All posts by jonman492000

Das Versprechen (aka-THE PROMISE).

 

promise

An interesting and also entertaining score from 1994, from the German movie Das Versprechen (aka-THE PROMISE). The movie deals with events that take place just after the erection of the Berlin wall in 1961. Five friends plan to escape to West Germany the bid for freedom goes well apart for Konrad one of the five who does not make it over the border and is left behind. Another of the friends Sophie is heartbroken that Konrad was unsuccessful and has been left in East Germany. The story focuses upon the two friends who over a period of the next 28 years try to meet up in spite of the wall. The musical score is by composer Jurgen Kneiper who wrote a varied and also a powerful soundtrack for the movie. Kneiper is probably better known for his acclaimed score for the movie WINGS OF DESIRE, but his music for THE PROMISE is equally innovative and is a superb romantically laced soundtrack which I feel is probably overlooked and grossly underatted. It has to it a sound and style that is filled with poignancy and emotive musical nuances and has too a quality that seems to be lacking in some of the contemporary film scores. The work is totally symphonic the composer utilising musicians from the German Opera Orchestra Berlin, the violin solos are stunningly beautiful and gorgeously romantic and melancholy, woodwind solos too are outstanding and purvey a delicate and fragile air. But there is also a side to the score which oozes a more threatening and darker persona, with percussion and brass being utilised to create a tense and nervous aura.

jurgen

 

This can be heard more prominently within the cue (track 2) YEARS OF THE WALL, which is apprehensive and cautious. It builds slowly and projects a mood that is filled with tension, but approx. mid-way through we are treated to a stunning trumpet solo, that is underlined and driven by forthright sounding strings. I can only say that every track on the soundtrack has something that everyone will be drawn to, it is a wonderfully thematic work and literally is overflowing with a rich and lush sounding style and a luxurious sound that would not be out of place in a Hollywood movie from the 1940.s. Plus we also get a great laid back sounding track in the form of FASHION SHOW which could easily be the work of Michel Legrand or even Sid Ramin in those quieter moments from his score for Stiletto.  An excellent work and one that is enriching and rewarding to listen to.

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THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVILS.

DR

Mention the name of composer John Morris and what do you think of, well Mel Brooks for one and his scores for movies such as THE PRODUCERS, BLAZIN SADDLES, SILENT MOVIE, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and HIGH ANXIETY. Yes, same as me. So, when you come across a Brooks produced film that was released in 1985 entitled THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVILS one is certainly surprised in a pleasant way about the atmospheric and powerful musical score that Morris penned for this Freddie Francis directed movie. But, there again one probably should not be surprised as Morris did score THE ELEPHANT MAN for Brooks which included a mesmerising and a powerful soundtrack.

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THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVILS itself is a delight to discover and certainly one for any connoisseur of the horror genre. It is I suppose a film shot in the style of Hammer or Amicus or even Tigon and Tyburn with some influences from the AIP stable. Which is hardly surprising considering that it was directed by Freddie Francis. The film boasts a cast that is like a whos who in British cinema, Timothy Dalton, Johnathan Pryce, Patrick Stewart, Stephen Rea, Twiggy and even Beryl Reid. The gothic horror is based upon the antics and dark but true story of BURKE AND HARE who in Scotland murdered some sixteen people and sold their corpses to the shady side of the medical profession for anatomical dissection and experimentation. Dalton played the part of one such doctor Dr, Rock whos character was based upon a real-life person Dr. Knox who was known to be linked with Burke and Hare. The characters that supply the bodies are for this movie called Fallon and Broom and played respectively superbly by actors Stephen Pryce and Stephen Rea. The movie features a screenplay that was written by Sir Ronald Harwood who adapted his script from an unproduced screenplay that was penned by Dylan Thomas.

 

So, the film has glowing credentials both in the acting and production areas. Dr. Rock is a well respected and talented anatomist who is lecturing in a much-respected medical establishment. He is passionate about discovering new ways to explore and hopefully improve knowledge of the human body and also advancing medical science. The only way he can do this is to carry out research on the human body, but human corpses are shall we say in short supply, So when he comes into contact with Fallon and Broom who are basically grave robbers he sees a way of getting a steady supply of bodies for his research. Rock enlists the aid of his assistant Dr.Murray played by Julian Sands who is given the task of buying the bodies and if the corpse is fresh then a higher price will be paid. Fallon and Broom hear about this and decide rather than dig up the bodies they will actually go out and murder the local’s, so the body is fresh, thus ensuring them a higher price.

 

 

It is not long before Murray becomes suspicious and alerts Dr. Rock, but he is too caught up in his experiments to take any notice. Murray becomes involved with a local prostitute Jennie Bailey, portrayed by Twiggy who just happens to be on Fallon and Brooms list of victims. But, Murray rescues Jennie from the grave robbers and they are soon arrested, but Broom turns on his partner and gives evidence against him saving himself and sending Fallon to the gallows. Rock is also named and shamed but because of his standing remains free and can carry on practicing and lecturing. In the final shots of the movie we see Rock looking over Edinburgh from a windswept hill reflecting on his involvement in the horrors and the murders, the last words on the movie are OH GOD I KNEW WHAT I WAS DOING. As he walks off the credits roll, and a haunting vocal performed by Irish band In Tua Nua is heard on the soundtrack. The movie is in my opinion well directed and contains several outstanding performances, photographed well with convincing sets and more than its fair share of bloodletting and violence.


The musical score by composer John Morris opens with a theme that is somewhat strange in its overall sound and style, at first I thought straight away that is was influenced by the orient or maybe Chinese sounding in its formation, but on listening to it over and over maybe it is Celtic influenced, performed by woodwind and supported by choir and underlying strings it is a pleasant and rather lilting sound that is realised and is an instrumental version of TAINTED HANDS giving the film a calm and unassuming opening. The main score by Morris is a great deal more powerful and more in keeping with a gothic horror tale, the composer employs strident strings which play out a nine motif theme on track number two of the recording I was given, which although commanding is also melodic and has to it a romantic yet apprehensive sound, the strings are given more depth and power by the addition of brass and percussion, a short lived piece but one that makes an impact upon the listener and also one that sets the scene perfectly for what is to follow.

JOHN MORRIS

 

Track three is a more diluted version of the elements that we hear in track number two the strings being replaced by wood wind which perform the nine-note motif theme, which is the core theme of the composers score and one on which he builds the remainder of the work. The tense woodwinds are underlined by tremolo strings that also add an air of tension to the proceedings. This core theme is prevalent throughout the work and is given a fresh and vibrant sound on each outing via clever orchestration or arrangements by the composer, each time there is a smouldering and dark atmosphere created with the string section on hand on most occasions to give it a fearsome and foreboding mood.

The score purveys an air of the windswept or an atmosphere of dread with the composer relaying his musical notions utilising in the main strings and ethnic as in Scottish/Celtic sounding woods and whistles, but there is a darkness to this work that is unsettling but at the same time alluring, its sinister musical aura unfolding and becoming stronger with each cue. There are three songs used within the film, Tainted Hands performed by Irish rock band In Tua Nua, Whisper and I shall hear, performed by Twiggy and also But and Ben wi’ Burke and Hare(uncredited) which is a 19th-century Edinburgh children’s skipping rhyme. John Morris fashioned a wonderfully atmospheric and mysterious sounding score for THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVILS. It is yet to receive an official release, which is a shame as it is a soundtrack that deserves to be heard and yet another impressive work from the pen of a much missed and highly talented film music Maestro.

HAUNTED SUMMER.

 

HAUNTED POSTER

 

Was it realy 1988 when HAUNTED SUMMER was released? Well, I guess it was, for those who do not know the movie it was a film that focused upon supposed happenings during the summer of 1816, when Poet Percy Shelley was travelling the European continent with his lover Mary Godwin, accompanied by Mary’s half-sister Claire Clairmont. On their travels they meet with the poet and notorious philanderer Lord Byron who invites them to stay with him at a villa which he has rented for the summer in Switzerland. Byron and Shelley debate many things including the nature of all the evils in the world and Byron decides that he will introduce them to part of his world, which involves the taking of opium and also sexual antics. Byron wanting to reveal their inner selves and reveal the truth that is inside them and is covered by their social masks. HAUNTED SUMMER was one of many movies that was released around about this time that set themselves at the Villa Deodati writers workshop, the meetings there which are said to be the inspiration or at least led up to Mary Shelley penning the classic tale of horror FRANKENSTEIN two years later. Films that also dealt with this event included GOTHIC and FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND, plus there was also a Spanish production entitled ROWING WITH THE WIND released in the same year which is certainly worth a look. The sequence of events is also referred to in the 2017 biopic MARY SHELLEY. The music for HAUNTED SUMMER is by composer Christopher Young, and what strikes one about the score is that although this too is a horror movie the music apart from a handful of cues is fairly romantic sounding, the composer utilising electronic instrumentation alongside conventional symphonic performances to achieve a sound and style that is stunning and highly inventive. Young creates an innovative and positively charged score in which the composer fashions sinewy sounding passages and chilling choral sections which are all brought together by the string section and the use of hauntingly sinister sounding piano. There is an air of mystery and also an atmosphere that can be described as virulent but compellingly attractive and hypnotic.

HAUNTED LP

 

The soundtrack was originally issued on Cerebus records back in 1989, and then later in the same year a CD was made available on Silva Screen, more recently an expanded version of the score was released on LA LA LAND records in 2010 and then in 2018 Cerebus re-issued the soundtrack on LP. The score is still available on LA LA LAND as far as I can see, and it is certainly a work that your collection is crying out for. There are so many elegant and eloquent sounding themes within it, and when I first heard the music it was like I was seeing another side to composer Christopher Young.

HAUNTED CD
I actually feel that this is one of his finest works and shows of his versatility and also his talent for writing both inventive, orignal and romantic compositions. When we speak of Young invariably we turn to the horror genre, and I know HAUNTED SUMMER is kind of a horror movie, but it is I think also a love story of sorts which is reflected in the composers wonderfully tantalising and haunting themes and his beautifully written tone poems that grace and perpetuate the soundtrack. The score also contains tormented and twisted musical passages again reflecting the scenarios purveyed within the film. Check out the diverse and intricate compositions in track eleven on the LA LA LAND release HAUNTINGS, which is almost nineteen minutes of music and sounds that are at times disturbing, re-assuring and also unnerving.  A gem of a soundtrack, and one you should all listen to at least twenty times. Highly recommended.

SOUNDTRACKS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED.

LOGO

Ever kicked yourself because you had a soundtrack in your hands and for some reason you put it back in the rack and walked away, only to re-think the rash act and return to find it gone. Yep been there done that and I even got the T shirt. So as a new occasional series I thought I would add a few reviews under the heading of the one that got away or Soundtracks you might have missed.

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It’s a sad fact that composers pass away and when they do we as collectors I think do grieve in a way, I think we realise that there will never be anything new from them and have to come to terms with having their scores in our collection as a lasting memory of their talent. Joel Goldsmith passed away far too soon, he was I think destined for greater things, but alas it was not to be. I first heard his music in LAZERBLAST which he co-wrote with Richard Band and next I got MOON 44 which is a wonderful soundtrack, written in the style of Goldsmith snr, but with just enough of Goldsmith jnr in it to make it an original. The film was a low budget affair but was not awful and Joel Goldsmith’s score was an asset to the production, his commanding and relentless compositions adding power and atmosphere to the movie. It helped that the score was performed by the Graunke Symphony orchestra who’s reputation was then and is now glowing. The score is mainly symphonic, with support coming from the synthetic department, I have to say the composer did borrow significantly from his Fathers RAMBO scores as in broad and bold brass with unrelenting timpani and percussion being present throughout, these elements being underlined by strings and woods and further embellished dark sounding piano and crashing effects all of which combine to create an exciting and exhilarating work. The track FIRST TRAINING FLIGHT is one that I return to many times, this is classic Goldsmith (but which one). Unrelenting and commanding this for me is the highlight of the score, but that does not mean that there are not other high points within the soundtrack, its sounds like a Jerry Goldsmith score from the 1960’s for an all action knock em down and drag em out adventure. The composers subtle use of woods within the track SO LONG FELIX is stunning, and he combines these with electronic other-worldy effects, which are in turn further bolstered via the string section in sinister mood. Then the cue alters direction and transforms into a series of brass fanfare like flourishes that are accompanied by booming percussive support, and finally this mood alters and becomes more synthetic led with strings adding a chilling undertone, the composer fashioning a piece that is apprehensive and unnerving.

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If you are a fan of Jerry Goldsmith and you have not had the good fortune to hear MOON 44, please do take time out to sample it, you will not be disappointed. The CD was available on Silva Screen but has been long deleted, however there is the re-issue on BSX which is still available and I know it may not be ideal, but it is on spotify, so at least you may check it out there.

JOEL
From a futuristic sci-fi tale and score to a soundtrack from a horror movie that was released in 1996.based on the 1984 novel by Stephen King, THINNER was directed by Tom Holland, it focuses upon a high flying lawyer who has an obsession with food and after successfully getting an underworld boss off a charge of murder accidentally runs over a Gypsy, eventually he too is acquitted of any blame but the Gypsies Father places a curse on the lawyer and he begins to loose weight rapidly. His wife becomes concerned that it could be cancer and enlists the help of a Doctor, but her husband then thinks she is having an affair with the doctor. It’s a gripping tale as one might expect from the pen of Stephen King, and has numerous twists and turns within its storyline. The musical score is by composer Daniel Licht, the soundtrack album was released in 1996 on Varese Sarabande,

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The score is a dark one which is not surprising, but what is somewhat unusual is that the soundtrack contains some quite lush sounding themes that are more of a romantic tone. I always felt that this was a score that was sadly overlooked, and in many ways, it evokes the style that was present within many of composer Christopher Youngs works from the 1990’s. But saying that every time I listen to the score and hear Licht’s outstanding compositions, I also can hear references to composers such as Elmer Bernstein and to a degree Jerry Goldsmith.

DANIEL

The composer makes effective use of the string section and employs solo violin which is subtle but affecting. It’s a large-scale score with brass, woodwind and percussion contributing the lions share of the performance supported by the ever-present string section which jumps from romantic to swirling and frenzied sometimes within one cue. An accomplished work a classic in my opinion, again the CD might prove difficult to get hold of, but Spotify do have it, sample it I think you will find you will be impressed.

silver

 

 

Back to 1985 for the next soundtrack, a horror again and also written by Stephen King, SILVER BULLET was directed by Dan Attias, and starred Corey Haim, Gary Busey and Everett McGill, a horror set in modern day that focused on the legend of the Werewolf. Music came courtesy of Jay Chattaway, and again for horror movie the score contained a number of lilting and more melancholy moments, However the main score that was utilised over the action scenes was high octane and at times atonal, brass, string and percussion feature throughout, with the composer fashioning what I would call a typical sounding horror film soundtrack. Chattaway makes effective use of a harpsichord/celeste effect in the cue MAKING THE SILVER BULLET which is subtle and somewhat delicate in its overall sound and style, this style of scoring is also present in LOOKING FOR MR ONE EYE where delicate guitar takes the lead and is supported by a light and magical sounding keyboard whilst every so often we hear the musical reference to the werewolf which is a far off howling effect.

JAY

 

The soundtrack LP was issued on Varese Sarabande in 1985 with a Varese CD being made available in 2008 as a club release. The score is a fusion of the symphonic and the electronic, but the composer balances these elements well and each medium successfully compliments each other. The composer utilises slicing Physco  inspired sounding strings at times which make you sit up and listen and add a chilling and urgent persona to the proceedings. This one could be a little difficult to come by, as I can’t see it on any digital platform and the CD is now long out of print. Nevertheless, it’s a score worth looking for.

THE ADVENTURES OF JURASSIC PET-CHAPTER ONE.

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The power of the internet grows day by day, especially with reviews of films etc, I have to admit I have not seen the move from which this music comes from so I was curious and looked it up THE ADVENTURES OF JURASSIC PET CHAPTER 1, gets a bit of a rough ride from the majority of people who have seen in, apparently it has a lame script and not very good FX, so I guess I wont be buying it any time soon. However I do have to say that the score is superb, it’s a funny thing that at times bad movies spawn great musical scores, I think sometimes the composer can see that the movie is going to need all the help it can get so pulls out all the stops and produces a soundtrack that as in this case is worthy of a far better movie. Released in 2019, THE ADVENTURES OF JURASSIC PET chapter 1, (somehow, I think maybe chapter 2 is on hold for a while, but don’t quote me). Tells the story of a young boy who decides that he will help a friendly dinosaur who is being held by a mad scientist who intends to carry out experiments on it. Perfectly feasible isn’t it? Anyway its a bit of fun, escapism if you will, no need to take it so seriously is there.  Anyway, lets concentrate on the score, which is the work of David Stone Hamilton, the composer has been busy this year working on a number of projects, SOLIS being one of them. The score for THE ADVENTURES OF JURASSIC PET CHAPTER 1, is a symphonic and synthetic fusion with the composer creating quite rich sounding themes via strings and brass that are supported by percussive elements, add to this support from the electronic instrumentation line up and we have a pleasing and interesting score, most of which I have to say has to it a comedic undertone, with lots of pizzicato strings that punctuate and underline, but there are also within the work little nuggets of otherworldly sounding material as in track number 5, WORLD OF WONDER, which is charmingly understated and purveys a James Horner type sound which is mesmerising and emotive.

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The INCUBATION and THE HATCHING too are wonderfully melodic and mix symphonic elements with synthetic support. The score for me evoked the styles of Silvestri and Horner, with themes appearing as from nowhere the composer utilising horns and driving strings at times to create an atmosphere that is quite Williams-esque at times. It has to it a flyaway sound with wistful string passages that are underpinned by darker sounding strings and enhanced by proud sounding horns. Take a listen to track number, 11, YOU MUST BE HUNGRY, the composer begins in a light mood plucked strings and woods adding a playful persona to the proceedings, this soon alters and swells into a racing and quite expansive sounding piece, with strings and woods being joined by the horns and punctuated by booming percussion. I think this is certainly a case of the score being superior to the movie it was written for, but you never know the film might one day be looked upon as a mini classic. I would have to recommend tracks such as, GOOD TO GO, A FEW TRICKS UP MY SLEEVE and AN OLD SCHOOL GETAWAY as being outstanding for their sheer action entertainment value.  Another one for you to check out.