to music, with the old fashion main title theme being abandoned, is this just a trend and do you think the themes will return?

I really enjoyed working on that. Angela was a great director and was keen to hear melodies in her film, which as you say can be rare. A lot of films nowdays are soundscapey. I don’t know if it’s a trend thing. Sometimes soundscapes and more textural things are the right tool for the job, but it does seem to be the current default. When you are scoring a project, how many times do you like to see a movie before starting work on ideas for the score and where music should be placed etc? I watch it on loop until I know every tick of every character. Every film has a natural tempo and the more I watch it the more I get into that and know where the music should be placed. I get into where people are breathing or blinking, the lot. It’s a little crazy!

If a soundtrack of yours is to get a release either as a CD or on digital platforms, are you involved in the content or in the selection of what will actually go onto the recording?

Usually I am involved, but not always. It’s tough deciding what to put on! I also view the soundtrack as different to the film, in that I don’t want every cue on there. I want the soundtrack to be the best listening experience I can make whereas the score in the film is there to support the film.

Shaun the Sheep Farmageddon is a great score and so much fun too, it seems to parody so many sci-fi movie scores and has a grand sound in places, how much time did you have to write and record the score and do animated films require more music than say live action films?

I was on this film for around 18 months, which is very unusual. The reason I was is that there is no dialogue, so long before they animated I was scoring to story board to try and help people decipher what was going on during playbacks. This meant I got all my themes sorted out before I actually scored the film properly nearer the end. It was a monumental amount of work though. In the end I think I wrote around 4-5 hours of music which in the end became 85 minutes. There is always a lot of music in animations and you often start earlier so it is usually takes up more time.

What composers or artists would you Say have influenced you in the way you score a movie or the style of music that you write?

David Bowie, Beatles, George Butterworth, Elgar, Stravinsky and from film: John Williams, Bernard Hermann, Harry Gregson-Williams.

Up Side Down Magic is a fantastic score, its filled with some brilliant themes and also contains haunting melodies and robust action cues. What size orchestra did you have for and what percentage of the work was realized via electronic instrumentation?

This was a very interesting challenging project due to where the world went at that time. I had a lot of fun on it writing themes and using different colours for different characters. I started scoring just as the world locked down and at that point there was no way to record anything. Studios were shut and I had to deliver. After some back and forth with Disney about the best way forward we decided to use my demos. The score you hear is straight from my computer with my samples. I had them mixed by the fantastic Forest Christenson to make them 5.1 and movie ready, but what you hear is what I created on my computer and comes back to my earlier point of what I aim for in my demos detail and orchestration wise.

What is coming next for you?

A BBC nature series, Ted Lasso 2 and more Aardman,


Now I always felt that this was a movie that was a little odd, mind you any movie which has a mythical creature or being at its core must I suppose be looked upon with some trepidations don’t you think, after all do vampires exist, well I have never met one and I know quite a few odd balls. I saw the film initially on TV and at the time thought ummm, well that was different, but did I think this because I had already been somewhat conditioned about the folklore surrounding the Vampire by previous Hammer and Universal movies? When I thought of a vampire straight away, I had a mental image of Dracula or at least Christopher Lee as the Count, simply because of the generation I am from and the films that I grew up with. It may come as a surprise when I tell you that I saw the Hammer incarnations of Stokers famous Count before viewing the Lugosi movies as produced by Universal in glorious monochrome. I remember well seeing my first Dracula which was the 1958 Hammer production which was entitled The Horror of Dracula in the U.S.A. As the credits rolled and the music thundered, I felt scared I know it sounds silly, but I was just fifteen and had manage to persuade the lady on the ticket office I was old enough to see an X cert movie. The sight of the coffin being spattered with blood in the opening credits of the film made me think maybe this was not such a good idea. The thing is it was showing with Dracula Prince of Darkness, so I sat literally frozen to the itchy cinema seat in the Duke of York cinema Brighton, fixed on the screen. After a while it was ok, I was used to it or was I? I don’t think we ever fully grow out of being apprehensive around horror movies and I still find that those early Hammer movies with the rich colours, the wonderfully atmospheric sets, day for night sequences and the music a little bit scary, don’t you? 

I think this is why I found Kronos a bit harder to swallow, the way in which the vampire killed was different, the way in which the vampire could be dispatched and vanquished was also different although there were certain methods from the more traditional movies included within its storyline. This I think was something to do with the way in which the story was conceived and also because of the production team and director. Even the musical score was different, and the lead actor too was more of a swashbuckler and mercenary than a professor or expert on the occult, although he was surrounded by a team of people who seemed to know what they were doing.

At times I even noticed a style that maybe would have been inspired by the films of Kurosawa or Leone, especially in the scenes involving Kronos and the character Kerro played by Ian Hendry who was supported by his band of cutthroats who are paid to murder Kronos. But initially as I say I was a little confused and decidedly unimpressed on my first viewing. Until I sat down one evening and watched the movie on DVD and ended up loving it because of its inventiveness and its innovative approach to the tales of the vampire. Mixing mystery, with adventure and sword play with vampirism certainly worked and the performances by the impressive cast were also a bonus.

This although offbeat compared with other Hammer vampire movies was a polished and wonderfully dramatic production. Directed by Brian Clemens who also penned the story, as well as acting as co-producer on the movie with Albert Fennel whom he was already associated with via their collaborations on popular TV series such as The Avengers and The New Avengers and had also produced Doctor Jekyll and Sister Hyde in 1971 for Hammer which was an interesting take on the original story by Robert Louis Stephenson.

The score for Captain Kronos was by Laurie Johnson, who was the third member of the partnership with Clemens and Fennel. Johnson of course was a well-known figure in the world of TV and film music as well as being an important figure in British music as a composer and an arranger. His themes for the already mentioned The Avengers and New Avengers are still popular today, but unless you are a Hammer fan or a film music collector one would probably not associate Johnson with a Hammer Gothic horror and it was to be the only Hammer movie that the composer worked upon, and in interview he spoke to me about the film and his score.

“I became involved on Kronos, because it had been written and directed by Brian Clemens, who had also been the main script writer on The Avengers, and at around the time of Kronos he had become a partner with myself and Albert Fennel. The movie was a quite different approach to a vampire. Which I found refreshing, I was given about six weeks to score the film or thereabouts I cannot recollect the exact amount of time that I had to score the picture, but I always specified a minimum of one month. The orchestra on the score consisted of a large string section, horns, and solo trumpet. Philip Martell was musical director for Hammer, so it was he who conducted Kronos. I found him to be a very able and affable person, and I had in fact employed him myself on several occasions as associate conductor. This is an arrangement that I found extremely helpful, as it enabled me to either conduct or supervise from the control room, as I felt necessary. Over the years this was an arrangement that also suited my long-term friend and business partner Bernard Herrmann and myself on both our film and recording sessions.”

As well as Johnson’s score there were sections of music utilized within the movie which had been composed by Malcolm Williamson, but I am unsure if these were additional cues or used as fillers or maybe sections that were added after the actual scoring had ceased and the producers wanted more music? But this was not unusual and had happened both before and after Kronos on other Hammer films, the MD whoever they were at the time selecting cues to add to the original score for greater effect. Johnson’s score is an accomplished one, with the driving main title theme being one of the many highpoints of the work. The ten note theme performed by solo trumpet which is used throughout and is a vital component of the pulsating central theme, has I have to say has similar attributes to the theme that Johnson wrote for The Belstone Fox in 1973, which manifests itself in that scores core theme and becomes more prominent in the Hunt sequence of the movie. This trumpet solo for Kronos is at times given a softer rendition via faraway sounding horns in a handful of cues, thus making it more of a gentle and calming effect in non-action scenes. Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter is probably one of Hammers best film scores, the composer creating a mystical and malevolent sound throughout. The music was released onto compact disc by the BSX label in the United States under license from the UK label GDI (who released several Hammer soundtracks) and has subsequently been made available on digital platforms such as Spotify. It has to it an uneasy but at the same time martial sound, with certain nods of acknowledgement to the style of composer Bernard Herrmann, with low woods and percussive elements being integrated into the soundtrack and evoking Herrmann’s Mysterious Island and Jason and the Argonauts. The composer also provides some more melodic and even religious, and romantic flourishes which come as a welcome respite to the remainder of the score which is action themed. There is also subtle use of cymbalom in a handful of cues, which adds atmosphere to the story that is unfolding up on the screen. But it is a four-note, then five-note motif which seems to be constantly present that the composer builds his score upon, with the motif being executed by varying instrumentation and acting as a calling card for Kronos.

The movie was given a late release in 1974 after several concerns being raised by censors in both the UK and the US. In America it was given an R rating and in the UK an X certificate. Because it was thought that the movie contained too much violence and had scenes of a sexual nature with a script that hinted at sexual acts. The movie was to be the first of a series of films to feature the titular character, but sadly this did not come to fruition.

Set in 16th Century England during the European or Protestant Reformation. Dr. Marcus played by the excellent John Carson decides that he has to call in Captain Kronos portrayed by Horst Janson, with whom he served in the army to his village which is plagued by mysterious deaths which are a linked by the victims passing away with accelerated aging. Kronos and his companion, the Hunchback Professor Hieronymus Grost  portrayed by another wonderful actor John Cater are professional Vampire Hunters.

Grost explains to the initially sceptical Marcus that the dead women are victims of a Vampire who drains not blood but youth, and that there are “As many species of vampire as there are beasts of prey”. The discovery of another victim soon after the Vampire hunters arrive in the village confirms Grost’s explanation. On their travels Kronos and Grost  meet and take in a local Gypsy girl, Carla played by the beautiful actress Caroline Munro, has been put in the stocks for dancing on the sabbath, the duo release her and she decides to repay their kindness by becoming an assistant of sorts and later a romance between her and Kronos develops and they become lovers.

The intrepid vampire hunters begin to carry out tests in the area to try and find out if there is a vampire roaming the countryside. But they are at first thrown off the scent when told that the person or being responsible for the killings is an old person, which does not fit the persona of a youth draining vampire, who theoretically would become younger after each victim, rather than aging.  

Dr.Marcus decides that he will visit the family of a deceased friend, Lord Hagen Durward, where he speaks with Durward’s son, Paul played by Shane Briant and his beautiful sister Sara (Lois Daine). He however has to make his departure before having an opportunity to talk to his friends widow, the bed-ridden Lady Durward  portrayed by actress Wanda Ventham. While on his return journey Marcus is confronted with a dark figure who is wearing a cloak riding through the woods, Marcus encounters a cloaked figure which leaves him shaken and shocked as he discovers fresh blood on his lips.

Meanwhile Kronos and Grost are at a local inn when they are confronted by a handful of brigands led by Kerro (Ian Hendry). They have been paid by Lady Durward to kill Kronos. They fail as Kronos far outmatches all of them. This is one of the scenes where I was reminded of both the genre of the Italian western and the films of Kurosawa, Kronos killing all three of the thugs with two swipes of his sword. After Kerro ridicules Grost for being a hunchback. The scene is moderately violent, but it is the barman and bar maid ducking down behind the bar that reminded me of the delicate balance between an act of violence and comedy think of the mule scene, in A Fistful of Dollars for example. Whilst this is taking place Marcus enlists the help of Carla and together, they rig up a network of traps in the form of bells on strings and ribbons in the woods so if the vampire touches them, they are all connected and will alert them.  

A giant bat then kills a young girl in a horrific and bloody attack, and Marcus then realises he is a vampire or at least is turning into one. He pleads with his old friend Kronos to kill him, after which follows a horrendous and painful to watch sequence where both Kronos and Grost attempt to kill Marcus, with a stake, by hanging, and other such methods, by accident Kronos pierces his friend’s chest with a metal cross. After determining the way to kill a vampire Kronos and Grost take a metal cross from the graveyard and after fighting off the villagers manages to turn the metal from the cross into a sword, a sword that will kill vampires and in the hands of the Captain it is indeed a deadly weapon.

After waiting and watching Kronos ends up in the Durward mansion and is faced with a youthful looking Lady Durward who has hypnotised both her children and Carla, she has resurrected her dead husband Hagen (William Hobbs) and offers Carla to him, Kronos then steps into the picture and a deadly duel begins between Hagen and the Captain.

In which Lord Durward is killed after which Kronos despatches Lady Durward, and releases both her children and Carla from her grasp. The end sequence is an impressive one and vastly different from any of the other vampire movie as produced by Hammer. The film concludes with Kronos and Grost heading off into the sunrise bidding Carla farewell and moving onto more adventures, so the producers left the audience wanting more and maybe expecting more, but sadly, these adventures have never been filmed, because it was during this period the 1970’s, that Hammer developed financial problems which forced them to stop production.

There were however sequels in the form of comic books as published by The House of Hammer in 1976 and 1977 also Kronos rode again in Hammers Halls of Horror in1978 and in 2018 in the Titan comics publication. There was also a novelisation of the film published in 2011 penned by Guy Adams. Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter maybe different, but its an attention-grabbing motion picture, and because it is so different it has over the years attained a cult classic status.  


Movie score media spotlight reviews.

Just as I finished soundtrack supplement Movie Score media continued to surge forwards and onwards and upwards with even more great soundtrack releases, so rather than wait till the next Soundtrack Supplement, I thought that I would review the releases in this special MSM review article. In my opinion Movie Score Media is one of the very few labels that gives soundtrack collectors what they want, as in great film music but maybe it’s not from the normal well-known composers, or usual suspects as it were, thus this industrious and groundbreaking label are always alerting collectors to composers new. Plus, every now and then they uncover and issue a score that has not been released before by an established or known composer.

Amongst the latest batch of soundtrack superb-ness is Space Truckers a movie that was released back in 1995 with a brilliant score by composer Colin Towns.  Directed by Stuart Gordon (Robot Jox, Fortress, The Pit and The Pendulum, Re- Animator, From Beyond and Dolls) who sadly passed away in 2020 and to whose memory this world premiere release is dedicated. Following his success with Fortress the filmmaker was given a larger budget to work with on Space Truckers, which allowed him to create a compelling and larger than life road movie that just happened to be set in space. The movie features actor Dennis Hopper in the role of a space trucker John Canyon who along with his new bride Cindy portrayed by Debi Mazar and apprentice space trucker Mike (Stephen Dorf) set out on a trip carrying believe it or not a shipment of sex dolls. Their trip is watched with interest by space Pirate Captain Macanundo played by Charles Dance who plans to relieve the trio of their unusual cargo. The score which in my very humble opinion is far better than the movie by Colin Towns is a riveting and entertaining listen, the composer combining electronic elements into a score that is largely symphonic and sounds quite grand in places. Movie Score Media should be congratulated for resurrecting this score and bringing it to collectors, it is now available digitally, but a CD and vinyl release is scheduled soon on Quartet and Svart records respectively. 1995 and 1996 were remarkably busy and productive years for the composer because in the space of less than eighteen months he worked on a plethora of projects for TV that included The Buccaneers, The World of Peter Rabbit and friends, The Crow Road, The Wind in the Willows, Bodyguards, The Willows in Winter and for the big screen on Space Truckers.

Towns is one of the UK,s busiest and in demand composers even today, and has penned the soundtracks to many popular contemporary TV shows, including Doc Martin for the ITV network. Space Truckers is I think an essential purchase and will be a score that you will certainly return to after your initial listen. It is a score that is filled with numerous   action laced cues but it is a case of the thematic not being sacrificed for action here with the composer relying heavily upon the string and brass sections of the orchestra to achieve a vibrantly grand and pulsating sound for the movie. Throughout the score there are several themes or fragments of thematic material that sweep in and out of the proceedings making it not only entertaining but memorable as well, with anthem like pieces complemented by a rich and slightly romantic adventurous style. Towns even including a kind of Ho Down square dance theme which has a Copland-esque musical persona in the track Evacuate the Area. The composer also at times drifting into a comedic and lighter mood with cues such as Do You Mind, which is verging upon easy listening/country sound with a tinge of Opera, but also at the same time having to it a mysterious and dreamlike edge. This is a release that I know is welcomed by many already converted devotees of the composer and is also a release that is long overdue. Highly recommended.

The Syfy TV series Van Helsing has been received with mixed reaction from audiences and critics alike. The series which debuted in 2016 has it seems according to who you are either improved or become steadily sillier. But hang on it is a fantasy/Horror series we are talking about here, so maybe the way forward is not to take it too seriously and seeing as we are now in the fifth and final season of the show you would think that viewers would have kind of worked this out. The fantasy horror series stars Kelly Overton as Vanessa Helsing, a distant relative of famous vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, who is resurrected only to discover that vampires have taken over the world. With the unique ability of turning vampires into humans, Vanessa must fight through an apocalyptic wasteland to fight the Elders, the group of vampires that are now in charge. At last, the dramatic and atmospheric music by composer Rich Walters has been released on a soundtrack album which is representative of the composers work on the series.

It is largely a synthetic realized work, with dark and racing cues that add layers and textures to the action that is unfolding on screen. The score is tense and at times foreboding and apprehensive. It also has to it passages both musical and atonal that are affecting and highly effective within the series, horror is a genre that literally cries out for musical support and in this case I feel the composer has answered those cries providing the series with a score that fully supports yet also has a life of its own, the cue I am Sam for example starts out with a dark and thickly atmospheric drone like sound, but this alters as it gathers some pace and the composer also adds elements to it, finally transforming into a cue that resembles a piece that accompanies a showdown situation. Although an electronic score, it still has to it thematic qualities, the composer developing certain themes and utilizing them effectively. Fighting the Elder is a taught and menacing cue, with sharp and ominous stabs accompanied by an up-tempo percussive background. Certainly, the music from Van Helsing is worth a listen, it is a fusion of inventive styles that evoke both Vangelis and the Carpenter/Howarth partnership. Available on digital platforms.  

Another score to look out for is Cloudmaker, which is scored by Dutch composer Matthijs Kieboom, and follows his successful scores to the re-boot of the TV series Van Der Valk, plus Pirates down the Street, Bloody Marie and the brilliant score for the documentary Wild, which if you have not yet heard is highly recommended and also available on MSM. Cloudmaker, is an animated short and has two cues available on digital platforms, both being enchanting and haunting, the score will be represented on the upcoming Movie Score Media compilation Short Cuts 2020 which is due for release at the end of May 2021.

Back to full scores that are now available on digital platforms and we go to Sasquatch, which is a documentary that follows investigative journalist David Holthouse as he attempts to solve a bizarre triple homicide which took place twenty-five years ago and was said to be the work of a mythical creature.

The film has music by the talented and chameleon like American composer H.Scott Salinas, (Rust Creek, Cartel Land, The Ivory Game, A Private War, The Banker, Warrior). His music for Sasquatch is interesting as in the composer integrates a varied handful of styles into the score, using acoustic instruments as well as numerous electronic elements Salinas creates an atmospheric and wonderfully supportive work, which enhances and adds greater depth to the story as it unfolds in front of us. Salinas manages to create affecting cues for the documentary, raising the tension but without the watching audience realizing that there is an actual musical score, his music underlines and punctuates the discoveries of the journalist and enhances the scenario without overwhelming it. It is a masterful soundtrack and a worthy addition to the MSM catalogue.

And that is not all, there are so many more interesting and great titles to come, watch the MSM website for upcoming releases there are so many and all quality items.