Its nearly time? Time for what I hear you ask? Well time for those delightful little munchkins to come knock on your door and demand candy with menaces, threats of eggs and flour and even worse, yes Halloween is nearly upon us and with the approaching all Hallows eve celebrations imminent, we also get the annual landslide of horrors and unmentionable abominations in the world of cinema and TV knocking on our doors. The thing I always ask myself is should we really be celebrating Halloween, isn’t it a bit weird to celebrate the world of dark spirits, goblins, ghouls, devils, demons and witches? This year there are a few movies and TV shows that have already surfaced, because like Christmas which we start preparing for in August, Halloween is starting to creep into the daily routine of many in September or even earlier before the actual day of the dead or is that the undead?
Disney have already unleashed Hocus Pocus 2, which was ok I suppose, I was quite excited about this long-awaited sequel and when I watched it like a kid in a candy store on September 30th, I did have a few reservations and after waiting twenty-nine years for the sequel was it worth it, the jury is still out on that one for me I am afraid. Although it did have a suitably mischievous and sweeping score from composer John Debney. My take on Disney and Hocus Pocus 2, is they decided to go ahead and make it because they saw a chance of cashing in on the idea for a future franchise, and when I say franchise watch them franchise the hell out of it now, the original witches have gone and there are three new spell casters in town, so watch out Salem. (Streaming now on Disney + and the score is on digital outlets). There have also been a few movies firm horror favourites re-surfacing on the various streaming channels, with The Re-boot of The Munster’s also heading our way.
Then we have the new version of Hellraiser (2022), now this looks interesting and the score too by Ben Lovett, is worth a listen, the composer utilising the now familiar theme penned by Chris Young in an innovative and inventive way, with his own score being original and entertaining in a sort of macabre and threatening way. Hellraiser 2022 the score is available now on digital platforms, it’s a commanding work a chilling musical journey that has to it foreboding and sinister aura. Let’s put it this way when listening one does at times feel decidedly uncomfortable because the music is creating a mood and fashioning atmospheres that are dark and uneasy. And that’s without any images. The original Hellraiser theme weaves in and out of the work, adding hints of a fearful and chilling persona, with Lovett enhancing this with his own style and sound. Recommended.
Continuing with Dark Night of the Scarecrow 2, When a mother and her young son are forced to move away from their home and re-locate to a small, rural community, they have no idea of the past terrors that have happened there, and unbeknown to them these horrors are about to be re-awakened by their presence. The dark and shadowy score is the work of Joe Stockton, I suppose one could say that this is a typical horror score, lots of tense and nervous moods which bubble and brew under the surface creating a sense of real unease. This is a brooding and malevolent sounding work, the music conjuring up horror scenarios before they have even happened. The score builds throughout underlining, augmenting, and giving greater impact to the storyline, with the composer at times fashioning haunting themes that have to them a romantic core in a perverse kind of way. It is an effective score and one which I have to say surprised me as there is far more to this work than the normal bangs, crashes, and musical stabs of your average horror score. Its on digital platforms now, check it out if you dare.
The Midnight Club is a Netflix production, which focuses its attention upon a group of terminally ill teenage patients resides at Brightcliffe Hospice, and together they create the Midnight Club. They meet in secret at midnight to tell horror stories. Together the group forms a pact, that whoever dies first would make the effort to contact the rest of the Midnight Club members from beyond the grave. Interesting idea, but maybe its just a little too predictable, the director Mike Flanagan was know for creating really polished horror tales but then he signed to Netflix, and it all seemed to change, with the director concentrating his efforts more on directing a lighter and more audience friendly horror if there is such a thing, I suppose what I am saying is he has become as predictable as Netflix, and instead of bringing to fruition solid and more hard core horror has been lost to a more commercial type of horror. The music for The Midnight Club is by the Newton Brothers, who as far as I am concerned get better with every scoring assignment. The Haunting of Hill House score was excellent as was The Haunting of Bly Manor which were Netflix productions, and both directed by Flanagan. Their work on The Midnight Club is exceptional, the score literally overflows with a rich and succulent musical atmosphere, the composers filling it with beautifully beguiling but at the same time edgy thematic properties. That have to them an oldy worldly style, that gradually becomes more intense and affecting as the score progresses. Recommended. Marvel are even getting in on the Halloween bandwagon or is that the ominous looking dark coach drawn by black hearted stallions at this time of year.
Ok, I digress, Werewolf by Night is the latest from those Marvel studio superheroes, again based on a comic book of the same name. Music this time comes from the ever-busy Michael Giacchino, who has in my opinion written an effective and high-class score for this horror tale. I was a little worried about the composer because he has been so busy of late and everything it seemed had a score by him, and things were beginning to sound very much like they were all from same movie, but I am glad to say the composer has produced a score that is not only supportive but is also entertaining. The stock sounds of Giacchino are still present but for this outing he has penned some interesting and original sounding pieces, the darkness oozes out of the score creating and cementing a foreboding and turbulent identity into its foundation and framework, on which the composer builds upon, adding a powerful and daunting sound that becomes an important and integral part of the storyline. Well worth a listen, it’s on digital platforms now. Halloween is more than just trick or treating, it’s a night when all the spirits that have passed are supposedly brought back to life for one night in a grand fright fest, that often turns into a blood bath or a mass slaughter. Its also a time to tell ghost stories, think of monsters, play tricks on one’s friends and family and be afraid, be very afraid. What’s your favourite scary movie? Sorry did I sound a little freaky then, and that was my best telephone voice to.
A film I like to watch at this time of year is Tigon films production of Witchfinder General (1968) and the British horror Theatre of Blood (1971) both with magnificent but over the top performances by Vincent Price. I also love returning to the wealth of great movies as produced by Hammer and AIP, those heady days of horror with movies such as The Fall of the House of Usher, The Cry of the Banshee, Dracula, Twins of Evil,Kiss of the Vampire, Vampire Circus, etc etc etc, seem so far away now, and films such as these will I am sad to say never see the light of day again, there was just something about the films of the 1960’s and the 1970’s the look of them, the storylines, the acting, and the at times totally non PC content.
The Blood on Satan’s Claw is one such production from 1971, now considered a horror genre classic. It was produced by Tigon films, with many still thinking it’s a Hammer film because it was so polished and believable. It’s a movie that caused more than a stir when it first came to cinema screens. The film was originally meant to be a three-part story in one film that would play out separately, but all having the unearthed remains of Satan linking them together. The stories of Peter Edmonton and his mad fiancé, the possessed village children, and the Judge’s battle with evil were all at first supposed to take place independently.
However, when the script was rewritten it was decided that the plots should be combined to create one central story with many characters and scenarios that would all be brought together at the films conclusion. Linda Hayden was superb in the movie as Angel, her interpretation oozing a wicked and malevolent persona.
The action was aided enormously by the atmospheric score by composer Marc Wilkinson, a soundtrack that was finally released on trunk records in 2007, it is an accomplished and affecting work, that is arguably more popular than the movie itself. The director of the movie Paul Haggard said “Marc wasn’t somebody who would ever give you a stock sound. And I think he absolutely excelled himself on The Blood on Satan’s Claw. It’s certainly one of the best scores I’ve ever had for a film”. The nerve-jangling soundtrack has received its own share of praises and attracted much attention for its use of the Ondes Martenot, an electronic instrument like the theremin, and the cimbalom.
These haunting sonorities, with several others, are used to the maximum in what is otherwise a rather spare and unsettlingly quiet score. Also effective is the composers almost fanatical utilization of a short simple motive based on the tritone, or the Diabolus in Musica which symbolizes the film’s resurrected demon and his total control over his evil disciples, this repeated, possessive sound creates a compelling, hypnotic, and sardonic tone throughout the soundtrack. It’s a perfect soundtrack for any Halloween gathering, play it alongside The Monster Mash, and your guests will be craving more horrific encounters. And maybe even some apple bobbing. I was always told as a kid, why do you want to watch horror films there are enough real scary tings in the world without thinking about more that are not real. And in these troubled times I kind of now agree, but we love to be scared don’t we, well don’t we?
So, what will you watch for Halloween, maybe the Exorcist, or The Devil Rides Out the classic Hammer movie, or even Abbot and Costello meet Dracula? There are so many movies out there, some good some excellent others not so good, but whatever your taste there is something for everyone within the Halloween horror bag. Or if its the sounds of horror, mayhem and the macabre you like, then go over to the Howlin Wolf Records website and see what tricks and treats they have there for you delight.
Or if you have Spotify, please click on this and enjoy a compilation of music for Halloween from MMI.