Intrada records have announced the premiere release of composer John Beal’s impressive score for the 1981 Universal horror film The FunhouseAlthough the film capitalizes on the horror craze started by the likes of Halloween several years earlier, it did not follow suit in its approach to scoring. Whereas the earlier film featured a legendary electronic score, executive producer Mace Neufeld insisted that a largely orchestral approach was warranted. The orchestra mixed with some electronics brings a sophisticated depth to this early entry in the slasher film genre. While the score starts in a very unassuming fashion that involves a simple piccolo solo which is the initial representation of the core of the composer’s central theme, the mood quickly alters as a searing orchestral stab slices through the piccolo performance stopping it in its tracks and changing the mood from subdued to harrowing in a second. The score reaches its climax in a full-blown passacaglia of sorts, and as the action in the funhouse comes to a head the composer realises and employs a macabre carousel theme that is alluring and unsettling, which he presents in varying arrangements, in the form of a march and a waltz. It is a soundtrack that purveys a chaotic aura and at times has to it a richness that we associate with movies from the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Fans of the horror/slasher genre embraced the score, and it has remained on many wants lists around the world for decades. For the release, Intrada obtained the original 24-track session elements stored at Universal, allowing the composer to oversee a new mix, highlighting details and a stereo image never before heard.  

Watch the soundtrack trailer here.

In the film, teen Amy (Elizabeth Berridge) sneaks out to a traveling carnival with her date, Buzz (Cooper Huckabee), her best friend, Liz (Largo Woodruff), and Liz’s boyfriend, Richie (Miles Chapin). Reluctantly she goes along with their plan to hide overnight in the carnival funhouse. When the four teens witness a murder while locked inside, they become the targets of a shady barker (Kevin Conway) and his monstrous son (Wayne Doba). The film was directed by Tobe Hooper, best known for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist. 

Main Theme.

In some ways Beal’s score evokes the style of Jerry Goldsmith as in his scores for Planet of the Apes, and The Omen, and in certain key areas the music of Italian Maestro Pino Donaggio comes to mind, Don’t Look Now being at the top of that list. It is a classic horror soundtrack and one that should have been released years ago. Thanks to Intrada we can at last savour the glorious and relentless tones, passages, and motifs that John Beal created for the movie. Its overall style and musical persona certainly do not sound like many of the horror scores from the 1980’s. The mix of symphonic and synthetic being seamless thus fashioning a harrowing yet at the same time thematic work. Recommended.

for info and samples click here.


New releases thus far into 2023 are very promising, we have Trevor Rabin’s soundtrack to National Treasure Edge of History, which is a fantastic score, its apprehensive and dramatic but also upbeat and thematic, with some nice Hispanic touches, so a winner all round in my eyes. At times it resembles a Bond score, with tense strings and little rifts from guitar scattered here and there, the composer applying tense and uneasy moods throughout, which do occasionally move up a gear and into a more up-tempo style.

I found it to be a great listen and as music within the Disney + series works so well elevating already potent scenarios, largely realized via strings or maybe synth strings with brass flourishes and pulsating percussive elements this is an interesting score, and I would recommend you take a listen, there are a handful of cues by Paul Linford, but these are on a par with those written by Rabin and in keeping with the remainder of the score stylistically. If you enjoyed the composer’s scores for the movies then you will also be thoroughly entertained by this. Available now to watch on Disney + and the music is on digital platforms. 

Animation next and a comedy adventure Pattie et la Colere di Poseidon which has a score penned by  Olivier Cussac, which is another varied and at times upbeat score, I think animation gives any composer a chance to go over the top and let loose with all sorts of musical ideas, and this is no exception, it’s a work that certainly encompasses an abundance of styles and also yields some really affecting and haunting moments, the composer utilizing choir and strings to great effect at certain points within the score. Here are also mini rock influenced cues as the score progresses, and the whole score has a feel good vibe to it. One to check out, the score is available from Music Box records and on digital platforms.

Kangaroo Valley is a nature documentary, about a young kangaroo joey called Mala, learning what it takes to survive her incredible first year. Only one in five joeys make it to their first birthday. Mala’s greatest enemy is the dingo pack that stalks her family. This Netflix film is scored with emotion and sensitivity by H. Scott Salinas and Logan Stahley, who collaborated on Rust Creek and for me it is probably one of the most refreshing and vibrant scores I have sat and listened to this month, orchestral, and electronic elements meet, and flawlessly combine to create a beautifully thematic work, that contains so many different colours and textures it is difficult to believe that all of the marvellously affecting music is from just one documentary. The composers also employ voice’s that just enhance further the delicate and fragile persona of the score.

The documentary is made by American and Australian production companies, and contains visually stunning landscapes and vistas, its one you should make a point of watching to appreciate just how good the music is and how it drives, punctuates, and elevates the events on screen.  Available on digital platforms, take a listen.

Silva Screen Records will digitally release Nainita Desai’s soundtrack to BBC One Thriller Crossfire on 24th Feburary 2023. Starring Bodyguard and Line of Duty star Keeley Hawes, this three-part high-octane drama follows the story of Jo (Hawes) and her family and friends, as their world is turned upside down by a terrorist attack on the holiday complex where they are staying. Desai’s atmospheric score served the drama well, and underlined perfectly the harrowing events that were being acted out on screen.

Ôyukiumi no Kaina or Kaina of the Great Snow Sea is a two-part animated fantasy TV series from Japan. Set In a world that is enveloped in snow and has canopies reaching to the sky, two people from different communities make an encounter that changes history. The powerful musical score is the work of composers, Misaki Umase and Kohta Yamamoto, at least that is what it says on the film credits but on the soundtrack Umase is not credited, and another composer Hiroyuki Sawano is given the credit? And by the look of things on the track listings each composer contributed their own cues separately.

The first half of the soundtrack being the work of Sawano and from cue five most of the compositions are by Yamamoto, (confusing isn’t it). There are a handful tracks that are credited in Japanese so maybe these are by Umase?

Anyway, this is a great score, sounds as if it realised via symphonic and synthetic performances, it is a commanding and mostly action led score, with sweeping themes and dark sounding passages, I would just go check it out and make up your own mind about this one. It’s on digital platforms.  

As is the brilliant soundtrack to the Polish whodunnit, comedy, murder, mystery and all round gripping and entertaining movie Niebezpieczni dzentelmeni (Dangerous Gentlemen). I will say right now this is a fantastically inventive score and its one that once heard you will not want to be without.

There is just so much going on within the work that you just don’t get time to stop and think because once you have listened to one entertaining cue the next is up and running.  Composer Lukasz Targosz (Broad Peak, All my Friends are Dead) serves up a veritable smorgasbord of styles and sounds, each composition being more affecting as the score moves forward.  

The score is literally overflowing with energy and rich with haunting themes, and brimming with quirky and expressive comedic passages, thus making it one of the most inventive and original soundtracks that I have heard for a long time. I don’t like it, I love it, go and check it out now. On digital platforms. You will I know just adore this.

El Fred Que Crema-The Burning Gold is a 2022 release which explores a little-known aspect of World War II Jewish diaspora: the escape of Jews through Andorra, a micro sovereign country in the Pyrenees Mountain range of the Iberian Peninsula.

Music is by Spanish composer Francesc Gener, there is a wealth of diverse musical styles employed within the score, with effective use of percussion and electronic support which are heard alongside a number of solo violin and cello performances which add emotion and heart to the work, the score is released digitally and whilst there I would recommend you also check out the composers releases Film Works vol 1 and 2.

These contain themes from a further eleven movies as composed by Gener and are a worthy addition to any self-respecting soundtrack aficionado’s collection. I was particularly drawn to his music from Occhi di Cristallo, which has to it a Morricone air, and hints of the darker side of both Goldsmith and Herrmann, it is an edgy yet quietly understated work. The two volumes of music are like a breath of fresh air, and a glimpse into the innovative musical world of a composer I like to think we will be hearing a lot more of.

Another composer that seems to be making an impression is Erwann Kermorvant, his score for the 2012 comedy Bowling has been released on digital platforms, as well as his music from Ma Premiere Fois also from 2012, both are via Plaza Mayor Publishing. But when you go to his credits list you will see that he is a composer that has been active for a good many years writing music that has to it a rich theme led persona and film scores that have the ability to add depth, and a greater atmosphere to each project no matter what genre.

An interesting soundtrack signed by the composer is Mais Qui a Tue Pamela Rose? aka Bullit and Riper was released in 2003 this comedy thriller, introduces us to FBI agents, Bullit and Riper  who are investigating the murder of the young stripper Pamela Rose, who has been found murdered in a hotel room in Bornsville, a small and quite ordinary American city. The composer’s music is key to the movie, creating wonderfully dramatic undercurrents that punctuate and elevate each scenario, at times the music sounds serious, almost epic, but this I think is why the film and the score work so well together, the composer at times scoring away from the obvious comedic situations with an action led piece or a highly dramatic passage, and by doing this making the comedy elements of the storyline even more hilarious.

Comedy is probably one of the most difficult genres to score, but in this case it just works. The composer providing us with a tense, melancholy and at times over the top and luxurious sounding soundtrack that successfully, underlines and supports throughout. It’s worth checking this out, and whilst you are investigating the composers works on the likes of Spotify check out a few of his other scores. The movie Bowling was released in 2012, and its score has only just (thanks to Plaza Mayor) made it to digital platforms, the film focuses upon an HR director who is sent by central government to restructure a hospital in the city of Carhaix in Brittany.

This task it seems involves having to close the loss-making maternity unit. Four women of different ages, backgrounds and convictions form a united front to defend the maternity unit. It is I am informed based upon true events, which involve the staff going on strike in a fashion that only the French and Bretons can. The story displays how such resistance can bring to the surface feelings of regional pride that the central French government has spent the last 400 years or so trying, not very successfully, to obliterate. And instead of quelling it just add fuel to the fire. The score is a delight, it’s a soundtrack that one can put on and are never tempted to skip it forward, you just want to savour every charming and beautifully crafted and performed moment.

There are a variety of styles utilised within the score, and at times I must say I did hear little Horner-esque moments which were certainly welcome. Also, the composer makes effective use of the Binioù (Brittany’s version of the Bagpipes) which are entertaining and stirring. Add to this a Gaelic flavour via a penny whistle sound and upbeat percussion with string accompaniment, and what we have here is an entertaining and marvellously infectious sound.

There are also a number of delicate moments which are performed by piano and solo violin, that purvey an air of fragility. The composer also makes good use of brass, and timpani to further embellish the proceedings. This is a must have score, please check it out ASAP.

From the same year we have  Ma Premiere Fois, which is a romantic drama in which we see Zachary a 20-year-old who is a typical rebellious young man, who collects amorous conquests and school failures. Sarah is 18 years old. Top of her class and fragile, she fills her emotional gaps with perfect control over her life. Nothing should have brought them together, but beyond their fears, their differences and hardships, they will embark on and live an intense love story. Again, this is another score that is late to be available digitally, and again via Plaza Mayor Publishing, the music is as light as air and filled with delightful and exquisitely melodic tone poems. It is a simple but affecting work, a touching and poignant soundtrack that makes use of strings, piano, and woods. With heartfelt cello performances in cues such as April’s Fools and The First Time. The composer providing the movie with subtle melancholy passages that are emotive and mesmerizing.

On listening through for the first time I did detect gentle nods to the likes of Georges Delerue and Philippe Rombi with a faint hint of the romantic side of John Barry on occasion, whether these were intentional I do not know, the composer fashioning sensitive and absorbing motifs and nuances that tug at the listeners heart strings. It is a superb score and one that you should add to your collection.  

Narrated by Brendan Gleeson, produced by RTÉ in partnership with University College Cork as part of the Decade of Centenary commemorations and based on UCC’s “mammoth and magnificent Atlas of the Irish Revolution, three-part documentary series The Irish Civil War tells the epic and often challenging story of the origins, conflict and legacy of the civil war that took place in Ireland in 1922 and 1923. 

Broadcast across three consecutive nights (Sunday 11th, Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th December 2022), the documentary series features extensive archive film footage, photographs and materials, interviews with leading academics, archive interviews with contemporary participants and witnesses, first hand witness accounts read by actors – including Peter Coonan, Tim Creed, Marty Rea, and Orla Wehrly, detailed and dynamic graphic maps based on those featured in the Atlas of the Irish Revolution, and stunning cinematography of the very locations where events took place. 

The music is by Natasa Paulberg an award-winning Australian/Irish composer with compositions for the concert hall, television, film, advertising and gaming is. Natasa, has scored numerous projects including the acclaimed The Hunger documentary, which was narrated by Liam Neeson, and performed by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the National Australia Bank What do you want? advertising campaign and Screen Ireland’s Irish Stories on Screen promotional trailer. She has won two Best Original Score awards for the film The Yellow Dress, Best Original Score and Best Music Award from the International Sound & Film Music Festival for The Hunger and has been nominated for two Jerry Goldsmith Awards in music for film and advertising. Natasa’s piece Atomic Hope, performed by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, was premiered at the New Music Dublin 2021 festival and the documentary feature was premiered at HotDocs 2022.

Her music for The Irish Civil War is powerful and dramatic, and contains colours and textures that purvey apprehension, sorrow, hope and futility. It has to it a dark and at times a sombre persona but is an affecting and effective soundtrack to a documentary that is worth watching. I recommend that you take a listen available now on the likes of Apple and Spotify.

Dennis McCarthy’s music from the TV series Sliders is now available on digital platforms, the eighteen-track album that includes selections from the composers score runs for just over forty minutes.

Also on digital is a thirteen-track edition of Ken Thorne’s score for the 1982 TV movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame, as well as his score for the 1985 Jackie Chan thriller The Protector. Also on digital platforms is a compilation entitled, The Legend of Ennio Morricone, which is basically a collection of the best of Morricone, but all tracks are mediocre cover versions, with awful sound quality, or maybe its just a budget price synth backing track, that is acting as a lack lustre background to the flute solos of Claudio Ferrarini, either way please do not insult the Maestro by even listening to this second rate recording, it is in a word disappointing and that is being overly polite. Sorry but what were thinking when they did this, who needs cover versions of Ennio Morricone these days, in fact did we ever need them?  

Italian soundtracks are getting released on digital platforms at a rate of knots recently, and unlike the re-issue program in Italy for compacts discs the Digital market seems to be faring a little better because a great many that are being issued digitally have not been issued before. For example, a re-mastered edition of the Carlo Rustichelli score for the 1965 movie Letti Sbagliati is available this month on Spotify.

Rustichelli’s score is jazz influenced, with hard hitting big band sounds as well as shakes and twists, alongside which he serves up luxurious sounding strings and soaring trumpet solos as well as his signature organ and mysterious strings, its an entertaining score and nice to have in this re-mastered form. This and Carlo Savina’s score for the crime thriller, Ordine Firmato in Bianco (1974), which is also available in re-mastered form are worthy Italian scores to be added to your collection.

Both were originally owned by CAM and have been re-issued or released because of the Sugar music takeover of the CAM catalogue.

Another Italian score by a well-known composer that makes it to digital platforms is Frittata all’italiana a comedy from 1976, with music penned by Alessandro Alessandroni, it is released on Four Flies records.  That’s it for now…. Happy listening.


The movie industry has its bases, its studios and its famous names and certain locations and buildings that become synonymous with movie making, in England there was Shepperton, Bray, Pinewood etc etc, in the States it all comes under that glitzy and somewhat false persona that is under the Hollywood umbrella, but there is one European studio that seems to stand out and even now is mentioned and lauded by many, Cinecitta quite literally meaning 

The City of Cinema was the base and location for the production of hundreds of films, and not just Italian titles. Films such as Ben Hur, Cleopatra, Sodom and Gomorrah etc all used the facilities the cast of thousands as in extras and the technicians, such as cinematographers, that the studio had on offer.

And the stunning locations also for more contemporary movies in the form of the city of Rome. So let’s take a look at the history of this hallowed place, where Fellini created masterpieces such and Leone cut his film making teeth as an assistant director, this was The Factory of Dreams, the production line of hope and the place where escapism and reality combined to create stunning cinema. Cinecitta was founded in 1937 by Mussolini, Il Duce intended to put to good use what he called the power of cinema in a way that promoted him and his propaganda.

But when WWll broke out the site was taken over by the Italian army and the country found itself without a central place to make movies, it was at this time that directors decided to take to the streets of Rome and other cities to commit to celluloid their hopes, dreams, and visions. Filmmakers such as Visconti and Rossellini who were to become known as the pioneers of neorealism, took to the streets to film in real locations, and shooting in natural light rather than under the gaze of artificial lighting, and producing movies that were seen as true to life in Italy at that time, rather than the contrived and flawless visions of utopia as conveyed by the Fascists.

These Golden age productions as they were also referred to included seminal Italian films, such as Roma Citta Aperta, Ladri di Bicicletti, I Vitelloni, La Strada, and Viaggio in Italia.

The movies often using unknown actors or even non-actors and setting the story in a amongst the poorest people in the country and focusing upon the struggles of the working class. This type of film was at its most prominent from 1943 to 1952 and showed a side to life that was directly the opposite to that which was being purveyed by Hollywood filmmakers, Ironically the films in is category proved to be more popular with audiences outside of Italy and appealed to audiences more in the States and the UK.

The success of Cinecitta literally took off as the 1950’s dawned, with American directors deciding to shoot their movies there because of its superior equipment and more affordable labour, the studios were to be the location for so many big box office movies which earned Cinecitta the name of Hollywood by the Tiber.

Films such as Quo Vadis, The Robe and Roman Holiday were all made there, and mega stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Charlton Heston and Richard Burton were all well known actors that filmed there. Taylor was an extra in Quo Vadis before reaching her mega star status, as was Sophia Loren.

Fellini focused upon the glitzy stars in his La Dolce Vita, satirising the beautiful people or so-called icons of the glamorous and opulent silver screen. I suppose one could also say that Cinecitta and Italian directors also parodied themselves in films such as After the Fox which starred Peter Sellers.

Sellers plays Aldo Vanucci (aka the Fox), one of the greatest criminals of the world and master of disguise. After Aldo escapes from the Italian prison, he was held in, he meets again with his friends and plans to retrieve the “Gold of Cairo”, a large shipment of gold that waits to be unloaded somewhere in Italy.

Aldo devises the perfect plan- posing as a famous director, he finds the ideal coastal village to unload the shipment and persuades the entire population of the village that he has chosen their home as the set for his new movie (actual location: Ischia Island, Perugia, Roma).  

De Sica.

Everybody, including the idiot chief of the local police (Lando Buzzanco) are so excited, that they can’t even imagine that in fact they are helping the Fox to get the “Gold of Cairo”. Directed by Vittorio De Sica, the film also starred Britt Ekland as Gina Romantica, and Victor Mature as Tony Powell. It’s a great romp, and includes references to the neorealism movement in many of its scenes with the villagers, some of which were filmed without prior rehearsal.

The score for the movie was by Burt Bacharach with a title song performed by 1960’s pop group The Hollies and Peter Sellers.

Fellini on set for Satyricon.

Director Federico Fellini is known to just about everybody with films such as Roma, La Bidone, La Strada, The Clowns, 81/2, Satyricon, and so many more.

So revered was Fellini that he had his own studio at Cinecitta, which was the Teatro 5, in which the director lived whilst he created the wonderful sets for his movies that would become his trademark, the scene in La Dolce Vita, where Anita Ekberg walks into the Trevi fountain, was not filmed on location but on a purpose-built set that Fellini had constructed in Teatro 5.  Cinecitta was one of the busiest studios during the 1950,s

and this continued to be the case into the early 1960’s, however audience tastes were changing, and the epic film and Biblical tales were beginning to become out of vogue, with audiences craving the likes of James Bond etc. So it was in this period that Cinecitta’s fortune were to take a nosedive, but because the American filmmakers had deserted Italy to return to tinsel town, a new genre emerged from the ruins that American studios left behind them, and the Italian western was born to great success.

Sergio Leone.

And along with it came a new breed of directors, such as Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci, and Sergio Sollima, plus the Italian film industry also began to stir once again with directors such as Pasolini and Pontecorvo entering the arena.

Along with these movies came a new sound as in the music on their soundtracks with the likes of Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai, Stelvio Cipriani, Gianni Ferrio, Nico Fidenco, and Francesco De Masi, who along with numerous other composers and artists realised the Sound of the Spaghetti western.  It was not until the 1990’s when the soaring production costs in Hollywood persuaded the American studios to once again look to Italy and to Cinecitta to make movies, it was the location of the studio and its enormous expanse its twenty-two stages and its forty acre backlot plus a gigantic 16,500 sq foot outdoor tank.

It was perfect for films that had hundreds in their cast such as Gangs of New York, which was filmed at the studios in 2001. It was this and a handful of other productions that put the studio back on the filmmaking map, and the new stars of Hollywood once again paraded around on its impressive sets. With movies such as The Passion of the Christ being shot there, and the The Life Aquatic utilising the vast outdoor tank.

The many craftsmen and women that work at Cinecitta play a vital part in its popularity, with many that worked on the likes of Ben Hur, still working there and also mentoring younger artisans in their craft of model making etc. Remember the Torch Holder in Ben Hur that stood high above Circus Maximus, and the huge Medusa head from Casanova, the Warrior Statue from The Last Emperor, these are as iconic as the movies that they were created for.

There are whole families of costume makers, mothers and fathers passing down their skills to sons and daughters, skills that are hard to find anywhere else.

In recent years the studio has adapted well and the gigantic Teatro 5, is on occasion used for variety TV shows such as the Italian version of Big Brother, and productions such as Rome, which boasted impressive sets with a budget that was rumoured to be over 100 million dollars. The craftsmen re-creating the Roman forum and taking it back to its former splendour looking as it did in 50 BC. Nowadays one can visit the studios, as it is the base for several attractions as this ad tells us- Transport yourself into the world of fiction and fantasy at the Cinecittà World, a theme park that combines the best of cinema and television in 40 attractions, 7 themed areas, and 6 shows. Head over to the many rides and attractions that are made keeping in mind every guest’s needs, from those who prefer adrenaline-filled fun to those who want to make a splash at the aquatic rides. Enjoy any of the 6 shows that run every hour daily, covering different genres. 

So, it is still a studio that is giving and creating entertainment, may its memories never fade and may it reign supreme forever, in the hearts and minds of everyone.


Dragons Domain have announced their first releases of the new year I thought I would start with this one, which has always been a firm favourite of mine.

First published in 1842, Edgar Alan Poe’s The Pit and The Pendulum, is a macabre and brutal tale of torture and execution told by a forsaken narrator sentenced to death for heresy by the Spanish Inquisition. This 1991 adaptation follows a pair of young bakers who are intoxicated with the love they have for each other. Whilst the pair attempt to sell bread in the town square Maria (Rona De Ricci) and Antonio (Johnathan Fuller) are separated by an incensed mob while a battered woman is paraded into the square to be burned at the stake as a witch by the authorities. Maria and Antonio reunite only to be forced by church authorities to stand and witness the grotesque act of execution unfolding before their eyes. The expression of Maria’s disgust and her pleas for Christian mercy at the feet of Grand Inquisitor Torquemada (Lance Henriksen) convinces the fearsome witch hunter to arrest, torture and prosecute Maria as a ward of Satan.

This is the basic outline for the movie, which was released by Full Moon films, and directed by Re-Animator creator Stuart Gordon, the cast also featured Oliver Reed as The Cardinal. Now as horror films go it was not that bad, and considering it was relatively a low budget affair the director producers and cast achieved a respectable level of production etc. One of the most striking elements of the film was the driving score which was composed by Richard Band, this is in my opinion without a doubt the composers best score or at least in the top five at least, Band was and still remains busy and in demand, his ability to score low budget movies with large sounding symphonic soundtracks was at times breath-taking and The Pit and The Pendulum is no exception, I remember at the time of the score being released back in 1991 the composer said that he was ill whilst scoring the movie and had a high fever, after recording the score and receiving so many accolades from critics and fans alike he said “Maybe I should get sick more often”. Band fashioned a dark and gothic sounding work, with romantic nuances and authentic sounding passages that all blend together flawlessly to create a score that is inventive and entertaining, the composer utilising both symphonic and synthetic elements to realise the sound and style that he has achieved.

The score or sections of it at least were released in 1991 by Moonstone records onto CD, Moonstone being the music depart of Full Moon Films which was the company that Charles Band had formed to release a plethora of low budget horror movies and sci-fi films.


Like the film company the record label was successful and fed the insatiable appetite of film music collectors who craved music from films of the sinister and chilling variety. The score was released onto digital platforms a few years ago, and did include extra cues, but thankfully for collectors who love the CD format Dragons Domain have re-issued the score in a 2-cd set which is an essential addition to any film music collection.


The composers unsettling and foreboding Latin choruses are a relentless and virulent feature within the score, and not only support and enhance the story as it unfolds on screen, but add depth, atmosphere and invent a cadaverous musical persona to the proceedings.


The composer also fuses electronic components that underline the Gregorian style chants supporting them further with low dark strings and cymbalom that weave in and out adding layers of apprehension and tension. Percussive elements play a major part in the score, thundering kettle drums empower the strings, choir and brass further giving the music an even greater impact. In many ways Band’s atmospheric work rivals the excellence and commanding aura of Goldsmith’s The Omen, and it is without any doubt whatsoever the best of Band.  Recommended.   

Another Dragons Domain release is Alan Howarth’s atmospheric score for the 2012 horror movie BRUTAL. The film openswith Carl Gibson (A. Michael Baldwin) waking up in a dark and uninviting basement, he is  naked from the waist up and chained to a chair. The basement belongs to a stoical dungaree-wearing loner named Brutal. Subjected to a seemingly endless game of torture, Carl wonders if he will ever see his family again.

BRUTAL was the writing, producing, directing, and acting debut of Michael Patrick Stevens. And has an affecting and effective score. Alan Howarth, in addition to being a composer, is an accomplished sound designer and editor, having worked on films such as Star Trek the Motion Picture, Poltergeist, Total Recall, Army of Darkness, Bram Stokers Dracula and so many more.  


He has collaborated on numerous occasions with with John Carpenter on his films beginning with Escape from New York, in 1980 and including Halloween II & III, Christine, Big Trouble in Little China, They Live, and Prince of Darkness. Howarth has also scored many films on his own, including Retribution, Halloween four and five, Boo! And The House at the end of the Drive.

The score for Brutal is a malevolent and sinister sounding affair which is composed and performed by Howarth. It has to it a virulent and unsettling sound, which is realised electronically with the composer repeating a central four note motif theme that builds throughout the work and creates a menacing and apprehensive air. Limited to just 500 copies this will be sold out soon, available now from BSX records.

The third Dragons Domain release is The Peter Bernstein collection Vol 3, which includes two scores Fifty Fifty and Miracles. Released in 1992, FIFTY/FIFTY tells the story of Jake (Peter Weller) and Sam (Robert Hays), two mercenaries who run into each other on Tengara, a remote South Seas island where a revolution seems to take place every other day. Recruited by the CIA to overthrow a power-mad dictator, they are tasked to raise an army. But the choices are few and the odds against them are high, until they meet Suleta (Ramona Rahman), a beautiful freedom fighter who helps them get started.

FIFTY/FIFTY was directed by veteran actor Charles Martin Smith, who also co-stars as Martin Sprue, the CIA handler in charge of Jake and Sam. Filming was split between the island of Penang and the Central Malaysian state of Perak, according to the production notes. FIFTY/FIFTY is an orchestral score, recorded with an orchestra of 65 musicians. Bernstein’s music is based around a single primary theme, energized by propulsive brass attacks and powerful intonations of full orchestra.

Released in 1986, MIRACLES tells the story of Jean (Teri Garr) and Roger (Tom Conti), a newly divorced couple who learn the hard way that when you are meant to be together, nothing can keep you apart. As the film continues, Jean and Roger keep running into each other, literally. A robbery gone wrong results in a police chase, with the robber crashing into Jean’s car and then Roger’s car, which happens to be nearby. The robber kidnaps both Jean and Roger and forces them to drive, leading to an elaborate madcap chase across international borders, multiple crazy situations and ultimately to Jean and Roger’s reunion.


For MIRACLES, Peter Bernstein provides an exhilarating musical score which underlines and punctuates this comic but exciting romp. Bernstein’s breath-taking soundtrack ranges from the exotic percussive elements and synths for the opening jungle sequence to a richly arranged triumphant and driving finale. The score was recorded at the old CTS Studios in Wembley, England, on the world’s first DSP digital mixing console and performed by members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Listening to both scores one can pick out little nods to the composers Father Elmer Bernstein, and they both also include a style and sound and quirks of orchestration that we all still readily associate with Elmer Bernstein. A great collection, looking forward to volume four please.




(The soundtrack for The Old Way will be released by BMG in February 2023.).

The Western genre in film is probably one of the most enduring, and its also one that has been re-invented and returned to so many times with varying amounts of success. The Hollywood western such as The Big Country, The Searchers, Vera Cruz, The Magnificent Seven, andtitles such as High Noon, Shane, etc now being referred to as classics. The German film industry had some success with the genre when they began to produce sagebrush sagas in the 1960’s after which Italian film studios put their own edge on proceedings via films such as The Good The Bad and The Ugly, Django, and The Big Gundown, to name just three. During the period of the 1960’s and through to the late 1970’s Italy produced so many great, quirky examples of western stories. And these in turn seemed to rekindle the interest in the genre as Hollywood once again got into the saddle and started to return to the prairies and wide-open spaces. And also dealt with the western heroes of the old days dealing with the ever-evolving world in films such as The Wild Bunch. Clint Eastwood who was an example of the success of the Italian made western began to direct horse operas during the latter part of the 1970’s, and received much acclaim for his work on films such as High Plains Drifter, The Outlaw Josey Wales, and continued having box office triumphs in the 1980’s and 1990’s with movies such as Pale Rider and The Unforgiven. The western is a genre that seems to fade away for a while then it returns and comes back even stronger than before and so do the scores for them, we had the Copeland magnificence and Americana in the westerns produced in Hollywood pre-Sergio Leone, and then the rather easy listening examples as penned by German composers, plus the inventive and original content and approach of Italian composers such as Ennio Morricone which began in the mid 1960’s with A Fistful of Dollars and spawned so many scores that were totally detached from what had gone before but at the same time instantly screamed (literally) this is a western score. Then composers such as Jerry Goldsmith introduced their own brand of western film music in movies such as Rio Conchos and The Hour of the Gun, and as the 1960’s drew to a close we were treated to Jerry Fielding’s The Wild Bunch, which still stands head and shoulders above the majority of western scores that came before and after it. Of course we cannot forget the inventive style of French composer Maurice Jarre when he scored westerns such as Villa Rides, The Professionals, Red Sun, El Condor etc. And Greek composer Manos Hajidakis for his innovative music for the western Blue. An example of the western becoming in vogue once again was Silverado (1985) it was a movie that certainly spurred on the cinema going public’s appetite for more cowboys on the big screen. And was greatly aided by Bruce Broughton’s rousing and action-packed soundtrack.

A new western which is released is The Old Way, it stars Nicolas Cage and is directed by Brett Donowho, now the reviews that are in on this are not that complimentary, but the proof of the pudding as they say and one mans meat is another man’s poison are sayings that spring to mind, in other words don’t dis it till you have seen it. What I do know is that the musical score by talented composer Andrew Morgan Smith is in a word superb.

The music is commanding, melodic, action led and just so impressive. The score is fully symphonic and features solo instruments such as fiddle, guitar, and banjo, in many ways I was reminded of the style of Jerry Goldsmith, because of the use of strings, percussion and brass.

The composer utilising the elements effectively providing the action sequences within the movie with a relentless yet thematic underscore. One track immediately stands out during one’s initial listen to the soundtrack, The Ambush, is everything a western score should be, its powerful piece, that just does not let up, maintaining a strong and vibrant persona, via the orchestral elements I have detailed.

Andrew Morgan Smith.

The score however is not all driving and action, there are numerous quieter and even lilting and haunting moments. The composer putting the banjo to work in cues such as Jellybeans, which is a cue that I think gives a gentle nod to Copeland as it builds and progresses. The composer adding textures and layers via solo violin, warm sounding strings and subdued brass that act as a musical punctuation.

The composers use of banjo within his score is affecting, as it is not just used to relay comedic, jaunty or melancholy emotions, it is also an important component within cues that are darker and purveys wonderfully a sense of apprehension within these, Morricone did this in Once Upon a Time in the West, he took an instrument in that case a Harmonica that was normally associated with jaunty or homely sounding ditties and used it in a completely new way to convey a sense of foreboding.

There is also a sense of the highly dramatic in cues such as Still Good Man-I owe you More, in which the light and subdued meets the more ominous sounding parts of the score, the composer again bringing in banjo towards the track’s conclusion. And in cues such as Ruth’s Demise we hear the instrument again, this time surrounded by sinewy and tormented sounding strings, with woods and dark string layers with occasional glimpse of solo fiddle. This is a score that shouts classic western soundtrack, and one I recommend that you check out asap.