Two important anniversaries are on us in 2022, two iconic film franchises, one that brings us thrills, spills, and sexy espionage scenarios the other a trilogy of movies that detail the rise of an Italian family and the shady and dangerous world of the Mafia. They are James bond, with the first movie Dr. No, coming to screens in 1962, sixty years ago and The Godfather which was released in 1972. Neither franchise in my opinion has aged and both are just watchable if not even more entertaining now than they were back in the day. Of course, the James Bond franchise continues with fresh movies every two or three years. But it is TheGodfather which is celebrating its half century this year that I would like to focus upon. The film has endured over the decades and attracted younger generations via its trio of stories being shown on TV and released on DVD and Blu Ray. Rumours have been circulating for a few years now that a fourth film in the series was on the cards, but this has not come to fruition yet.
The Godfather was released on March 15, 1972. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola and based upon Mario Puzo‘s novel of the same name. Although it was not Coppola that was the first choice for director, Sergio Leone was initially offered the film but was at the time developing his own gangster movie which turned out to be Once Upon a Time in America and decided against helming the film, if he had how different would it have been? Who knows, well one thing is sure Nino Rota would not have been asked to write the score, with Leone’s choice of composer almost certainly being Ennio Morricone for the movie.
The plot opens at the wedding of Don Corleone’s daughter Connie which leads into a storyline that begins with the Don (Marlon Brando) declining an offer to join in the narcotics business with notorious drug lord Virgil Sollozzo (Al Lettieri). Corleone’s rejection of the partnership leads to an assassination attempt on the Don, and as he lies in hospital fighting for his life his eldest son Sonny (James Caan) subsequently takes over the family business and he conspires with his younger brother Michael (Al Pacino) to strike back for the assassination attempt by having him kill Sollozzo and a corrupted police captain McCluskey (Sterling Hayden) forcing Michael to go to Sicily in hiding. While in Sicily, Michael travels around the countryside and meets a woman Appolonia (Simonetta Stefanelli) who he marries but she is murdered in a car bombing a bomb that was meant for Michael. Michael returns to America after the news of his brother Sonny’s murder and marries his former girlfriend Kay (Diane Keaton). With Vito’s health detreating the Don decides that Michael should take over the family.
Michael plans to move the family business to Las Vegas; but before the move, his father dies, Michael then organizes the killing of the heads of the five families on the day of his nephew’s baptism. The sequence of the murders is impressively presented with scenes of the killings being intercut with the events from the church service. The movie has many other sub plots and stories interwoven into the main storyline; these include the Don’s second born Fredo’s (John Cazale) involvement in the family business in Las Vegas. And the abusive marriage that the Don’s daughter Connie (Talia Shire) is in, with Michael eventually having her husband Carlo (Gianni Russo) killed for his disloyalty to the family.Then there is the success of Johnny Fontane (Al Martino) in Hollywood which has been helped by the involvement of the family, after threatening a movie director (John Marley) with the famous I,ll Make him an offer he cant Refuse, horses head in the bed sequence.
The first movie was a great success and spawned two sequels The Godfather Part ll in 1974 and The Godfather Part lll sixteen years later in 1990. The second part of the trilogy was released on December 20th 1974, with Coppola returning as director, the films screenplay was based on and around Mario Puzo’s novel of the same name, the movie served two purposes initially it was a sequel, but also a prequel, as it presented to audiences two stories that ran parallel to each other.
The main storyline following the events of the original film, with the focus being upon Michael and his involvement as the head of the Corleone family, as he tried to hold the business together during the late 1950’s and establish himself as head of the family.
The other parts of the film are told in a series of flashbacks that relate to his father Vito as we see him as a child growing up in Sicily in the early 20th Century through to him establishing his own family in New York.
The Godfather Part III was released on Christmas Day, 1990. Francis Ford Coppola again directed as well as writing the screenplay with the help of the author Mario Puzo. The filmmaker was reluctant to return to the Godfather story as he felt that everything that needed to be said had been covered in the first two instalments. He declined many requests from Paramount Pictures to make a third instalment, but the director was experiencing financial difficulties because his 1982 movie One from the Heart had failed to impress audiences and critics.
The Godfather Part lll, completes the story of Michael Corleone, who is now trying to legitimize his criminal empire, and shows the rise of Sonny Corleone‘s illegitimate son Vincent Corleone as Michael’s successor. The film also portrays a fictionalized account of real-life events, including the death of Pope John Paul I and the Papal banking scandal of 1981 and 1982, linking these with the affairs of Michael Corleone. Coppola has stated he intended for Part III to be an epilogue to the first two films.
On December 4, 2020, a newly edited version of the film entitled The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone was released in a limited number of theatres as well as being released on Blu-ray and streaming platforms. Coppola said the film is the version he and Puzo had originally envisioned. Coppola has said that he and Puzo had discussed the potential and possibility of a fourth instalment. The fourth film was intended to be a prequel and a sequel told in a similar narrative to Part II. They had discussed a potential script seeing Vito Corleone and Sonny gaining the families’ political power and racketeering empire during the 1930s; and with Vincent Corleone in the 1980s, running the family business through a ten-year destructive war and eventually losing the families’ business interests, respect and power, seeing one final scene with Michael Corleone before his death, completing the 100-year story of the Corleone family’s rise and fall. Many actors were rumoured to be cast in the film: Robert De Niro, Andy García and Talia Shire were suggested to be reprising their roles. With Leonardo DiCaprio being considered to play a young Sonny Corleone.
On June 21, 1999 it was hinted that a fourth film was in the works with Andy García in the lead role. García has since claimed the film’s script was nearly produced, however following author Mario Puzo’s death on 2nd July 1999, Coppola decided to retire the film series indefinitely. Puzo’s contribution to the potential sequel dealt with the Corleone family in the early 1930s, and was eventually expanded into a novel by writer Ed Falco and released in 2012 as The Family Corleone. The estate of Puzo sought to keep Paramount Pictures from producing any film based on The Family Corleone. The situation is now resolved, with Paramount gaining the rights to make more Godfather films. However, if they do will the movies be as impacting and have the same appeal as the original trilogy, I somehow do not think so. The first Godfather movie was to become an inspiration for many films that were to be produced with the seedy and bloody world of the Mafia at their core, but very few of these have come near the excellence achieved in Coppola’s masterpiece. Apart from maybe Once Upon a Time in America which was released in 1984 and then later Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas in 1990, films released some twelve and sixteen years after The Godfather premiered.
Nino Rota’s haunting score is key to the film’s storyline, the composer adding melody, authenticity, and support to the movie. The central theme even becoming a huge chart hit for various artistes under the title of Speak Softly Love, with Andy Williams and other vocalists such as Vince Hill having much success with it. The music that Rota penned is a classic piece of writing, and elements of the original score were utilized and expanded upon in the subsequent Godfather movies, it is one of those works where its handful of themes are instantly recognisable as soon as the opening notes are heard.
They conjure up immediately images of Brando as Vito, and thoughts of the characters and scenarios we were introduced to all those years ago. Just think if Leone had decided to take the film on, both the movie and the score would have been very different, maybe better but who really knows. The score for The Godfather is long overdue for an expanded and re-mastered release and it would be fitting that that should happen this year, it’s 50th anniversary and in the year that the Maestro Nino Rota would have celebrated his 101st birthday.
UK based Silva Screen will release a compilation of music from the films in the form of The Godfather Suite on November 4th, many of the included tracks on the recording have already seen a release on past Silva compilations, but this is a nice tribute to the movies and to the amazing music that they inspired from Rota and others.
Rota was in my opinion the “Godfather” of film music in Italy, and it was Rota that many of the more classically slanted composers such as Rustichelli and to a certain degree Angelo Francesco Lavagnino seemed to attempt to emulate in their compositions for film and television. Rota began his involvement with film scoring in 1933 with his work on Treno Popolare, he was 22 years of age, since that first assignment the composer was to work on literally hundreds of film and TV projects and was responsible in my opinion for placing Italian film music on the map and paved the way for the likes of Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai and their like. Rota was able to create numerous themes and scores that had to them a haunting and lasting appeal, they were also appealing because of their simplicity and their ability to mesmerize and attract both in the context of the music and image working in unison and as melodic and alluring music away from those images. And although he was much in demand during the 1940’s, 1950’s and the 1960’s when he created memorable themes and scores such as Romeo and Juliet, The Leopard, The Taming of the Shrew and Juliet of the Spirits to mention but a few. He continued to fashion quirky but at the same time classically laced works for the silver screen into the 1970’s. Scoring many movies for the respected and esteemed filmmaker Federico Fellini and working on blockbusters that included Waterloo, and box office draws such as Death on The Nile. Rota had a distinct style of scoring, at times his music was an integral component of the storytelling, on other occasions it was a background to the action, but it lent much to every movie that he was involved with. What would Amacord be without its haunting theme, just as a single example of his expertise in scoring. The score for Romeo and Juliet contained that lilting and fragile sounding love theme, but there is so much more to the score than this, the composer fashioning a handful of themes all of which revolved and were based upon the love theme, but each having to them their own unique sound and containing a quality of melodious excellence that was emotive and haunting.
The score ingratiated Zeffirelli’s sensitive storytelling and the gracious and wonderful images and complimented the films emotive and tragic storyline. Rota also worked on The Godfather ll, in 1974 and scored another 27 films and TV productions during the seventies period. His last motion picture score was for The Hurricane in 1979. He died relatively young at the age of 67, in Rome on April 10th, 1979.
Smile is a new horror film directed and written by Parker Finn. Finn is known for directing a handful of shorts, and this is his first foray into feature film making. The movie focuses upon a psychologist Rose Cotter played by Sosie Bacon who begins to discover an evil force after experiencing a traumatic situation with one of her patients. This dark and malevolent evil force continues to follow and haunt her after the event with her patient and the only way to stop it is to somehow find out where it has come from. But as she begins to delve into the background and origins of this fearsome and dark force she starts to be confronted with events from her own past.
This is not really an original storyline and horror connoisseurs I am sure will start to draw comparisons between this and movies such as It Follows and The Ring series of movies.
However, director Finn handles the movie with great professionalism and the end result is an effective and scary horror even if at times it is a little predictable. And after jumping out of one’s skin for the thirtieth time the plot does become rather less tense as one can see where the storyline is going.
The atmospheric score is by Christobal Tapia De Veer, who utilizes synthetic sounds, voices, and soundscapes to underline the shocking and terrifying scenarios that are being acted out on screen. There is really no way that this is a soundtrack you can listen to for pleasure, as its at times guttural, lamenting, and tense sounds heighten anxiety and plant the seeds of unspeakable scenarios in one’s mind. Within the movie it is effective and highly supportive adding greater atmospherics and dynamics to the already rising tensions that are present, the score is in effect feeding and fueling a sense of impending doom and creating uneasy and darkly affecting musical personas. Which aid the overall tone and mood of the movie. It’s a great and effective horror soundtrack, but not one for a cosy recreational. Available on digital platforms.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a new video game available now and has a driving and relentless soundtrack penned by Austin Wintory. The music is filled with action led cues and also contains a number of dark and apprehensive compositions, what I did notice and also welcomed was that even the darker and more uneasy sounding pieces contained hints of melodies which the composer applies in various stages of the game via woodwind mainly which not only underline the action but to give the work small nuances of respite throughout. Available now on Spotify etc, worth a listen.
Italian composer Remo Anzovino has written a charming and haunting score for the up-and-coming documentary Portrait of the Queen, which is directed by Fabrizio Ferri, who himself is one of the world’s most sought-after photographers. Based on the book Elizabeth ll: Portrait of the Queen. With contributions from Julian Calder, Jason Bell, David Montgomery, Brain Aris, John Swannell, and Chris Levine. This is a stunning historical account on the life and times of Elizabeth R and the second Elizabethan age.
Halloween is bearing down on us all with breakneck speed, and the final instalment of the Halloween movie franchise Halloween Ends, is set to hit cinema screens on October 14th, music is by John Carpenter (who else), Set four years after the events of Halloween Kills, Laurie (Jaime Lee Curtis) is living with her granddaughter Allyson and is finishing writing her memoir. Michael Myers hasn’t been seen since his last excursion where he was responsible for creating death and mayhem.
Laurie, after allowing the spectre of Michael to determine and drive her reality for decades, has decided to liberate herself from fear and rage and embrace life. But when a young man, Corey Cunningham, is accused of killing a boy he was babysitting, it ignites a cascade of violence and terror that will force her to finally confront the evil she can’t control, once and for all.
Two tracks from Carpenters score are already available on digital platforms, The Junk Yard and The Procession are typical of the music for the series, synth based and including remnants of that familiar and haunting theme.
Another interesting and effective horror that is perfect for Halloween is the TV miniseries The Haunting of Mission Hill House, which focuses upon a group of college students living in a house that is on top of Mission Hill in Boston, the action takes place over three episodes where we see the students begin to be haunted by their past which they have tried to forget. The surprisingly at times restrained and thematic score is by composer Jack Dalton.
I am not saying its all hearts and flowers, because this is a horror story, and the composer does from time-to-time leap into the obligatory sinewy, icy and rampant action fueled composition, but saying this there are so many beautiful poignant and melancholy moments within this soundtrack it was a real pleasure to experience it. Savour it on digital platforms.
Released on October 21st is Black Adam yet another vehicle for Dwayne Johnson. Nearly 5,000 years after he was bestowed with the almighty powers of the Egyptian gods-and imprisoned just as quickly, Black Adam (Johnson) is freed from his earthly tomb, ready to unleash his unique form of justice on the modern world. Ho hum,,,yep another lack lustre superhero movie, and if that’s not enough well the music is by Lorne Balfe, who once again flexes his Zimmer clone muscles and creates something that is rather ordinary and uninspired. It would be nice if this composer did something vaguely original, but this is filled with Zimmer references and attempts to take its cue from the amazing sounds and styles that composer Heshim Nazih created for the Moon Knight series on Disney. The problem is that Balfe has not got the same kind of inventiveness or talent to fashion something half as good. Black Adam, not for me thanks, and the score, I think enough said.
Blonde is a new Netflix romantic, biographical drama that is a fictionalised account of the inner life of Marilyn Monroe, music is by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, the music is as far as I can make out a synth/symphonic work, the score being rather unassuming, but quietly and beautifully supportive, its good to see Cave back scoring movies, as I think he is an inventive as well as an innovative artist.
When I say its unassuming, I suppose I mean that it has the ability to enhance and underline without becoming too intrusive, which is a sign of a sensitive and talented composer or this case composer’s. Its on digital platforms, check it out.
Debuting around Halloween 2021, Flux was the first Doctor Who series in thirty-six years to tell one complete story across its entirety, rather than in self-contained episodes. Jodie Whittaker returned for her third and final season in the title role. The score for Flux will be spread across two CDs and these will be accompanied by a third bonus disc that includes music from the New Years’ Day special broadcast in 2021, Revolution of The Daleks. There are selections of the Flux score available now on Spotify etc, and the three-disc set will be released on November 11th by Silva screen.
Segun Akinola is a composer for film and television who has strengthened many projects with his musical acumen. He is most known for his music in the latest series of Doctor Who, starring the first female Doctor, Jodie Whittaker. Segun’s work is a key immersive tool for showrunner Chris Chibnall and series directors to establish the many adventures the Doctor and her friends travel on. These include the impressive 80s influenced electronic score for The Tsuranga Conundrum to the heart-wrenching Demons of the Punjab which utilised specialist Indian musicians and orchestra, all recorded at Abbey Road Studios. He also scored the critically acclaimed Doctor Who VR experience, Doctor Who: The Runaway. Segun scored Sundance 2019 favourite The Last Tree, which was also recorded at Abbey Road Studios. This is Segun’s second feature film collaboration with director Shola Amoo after A Moving Image, and it earned him a Discovery of the Year award nomination at the World Soundtrack Awards. A BAFTA Breakthrough Brit 2017, Segun’s other work includes scoring BBC Two’s landmark four-part series Black and British: A Forgotten History.
More from those people at Netflix now and The Empress which is a six episode series, that tells the story of two young people who meet and fall in love instantly. He is Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary, she is Elisabeth von Wittelsbach, Princess of Bavaria and the sister of the woman Franz is to marry. The great love story between Elisabeth and Franz that is the focus of the series. Elisabeth a young woman ahead of her time, rebelling against the rigid rules of the 19th century and the court. She meets Franz, a multi-layered ruler with many flaws who played a major role in shaping modern European history.
Against the backdrop of jealousy, intrigue, and power struggles behind the scenes of the Habsburg court and the emerging question of freedom of the people, the audience is taken into a glittering illusory world in which young Elizabeth must fight for her place at court as well as for the right not only to be the figurehead of an ailing empire. The music for the series is a delight, a work of numerous themes and elegant sounding compositions. Music is by Johannes Lehniger, Lisa Morgenstern, and Sebastian Damerius. Released as a digital recording only, it is a score well worth adding to your digital collection. And showing on Netflix now.
The Spirit and the Mouse is a video game that contains an enchanting musical score by Gisula real name Emily Cheng (Gisula, pronounced jih-SOO-la) she is a talented Taiwanese-American composer, multi-instrumentalist (piano, cello, guitar, bass, percussion), and music producer based in NY. Originally an award-winning classically trained pianist and former hip hop producer, her music has expanded through genres to add life and emotion to various mediums. She blends synthetic and electronic layers with conventional instrumentation, often combine unlikely combinations of instrumentations to bring to fruition affecting and haunting results.
The score for The Spirit and the Mouse I felt was an incredibly emotive work, that contained lilting themes, jaunty musical excursions, and little passages of comedic interludes which work well together, solo piano adds much to the work and brings to the surface a poignant and melancholy sound, the composer underlining these performances at times with accordion and layered strings.
It is a charming and delightfully expressive work, and one that I am certain you will be attracted to. Available on Spotify and other platforms.
The music that the BBC used for their coverage of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth ll, has been released on a single, Elizabeth Remembered is composed and conducted by Debbie Wiseman OBE and will be available soon to download, with proceeds from this going to charity. The composer said “It was a privilege to compose the music for the BBC TV live broadcasts covering the Queen’s funeral”.
Composer Ben Lovett has scored the remake of Hellraiser, which will receive its premier on Hulu on October 7th, the soundtrack will be released on Lakeshore records. The movie is directed by David Bruckner, who Lovett has collaborated with before on The Ritual and The Night House.
Composer Marco Werba’s epic sounding score for the Italian historical movie Goffredo, will be released digitally by Cinevox records of Rome and a compact disc will also be released by the label at a future date to be announced. Goffredo Mameli was born in Genoa Italy to a wealthy family of Sardinian origin on September 5th 1827. He was given the opportunity to attain a high level of education because of his family’s status and affluence which enabled him to develop a talent for writing which was already evident. Mameli is also known for his role as a patriot being a high-profile figure in the “Risorgimento” which was a movement established in the 19th Century in Italy. This was dedicated to the re-unification of the country, it was this social and political movement that led to the consolidation of various states of the Italian Peninsula into a single State which was completed in 1861. In November 1848, following the flight of Pope Pius IX, Mameli travelled to Rome to support the revolutionary uprisings. He was mainly involved in the organization of the revolutionary forces, but also took on a more active role. Directed by Angelo Antonucci, this is a fascinating and enthralling tale that has been created for the big screen with passion and much attention to detail. A historical epic drama of the highest quality, with a cast that is impressive. As is Marco Werba’s powerful and grand sounding music.
Another Marco Werba score that has been released is La Grande Guerra Del Salento which is another historical drama this time focusing on a sports event. The CD is available from Soul Trade Music Publishing Group, which is the same label that will release the composer’s beautiful soundtrack to TheIsland of Forgiveness, which he recorded back in June of this year at The Angel studios which is now part of Abbey Road.
Respected French composer Eric Demarsen has scored the mini-series Notre Dame the Part of the Fire, the soundtrack is coming soon (October 22nd) from Music Box records, the series which is directed by Herve Hadmar will be aired on Netflix from October 19th it focuses upon the events of that fateful night in Paris and the overall effect it had on individuals that were caught up in the tragedy or witnessed it.
Also coming from Music box is You Only Die Twice by Claude Bolling.
Min He is a Chinese LA based composer who has worked on video games, TV shows and commercials, her score for the video game In Nightmare is available via the newly established label Emperia Records on digital platforms. The game transports players into a sinister world and allows them to partake in a chilling chase. In which they could end up being entrapped in a nightmare. The music is effective and haunting at times lulling players into a false sense of security, which could make them let their guard down.
Min He is the first and only composer from mainland China to be accepted to the highly selective ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop.
Her style encompasses ethnic sensibilities from her world travels, traditional orchestral music, and tasteful modular electronics to produce music that has been described as “Truly beautiful and innovative”. In Nightmare is a truly worthwhile listening experience.
Silva Screen records UK releases a compilation of the music from the Terminator movies on October 7th, don’t get too excited these are not the original soundtracks but cover versions performed by The London Music Works, all I will say regarding this is have we not seen this so many times before?
Hollywood records have released See How They Run music by Daniel Pemberton on all digital platforms. Set in the 1950s, we see an American filmmaker who is visiting London that decides he will adapt a stage play into a movie, but this soon comes to an end when the director is found murdered. Enter then the skeptical and cynical Inspector Stoppard and his fresh out of police school Constable Stalker, who then find themselves embroiled in a who-dunnit scenario that Agatha Christie would be proud of.
The composer’s music adds depth and atmosphere to the proceedings and is wonderfully appropriate capturing the essence of a London of the 1950’s.
This comedy thriller is a must see, and the score too is something that you should own, Pemberton must be congratulated for utilizing full orchestra and adding to that line up inventive rhythms and, London back street pub sound via the piano. Recommended.
Age of Empires is a game soundtrack that is overflowing with dramatic and thunderous themes, the twelve-track digital release runs for over an hour and is a stirring and driving work, the music is by various composers and artists, among these are Tilman Sillescu, Alexander Roder, and Hanning Nugel. It’s certainly worth an hour of anyone’s time.
Composer Sam Mizell has four scores released this year thus far….they are Alien Sniperess, Shark Huntress, Blue Lightning, My Perfect Wedding, and a western entitled Badland Doves. I did see all four on various digital platforms but in the past two days they seemed to have been removed? All three have cues and sections that are well worth a listen, I think these won’t be to everyone’s liking, but check them out you never know?
Bring it on Cheer or Die is a TV movie that mixes horror with comedy it concentrates on a cheerleader squad who decide to practice their routines in an abandoned school on Halloween, as you probably guessed this does not go well, and the movie follows the girls as they are picked off one by one in varying gruesome ways by an unknown killer. It’s a mix of Halloween, and Scream with nods to the original Buffy movie in the wardrobe department. Music is provided by composer Patric Caird, who scored Sexy Evil Genius and Evangeline in 2013 and 2014 respectively (these are available on Spotify etc).
The score for this latest horror is a mixture of styles, sounds, colours, and textures, which the composer effectively uses to underline, punctuate, and support the mayhem and murder on screen, Available on digital platforms. A perfect film and soundtrack for the up-and-coming Halloween celebrations.
As is Cosmic Dawn which is a sci-thriller. After witnessing the abduction of her mother as a child,Aurora joins a UFO cult who call themselves The Cosmic Dawn. Aurora experiences many revelations at the cult’s compound, but the leader is not who she seems. The score is by Alan Howarth, who has produced a pulsating and tense sounding electronic work, the soundtrack is available on digital outlets.
As is the score to another sci-fi drama Breaking Infinity, which tells the story of Liam a scientific researcher who has been unstuck in time, as his jumps through various timelines get more extreme, he is guided to the future by a mysterious old man where he witnesses the end of the world, which it transpires he may have caused. Music is by Christoph Allerstorfer, who’s atmospheric score for TheJack in the Box caused more than a ripple of interest a few years back. With the score to the sequel The Jack in the Box-Awakening also becoming much talked about. Both horror scores were initially released on compact disc by Howlin Wolf Records and later made available on digital platforms. The composers score for Breaking Infinity is a fusion of sounds which he takes from the symphonic and electronic palettes. The music is gripping and filled with apprehension having to it an unsettling persona.
Allerstorfer also adds to this a sprinkling of high-octane action cues which are purveyed via booming percussion, driving strings and fierce sounding brass. However also present are some less harrowing and frantic pieces that have to them a haunting and lilting musical identity. It’s an action score firstly, but it also possesses a rich and furtive thematic quality. Recommended.
“ShockWave 2044, is the meeting of an electronic music album and an original soundtrack for an imaginary film, a fantastic B movie from the 80s, a genre that I like. Shockwave 2044 is also the meeting of musical styles that are dear to me: the retro electronics of the 80s (the soundtracks of John Carpenter, those of Harold Faltermeyer, Brad Fiedel, Giorgio Moroder, the music of Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Jean-Michel Jarre), contemporary sound design and film music (Hans Zimmer…), and orchestral film music (Michael Giacchino, Elliot Goldenthal). These musical styles inspired the sound palette that I used: the vintage sonorities of analogue synths from the 80s, those, modern and evolutionary, specific to contemporary sound design and orchestral samples strings, brass, and voices”. Says composer Maximilien Mathevon about his soon to be released album Shockwave 2044, and I have to agree this is a step back into the near disco electronica that was so in vogue in those days, this is an entertaining piece of escapism, and also a collection of music and sounds that I know I will be returning to many times.
The world is a mysterious place and when seen through the eyes of an animal, is probably even more frightening and strange. EO, a grey donkey with big sad eyes, meets good and bad people on his life’s path, experiences joy and pain, endures the wheel of fortune randomly turn his luck into disaster and his despair into unexpected bliss. But not even for a moment does he lose his innocence.
This is the subject matter of EO a 2022 drama directed by Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski. The score for me is like a breath of fresh musical air, with the composer Pawel Mykietyn breaking new and innovative ground with this an emotional, poignant, and inspiring soundtrack. Pawel Mykietyn was born on May 20, 1971 in Olawa, Dolnoslaskie, Poland. He is a composer, known for his work on Essential Killing (2010), 11 Minutes, (2015) and 33 Scenes from Life, (2008). This is a beautifully crafted score, that encompasses and includes so many innovative and expressive musical interludes and passages, the composer utilizing both conventional and more contemporary electronic instrumentation, which support and accompany each other throughout, there was at times a striking similarity to the style of Zbigniew Preisner, especially in the string performances and the way in which the strings were used and placed.
The cue Final is an amazingly affecting piece of music, that tugs at the heartstrings and can I found be a tearjerker, which does give a gentle nod to the melodic style of Ennio Morricone, but also has to it an empowering and commanding Aura about it. The cue The End is a poignant and affecting piece, performed on piano with subtle use of strings, its simplicity being it’s attraction and impact. You must listen to this, available now on digital outlets.
Dragons Domain have released the John Scott score for the 1974 horror Symptoms, which tells the story of Anne, a young writer who is invited by her friend, Helen to visit her in a large English country mansion. But the estate – and the increasingly unhinged Anne – turn out not to be what they seem. The stay is complicated by the recent disappearance of a mutual friend, Cora, Helen’s jealousy over Anne’s attraction to her ex-boyfriend and the gruff nature of the estate’s handyman.
The somewhat tense and uneasy persona of the storyline is complemented perfectly by John Scott’s soundtrack, the music being performed by just ten musicians because the composer was restricted in his efforts by a very low budget. His music for the movie is tense and uneasy sounding, the composer employing flute, clarinet, piano, a string quartet, harp, and effective soprano voice.
It is a perfect example of what a master can do with a limited budget, the music created being inventive, malevolent and nerve jangling but fully supportive of the storyline unfolding. A welcome release of a score by one of the world’s best and yet most underrated composers of film music. Liner notes by the ever-industrious Randall D. Larson, with contributions from the composer.
Dragons Domain have also released a two CD set entitled Craig Safan: Horror Macabre Volume One. Which features two of the composers works for the horror genre, Darkroom and The Demons Daughter are both first time to CD, with notes by author and composer Brian Satterwhite that include comments from the composer. Darkroom, was a weekly television series on ABC hosted by James Coburn in which two horrific tales unfolded back-to-back within its hour-long time slot. It was made in the same fashion as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Twilight Zone. The Demons Daughter was the composers first foray into scoring a movie, it was an unreleased short which was directed by a student named John McTiernan (wonder what happened to him?) This and Symptoms are ltd edition releases of just 500. INTERVIEW WITH COMPOSER, CRAIG SAFAN. | MOVIE MUSIC INTERNATIONAL. (MMI) . (wordpress.com)
Coming soon from Movie Score Media are two scores that I must recommend to you, the first is Sissy, which is a horror and has a wonderful score by composer Kenneth Lampl, this is a horror score connoisseurs dream come true, so many themes, so many uneasy layers and chilling moments, and so many jumps, jolts, and sinister interludes its almost too much to take in.
There is even a reference to Morricone’s Exorcist 2, The Heretic. It is literally bursting with so much good music it’s unbelievable that all of it comes from one movie. Cecilia (aka Sissy) is a successful social media influencer living the dream, until she runs into her ex-childhood best friend and is invited away on her bachelorette weekend. Suddenly Sissy finds herself stuck in a remote cabin with her school bully…and a taste for revenge. Lampl’s score is tense, brooding and luxuriously thematic, evoking the works of Pino Donaggio, John Barry, and Chris Young with a Herrmann-esque power underlining and binding it all together. The music is certainly impressive, and this is a score that you must own.
I did find myself remembering some older Italian scores whilst listening to Sissy, the use of harpsichord, and the inclusion of gentle chimes and pizzicato style employed at times is typically Italian in its style and sound, evoking maybe the horror movie scores for Mario Bava and even the quirky but romantic musical style we associate with Maestro Nino Rota. The thematic content does not halt there, as the composer treats us to an exotica and lounge type style that could be the work of Piccioni, Cipriani, Micalizzi or Nicolai. Which breezes into the equation when one is least expecting it. I adore this score because there is just so much musical excellence to feast upon. Please take a listen when it is released.
The second offering which is coming soon from MSM is November music by French composer Guillaume Roussel, who has created a tense and edgy score for this crime thriller directed by Cedric Jimenez. If you have not heard the composers name before, do not worry as you will be hearing and seeing it a lot more in the coming months and into 2023, as he has been busy scoring all eight episodes of the TV series Marie Antoinette, and is working on several new projects including The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan, and The Three Musketeers: Milady. His soundtrack for November is a dark and brooding affair, mainly realized via synthetics, but also containing quite rich and theme led sections, it’s a score that is certainly innovative, with the composer fashioning apprehensive and taught pieces to accompany the action. Guillaume Roussel was born on March 18, 1980. He is known for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017), 3 Days to Kill(2014) and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), and provided a lush yet delicate score for Disney’s Black Beauty in 2020. His most recent score for the thriller Kompromat is also now available on Spotify and Apple music.
Italian label Digit Movies have released an expanded edition of the Bruno Nicolai score for Jess Franco’s Il Conte Dracula, which starred Christopher Lee in the role of the infamous Vampire Count. Lee was said to have liked this version of the Bram Stoker tale better than any other he had been involved with, because the director kept strictly to the book often stopping filming to check sections of Stokers novel. Franco had wanted Vincent Price to play Van Helsing but Price was under exclusive contract to American International and they would not allow it, so Franco opted for Herbert Lom who turned out to be perfect. The film also featured, Klaus Kinski, Maria Rohm, Soledad Miranda, Paul Muller, and Fred Williams.
Nicolai’s score is based around a single theme, which becomes haunting and chilling in its various guises. The original Edi Pan Lp record was issued in 1982, some twelve years after the movie was released, and a compact disc followed in 1994 which contained the same track listing of twenty cues. Digit movies have discovered a further ten tracks and have released them as bonus material. The new CD has a total of thirty cues and a running time of one hour and four minutes. Bruno Nicolai. | MOVIE MUSIC INTERNATIONAL. (MMI) . (wordpress.com)
Coming in November this year are a handful of Italian releases from the CAM-Sugar catalogue which will be released on vinyl and CD some have been issued before but not in this format. “PIOMBO – Italian Crime Soundtracks from the Years of Lead (1973-1981)”, this new compilation from CAM Sugar, is a great collection of hard-hitting music from the world of Italian cinema. Sprinting Alfa Giuliettas, blazing P38s, balaclava-clad flare trouser-wearing terrorists, heists, and kidnaps, with cops harder than bullets and some as corrupt as the criminals they are tracking down. PIOMBO spotlights the infectious and inventive music from these capers and dramas, which are represented by music from the 1960’s through to the early part of the 1980’s.
This impressive compilation boasts music by Stelvio Cipriani, Guido & Maurizio De Angelis, Riz Ortolani, Luis Bacalov, Manuel De Sica, Bruno Nicolai, Filippo Trecca, Roberto Pregadio, Franco Campanino, Paolo Vasile and many more. It takes us on a musical journey that re-introduces us older colectors to the funky and groove laden vibes, vibrant and infectious disco beats and powerful thematic music of the symphonic type from that exciting era in Italian cinema history. And is also a perfect collection of themes and sounds to acquaint new collectors to this music. The collection has a total of twenty-six tracks with nine of these being previously unreleased. This stunning release is also available in a Collector’s Edition 2LP featuring alternate artwork, and an exclusive 45rpm vinyl containing two previously unreleased tracks and the original PIOMBO poster designed by Eric Adrian Lee. Its set for release on November 18th, but is available for pre-order now.
Also coming from CAM-Sugar, Quando l’amore è Sensualità” (1973), music by Ennio Morricone. This is the full score, for the first time ever on a two LP set. Which includes two sides completely previously unreleased material. This is arguably one of the Maestro’s most obscure, psychedelic, and dark-tinged soundtracks. That has up until now never been fully released, it is an innovative and highly complex work in places featuring tonal experiments, timbre intuitions, enigmatic synths, obsessively haunting lullabies, and incessant drumbeats, all of which show the unrivalled genius of the Maestro. The music masterfully mirrors the bloody and lustful bourgeois hypocrisy portrayed in the cult film, thanks to a striking contrast between haunting primitive sounds and uplifting, crystalline and ethereal elements.
The score features “Vie-Ni”, one of the most popular tracks from the “Morricone Segreto” collection, next to compositions featuring the whimsical and ethereal vocals by Edda Dell’Orso and furious psych-prog numbers. The music is also being released at the same time onto compact disc for the first time. It is classic Morricone. Released on November 10th, again available for pre-order. The label will also release on October 21st, 2022, La Dolce Vita by Nino Rota which will be the third release in their Heritage Collection.
For the first time ever on two LP vinyl, including 14 tracks never released before and an exclusive insert with a reproduction of the original music sheet by Nino Rota. The complete 25-track score by Nino Rota for the 1960 masterpiece that defined the career of Federico Fellini, starring Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg also includes “La Dolce Vita” (Original Vocal Version) sung by Katyna Ranieri. This will also be available in CD format.
Tyler Perry returns with another Netflix project, but the latest from the filmmaker and actor is nothing like we’ve ever seen from him before. A Jazzman’s Blues is said to be his official sortie into a new, more brooding chapter of his career as a director, the movie successfully exploring a shady time in recent American history through a romantic and tragic tale of a young Black couple growing up in the southern states. The movie has many flaws but we’re finally getting a different side of this movie mogul, and maybe just maybe this could be his much-anticipated step in the right direction, time will tell I suppose?
Music for the movie is by Aarron Zigman, the composer delivering a touching and emotively charges soundtrack. The music is a delight to hear and it’s a welcome return for the composer to be scoring something that will hopefully get much coverage. Zigman is a talented music-smith and has written so many scores that have sadly been forgotten such as The Bridge toTerabithia, Flicka, and The Notebook among these. The composer in my opinion remains a shining light within the film music community and as a relatively new composer in 2007 wrote scores that were mature and exciting in their persona and sound. Zigman began his career as a film music composer back in 2002 when he wrote the score for John Q, which he followed with the music for the video short Fighting for Care and the documentary Behind the scenes of John Q. But before this in 2000, Zigman arranged a classical 35-minute symphonic tone poem entitled “Rabin,” which was composed in memory of Yitzhak Rabin, the late prime minister of the State of Israel and was performed by the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony. He is a composer that could and still can adapt his style to suit every scenario, fashioning and creating upbeat themes and expansive melodic works. His sound if there is a such a thing as the “Zigman” sound has to it a style that at times has certain similarities and affiliations with that of seasoned composers such as Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, James Horner and to a certain degree Dave Grusin.
I don’t mean that as in he was copying them thematically or in any way mimicking the composers works directly, but more in its stature and overall sound, and in the way that the music is placed within the movies he has scored. His work for cinema being varied, inventive, and above all entertaining. Aaron Zigman was born on January 6th, 1963, in San Diego California, and studied music with his cousin MGM composer George Bassman. After a brief apprenticeship, Zigman broke out as a studio musician, working with producers Don Was, Gary Katz, Steely Dan, and Stewart Levine. From this experience, he began making a name for himself as a producer/writer, and soon after wrote his first big hit, with the song “Crush on You,” which was recorded by The Jets and topped the pop charts in the USA.
He also worked with legendary record producer Clive Davis and has produced and arranged music himself for artists such as Aretha Franklin and Natalie Cole. He has also written, arranged, and produced songs for many of the top vocalists, producers, and artists in the music industry, including John Legend, Quincy Jones, Trevor Horn, Seal, Ray Charles, Alison Sudol, Bryan Adams, Phil Collins, Dionne Warwick, Boz Scaggs, Tina Turner, Seal, Carly Simon, The Pointer Sisters, Huey Lewis, Jennifer Holliday, Patti LaBelle, Chicago, and Christina Aguilera. A Jazzman’s Blues is available on digital platforms.
Klaatu Records are releasing the score for the cult-classic horror film sequel, Hello Mary Lou:Prom Night ll by composer Paul Zaza. This 1987 horror directed by Bruce Pittman focuses upon the tortured spirit of prom queen Mary Lou Maloney which has returned to seek revenge some thirty years after her accidental death at the prom in 1957. Most of Zaza’s original score for the film was heavily edited and dissected in the final film. For this release, the composer has personally selected and edited the tracks to create a more listenable experience. The recording boasts twelve cues and a running time of nearly forty minutes. Click here for details of how to purchase Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 – Klaatu Records
The story of Survivors revolves around the Arianna, a sailing boat carrying twelve passengers which sets off on an ocean crossing. After a few days of navigation, and on account of a violent storm, the boat disappears off the radar. One year later, just off the Venezuelan coast, the wreckage of the boat is discovered with only seven people still alive on board. What happened to the others? Each episode charts the complex events following the return of these survivors, alternated with the terrible period they spent adrift at sea, to gradually uncover the secrets of their journey.
Music for the RAI series is the work of composer Stefano Lentini, who recently scored Studio Battaglia also for TV. The music for Survivors is wistful and gently sweeping, the composer creating beautiful and fragile sounding tone poems for the series. Available now on digital outlets, recommended. Well I think that’s all folks….see you soon. Get ready for trick or treating….
Twenty-nine years ago, Disney released a movie that I think even surprised them because it became so successful and popular so quickly. Hocus Pocus, has over the years attained a kind of cult following, and I have to say I am one of those followers, with the movie being essential viewing at Halloween, for myself and my children, well that family tradition has now been passed onto to them and their children, and Hocus Pocus is probably a film that we all just love unconditionally. It seemed as soon as the end credits began to roll in 1993, audiences all over the world were crying out for a sequel and let’s face it , it deserved to have one.
Alas after hearing so many times that a sequel was in the works, I as did many gave up on Disney. But they say that all good things come to those who wait, and now streaming on Disney + is Hocus Pocus 2, I thought it strange that it should be released a full month before Halloween, but Disney know what they’re doing right? After watching the movie, I did feel that it was a little less affecting as the original, and there were certain scenes and lines I also felt were a little hammy. But its Hocus Pocus guys, its fine. The Sanderson sisters are back, and its about time.
Returning to reprise their original roles are Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson, Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson, Kathy Najimy as Mary Sanderson and Doug Jones as William Billy Butcherson who was Winfred’s sweetheart and apparently cheated on her with her sister Sarah. Sadly, as you’ll find out when you see the movie, these are the only original characters that have survived, there is no Thackery Binx, no Dani, who was played by Thora Birch, Omri Katz who played Max or Vinessa Shaw who portrayed Allison are nowhere to be seen, but there is a black cat in the cast called cobweb.
There is however a fresh cast of faces and characters, that ably carry on the legacy and the atmosphere that has been established by the original film. I did feel at times that the set piece songs were not necessary, especially when we see the Sanderson sisters resurrected in the forbidden wood, which kind of cheapens the whole coming back to life thing and the witches returning to impose their evil on Salem, turning it into a cabaret. They also perform OneWay or Another, (I hate that song) but that is kind of a clever inclusion to the film’s storyline. Ok, Hocus Pocus (1993) purists, will probably be thinking what’s happened here, but like I always say its horses for courses, and it is an effective updating of the Hocus Pocus franchise.
Three hundred years pass in the movie, with the story opening in the town of Salem in 1653, which I thought worth doing as it tells us more of how the Sanderson sisters became witches, giving us more of a background to their relationship and how it was that Winnie became the prominent one in the trio of spell makers.
Hocus Pocus 2, has to it all the comedic and dramatic content that the original had, plus it has a degree more sensitivity, showing an emotional side to certain characters, let’s just say that you will believe a witch has a heart, even feel sorry for her and that a spell book can shed a tear.
It also effectively opens a new Hocus Pocus chapter as it introduces us to another trio of young witches, and that I hope will be another story that Disney might explore in the future (hopefully before 2051). Could this be the end of the Sanderson sisters? What do you think? Trick or Treat?
The musical score is by the Hocus Pocus composer John Debney, who has rekindled many of his original thematic material to enhance and support the three witches’ new adventure, he also works into the fabric of the new score the haunting theme as composed by James Horner, Come Little Children, as performed by Sarah Jessica Parker back in 1993 as her character Sarah Sanderson calls to the children of Salem.
John Debney has fashioned a wonderfully mischievous, sweeping, and raucous sounding work for the sequel. The now familiar central theme becoming the foundation and the mainstay of the work, the string section working overtime driving the work at pace, whilst the composer adds percussive elements, rasping and powerful brass flourishes and stabs, and heart felt woods.
There is darkness and light purveyed by the music, drama, tension and a jaunty and comedic air. The composer coloring and adding depth, atmosphere, and emotion to the proceedings. The soundtrack album we are told will be getting a compact disc release, but it is already available on the likes of Spotify, a twenty-eight-track recording, which consists of eighteen score cues, and nine songs, some of which are originals such as The Witches are Back performed by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy. But it is without a doubt John Debney’s music that shines within this movie and makes for great listening away from it. The film and the soundtrack are highly recommended.
After the collapse of Earth’s ecosystem, Vesper, a 13-year-old girl struggling to survive with her paralyzed father, meets a woman with a secret who will force her to use her wits, strengths, and bio-hacking abilities to fight for the possibility of having a future.
The score for this futuristic sci-fi drama, is the work of composer Dan Levy who has created a haunting and at times complex work, which effectively enhances the storyline and punctuates its numerous twists and turns.
Being a story set in the future of the planet one would think that the composer might have realized a score that was total soundscape and had an atonal sound, but instead we are treated to strong and melodious thematic qualities that are fused with electronic sounds and synthetic backgrounds, all of which complement and combine seamlessly to create a soundtrack that is alluring and rewarding. The richness of the core themes is stunning and filled with a wonderment and an aura and style that compels one to listen and go deeper into the music. Both the movie and the score are I think very special, it is a breathtakingly beautiful movie both visually and aurally.
The performances from all the cast are flawless and totally believable, it is a sci-fi movie the likes of which we rarely encounter, it has to it emotion, and as well as being meaningful it also has an important message to us all about the future of Earth. Inventive and innovative this is a move you must see, an also a score that you should add to your collection asap.
The star of the show is Raffiella Chapman who plays the titular character Vesper a thirteen-year-old girl, who gives one of the best performances I have seen in a while. Eddie Marsden should be commended for his performance as Vespers rather sinister uncle and Richard Brake is marvellous as the young girls Father. If you prefer a thinking mans sci fi instead of the normal mundane Hollywood blast em kind of thing then Vesper is the film for you, and the soundtrack too will be something that you will return to many times after your initial listen. Available now on digital platforms.
This soundtrack is not yet available, this is an exclusive review of the forthcoming release on Kronos Records as part of the labels famous Gold Collection.
Coming soon from Kronos records is a soundtrack that is a little obscure, although being not that well know for me makes it even more attractive, and to be honest it’s a wonderful sound that has been realised by composers Gene Kauer and Douglas M Lackey for the1972 western The Proud and the Damned. On listening to the score I was impressed at the variety and also the overall sound of the work, at times I was reminded of the work of Jerry Fielding (The Wild Bunch) and also there are moments within the score that evoke composers such as Charles Gross (Valdez is Coming) and to a degree Manos Hajidakis when he scored the Terence Stamp western Blue and Frank De Vol and his work on Alzana’s Raid.
The composers have fashioned a pleasing score that has to it two distinct styles one being a South American or Mexican/Latin persona, the other having to it a more Americanised and dramatic flavour. This is a movie that did not get that much publicity when it was first released back in the early 1970’s in fact I think I am right when I say I do not think it has been shown on TV or if it has this must have been a few years back now. The composing duo scored a long string of films together, which included Agent for H.A.R.M. (1966) Brother of the Wind (1973) Across The Great Divide and Adventure Family (1977). I love the way that the music supports the action within the movie and adds delicate undercurrents to the proceedings. The score is filled with passion and a sense of adventure, it literally overflows with beautiful melodies and Mariachi/flamenco/Latin styled cues that make for a worthwhile listening experience.
Guitar provides the foundation for most of the cues, the composers utilizing the instrument to the maximum to convey a sense of melancholy and drama. The music is beautifully interwoven into the storyline and underlines the growing friendships that are beginning to flourish between the villagers and the band of Confederate soldiers that have crossed over the border from Texas into South America in 1870 to escape the aftermath of the civil war, only to become embroiled in another conflict in Columbia Chuck Connors heads the cast, with support from Aron Kincaid, José Greco, Henry Capps, Smokey Roberds, Peter Ford, Andres Marquis, and Cesar Romero!
Directed by Ferde Grofé Jr who was also responsible for the story The five ex-Confederate mercenaries and American Civil War veterans Sgt. Will Hansen (Connors) Ike (Kincaid), Hank (Cap’s), Jeb (Roberds)), and Billy (Ford)) no sooner ride into Columbia and are ambushed by Columbian government troops who force them to meet General Martinez, the evil, cold-hearted dictator of their country. Martinez sends them to San Carlos, a town where rebel forces are preparing to start a civil war against Martinez’s army. The Texans are instructed to live among the rebels, and report back to Martinez what they discover. Martinez warns them that they’ll be severely punished if they fail him.
The next day, while on their way to San Carlos, the gang run into a family who are on their way to the same town. They offer to escort them to the town and Will takes an interest in the daughter, Mila. They all ride into San Carlos, meet the governor, and rent a cabin. Will and Mila sneak out to spend the night together. Mila’s father becomes angry when he finds out and beats Mila and cuts off her ear. Will in a fit of rage then shoots Mila’s father.
Will and his men are detained over the killing and find themselves unable to report back to Martinez. Will and Mila are banished from the town the townspeople are angry over Will killing Mila’s father. Will and Mila are then taken captive by Martinez, who hangs Will for disobeying his orders. Mila rides back to town to get Will’s friends, who give him a funeral, and vow to avenge his murder. They join the rebels in a battle with Martinez’s army and drive them back. They later ambush Martinez and the rest of his surviving soldiers in a canyon, joined by the rebel army’s captain. During the fight they manage to kill Martinez, but all are gunned down by his soldiers except for Billy, who was thrown from his horse in the mele and knocked unconscious. The film ends with Billy riding off into the sunset.
The soundtrack has never been released before and Kronos records are proud to be able to bring you the premiere release of this exciting score, it will be a limited edition of just 300 copies, so get your pre-orders in ASAP. Highly recommended.