Category Archives: ARTICLES

Articles in this section reflect a personal view of the author only.

AMINE BOUHAFA.

There are so many what I call relatively new composers that are writing music for film, the majority of these talented Maestro’s do not sadly receive the recognition that they so richly deserve, one such highly talented composer is Amine Bouhafa. I have been listening to his scores for a while now and with every new assignment the composer seems to introduce another style or level of inventiveness and originality. He is represented well on recordings with a number now being available on digital platforms. Pick any of his scores for TV or film and I mean any one of them and I know that you will find something within it that is attractive, haunting, richly thematic, or alluring. The composer has kindly consented to an interview which we will publish as soon as is possible. So I thought in the mean time why not highlight a handful of his scores.

One of my favourite soundtracks that is penned by the composer is Grand Hotel or Secret of the Nile as it is entitled in some countries. This is a score that simply oozes quality sophistication and class, it is mostly symphonic and evokes the sound and the style employed by seasoned composers such as Patrick Doyle, Christopher Gunning, Trevor Jones, John Lunn and Carl Davies, it is a lush and at times quite lavish and dramatic score, the composer utilizing strings, brass percussion and wood’s to great effect, there is a romantic and atmospheric quality to the score that straight away gets the listeners attention, I love the way in which the composer combines solo cello and violin in some of the cues, The Love Story for example,  in which he further enhances those elements with delicate whispers of woodwind adding a scattering of piano that is subtle but affecting and punctuating at times with subtle use of  harp.

There are many wonderfully luxurious compositions within the score, plus it is filled with an array of musical colours and textures that purvey so many moods. From luxurious and romantic to emotive stirring and I suppose romantic again, the composers score for The Godfather TV series, which is an Egyptian production, the music again possesses a richness that washes over the listener and straight away has an emotive and striking impact.

The melodious parts of this score are in a word stunning and affecting. Listening to the score is a moving experience especially when you go to tracks such as The Godfather Family Theme, which is filled with not just a haunting and heartrending theme but also contains hints of mystery and apprehension that are laced with a tenderness expressed via the swelling strings and the solo performance on what I think is a cello. He also utilizes female voice to great effect, adding even more depth and emotion to the proceedings. For me this vocal performance echoed the sound achieved by Dulces Pontes when she performed for the likes of Ennio Morricone, and I suppose too the music for The Godfather does have some affiliations with the romantic music as penned by the Italian Maestro over the years, there is a real warmth and also quality to this score.

The composer fashioning sweeping themes that are grand and lavish, but also writing more intimate and personal pieces to accompany the storyline and the characters within it. He also provides a more ominous sounding side to the work in tracks such as The Godfathers Dark Office, which has to it a threatening and slightly sinister aura, overall it is a vibrant and varied work, that I am confident will entertain many times and impress every time you re-visit it. The same can be said about the composers score for Let the Sun Shine, is a lighter sounding score in keeping with the subject matter, I say lighter but not any less heart breaking and effecting, the soundtrack is exquisite, and just develops and expands as it progresses, there are certain scores that do get right to any listeners core, and Let the Sun Shine is one of those scores.

Again I sense a style that has manifested itself in the works of Morricone and also the Maestro’s son Andrea, the strings are at times subtle but so powerful in establishing poignancy and raw emotion. There is a piece on the score entitled Tango of the Sun, which is delicious, strings and accordion combine to create a pleasing and memorable composition, which although brief is one of the highlights of the score for its melodic and quirky sound. The cue entitled How Dare you Leave Me is also outstanding but written in a totally different style, the emotion again is brought to the surface by strings which are accompanied by a delicate solo piano performance which overflows with fragility. Again, highly recommended. Other scores by this highly talented composer include, The First Lady, For the Highest Price, Gabal Al Halal for which the composer employs a wide range of instrumentation and the epic sounding score for Kingdom of Fire. Listening to the music of this Maestro is a pleasure, a delight, and an inspiration.

The score for Place in a Palace is too hugely attractive, o commanding and stridently thematic the composer utilizing solo piano, which is underlined and supported by the string section, which in turn swells at times into hugely thematic passages and via the use of solo cello demands that you listen.  

This also something that the composer does in the score for Bab El Khalk, fashioning driving but at the same time theme led interludes for strings, percussion and female voice, it also within this score that the composer creates action led pieces such as the exciting and exhilarating cue The Chase, where he combines the upbeat and driven strings, with percussive elements, brass flourishes, synth stabs, and choral work.  The music of Anime Bouhafa, is a listening and emotional experience you should not miss out on.  Look out for an interview with the composer coming soon to Movie Music International.

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT EXTRA.

Mention the name John Barry and straight away you think classic, iconic, dramatic, classy, thematic, melodic, and lush. There is just something about this composer’s music that is alluring and haunting. His score for the movie The Tamarind Seed is no exception, and Silva Screen in the UK will release the CD of the soundtrack on November 19th 2021. It is one of the composers most affecting scores from this period in his career but at the same time is probably one of his lesser-known works as well. The movie, which was released in 1974 starred Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif and was directed by Blake Edwards. It was a surprise to many that Henry Mancini was not the composer assigned as he and Edwards had worked together successfully several times. Barry fashioned an effective and highly emotive soundtrack for the movie utilizing his unmistakable sultry and sensual strings associated with his eloquent style these convey a romantic and poignant theme that re-emerges throughout the score in various arrangements. This work along with scores such as Somewhere in Time, Peggy Sue Got Married, Out of Africa, My Life and Raise the Titanic are filled with that unmistakable Barry air, and just ooze a sophistication possessing an attractive and appealing musical persona which leans more towards romanticism and mystery in this case. The score also contained cues that were not far away from the music Barry had penned for the various Bond movies he had worked on, with some tracks being tense and driving for me it evoked certain themes in Diamonds are Forever, where the composer created a tense atmosphere but also at the same time fashioned rich themes.

So many delicate nuances, breathy and emotive passages, and fragile sounding interludes are included, which are not only highly effective within the context of the movie and its unfolding storyline but also at times transfix any listener. This is certainly a welcome release and I know many Barry fans will be incredibly pleased, even though it was not really a high-profile score or movie it has many qualities. Reber Clark is a composer who is so underused he works mainly on low budget movies, and scores radio plays for the H P Lovecraft Historical Society.

His latest score is for that societies production of The Horror in the Museum, and it is in a word excellent. Think, Jerry Goldsmith, James Bernard, Bernard Herrmann, and Danny Elfman and that’s what you have here, a totally absorbing and inventive work that is overflowing with rich atmospheres and uneasy moods that can be icy, unnerving, foreboding and slightly quirky. But there is also an abundance of thematic material present that is not just effective but entertaining. It is I suppose an excellent example of vintage styles meeting contemporary sounds, and the mix works wonderfully.

The score can be found on Bandcamp along with a lot more of the composers scores for Film and radio, whilst your there check them all out you, House of the Gorgon for example which trust me is superb, you will be amazed at the quality of the music and the composer’s talent and his overwhelming ability to fashion such memorable and haunting music. And once you take a listen you will want to hear more and more, Highly, recommended.

It will not be long before the nights begin to get darker in fact they are already, and the phrase that we dread Trick or Treat will once again be uppermost in the minds of children of all ages. Halloween will be upon us, time to close the blinds turn out the lights and pretend we are not at home, and consume vast amounts of candy (Oh, you do it too). With Halloween comes a literal landslide of horror movies on the TV and in cinemas and being streamed online, in fact its hard sometimes to find anything else to watch apart from a horror movie and that is on a normal day. Howlin Wolf records is a label that I love, they champion new composers, with obscure titles adorning their catalogue, which for me is heaven as I like to be surprised by new talents and inventive scores and when you look at the Howlin Wolf catalogue its certainly not lacking any of these.

They are now showing the art-work for two atmospheric scores at the start of their website, both are the work of Randin Graves the first is They Live Inside Us, and the other is a collaboration with a gentleman who calls himself Slasher Dave for the movie The Witching Season. Both are interesting and entertaining works if a horror score can be deemed entertaining that is? Creepy and sinister is the order of the day with both works containing a style that is not that dissimilar to that of Alan Howarth, John Carpenter, and reminded me slightly of the style employed by director/composer Harry Bromley Davenport when he scored the 1982 sci-fi, horror Xtro. Synthetic but structured and above all supportive and effective. Being horror scores there are very few of what we would refer to as themes, but the composer does at times deploy a series of notes which he repeats, thus the music or musical sounds become haunting and because of the simplicity of the music it becomes unnerving and uncomfortable. Both scores are well worth checking out, you can order right now Howlin’ Wolf Records (howlinwolfrecords.com).  

It’s funny at Halloween we all seem to sit down and watch Horror because its October 31st, like at Christmas in the UK we watch two festive favourites, The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music? Halloween is a time for the gruesome, the gory and the scary and its’ at this time of year we turn to the likes of those Gothic Hammer films classics, Ghost stories, American International Edgar Allan Poe movies and if you are not a scaredy cat maybe things such as The Exorcist and if you don’t really care maybe some Abbot and Costello in those old black and white Universal comedy horrors. And let us not forget films such as The Lost Boys, Monster Squad, The Lady in White, Witchfinder General, Blood on Satan’s Claw, and Curse of the Crimson Altar. Just a handful of examples which can be deemed appropriate or inappropriate film fare for All Hallows Eve. If you are not keen an any of these you can always turn the news on, now that is scary, especially the guy with the tatty haircut spouting endless nonsensical chants and pretending to know what he is doing.

The Omen series I think is a collection of films that many still consider to be at the top of the horror genre chart and also the scores by Jerry Goldsmith in my opinion never age or sound cliched, out of the trilogy I have to say I liked The Final Conflict best, but more for the score than the movie, Goldsmith created an epic work for this the last in the trilogy where we see Damien grown to adulthood and being portrayed convincingly by actor Sam Neil.The Final Conflict, is an affecting soundtrack and not only because it is dark, foreboding and malevolent, but also because it has moments that were far more grandiose than the first two movies with the music leaning more towards a religious and spiritual sound. The end scene where Damien dies has a stunning and triumphant musical accompaniment. With Goldsmith employing, choir, brass, strings, and percussion which could easily be the work of Miklos Rozsa in any number of Biblical slanted epics from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Check it out on digital platforms, in fact all three Omen scores are available there.

Lalo Schifrin’s rejected score from The Exorcist is also a good soundtrack to turn to when celebrating Halloween, it is a modernistic quite Avant Garde sounding work, filled with a harsh and evil sound, apart from a quite easy going theme that pops up here and there, the movies director William Friedkin was said to have thrown the music tapes out of a window after audiences were sent packing on seeing the trailer for the movie with a music track by Schifrin underscoring it, Warner Brothers put a lot of stock in reactions from audiences when a trailer was shown, and it was deemed that is was the music that was too scary (but that was the idea surely). Friedkin, replaced the composers original score with tracks from classical composers and a short excerpt from Tubular Bells by British artist Mike Oldfield, with that piece of music now being forever associated with the film. For me, the Schifrin score is iconic because it is so effective and because it was rejected for doing what it was supposed to do. When the rejected work was issued finally on to a recording, it became apparent to many that this was an innovative, and complex, soundtrack and maybe the film’s director and the Warner Brothers studio did not understand fully how this wonderfully atmospheric and virulent sounding score would have made the already powerful film even more impacting. When, listening to it as just music it does have the ability to make one feel uneasy and unsettled. Much of the music was adapted by the composer and re-used in the later horror film The Amityville Horror, another classic.

At Halloween let us also not forget the Italian horror movie, Cinecitta has produced so many fine horror tales over the years and it was the Italian horror genre that made Barbara Steele a star. The horror movie has always been a popular genre for Italian filmmakers, and the movies contained musical scores that have over time also grown to become appreciated by collectors of soundtracks and film buffs alike. Bruno Nicolai is a composer who worked on a handful of Horrors, the most notable scores being Throne of Fire and Il Conte Dracula which he scored for Jess Franco, composers such as Carlo Rustichelli, Ennio Morricone and Fabio Frizzi have all made worthy contributions to the genre, with Frizzi I think making the genre all his own when working on films such as, City of the Living Dead, Zombie Flesh Eaters and The Beyond.

So, there is plenty musically to keep you occupied on Halloween, and if all else fails don’t forget the GDI Hammer film score series and the excellent Music from Hammer Films re-recording on Silva Screen.

Just do not answer the door, or if you get a call with someone asking, “What’s your favourite scary movie”, hang up because that’s not Sky doing market research guys.

Back to normality now, (well almost), because movies are not normal, are they? They are mostly about escapism, and fantasy allowing us to get away from the everyday world and for two hours or so going to another world, another life, to exotic locations, romantic and dangerous scenarios etc. Works for me. Cinemas are now returning to what is near normal after a harrowing and restricting two years, and with movies still available to stream it seems that the audiences are returning, which is a good thing.

The more movies that they release the more film scores we will get to hear, not all are worth listening to, but we are getting a few which are fresh and vibrant now. I have noticed that the drone like electronic noise score is taking pole position in recent months. So many new scores do not have melodies or even hints of them and the main titles have all but disappeared. So, I ask is the ART of film music as many of us seasoned collectors know it, becoming outdated or overtaken and suffocated by a plethora of clinical and unmusical synthetics? Time will tell I suppose. I will be honest and tell you I struggle to review some scores, why? Because they are un-listenable, that’s the only thing I can say, this is why in many of the soundtrack supplements I go back to past scores, to maybe inform collectors who have not heard them. I think I would rather review a past soundtrack by a composer who is no longer with us than most of the material that is being issued now. I am most probably going to be getting e mails for saying that! but I am sure there are those who agree. I am thankful for the Varese Sarabande club releases, and recently the Quartet releases of vintage Italian soundtracks, La La Land records too have released classics in the past two years as have Intrada.

And let us not forget Kronos with their Gold Series. Movie Score Media I applaud because they release new material, but it is a more traditional style of film music, there are a few exceptions, but it’s a label that I think would be sorely missed if it were not around. 

Until the next time

farewell.

SASQUATCH, LEGEND, MYTH, OR TRUTH?

There are in the world a lot of unexplained phenomena, things like the Loch Ness Monster for example and other creatures that every so often pop up here and there some even having film footage to back up a sighting, but I think the one creature or legend that sticks in many people’s minds is that of Bigfoot or the Sasquatch in Canadian and American folklore. Which is said to be an ape like creature that inhabits the dense forests of Northern America, there have been literally hundreds of sightings many being as I have said backed up by either audio or visual evidence, in the form of photographs and video film. However, the existence of the creature has never been proven, but saying that the evidence although challenged by scientists etc has also never been disproven to the degree that we can totally rule out that the creature does not wander the countryside hiding away from mankind in the depths of the forests. 

Some of the so-called evidence has been ruled out and treated as hoaxes, some elaborate others flimsy and easily spotted. I always remember the footage of Big Foot a creature covered in hair and walking upright like a man rather than on all fours like a bear or a wolf.  Bigfoot has become an iconic figure within cryptozoology and an enduring element of popular culture stories being passed down from family members to children and then from those children to friends and eventually when they became adults to their children and grandchildren. Folklore experts have maintained that the creature is a combination of factors and sources. These include ancient folk beliefs amongst various Native American tribes across the continent and other elements of folklore surrounding the European ape man figure. Beliefs shared from sources that include lumber workers, miners, hunters, and prospectors often include stories of hairy wild men, but are these Animal or human? After all mountain men would sometimes spend years in the wild without seeing another human and with solitude comes a little madness maybe, and allowing themselves to become wild as it were to fit in with the environment that they have been living in, so maybe these sightings were of mountain men and not Bigfoot or other such creatures? A cultural increase in environmental concerns have been cited as additional factors, some putting the argument that because man is moving deeper into the wild that maybe the Sasquatch is being forced out into the open and thus sightings have become more frequent?  Many scientists have historically refused to believe the existence of Bigfoot or a creature that resembles the description of Bigfoot, they have always considered the stories and supposed sightings to be the result of a combination of campfire tales and folklore stories handed down through the generations, misidentification, and hoax, rather than a living animal that has somehow survived and gone undetected by humans.

But sightings of Bigfoot like creatures are not confined to one specific area of the Americas, other creatures similar in descriptions are alleged to inhabit regions elsewhere on the American continent, such as the Ts’emekwes in North West America and the Skunk ape of the South-Eastern United States;  there have been many reports of sightings throughout the world, such as the Almas, Yeti, and Yeren  both associated with Asia; and the Australian Yowie; all of which, like Bigfoot, are engrained in the cultures of their respective regions. 

I suppose the stories of the Sasquatch can be to some degree compared with that of the legends surrounding the werewolf, there is authentication of sorts but there is also other evidence that maybe is more acceptable to the authorities and out-weights the so-called hoax documentation. Like the werewolf and other supposedly mythical creatures Bigfoot has been the subject of numerous movies and documentaries and it is a selection of these that I now move onto and whilst doing so discuss their respective musical scores.

Most movies focusing upon the Sasquatch, can be easily categorised within the horror genre, many depicting the creature as a bloodthirsty and ultra-violent missing link that rips off limbs and rampages through the countryside targeting poor innocent passers by that just happen to wander close the dark forests where it has resided for hundreds of years undisturbed. Which raises the question, if the creature has been hiding all these years why would it suddenly come out of its environment and attack a human? Because then it would be drawing attention to its existence and if the Sasquatch does indeed exist it surely has to be a reasonably intelligent creature to be so elusive for all these years. But there have been a handful films for both cinema and TV, that are well made and emphasise an intelligent viewpoint, that is backed up by convincing evidence that by the end of the film makes even the most doubting audience begin to think about whether the creature could exist.

But its not just Bigfoot that there have been sightings of, for example in the United Kingdom there have been many sightings of cat like creatures such as the beast of Bodmin, and other big cats in the South and North of the country, then there is the Chupacabra, or goat sucker, which is also said to be a cat like creature that sucks the blood out of livestock, it has links I suppose to vampires and werewolves being animal and also living on blood.

First sighted in the Southern regions of America in the mid 1990’s, there are varying descriptions of the creature with some describing it as more dog-like while others describe it as more lizard, amphibian- or even alien-like as in the early Hollywood image of Aliens, with big eyes and spikes down its back. Some have said it is a heavy creature the size of a small bear, with this row of spines reaching from the neck to the base of the tail. Eyewitness sightings have been claimed in Puerto Rico and have since been reported as far north as Maine and as far south as Chile, and even outside the Americas in countries like Russia and The Philippines. I am a strong believer that there are many unknowns in this world, and some are right under our noses, I also believe that man is a destructive force and one that has single handily managed to bring this earth to its knees, so why would there not be creatures out there that have gone out of their way to avoid us as a race? I think if I was a creature in the forest going about my business and I got to see a fraction of what mankind is doing to his own environment I would try and hideaway if I possibly could. It’s the same old story isn’t it, man discovers a new species, so what does man do straight away? They kill the new species to examine it to operate on it check its organs and its DNA etc. (did anyone check if there was more than one?). Similar scenario with all those 1950’s sci fi movies, aliens arrive on the planet “We come in peace” yep, “Ok let’s blast em to Kingdom come”.  Why? Well because we are stupid that’s why, or maybe because we fear the unknown and want to destroy it before it destroys us, when in reality creatures like the Bigfoot if they exist would probably just want to be left alone and would leave us alone.  Would a Sasquatch want to live in down-town New York or the suburbs of London, or would they want to stay in the wilds in the fresh clean air and carry on with their lives undisturbed, I think you know the answer to that question.

Bigfoot movies have encompassed a plethora of scenarios, there are the aforementioned blood thirsty Sasquatch’s, that would take chunks out of you or rip an arm out of its socket rather than look at you, the not so violent types, the friendly ones and also the comedic variety, which I think is my least favourite,  especially when given the Hollywood sickly syrupy treatment as in Harry and The Hendersons and also there seems to be a literal avalanche of animated films about our furry friend,(or friends) who is depicted as a cuddly and vulnerable individual, the vulnerable I get, but lets not get to carried away. So where to start concerning the movies and various filmic outings for Bigfoot?  I think go back to 1972 and look at a docudrama which caused a bit of a stir and more than a ripple of interest with audiences and critics alike.

The Legend of Boggy Creek is an American horror film about the “ Fouke Monster “, which is said to be a Bigfoot -type creature that reportedly has been seen in and around Fouke, Arkansas since the 1940s. The film mixes interviews with residents of Fouke who claim to have encountered the creature, along with re-enactments of some of these encounters. The movie was released on August 23rd, 1972, and had in its leading roles William Stump, Chuck Pierce jnr, and Willie E Smith, Produced and directed by Charles B. Pierce, this is probably one of the better movies focusing upon the legend of the Sasquatch.  

The film’s director and producer worked as an advertising salesman who convinced a local businessman to invest in the film and hired locals (mainly high school students) to help complete it. After Pierce’s daughter Pamula Pierce Barcelou acquired the rights to The Legend of Boggy Creek, a remastered version of the film premiered in 2019. The film had an effective and atmospheric score by Bolivian born composer Jaime Mendoza Nava, who is a composer that worked on over ninety movies and TV shows.  It’s surprising considering the composers quite prolific output in film music and other genres that many soundtrack collectors have not heard off him, and it also a great shame that there are hardly any of his filmic works to listen to on recordings. On searching I found one release of his film and piano works which is available digitally. It is an interesting compilation of music with the composer introducing each film score cue explaining the scene it was written for. Nava was very adaptable and scored numerous movies of varying subject matter and on each occasion tailored his musical style to these at times writing lush and romantic music, jazz influenced themes and dramatic and affecting compositions to suit and compliment every scenario and mood. The album which is available on Spotify and Apple music displays the composer’s flexibility to write for the screen and for the concert hall, showing two very different faces of the Maestro stylistically. One half of the album being dedicated to his film music and the other his piano compositions. There is good news however concerning his score for The Legend of Boggy Creek, the soundtrack release is coming soon and is one to look out for, it will be we are told available on compact disc, vinyl, and digital download. In many ways the music is evocative of the vintage horror film scores of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Fully symphonic for the most part and containing a handful of songs which are vital to the musical enhancement of the film giving it authenticity.

You can take a listen to samples here.

The Legend of Boggy Creek – Soundtrack

The composer worked on many horror movies and in the early to mid-1970’s his career was dominated scoring this genre of film, with examples being The Grave of the Vampire, Vampire Hookers,  House of Terror, Brotherhood of Satan and The Shadow of Chikara, most of the movies the composer scored were made on fairly-low budgets, but this was something that never effected the quality of Nava’s music, the composer producing scores that were integral to each plot and fully supportive of the movies. The Legend of Boggy Creek spawned a few other movies and TV movies dealing with the subject, in 1976 for example The Creature from the Black Lake was released it starred veteran actor Jack Elam and was also scored by Jaime Mendoza Nava.

The movie opens with fishermen who are attacked in the Louisiana swamps. When the word gets out of a mysterious Bigfoot-type creature, two researchers come to a small town to study and hopefully discover what the beast is. Their research indicates that they may soon be facing a violent and murderous creature which could be the missing link.

A more contemporary version of the tale is seen in the form of Boggy Creek which was released in 2010, was another more recent Bigfoot outing. Following the death of her father in a terrible accident, sweet, yet perplexed Jennifer and her friends decide to check out her dad’s cabin that’s located in the deep woods of Boggy Creek, Texas. While staying at said cabin for a week, which they are advised not to do by locals, Jennifer and company run into an evil and vicious monster of local legend that kills men and abducts women. (You know you should really listen to the locals after all they live there). This is not a good movie, in fact its one of those films that one gets a quarter of the way through, and you begin to channel hop, in the feint hope that when you return the movie would have finished and the annoying and untalented cast have all been massacred by the monster. Unconvincing performances fill this picture, and a rather shaky script does not help either. The musical score is by Brandon Bentli, and it looks like his only film score outing as far as I can see whilst researching him.

Then we have The Boggy Creek Monster a documentary, which was directed by Seth Breedlove, and released in 2016. The film was produced by an army of people, which is rather odd as the film although informative offers up no new facts or anything fresh regarding the monster. It is basically a string of interviews with supposed locals of the area, but there is nothing ground-breaking whatsoever in it,.

The score for the documentary is by Brandon Dalo and is available on digital platforms. It’s a rather down beat and soundscape led affair in places, the composer employing drone like sounds which are not musical just atmospherics, but they underline the few dramatic moments that the film offers with a moody but at times irritating sound.

One of the most recent films to focus upon Bigfoot is entitled American Bigfoot which is due for release in October this year (2021). It is an action thriller directed by Lance Polland. Starring Laura Stetman, Hans Hernke, Vernon Wells, Kelci C. Magel, and Vito Trabucco, and focuses upon a film maker named Matt Scott and his film crew who leave the comforts of Los Angeles to embark on a road trip to the Northern California mountains of Trinity County to film a documentary on the legendary creature known as Bigfoot.

Two days later the film crew hike into the forest to find evidence of the creature and that’s when the real fun begins. So, the interest in Bigfoot is still strong, and new movies and documentaries seem to be being made every year.

But none have any fresh takes on the subject, and then we have examples such as Sasquatch, which follows investigative journalist David Holthouse as he attempts to solve a bizarre twenty-five-year-old triple homicide that was said to be the work of a mythical creature. A rather different approach on this one though with the TV mini-series produced by Hulu being screened for the first time on April 20th in the United States, it does I have to say throw up some interesting points. But this is not all about Bigfoot, its also about the Bigfoot hunters and the reasoning behind their obsessions with the creature. Its probably the best of the bunch of recent documentaries and films and well worth checking out.

Then we have a film entitled Shriek of the Mutilated, also known as Mutilated and Scream of the Snowbeast, which is a 1974 American horror film directed by Michael Findlay. Now this is not a good film, but its entertaining at times simply because it is so bad, if you know what I mean? There is no composer credited and I am certain that most of the music is either classical or taken from music libraries, which is a practise that goes back as far as the 1930’s with horror and sci fi movies, the original Dracula for example that starred Bela Lugosi had a musical score that was classical excerpts tracked onto the soundtrack, and it was not until The Bride of Frankenstein that the horror film got a score specifically written for it which was the work of Franz Waxman. The rather outlandish and chaotic plot of Shriek of the Mutilated, focuses on a field trip by Professor Ernst Prell to investigate Yeti sightings along with four graduate students: Keith Henshaw, Karen Hunter, Tom Nash, and Lynn Kelly. The night before the trip, the professor invites Keith to dinner at a restaurant. The rest of Prell’s students attend an off-campus party where they run into a former student of the professor’s, turned alcoholic a groundskeeper named Spencer St. Clair, who is there with his wife April. St. Clair in his drunken state tells everyone about Prell’s last Yeti-seeking field trip, which only he and the professor survived. After the party, St Clair continues to drink, and upon returning home argues and violently fights with and beats his wife cutting her throat with an electric carving knife. Afterwards, he climbs into the bathtub fully clothed but is killed by his not yet dead wife who manages somehow to drag a toaster into the bathroom and dumps it into the bath, electrocuting him (shocking). The next day the professor and his group of students travel to see a friend of Prell’s a Dr. Werner who lives on an island where it is said the Yeti creature has been sighted.  The theory being that the creature has been trapped on the island by melting winter ice.

When they arrive at the island, they are introduced to a mute Native American who is the manservant of Werner whose name is Laughing Cow. The Professor and his students are made to feel welcome, and dinner is served which just happens to be the same meal that the professor and Keith had the night before in the restaurant which is something called Gin Sung. The party turn in for the night and the next morning set out on their search for the Yeti. Tom one of the students decides to go off hunting on his own and is attacked and killed by the creature.  

The group search for Tom the next morning but it is only his rifle and his severed leg that one of them discovers. Meanwhile, one of the female students Lynn is startled by something that she sees and runs off into the woods were she too is killed by the Yeti. I won’t go any further, I don’t want to spoil it for you. Shriek of the Mutilated is an off kilter rather disjointed, low budget horror, which probably has more negatives than positives, but it’s all good clean gory fun and passes an hour and a half on a wet and miserable Saturday evening.  

From gore and horror to something that is sugary and tame, Harry and the Henderson’s is not one of my favourite Bigfoot movies, in fact I think the only saving grace is the musical score by composer Bruce Broughton and even that is certainly not one of the composers best.

BRUCE BROUGHTON.

Broughton was catapulted into the public gaze after scoring the western Silverado and the thriller Young Sherlock Holmes in 1985, a year later the composer worked on The Boy Who Could Fly. In the same year that he scored Harry and the Henderson’s the composer also worked on The Monster Squad, Cross my Heart, and Big Shots.  

Directed by William Dear and released in 1987, the film opens with a family returning from a hunting trip in the forest, the Henderson’s car hits an animal. Initially they think it is a man, but when they examine the body, they find it’s a bigfoot. They then panic a little but decide to take the body home as maybe they can make some money out of proving the existence of the Bigfoot.  But, and yes there is always a but, they discover that the creature is not dead but unconscious. They also find out that far from being a violent and bloodthirsty animal as the reports say the Bigfoot or Harry as they call him is a mild mannered and friendly giant. In their attempts to keep Harry a secret, the Henderson’s hide him from the authorities and a man, who has made it his goal in life, to catch a “bigfoot”. Ok it’s an entertaining romp mostly, but sometimes it’s a little cheesy, cringeworthy and cliched. The cast is ok, with John Lithgow taking the lead and actor Kevin Peter Hall as Harry. A family movie, but one that sometimes just does not hit the mark.

Let’s head away from the Hollywood-ization of the big hairy guy and go back to lower budget movies and docu-dramas and informative if not slightly oddball documentaries. Tinsel town were not exactly falling over them selves to produce movies that at least were slightly credible about Bigfoot so it fell to independent filmmakers to try and bring the legend of the Sasquatch to the attention of TV viewers and cinema audiences. Some of these examples have been good others not so good, many have been scary with others garnering chuckles and laughter from watching audiences.

Despite many critics and members of the public praising Primal Rage(sometimes called Primal Rage: Bigfoot Reborn, or Primal Rage: The Legend of Konga) for its gory effects, most from both the pro and negative camps would have to agree that the movie had its fair share of problems. The film which was released in 2018 portrays the Bigfoot as a warrior figure who is hell bent on guarding and protecting his race, the movie also throws into the mix Native American religion and mystical elements, and hints that maybe Bigfoot is more magical and otherworldly than just a giant ape in the forest.

Released four years earlier Exists  is considered by many fans of this horror sub-genre to be one of the better movies about the Sasquatch, Eduardo Sánchez, the creator of  The Blair Witch Project decided to create his own found footage Bigfoot film. Sánchez used his past ways of creating convincing footage techniques at the start of the movie, but midway through the film switches style and turns into an effective and full-on taught and no holds barred monster movie. Despite being criticized for weak characters the movie was praised for its excellent costuming. The movie tells the story of five friends who head off on a summer getaway which is a weekend of camping in the Texas Big Thicket. But thoughts of a relaxing and fun break soon evaporate with an accident on a dark and desolate country road.

After which they find themselves pursued and hunted by something that is not human a Bigfoot seeking murderous revenge for the death of its child. It’s a movie that I thought bult wonderfully on the tense situation adding more and more tense and nervous atmospheres as the story unfolded. The score was effective, but was used sparingly, which in a way was more impacting because the silences and pauses often created a greater sense of foreboding and urgency. The music was by composer Nima Fakhrara who is known for his work on Becky (2020), Detroit Become Human (2018) and The Signal (2014).

THE LEGEND IS REAL AND HUNGRY.

Is the tag line from the 2017movie Valley of the Sasquatch or Hunting Grounds. Which is an effective horror romp directed by John Portanova. After losing their home following a devastating tragedy, a father and son are forced to move to an old family cabin. Neither reacts well to being thrown into this new and for them uncomfortable world. The son’s attempts to relate to his father are complicated and become even more so when two old friends arrive for a weekend of hunting. This trip into the forest will unearth not only feelings of guilt that have been concealed but also a tribe of Sasquatch that are determined to protect their land. The musical score is the work of Jon Bash, who was born in Redwood City, CA and spent most of his childhood in Sequim, WA, learning to play guitar and percussion from the age of eleven. At the age of eighteen he moved to Bellingham, WA to initially study music education at Western Washington University, but soon found his calling in composing music. During his time there he received numerous awards and began working with local filmmakers and video game developers, he teaches at the Bellingham university while continuing to compose for larger and larger projects.  He was nominated for the Best Score award at the 2015 Horrible Imaginings Film Festival in San Diego, CA for his work on Valley of the Sasquatch.  

Released in 2013 Willow Creek, is another well-known and well-regarded found footage movie about Bigfoot, Jim and his girlfriend Kelly are visiting the infamous Willow Creek, the alleged home of the original Bigfoot legend. It was there that in 1967, the legendary beast was captured on film and has terrified and mystified generations since. Keen to explore more than fifty years of truth, folklore, misidentifications and hoaxes, Kelly goes along for the ride to keep Jim happy, whilst he is determined to prove the story is real by capturing the beast on camera. Deep in the dark woods, isolated and hours from human contact, neither Kelly or Jim are prepared for what is hidden between the trees, and what happens when the cameras start rolling.

This is an effective drama and I would say one of the better examples of more recent movies dealing with the stories surrounding Sasquatch. That’s it for now I guess, there are so many more examples of Bigfoot movies, maybe try and check them out as a number of these are available on you tube and other such sites. Happy viewing.

CHARLES BERNSTEIN/A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.

When one mentions composer Charles Bernstein, it is often the horror scores he composed for movies such as A Nightmare on Elm Street and Cujo that come to mind.

The composer’s career in scoring film began in 1969, when he worked on a documentary entitled Czechoslovakia 1918 to 1968. He worked steadily throughout the 1970s and as the 1980’s dawned he began to become associated more and more with the horror genre, writing music for movies such as The Entity, Love at first Bite, and scoring TV movies such as Covenant and Malice in Wonderland. In fact, a lot of Bernstein’s scores were for TV movies during the 1980’s and continuing into the 1990’s. But not all were horror movies or films related remotely to the horror genre. Which displays how flexible and talented the composer is, being able to adapt his musical styles to varying subject matters, working on dramas, romances and comedies, films, and documentaries.

If Nancy doesn’t wake up screaming she won’t wake up at all.

I am however going back to the 1980’s and to the year of 1984, when Fred Krueger (Robert Englund) first came onto the big screen to conjure up mayhem and terror as well as inflicting pain both mental and physical upon his victims. A Nightmare on Elm Street was a lower budget affair and who would have thought that this first foray into the mysterious, creepy, and surreal world of Kruger would have spawned so many sequels and assured the series a place in the history of horror cinema.  

1,2 Freddy’s Coming For You!

The central character is a child killer who appears to people who were responsible for his death and begins to have his revenge on their children and family members in dreams. The residents of Elm Street are terrorised by this cruel and sadistic figure, Nancy Thompson and a group of her friends (comprising Tina Gray, Rod Lane and Glen Lantz) are being tormented by a clawed killer in their dreams named Fred Krueger. Nancy must think quickly, as Fred tries to pick them off one by one, but what can you do if you are asleep?

The kids of Elm Street don’t know it yet, but something is coming to get them in their dreams.

Bernstein’s score is highly effective especially in the dream sequences with the composer creating atmospheric and sinister sounding compositions via conventional and electronic instrumentation, adding to this unusual sounds and voices to fashion an eerie, unsettling, and menacing soundtrack. It is a score that has always been popular and has recently been re-issued onto digital platforms as part of the Warner Brothers Archive Collection, with thirty-four cues included and a running time of nearly fifty minutes.

She is the only one who can stop it… if she fails, no one survives.

The movie directed by Wes Craven is an effective slasher/serial killer film and was probably the inspiration for many other films in the same genre that followed including Scream which was also directed by Craven. It is surprising that Bernstein never returned to the franchise, the sequel being scored by Christopher Young and composers such as J Peter Robinson, Craig Safan, and Angelo Badalamenti working on other entries. On revisiting the soundtrack recently I was still impressed by the inventiveness of the composer, check it out.

MAYBE YOU MISSED THIS. 1.

A LOOK AT MOVIES AND SCORES THAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED.

Nothing Can Stop Them. No One Can Help You. They Know Who You Are.

THE BELIEVERS.

Directed by John Schlesinger in 1987 this is a movie that I feel was unfairly overlooked, it has a powerful storyline and an impressive cast headed by Martin Sheen. Most religious based films do include peace and love and works towards a conclusion that sees the whole of mankind basking in the sunlight of God and holding hands singing hallelujah and vowing undying love for fellow man. Movies about Caribbean native religious practises however do not go down this path or follow this scenario, they seem to include a lot of people with white eyes who can fixate and hypnotise a victim in a very short space of time and after the said victim has been in their company and under their influence for about twenty seconds are offering to wring chickens necks and offer up sacrifices that include not just chickens but in the case of The Believers  children.

Director on set.

Witchcraft has always been a fascinating subject and it is no surprise that film studios also found this subject attractive, turning out endless movies about witches, possession, and voodoo rituals. British studios such as Amicus and Hammer dipped their toe into the witchcraft waters as it were on a few occasions, voodoo even became a big part of the plot of the Bond movie, Live and Let Die.  There were also movies such as The Serpent and The Rainbow which is a prime example of this type of film. And of course, vintage horrors such as I Walked with a Zombie. The Believers as I have said was in my opinion cruelly criticised and unfairly underrated by both critics and audiences alike, but to be fair, critics did not really give it a chance and probably audiences or potential audiences for the movie were put off by negative reviews. But on re-visiting the film I found it passable ok it was nothing overly outstanding but still enjoyable, and I was impressed greatly by the atmospheric and inventive musical score courtesy of J. Peter Robinson a composer who is for some reason underused by filmmakers. The soundtrack was issued on an LP in 1987, on Varese Sarabande, the score was later in 2009 issued on a compact disc by Perseverance records with extra music. I still have the LP and it pops up from time to time on various selling sites, but the CD is something of a rarity now.

Sheen plays a police psychiatrist Cal Jamison who, after the death of his wife moves to New York, on arriving there he is involved in an investigation that is looking into the murder of two teenage boys who have been slaughtered in a ritual by a religious cult. Jamison believes that it is a voodoo cult that have carried out the murders and decides to investigate further despite warnings from his housekeeper to stay away from them. But it is not long before he himself becomes influenced by their ways and black magic, and they attempt to get him to sacrifice his own son.

J.PETER ROBINSON.

The music for the movie adds much to the storyline the composer utilising symphonic flourishes, strange brass performances that are chilling and edgy and percussive elements, some of these having an ethnic persona to them to which he adds vocals and choral performances that are augmented and further enhanced by strings to create a soundtrack that is supportive and totally integral and vital to the plot. The composer also employs various icy and sinewy electronic effects that give weight to the musical proceedings and acting as support to the more conventional instrumentation. It’s a score that I would recommend and why not try and catch the movie at some point.