Category Archives: CINEMA.

YORGA’S UNRELEASED SCORE.

I think that the 1970’s was a decade that gave us several fantastically good horror movies, some examples of the genre began to explore new ways to scare via the more traditional means but more often than not the Horror movies from the 1970’s began to experiment with quirky twists in plots and storylines and it was around this time that we began to see various degrees of real gore and shock creeping into productions, some say gratuitous violence was also making a more pronounced and regular appearance. But the gothic and traditional horror scenarios were still the mainstay of the genre. At times these established and familiar horror elements and tales were updated and moved into a more modern timeline. The decade that also gave us disco also brought to screens some made for TV affairs but even though they were produced for the small screen with at times extremely low budgets their quality still shone through. In the 1970’s we were treated to movies such as Count Yorga Vampire, which although in the UK was shown as a B feature (I saw Yorga with Vincent Price Poe influenced movie The Cry of The Banshee) was well made and had to it an interesting and at times even thought-provoking storyline.

Yorga, I think is one of the more classier vampire movies that was produced in the 1970’s. It seemed that almost everyone at that start of the seventies wanted to uproot the Vampire from its more traditional Gothic settings of Transylvania or Eastern Europe and place it into a more contemporary one.

I suppose it was Yorga that led the way for the updating of the Vampire legend as it was released in 1970, and its sequel The Return of Count Yorga (Vampire Story) followed in 1971. Dracula AD 1972, and The Satanic Rites of Dracula made by Hammer films soon hit the cinema screens in 1972 and 1973 respectively, but I think that once Hammer had committed to placing their star Vampire into a modern environment the franchise became tired and woefully inadequate for audiences, with even Christopher Lee becoming disenchanted with the way the studio were going in the cycle,  the thing was that once they did it how could they go back? (Dracula meets Dr. Who maybe?)  Yorga however was different why? Well because audiences had not seen him in any other setting so the timeline for this vampire seemed fitting and I think there could have been maybe at least another in the series easily. Other releases such as Blacula (1972) and Scream Blacula Scream (1973) also made it to the big screen, with the first movie being quite successful but its sequel falling under the radar after its initial release. Then there was an often-forgotten movie, Vampira or Old Dracula which starred David Niven in the role of Count Dracula, who was attempting to bring his bride Vampira back to life and make here even more beautiful by using the blood of several highly attractive models.  

But his plan goes slightly off the tracks as the blood he has collected turns Vampira from a beautiful white vampire into an even more stunning Black Countess. The trend of updating the vampire legend continued into the 1980’s with movies such as Fright Night (1985) and more recently in the not so atmospheric re-make of that movie and in the odd and rather annoying Twilight Saga where vampires shimmer in the daylight (what’s all that about).  Then there was Blade and its subsequent sequels, which brought the tale of the vampire right up to date including a trance music soundtrack as well as the original score. Vampire movies will always hold a special place in the hearts and minds of cinema audiences, they seem to be fascinated by the legend of the living dead as they were called, fixated and mesmerized even and drawn to the mysterious and complex personas of these blood sucking predators.

For me personally any updating of the Vampire legend had not been successful and had failed to work until Yorga came on the scene that is. The movie which was low budget in comparison to other horrors around at the same time and on occasion looking as if it could have been a TV movie made for late night viewing in certain scenes. But the movie its plot and cast were superb, and the film was like a breath of fresh air as Vampire movies went. The score by Bill Marx was too something of an eye opener, rather than a full-on booming, grandiose, and thundering soundtrack all’a say Hammer films, the music was visceral and more avant garde than what we had come to know as a typical horror score. But it suited the film wonderfully and created nerve jangling tension and even added a greater depth of atmosphere and created a mood that was undeniably effective.

Sadly, the superb score for Count Yorga Vampire has never been released and the only way you can hear Bill Marx’s atmospheric music is to either watch the movie or buy the Blu ray edition that contains the isolated score. It seems a bit unfair in a way that this movies score remains unreleased the Marx soundtrack being superior to so many others that were around during this period. Listening to the music from Count Yorga without the images is just as chilling and harrowing as it is when underlining the action on screen, in fact I would go as far as to say maybe it’s a little more unsettling.

Marx who is the adopted son of Harpo Marx scored the movie under the name of William Marx. The composer penned a sinister and suitably virulent sounding work to punctuate and enhance the Count as he went about his deadly business in 1970, s Los Angeles.  Scored for a chamber orchestra or a relatively small ensemble, it is in my opinion one of the most innovative soundtracks for a horror movie that was released in the early to mid 1970’s.

The composers rather sparse and forward-looking approach worked wonderfully and the musical score at times became the driving heartbeat of the action, and it was the music that would make the audience gasp or jump out of their seats, rather than any of the actual horrific jolts that were happening on screen.

Of course, the film contained shocking scenes and turbulent twists and turns but these were all aided greatly by the music. The movie itself was successful in the US, the UK, and Europe so it was a surprise that the score was not released at the time of the film’s release, but there again the soundtrack market was a little different in those days, with record labels not really being interested in music from horror movies. Bill Marx, is in my view an underrated composer, and his score for Count Yorga Vampire is proof of the composers incredible talent and obvious gift for underlining scenarios and making them work more effectively and specifically in the case of Yorga making various doubly harrowing. So, I thought why not review the score from the isolated score tracks on the Blue Ray DVD, because I doubt very much if the score will now ever be released onto a CD or even made available on digital platforms but saying this it could still pop up somewhere one day. I must mention and thank critic and radio presenter Tim Ayres who was kind enough to record the isolated score for me and also subsequently put me in touch with Bill Marx for the purpose of an interview which Movie Music International will be running someday soon we hope.

The score opens with the brief but highly atmospheric Main Titles track, (M1) which commences with organ chords and a central theme that ushered in the titles of the movie being performed by two violins and punctuated by a plucked piano,  the violins then announce the beginning of the movie by literally rushing into a crescendo, I remember the title coming up on screen and the audience gasping and literally jumping, because of the urgency of the violins there is also a short performance by oboe, that makes a statement after the initial violin performance, which adds a calmness to the proceedings and allows the audience to recover slightly, the calmness that the composer realizes here is why the opening music is so effective. One knows that this is a horror movie, but the music is subtle and sinewy initially not announcing anything urgent. It is so effective because it easily lulls the watching audience into a false sense of being safe and secure. But this introduction is nothing and little did they know what there was in store for them, both visually and musically.

The Vampire Legend, (M102-T1) is the music that underscores the opening scenes where we se Yorga’s coffin being transported from the docks on the back of a station wagon driven by his faithful servant Brudah, the music is in the background to a narration about the Vampire legend.

(M103-T1) The Séance, is a mysterious piece for Harps and I think I can also detect the subtle use of organ in the background, but it is just a hint that underlines and embellishes the performances of the harps. Understated but again like the remainder of the score effective and affecting, creating a nervous tension and an apprehensive air.

Erica’s Apartment is an interesting piece, it begins with timpani, just a lone snare drum tapping out a beat that increases in tempo, but soon slows to single taps and just when one thinks the cue is coming to its end, the track erupts with string stabs that are edgy and taught creating an excellent and striking wake up call for the audience or listener, the strings are punctuated by sparse but noticeable percussion which adds a sense of foreboding and urgency to the piece.

Yorga’s Mansion (M403 T2) is a brief cue, with organ and breathy woodwind, that establishes an atmosphere that is thick with a mysterious mood. Yorga’s Storm (M501 T1) is hypnotic with the composition being for organ and strings, the strings becoming spidery and at the same time slightly sensual.

Whilst listening to the score as just music I was amazed how Marx was successful in realizing music that although was not that thematic still had to it an alluring and attractive persona, which I suppose is like the films central character, as in we know he is evil but are unable to resist his mesmerizing charms for want of a better phrasing.

This is something that is more noticeable in the cues Erica at the Window (M502 T3) which is basically an introduction to the more developed and expressive sounding Eternal Love, (M503A T2) with its romantically slanted melody for solo violin woods and harp initially being played at a slight kilter.  

Count Yorga: Vampire (imdb.com)

As the composer emphasizes the woodwind and adds a second violin the cue  becomes even more romantically laced being utilized in the love scene between Erica and Yorga. as it is utilized to enhance a love scene of sorts between Yorga and Erica, but at the same time it conveys a sinister and darkly menacing undertone as we know that the Count is about to add Erica to his growing harem of Brides. The score is filled with numerous short, sharp but effective cues, which underline and support the scenarios being acted out on screen. I can only guess that at the time of the film’s release a soundtrack album was not even considered, because if at this time the Hammer scores had not seen the light of day on a recording what chance did Yorga have? And studios simply were not interested in the “Background Music” as they referred to it. I think the attraction to the score for Count Yorga Vampire is its originality, its freshness, and vibrancy, with the composer placing a unique musical stamp upon the film, never over scoring but always supporting.

The music that Marx wrote to accompany the character of Brudah played by actor Edward Walsh, is filled with an ominous air, the composer utilizing low strings, that are punctuated with harp and given added menace by the introduction of additional strings some of which are plucked that make an appearance alongside a scattering of percussion and a line here and there from subdued and breathy woodwind. The music captured perfectly the lumbering and raw mindless brutal actions of the Counts servant, who is loyal to his Master at all costs. This type of scoring manifests itself in Brudah and Donna (M803 T3) and in Michael Finds Paul/Brudah Attacks with the composer also working timpani into the latter track to increase the tension.

There are some electronic stabs and effects within the score, but I am not sure if this is something that was the work of the composer or something that was added after the scoring session had finished.  also working timpani into the latter track to increase the tension. These are short and sharp mainly and feature in Paul’s Death (M603 T1) and Michael Opens Coffin. The end scenes of the movie are scored almost continuously in Final Fight (M1002 T4) as Michael attempts to escape with Donna after he has driven a stake into Yorga.

But little do we know or indeed is Michael aware that Donna does not really want to be saved. The brides of Yorga are even more terrifying with the score underlining their actions, as they rush towards Michael hissing and fangs bared blocking his way on the staircase.

The score for Count Yorga Vampire is in my opinion a gem of a soundtrack, its tones, motifs, nuances, and phrases are accomplished, and its overall sound and style has to it a sustained and malevolent atmosphere that is perfectly suited to the storyline. Check out the DVD with the isolated score tracks, and why not re-visit both the Yorga movies.

DEMONS OF THE MIND.

There is certainly no doubt whatsoever that by the time the 1970’s dawned that Hammer films were indeed struggling financially and also finding it difficult to maintain the standards that they had done in the glory days of the studio which many agree was in the late 1950’s and throughout the 1960’s. They had in fact probably been responsible for their own slow demise because of their insistence on up-dating the Dracula cycle, which many have never agreed with, myself included. Because how do you go back when you have placed a Gothic horror character into a contemporary setting? However, amongst numerous movies that the studio did release in the seventies, there were some shining examples that had a feint glimmer of vintage or classic Hammer productions as in Vampire Circus and The Vampire Lovers, even if they did have to resort to exposing certain parts of various ladies anatomies to get audiences interested. However, one movie that they released in the early 1970’s that was different and well, quite intelligently made was Demons of the Mind, that was in UK cinemas in 1972. I cannot really say that this is a movie that has a cult like following, but I do look upon it in a similar way because it is a polished and also thought-provoking motion picture.

Demons of the Mind is also different from what we would ordinarily expect from Hammer, and that is probably why it was less than a runaway success at the box office, it seemed that many people were saying it’s a great movie, but it’s a Hammer horror. Well, yes, it is a Hammer film and yes it has degrees of the horror element, but there is so much more to this motion picture that provokes interest from the audience. When I think of Demons of the Mind, I also remember films such as the studios excellent Fear in The Night also from 1972, which I think is the closest we will get to a British version of a Giallo movie all’a Argento etc. With films such The Bird with the Crystal Plumage coming to mind. And Crescendo again from 1972, which is a truly underrated movie. Hammer were great at Gothic horror’s but were also exceptionally good at the psychological or cerebral tale. Demons of the Mind was a favourite of composer Harry Robinson who worked on the movie.  As he said in interview.

“I think out of all my Hammer scores I prefer Demons of the Mind, to anything else I did for the studio. I also thought the film was particularly good. It was a horror I suppose, but it was also a film that made you think a little. It was to be called Blood will have Blood, but the censors decided that you could not have blood in the title twice – why I am not sure? The film called for a score that obviously matched its storyline, but I also had a chance to be melodic on this picture which was a nice change from all the atonal and loud non- musical stuff. I used traditional instrumentation and enhanced this with a moog synthesiser”

Demons of the Mind was directed by Peter Sykes, who had before this directed the experimental psychedelic movie The Committee in 1968, which was probably better known for its soundtrack by Pink Floyd. He had also directed a handful of The Avengers TV series from 1966 through to 1969. Sykes went onto work on several movies but none that exactly fired up cinema goers, the big screen version of Steptoe and Son for example, and The House in Nightmare Park, which starred Frankie Howard and Ray Milland. Both movies being released in 1973. He also helmed Hammer’s To the Devil a Daughter in 1976, and in 1980 directed several episodes of the popular UK TV soap Emmerdale Farm, now called Emmerdale. Demons of the Mind focuses upon a well to do widower Baron Zorn, played by Robert Hardy, who keeps his adult children Emil (Shane Briant) and Elizabeth (Gillian Hills) under lock and key, locked away from everything. He lives in constant fear that they will go mad as their Mother did.

He then decides to invite doctor Falkenberg (Patrick Magee) to stay and see if he can help his children who are kept sedated and apart because of their incestuous attraction to each other. The doctor’s unorthodox ways do not however improve matters and when there are murders locally the villagers call in a holy man to track down the murderer. The role of Gillian was originally to be played by Marianne Faithful, but she eventually declined, the part played by Robert Hardy, was also offered to both Dirk Bogarde and Paul Schofield who both declined.

The film also starred Yvonne Mitchell as the housekeeper and Michael Hordern as the Holy man. With Paul Jones as Carl Richter. Writer Christopher Wicking was not pleased about Hardy being given the lead role, as he wanted either Bogarde or Schofield, but when they turned down the part Hammer films felt that they could not ask their leading actors Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing to even consider the movie. Thus, enter Hardy. The film has definitely improved with age if that is at all possible.

CAPTAIN KRONOS-VAMPIRE HUNTER.

Now I always felt that this was a movie that was a little odd, mind you any movie which has a mythical creature or being at its core must I suppose be looked upon with some trepidations don’t you think, after all do vampires exist, well I have never met one and I know quite a few odd balls. I saw the film initially on TV and at the time thought ummm, well that was different, but did I think this because I had already been somewhat conditioned about the folklore surrounding the Vampire by previous Hammer and Universal movies? When I thought of a vampire straight away, I had a mental image of Dracula or at least Christopher Lee as the Count, simply because of the generation I am from and the films that I grew up with. It may come as a surprise when I tell you that I saw the Hammer incarnations of Stokers famous Count before viewing the Lugosi movies as produced by Universal in glorious monochrome. I remember well seeing my first Dracula which was the 1958 Hammer production which was entitled The Horror of Dracula in the U.S.A. As the credits rolled and the music thundered, I felt scared I know it sounds silly, but I was just fifteen and had manage to persuade the lady on the ticket office I was old enough to see an X cert movie. The sight of the coffin being spattered with blood in the opening credits of the film made me think maybe this was not such a good idea. The thing is it was showing with Dracula Prince of Darkness, so I sat literally frozen to the itchy cinema seat in the Duke of York cinema Brighton, fixed on the screen. After a while it was ok, I was used to it or was I? I don’t think we ever fully grow out of being apprehensive around horror movies and I still find that those early Hammer movies with the rich colours, the wonderfully atmospheric sets, day for night sequences and the music a little bit scary, don’t you? 

I think this is why I found Kronos a bit harder to swallow, the way in which the vampire killed was different, the way in which the vampire could be dispatched and vanquished was also different although there were certain methods from the more traditional movies included within its storyline. This I think was something to do with the way in which the story was conceived and also because of the production team and director. Even the musical score was different, and the lead actor too was more of a swashbuckler and mercenary than a professor or expert on the occult, although he was surrounded by a team of people who seemed to know what they were doing.

At times I even noticed a style that maybe would have been inspired by the films of Kurosawa or Leone, especially in the scenes involving Kronos and the character Kerro played by Ian Hendry who was supported by his band of cutthroats who are paid to murder Kronos. But initially as I say I was a little confused and decidedly unimpressed on my first viewing. Until I sat down one evening and watched the movie on DVD and ended up loving it because of its inventiveness and its innovative approach to the tales of the vampire. Mixing mystery, with adventure and sword play with vampirism certainly worked and the performances by the impressive cast were also a bonus.

This although offbeat compared with other Hammer vampire movies was a polished and wonderfully dramatic production. Directed by Brian Clemens who also penned the story, as well as acting as co-producer on the movie with Albert Fennel whom he was already associated with via their collaborations on popular TV series such as The Avengers and The New Avengers and had also produced Doctor Jekyll and Sister Hyde in 1971 for Hammer which was an interesting take on the original story by Robert Louis Stephenson.

The score for Captain Kronos was by Laurie Johnson, who was the third member of the partnership with Clemens and Fennel. Johnson of course was a well-known figure in the world of TV and film music as well as being an important figure in British music as a composer and an arranger. His themes for the already mentioned The Avengers and New Avengers are still popular today, but unless you are a Hammer fan or a film music collector one would probably not associate Johnson with a Hammer Gothic horror and it was to be the only Hammer movie that the composer worked upon, and in interview he spoke to me about the film and his score.

“I became involved on Kronos, because it had been written and directed by Brian Clemens, who had also been the main script writer on The Avengers, and at around the time of Kronos he had become a partner with myself and Albert Fennel. The movie was a quite different approach to a vampire. Which I found refreshing, I was given about six weeks to score the film or thereabouts I cannot recollect the exact amount of time that I had to score the picture, but I always specified a minimum of one month. The orchestra on the score consisted of a large string section, horns, and solo trumpet. Philip Martell was musical director for Hammer, so it was he who conducted Kronos. I found him to be a very able and affable person, and I had in fact employed him myself on several occasions as associate conductor. This is an arrangement that I found extremely helpful, as it enabled me to either conduct or supervise from the control room, as I felt necessary. Over the years this was an arrangement that also suited my long-term friend and business partner Bernard Herrmann and myself on both our film and recording sessions.”

As well as Johnson’s score there were sections of music utilized within the movie which had been composed by Malcolm Williamson, but I am unsure if these were additional cues or used as fillers or maybe sections that were added after the actual scoring had ceased and the producers wanted more music? But this was not unusual and had happened both before and after Kronos on other Hammer films, the MD whoever they were at the time selecting cues to add to the original score for greater effect. Johnson’s score is an accomplished one, with the driving main title theme being one of the many highpoints of the work. The ten note theme performed by solo trumpet which is used throughout and is a vital component of the pulsating central theme, has I have to say has similar attributes to the theme that Johnson wrote for The Belstone Fox in 1973, which manifests itself in that scores core theme and becomes more prominent in the Hunt sequence of the movie. This trumpet solo for Kronos is at times given a softer rendition via faraway sounding horns in a handful of cues, thus making it more of a gentle and calming effect in non-action scenes. Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter is probably one of Hammers best film scores, the composer creating a mystical and malevolent sound throughout. The music was released onto compact disc by the BSX label in the United States under license from the UK label GDI (who released several Hammer soundtracks) and has subsequently been made available on digital platforms such as Spotify. It has to it an uneasy but at the same time martial sound, with certain nods of acknowledgement to the style of composer Bernard Herrmann, with low woods and percussive elements being integrated into the soundtrack and evoking Herrmann’s Mysterious Island and Jason and the Argonauts. The composer also provides some more melodic and even religious, and romantic flourishes which come as a welcome respite to the remainder of the score which is action themed. There is also subtle use of cymbalom in a handful of cues, which adds atmosphere to the story that is unfolding up on the screen. But it is a four-note, then five-note motif which seems to be constantly present that the composer builds his score upon, with the motif being executed by varying instrumentation and acting as a calling card for Kronos.

The movie was given a late release in 1974 after several concerns being raised by censors in both the UK and the US. In America it was given an R rating and in the UK an X certificate. Because it was thought that the movie contained too much violence and had scenes of a sexual nature with a script that hinted at sexual acts. The movie was to be the first of a series of films to feature the titular character, but sadly this did not come to fruition.

Set in 16th Century England during the European or Protestant Reformation. Dr. Marcus played by the excellent John Carson decides that he has to call in Captain Kronos portrayed by Horst Janson, with whom he served in the army to his village which is plagued by mysterious deaths which are a linked by the victims passing away with accelerated aging. Kronos and his companion, the Hunchback Professor Hieronymus Grost  portrayed by another wonderful actor John Cater are professional Vampire Hunters.

Grost explains to the initially sceptical Marcus that the dead women are victims of a Vampire who drains not blood but youth, and that there are “As many species of vampire as there are beasts of prey”. The discovery of another victim soon after the Vampire hunters arrive in the village confirms Grost’s explanation. On their travels Kronos and Grost  meet and take in a local Gypsy girl, Carla played by the beautiful actress Caroline Munro, has been put in the stocks for dancing on the sabbath, the duo release her and she decides to repay their kindness by becoming an assistant of sorts and later a romance between her and Kronos develops and they become lovers.

The intrepid vampire hunters begin to carry out tests in the area to try and find out if there is a vampire roaming the countryside. But they are at first thrown off the scent when told that the person or being responsible for the killings is an old person, which does not fit the persona of a youth draining vampire, who theoretically would become younger after each victim, rather than aging.  

Dr.Marcus decides that he will visit the family of a deceased friend, Lord Hagen Durward, where he speaks with Durward’s son, Paul played by Shane Briant and his beautiful sister Sara (Lois Daine). He however has to make his departure before having an opportunity to talk to his friends widow, the bed-ridden Lady Durward  portrayed by actress Wanda Ventham. While on his return journey Marcus is confronted with a dark figure who is wearing a cloak riding through the woods, Marcus encounters a cloaked figure which leaves him shaken and shocked as he discovers fresh blood on his lips.

Meanwhile Kronos and Grost are at a local inn when they are confronted by a handful of brigands led by Kerro (Ian Hendry). They have been paid by Lady Durward to kill Kronos. They fail as Kronos far outmatches all of them. This is one of the scenes where I was reminded of both the genre of the Italian western and the films of Kurosawa, Kronos killing all three of the thugs with two swipes of his sword. After Kerro ridicules Grost for being a hunchback. The scene is moderately violent, but it is the barman and bar maid ducking down behind the bar that reminded me of the delicate balance between an act of violence and comedy think of the mule scene, in A Fistful of Dollars for example. Whilst this is taking place Marcus enlists the help of Carla and together, they rig up a network of traps in the form of bells on strings and ribbons in the woods so if the vampire touches them, they are all connected and will alert them.  

A giant bat then kills a young girl in a horrific and bloody attack, and Marcus then realises he is a vampire or at least is turning into one. He pleads with his old friend Kronos to kill him, after which follows a horrendous and painful to watch sequence where both Kronos and Grost attempt to kill Marcus, with a stake, by hanging, and other such methods, by accident Kronos pierces his friend’s chest with a metal cross. After determining the way to kill a vampire Kronos and Grost take a metal cross from the graveyard and after fighting off the villagers manages to turn the metal from the cross into a sword, a sword that will kill vampires and in the hands of the Captain it is indeed a deadly weapon.

After waiting and watching Kronos ends up in the Durward mansion and is faced with a youthful looking Lady Durward who has hypnotised both her children and Carla, she has resurrected her dead husband Hagen (William Hobbs) and offers Carla to him, Kronos then steps into the picture and a deadly duel begins between Hagen and the Captain.

In which Lord Durward is killed after which Kronos despatches Lady Durward, and releases both her children and Carla from her grasp. The end sequence is an impressive one and vastly different from any of the other vampire movie as produced by Hammer. The film concludes with Kronos and Grost heading off into the sunrise bidding Carla farewell and moving onto more adventures, so the producers left the audience wanting more and maybe expecting more, but sadly, these adventures have never been filmed, because it was during this period the 1970’s, that Hammer developed financial problems which forced them to stop production.

There were however sequels in the form of comic books as published by The House of Hammer in 1976 and 1977 also Kronos rode again in Hammers Halls of Horror in1978 and in 2018 in the Titan comics publication. There was also a novelisation of the film published in 2011 penned by Guy Adams. Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter maybe different, but its an attention-grabbing motion picture, and because it is so different it has over the years attained a cult classic status.  

 

DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE.

There can be truly little doubt that the Dracula cycle of movies as produced by Hammer films have been the most successful or at least the most popular when it comes to audience reaction. Of course, there have been many other filmic incarnations of the infamous Count, but none seem to have even touched the look or the appeal as the Hammer productions. Most Hammer productions that involved the Lord of the Undead have starred the wonderful Christopher Lee in the titular role, but of course the studio did produce The Brides of Dracula (1960) with David Peel taking the central role, even though his character was had certain affiliations to the Count created by Bram Stoker,

Hammer I think wanted to create their own vampiric character and at the time of the films release I felt personally that maybe Peel could have gone onto make more appearances as the blood sucking as he was excellent in the role, but sadly it was not to be as Christopher Lee once again donned the black cloak and Dracula ring to walk the halls of castle Dracula in Dracula Prince of Darkness some six years later.

 Brides of Dracula was Hammer’s sequel to Dracula or The Horror of Dracula as it was titled in the United States, and as well having a different lead actor the film also had a musical score that was by Malcolm Williamson and not James Bernard who had created the infamous and now familiar Dracula theme, Williamson’s score was at times softer than the style employed by Bernard, but it also had to it an edgy and malevolent sound which suited perfectly the films storyline and assisted in fashioning a malignant and foreboding air. Bernard however returned in 1966 to score Dracula Prince of Darkness, and two years later realized a fearful and unnerving soundtrack for Dracula has Risen from the Grave.

Which in true Hammer tradition began where the previous movie had finished, well to a degree anyway. All three of Hammers first Dracula themed movies had been directed by Terence Fisher, who also helmed The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957, which was I suppose the film that began Hammer’s links with Gothic horror. Dracula has Risen from the Grave was directed by Freddie Francis, who was already a respected cinematographer and had worked on movies such as A Town Without Pity, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Room at the Top, Sons and Lovers, and Never Take Sweets from a Stranger. Dracula has Risen from the Grave, is in my opinion an underrated Hammer movie, and I am also of the opinion that it was probably the last credible gothic horror involving Dracula that Hammer released. With Taste the Blood of Dracula and The Scars of Dracula paling in its presence.

The movie opens with the Warner Brothers Seven arts logo, that is followed by A Hammer films Production in purple, the vivid colors of the opening titles that are near being psychedelic are a combination of a blood red background and purple shapes and images, this vibrant use of color is something that is noticeable throughout the movie, which is probably due to the director being a cinematographer. These vibrant and menacing titles which evoke something from a Bond movie are accompanied by the foreboding sound of composer James Bernard, who for this movie adapted and arranged his original Dracula theme to sound I think even more virulent and contains shades of the composers The Devil Rides Out theme from the same year, or at least evokes the sinister and broodingly evil style within it. It is also noticeable that the end theme for Dracula has Risen from the Grave also shares similarities with the Awakening and Absolution cue from The Devil Rides out.

The story begins in a remote village in Eastern Europe, with a young altar boy discovering a body of a young girl crammed inside the church bell with the mark of the vampire upon her. The priest of the village played by Ewan Hooper has turned to drink because his congregation has forsaken the church and they live in fear of the spirit of Count Dracula who had been destroyed a year before, succumbing to the icy waters of the moat around his castle.

Monsignor Ernest Mueller (Rupert Davies) arrives in the village on a routine visit, to find that all is not as it should be. With the altar boy being reduced to a scared and mute child in a state of shock because of the gruesome discovery and the priest doubting his faith in God. The villagers tell the Monsignor that they will not attend mass because the shadow of Castle Dracula touches the church, to try and alleviate the villagers fears and restore some form of normality in the village the Monsignor decides that he will climb the mountain to the castle and perform the ceremony of exorcism to banish the evil that emanates from it. The priest reluctantly agrees to accompany him but is terrified and will only go so far before becoming frozen with fear. The Monsignor continues alone and reaches the castle but as he begins the exorcism a storm gathers with high winds and thunder and lightning all around. He manages to complete the ceremony and attaches a large golden cross to the door of the castle before making his way back to the village. The priest by this time is hurrying down the mountain to escape the castle and the storm but he falls and hits his head being knocked unconscious. The blood from his wound is seen to trickle into a frozen stream via a crack in the ice and finds its way to the body of Dracula and to the lips of the vampire reviving him. The Monsignor returns to the village and reassures them that there is no longer any danger, but after being given false information from the landlord of the tavern that the Priest has returned the Monsignor returns home which is in the city of Keinenberg.  

Count Dracula is resurrected by the Priest’s blood, and gains control of him, Dracula is enraged by the cross attached to the castle doors and asks the Priest “Who has done this”. The Priest tells Dracula “It was the Monsignor”, and the Count then forces the priest to defile a coffin for him to lay in and take him to Keinenberg to exact his revenge upon the exorcist.

Dracula soon becomes aware that the Monsignor lives with his widowed sister-in-Law and she has a beautiful daughter, Maria (Veronica Carlson) who becomes the object of the Counts evil attention. As the story unfolds tha music of James Bernard becomes more central and integral to the films plot, the style of Bernard was well suited to the Gothic horrors all’a Hammer, and his thundering and booming theme for Dracula has Risen from the Grave, is I think one of the composers best Dracula scores. Bernard was of course almost Hammer’s composer in residence as he worked on so many of the studio’s releases, his music has supported, underlined and punctuated films such as Kiss of the Vampire, The Gorgon, Plague of the Zombies, She, Frankenstein Created Woman, The Curse of Frankenstein, and so many more.

Bernard was one of the very few composers at Hammer who collaborated with all three of their musical directors, John Hollingsworth, Marcus Dodds and Phil Martell. His score for Dracula Has Risen from the Grave was even more urgent and dramatic than the music he wrote for the two previous Dracula movies he scored, it contained a more pronounced atmosphere of fearfulness with the composer employing booming percussion and rasping brass to a greater degree. He also wrote a closing theme that was hopeful and celebrated the triumph of good over evil. Bernard also scored Taste the Blood of Dracula, and Scars of Dracula, in which he utilised a variation of his original Dracula theme that became the foundation of both scores. Bernard’s music for Dracula has Risen from the Grave has not yet been released in its entirety, however there is a short suite on the Silva Screen release Music from Hammer films and the subsequent spin off compilations that the label released. With a new vinyl double LP set recently becoming available.

The storyline of Dracula has Risen from the Grave becomes more and more intense as the movie progresses, with the Count enslaving a young girl Zena (Barbara Ewing) who works in a tavern, she is given the task of delivering Maria to the Count and very nearly succeeds but is stopped by Maria’s boyfriend Paul played by Barry Andrews. Dracula then kills Zena and tells the priest to destroy her body in the fire of the bakery under the tavern so that she cannot become one of the undead.

Undeterred Dracula helped by the Priest finds Maria and after making his way over the rooftops of the city enters her room and bites her, but he is disturbed by the Monsignor, Dracula makes his escape, and the Monsignor pursues him but is stopped by the priest who knocks him down allowing the Count to escape. The Monsignor realises he needs help and calls for Paul. He gives Paul a book of rites that are protection against vampires, and also details the way in which they can be defeated he does this as he finally gives in to his injuries.  Paul decides to ask the Priest to help him but does not realise that he is still under the influences of Dracula.

The Priest attacks Paul but being younger and fitter Paul soon defeats him and forces him to take him to where Dracula is lying in his coffin. Where they attempt to drive a stake through the vampire’s heart, but the Priest is unable to say the prayer that is required to kill the vampire and results in Dracula waking and rising from his coffin and removing the stake from his body. Dracula then abducts Maria and makes his way to the castle. Both Paul and the Priest are in pursuit desperate to save Maria and also to finally kill Dracula.

They reach the castle to find that Dracula has forced Maria to remove the gold cross from the door so that he may enter, Maria throws the cross into a rock ravine below the castle where is lodges into the ground sticking upwards. Paul confronts Dracula on the parapets of castle Dracula and the pair enter a desperate struggle to the death, but it is Dracula who is thrown from the castle walls falling into the ravine and being impaled onto the cross. At last, the Priest is set free from the vampires influences and begins to say the Lord’s prayer as we see Dracula gradually turn to dust. Paul is re-united with Maria and both stand looking at Dracula’s remains. Paul seemingly has regained his faith and crosses himself. As the scene comes to its end James Bernard’s driving music becomes almost a religious and celestial sounding work, with strings, brass and percussion joining in a final crescendo of victory.

The movie was filmed at Pinewood studios, in Buckinghamshire, which is why the appearance of Castle Dracula is somewhat different from as it appeared in the two previous Hammer horrors, Dracula and Dracula Prince of Darkness, the moat from the latter is absent as is the approach road and the path on which coaches entered the castle. The two previous movies being filmed at the Bray studios. I mentioned earlier the vivid colour in the movie, and this was due to certain filters that belonged to director Freddie Francis being utilised by cinematographer Arthur Grant for the movie. These were the same filters that Francis used when he shot The Innocents in 1961, scenes of the castle were enhanced with frames that were edged with amber, yellow and crimson, giving the castle a malevolent appearance. Terence Fisher should have directed the movie, but due to ill health he had to step down and Francis was brought in.

Dracula has Risen from the Grave was to be the first Hammer film to be released in Australia that was not heavily edited by the Censors, both previous Christopher Lee, Dracula movies had been banned. But Dracula has Risen from the Grave was only censored slightly and was screened at the Sydney Capitol Theatre for a season in the January of 1970.  The movie met with a mixture of critical comments, one saying that it was Short on Shock Sequences, but did have a Nice Gory opening, and a Suitably horrific finale.

The film however was a winner with audiences, and this is largely due to the adventurous direction of Francis who was to become associated with directing mainly low budget horror movies, in his career as a director working for Hammer, Tyburn, and Amicus. He later returned to cinematography and was responsible for creating stunning photography for movies such as The Elephant Man, Dune and Glory from the 1980’s and The Straight Story, The Man in the Moon and there-make of Cape Fear in the 1990’s. He died at the age of 89 as the result of a stroke. 

FROM GLOSSY MAGS TO SMALL SCREEN, SILVER SCREEN, AND TECHNICOLOUR CELLULOID.(the next thrilling episode).

PART TWO.

HOLY LIGHTNING, ITS GODS, SUPERHEROS, CRIME FIGHTERS AND GADGETS.

Thor Odinson, is a character that appeared in numerous comic books that have been published by Marvel. He is based upon the Norse God of thunder and carries his trusty magical Hammer Mjolnir with him. This Hammer has special powers and transfers these to Thor, allowing him to have super strength, the ability to fly as well as enabling him to control the weather. The character first appeared in comic form back in the August of 1962 in Journey into Mystery. The powerful character was created by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Larry Leiber.

He was also to become one of the founding members of the Avengers team and was a regular in various publications from the house of Marvel making an appearance in every single Avengers tale. Thor also transferred well to an animated series for TV, as well as being on trading cards, video games and having clothing lines. In recent years has become a firm favorite of superhero fans in the Avengers movies and the three Marvel produced motion pictures that focus upon him.

 Thor, (2011), Thor-The Dark World (2013) and Thor-Ragnarok (2017). The character was in many peoples opinion even more impressive on the big screen and actor Chris Hemsley took on the role bringing energy and adding a new and vibrant persona to the character. It is without a doubt that Thor has become a success story all round. Hemsley was supported wonderfully by veteran thespian Sir Anthony Hopkins and the love interest being provided by Natalie Portman. I think this Marvel franchise remains my favorite out of all of them and the appeal for the character and his adventures has increased even more since his appearance on the big screen.

The musical scores for the movies have all been commanding and exciting, with the thundering and relentless music for Thor-The Dark World by composer Brian Tyler edging its way to first position and Patrick Doyle’s atmospheric and driving soundtrack for Thor, the first in the series of the franchise coming a close second. The third movie in the series Thor-Ragnarok, was somewhat unfairly ignored, and the score by composer Mark Mothersbaugh was also overlooked by many. With the composer doing more than an adequate job enhancing and supporting the further adventures of the god of thunder.

 The character of Thor might well have ended up as part of the DC family, as his creator Jack Kirby originally pitched the idea to DC in the 1950’s, which was some years before the Nordic superhero manifested in a Marvel publication. The image of Thor or at least the image we now associate with the character would have also been a little different if DC had taken him onboard. The character appeared in 1957 in Tales of the Unexpected and although the look of Thor was vastly different to what we know now, Kirby did retain some of the characters original features and combine them with fresher notions which would be utilized when he eventually landed at Marvel comics.

Another character that appeared regularly in the comic books and has featured prominently in the recent trilogy of movies is Loki, played brilliantly by actor Tom Hiddleston, who in the movies is seen as Thor’s mischievous and untrustworthy Brother, but in fact they were not related in Norse Mythology.

Loki became the target one of those famous but at the same time incorrect Hollywood studio re-vamping’s and was cast as Thor’s brother to benefit the films storyline.  In Nordic folklore and mythology, Thor is the son of Odin and Frigg the latter his Mother was also referred to as Jord which means Earth. Loki, however, is the son of the giants Farbauti and Laufey of the Kingdom of Jotunheim. Loki was born to the Jotun, who in Nordic mythology are the enemy of the gods. Being unusually small for a Frost Giant, Loki was abandoned by his parents in a temple hoping that he would die, but after the war between the Frost Giants and Asgardians (gods) had ended, Loki was found by Odin. Odin took pity on the baby and altered his appearance with sorcery so that he would resemble an Asgardian,

Odin then raised him as his son alongside his true son Thor. As the child grew up Loki always felt that he was living in Thor’s shadow and was envious and resentful of him for being the future King. Loki is often referred to as the blood brother of Odin and counted among the Aesir gods of Asgard. His is the god of mischief and is cunning, intelligent, and dangerously wicked. Thor and Loki often lock horns in battle against each other, but also join forces to fight against monsters and the enemies of Asgard, Loki can never be trusted and is full of trickery, which often leads to Thor being betrayed. In the big screen movie versions Loki is an essential character and vital to the storylines, creating chaos and being underhanded and totally unpredictable, but also wonderfully.

From a superhero who is a god to a superhero who has no super-powers to speak of, he is mortal and relies upon gadgetry and intelligence to bring a halt to wrong doings and stop and snare criminals.

Batman, has been around for as long as I can remember, my own personal first encounter with the character was on TV in the form of actors Adam West and Burt (Holy Dynamic Duo) Ward in the guises of the crime fighting pair Batman and Robin, during the 1960’s.

The TV series was produced by CBS and ran from 1966 through to the latter half of 1968. During this time, the series introduced us to many arch enemies of the duo and villainous characters that were not only dastardly but at times clumsy and to be honest stupid. The series also introduced us to the rather dazed character of Commissioner Gordon (Neil Hamilton) and Gotham City’s dim-witted Chief of police O’Hara (Stafford Rep),

Batman or Bruce Wayne was aided not just by Robin or Dick Grayson, but there was Alfred the faithful butler, who was much more than just a man servant played by Alan Napier. Then there was Aunt Harriet or Mrs Cooper (Madge Blake) who was a regular in over ninety episodes of the show.

With the appearance of Batgirl/Barbara Gordon played by Yvonne Craig in 1967.  

But Batman’s enemies outnumbered his allies and came in the form of The Joker (Cesar Romero for 19 episodes), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith also in 19 episodes), The Riddler (Frank Gorshin 9 episodes and John Astin in 2 episodes), Cat woman (Julie Newmar for 12 episodes and then Eartha Kitt for 3 episodes) King Tut (Victor Buono in 8 episodes), Egghead (Vincent Price in 5 episodes) and so many more that it would an age to mention them all.

The series even included an appearance of The Green Hornet. I think the appeal of the series for adults was that it never took itself seriously and no matter what situation the dynamic duo were in at the end of each episode we all knew they would emerge unscathed and victorious in the following one, children too loved the series because there was no real violence, many of the fights between Batman and Robin and whatever villain and their henchmen were involved that particular week, no one got hurt, the punches being covered up by a “POW”, and “SPLAT” or some other comic book terminology on screen in big bright letters. The music was the work of various composers, but the original theme was the work of Neal Hefti, with Nelson Riddle providing an arrangement of the theme for later episodes, Riddle also worked on the scores for around 90 episodes with Billy May and Warren Baker also writing incidental cues for the series.

NEAL HEFTI.

The Neal Hefti theme is a fusion of surf music and spy bop, with guitars percussion and chorus. Its one of those pieces of music that once heard can never be forgotten, its more annoying than haunting, but has become an iconic piece that is associated with Batman. The series also included a number of performances from actors that were well known at the time and are a part of cinema and TV history, with Lesley Gore who had a hit in the 1950’s with It’s My Party also appearing as one of Cat woman’s disciples Pussycat and Bruce Lee also making an appearance in 2 episodes as the character Kato. Shelley Winters also turned up in 2 episodes as Ma Parker with the likes of Ida Lupino as Dr Cassandra and Zsa Zsa Gabor as Minerva also making appearances on the show, when you look at the cast list for the entire series it does read like a who’s who in TV and film from the sixties. Woody Strode, Cliff Robertson, Carolyn Jones, Milton Berle, David Wayne, Glynis Jones, Van Johnson, Maurice Evans, Roddy McDowell, Liberace, Michael Rennie, and even Otto Preminger the esteemed filmmaker appeared in 2 episodes in the role of filled with Mr Freeze in 1966 which was a role that Eli Wallach also took on in 2 episodes one year later. The list is literally endless the series which was at the time popular, is looked upon now as a send up of the original character, and one filled with high levels of campness and over the top and tongue in cheek moments.  

But let us not forget that Batman was a character who appeared long before the TV series was aired. The Batman debuted in an issue of the Detective comic book in March 1939 the character was the brain-child of the artist Bob Kane who together with writer Bill Finger breathed life into the character that was to adopt the name of the caped crusader.

As we all now are aware Batman is the alias of the wealthy American businessman Bruce Wayne, The origins of the character are that he vows to take out his revenge upon criminals and low life’s after as a child he witnesses the murder of his parents at the hands of a thief who guns them down mercilessly in the street. Wayne trains himself to become physically fit and intellectually superior. He then takes on the form of a bat like avenger, who patrols the dark streets of Gotham in search of the criminal elements in the city and to protect the innocent.

 The character it is said came into being because of the success of another DC comics stalwart superhero, Superman, and although Bob Kane often took the credit for the creation of the character of The Batman, Bill Finger’s writing prowess played a large part in the development and also the growing popularity of dark and initially solitary crime fighter, because he developed the character into something that was more like a bat whilst also making him a figure that comic readers could identify with as being dark, shadowy and stealth like, but at the same time standing up for the downtrodden and fighting for justice.

In 1940, Batman was given his own publication, in which he was shown to be a ruthless and unforgiving vigilante who often resorted to violence and even going to the extremes of killing and permanently maiming his adversaries. As I pointed out at the beginning of this section on Batman, he is known as a super-hero, but does not actually have any super-human powers. He cannot fly like Superman, nor does he have X ray vision, or super strength.

So instead, our hero must rely on his own intelligence and also his wealth to help develop the tools he needs to combat the array of villains that descend upon Gotham. The CBS TV series in my opinion was entertaining in a cheesy and humorous way, but I also think that it did a lot of damage to the original creation of Batman, and even when the series stopped production many still thought of Batman and his sidekick Robin as a pair of crimefighters that bordered upon being a comedy duo rather than a dynamic one. For a number of years after the popularity of the TV series and subsequent feature film outings featuring Batman and Robin curtailed, writers attempted to try and restore the darker elements of the character.

But it was not really until the 1986 with The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller that we saw any re-kindling of the original ideas of both Kane and Finger.

Batman has featured in many different comics and is also a member of The Justice League alongside other superheroes such as Wonder Woman, and Superman. Batman is one of the most popular and iconic characters in comic book and film history, with his likeness being made into toys most notably the Lego Batman as well as being the focus of video games, with his image depicted on clothing, and being launched to the cinema screen. The character has been portrayed by several actors, Adam West of course for TV, and on the silver screen, the likes of Michael Keaton, (Batman and Batman Returns), Val Kilmer (Batman Forever), George Clooney (Batman and Robin), Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Trilogy), Ben Affleck and soon Robert Pattinson have and will don the cape and cowl of The Batman.

Music for the film series has fallen to a handful of composers, the first two movies Batman and Batman Returns, being scored by the then relatively newcomer Danny Elfman, his scores for both movies are still regarded as the sound of Batman With the composers dark and irreverent music complimenting perfectly the even darker humour and imagery of director Tim Burton. 

Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, contained wonderfully supportive and inventive soundtracks from composer Elliot Goldenthal, but the movies paled in the brilliance of the Burton helmed movies which I think was mainly due to the direction of both the movies by Joel Schumacher, who attempted to bring comedy back into the storylines, but in the opinion of many failed to get the balance right. I think the Dark Knight trilogy from director Christopher Nolan, made the most impression upon audiences, and the scores by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard too have attracted the attention of many.  

What I loved about the music in the Nolan trilogy was that it is as shadowy and secretive as the central character, and it contained a proud and driving musical persona throughout. The music for the second movie in Nolan’s trio of movies, 

The Dark Knight, I thought stood out because of the tense and apprehensive tones that the composer employed, creating a simmering saucepan of water effect, which is on the edge all the time and threatening to boil over at any moment. The highlight cue within the score must be Like a dog chasing Cars, it’s a builder, and it enhances the action, gradually gathering momentum until the percussive elements become uncontrollable and usher in the driving strings and the tense sounding brass, it’s a great piece of scoring and has to it an almost Wagnerian sound and style to it, it is bold and grand, operatic and total consuming. The composition taking on more and more instrumentation as it continues to propel headlong all the time adding tension and excitement to the proceedings. James Newton Howard is credited alongside Zimmer for this but was it a collaboration in the true sense or was it a collaboration when each composer contributed certain cues, its hard to tell, as the style remains pretty constant throughout and it is a sound and a style that I for one associate with Zimmer as opposed to Newton Howard. The entire trilogy of scores are all brooding and unsettlingly dark, but when I have said in the past where are the themes, well, if you listen again like I have, they are there and hit all the right spots with precision timing and are like musical punchlines that are strategically placed to create the most impact and also become an integral component of each and every scene and also are well placed and masterful pieces that lead from one scene into another seamlessly.

 The score not only compliments Nolan’s set piece shots and punctuates the action as well as underlining and making the exciting chases even more frantic and affecting, but it also becomes an integral component of the film making process, at times elevating and creating even more drama. The sight of The Batman standing aloft and alone on a tall building surveying his domain is awesome enough but add to that the musical forebodding as conjured by Zimmer and Newton Howard and this is not only the stuff of cinematic memories but something that will live long in the minds of a generation. 

The Dark Knight Rises is the third in Nolan’s trilogy and Zimmer scored this on his own it seems as no other composer receives a credit. The final movie in this trilogy, I thought was possibly the most action packed, maybe not necessarily the best but that I suppose is a matter of personal taste. Zimmer’s score is superbly mysterious and ominous, but it also contains slithers of emotion that he layers throughout the work. Again, the music superbly supports, punctuates, and enhances, every scene, every line of dialogue, and every sequence, vibrantly lacing and weaving into the action being played out on screen and also becoming an extension of the emotions of the central figures It at times becomes harsh and jagged but also possesses the sensitivity that is required at key moments within the film’s storyline.

The scores are ominous and relentless, as are the movies, which are a return to the darkness as originally imagined for the character. The way that the composer utilises voices within the score somehow gives the movie a softer and less aggressive feel, but this is something that many composers do for example when a scene is maybe violent and chaotic they score it in an emotive or serene way, the music being calming which in fact not only supports the sequence but has the ability to make the scene or the act of violence more impacting and thus become more memorable and affecting for the audience, because the music literally lulls them into a false sense of security. Zimmer is a master at layering, repeating, and building sounds and music to become an imposing force within any movie and has done this on many occasions to great effect. The cue Time, from the movie Inception is a perfect example. But in The Dark Knight Rises the composer seems to take this style of scoring to new levels, slowly building pieces and rekindling smouldering embers that gradually are fanned to grow into a ferocious and consuming inferno. This is displayed perfectly in the cue, Despair, Zimmer ushers in ominous and dark sounding brass that is underpinned with brooding and unsettling electronic support, the horns then become more of a background but remain a force within the composition, the darkness and the swirling synths and strings combine to become a driving and strident sounding piece, in which we hear fragments of a theme raising its head momentarily, and then it subsides until percussive elements take hold and bring both strings, horns and brass underlined by sharp stabs from the percussion alongside choral chanting until he sets a more defined course and brings into play a foreboding and virulent atmosphere.

Despair segues seamlessly into the cue Fear Will Find You, again Zimmer layering, building, and adding textures and colours to create dark and sinister sounds. Its, not something that I would listen to on a Sunday afternoon in the garden, but when the images of a Gotham city in turmoil and under attack are combined with Zimmer’s expressive and at the same time atonal shades and vibrant sounds it is in a word magnificent. This cue then moves into Why Do We Fall which is forthright, and action led, that mixes into the short but effective Death by Exile, which is the introduction to Imagine the Fire, another smouldering and action laced cue that is such an essential piece of the movie, without it the atmosphere and the mood that comes across would not be as taught and edgy. The final cue on the soundtrack release is Rise and it is the music played over what essentially is the end scenes of the film, and it is also an important part of the stories conclusion where everything seems to at last fall into place and we the audience think we know where it is heading, or do we? 

Batman as we all know also transferred well to animation, and the scores for many of these have been made available by La La Land records in the States, the labels Batman the animated Series volume three, is excellent, The four-disc set is impressive and powerful. It contains music from around twenty-three episodes or at least selections from these episodes, the opening is courtesy of Danny Elfman with his familiar and dark Batman theme setting the scene for the remainder of the four discs. Track two through to seven are taken from the episode entitled Robins Reckoning, these first tracks being the work of composer Carlos Rodriguez written for part one of the story and tracks eight through to fifteen are the work of composer Peter Tomashek for part two of the same tale. The first six cues in my opinion are in many ways similar to the sound that was achieved by Elman on the original movies as there is a certain sense of the operatic at times within the work but at the same time Rodriguez maintains a quirky but apprehensive and mischievous style similar to what Elfman had fashioned initially. This I think is mainly down to the orchestration, strings and brass playing a major part in the make-up of the score, with not only drama but hints of the romantic being included along the way. Sections nine through to fifteen are somewhat different in their sound and overall style although saying this composer Peter Tomashek does retain that air of mystery throughout that is tinged with urgency and underlined with driving strings that are supported by booming percussive elements and at times rasps from the brass section that seem to sneer and push their way into the proceedings, his approach however is removed slightly from both Rodriguez’s approach and Elfman’s original take with the composer producing an inventive and original work that although dark at times does towards the end of the score transform into a more heroic or courageous sounding work which for me any way works a treat. Track number sixteen is billed as a bonus track from Robins Reckoning, and is composed by Carlos Rodriguez, it has a kind of circus style to it but in a macabre and somewhat unsettling way. Tracks seventeen to twenty-three are the handiwork of the brilliantly talented Shirley Walker, taken from P.O.V. or Point of View and is one of the composer’s earliest contributions to the series, which is reflected in her score as she refers to the original Elfman theme during some of the action sequences, a trait that seemed to become less and less as the series progressed.

This is a powerful score from Walker, and one that contains so many of her own themes it literally oozes charisma and brilliance which is why she is considered still to be the foremost composer when it comes to the Batman animated series, P.O.V. is a return to a more traditional way of scoring, bold themes, a march, numerous motifs and highly exhilarating action cues with driving strings and tense sounding brass stabs that certainly get the adrenaline going.Above all Walker’s music entertains away from the images as well as working with them. There are another seven sections on the four-disc set credited to Shirley Walker and each one of them is a delight and pleasure to listen to. See No Evil, The Man who Killed Batman, The Forgotten Terror in the Sky, being among them.

 Let’s go back to Marvel for the next character, Spider-man, this is a series of films that has like Batman gone through various stages and had many lead actors assuming the Spidey persona on screen, some better than others it has to be said. Likewise, there have also been a few composers involved with the franchise, Danny Elman, Christopher Young, James Horner, Junkie XL, Hans Zimmer, Michael Giacchino, and Daniel Pemberton, have all put their own musical stamp upon the adventures of the crime fighter.

But, lets leave the musical side of things till later and look at the roots of this superhero, who swings from building to building fighting crime and upholding the law of the land. Spider-man creator Stan Lee wanted his character to deal with certain issues in both the outside world and his own personal life and therefore Lee decided that his central character should also be a teenager. Who after being bitten by a radioactive spider found that he had certain powers. Originally Lee’s publisher thought it was one of the worst ideas he had ever seen or heard, But, at the time there was an increase in the sale and demand of comics books to the adolescence market. Thus, Spider-man the comic book was born, and after a while soon established itself as a firm favourite for all ages. Which is something that it remained to do and went on to become one of the most in demand series of superhero tales in comic book form.    

 Originally Lee approached his long-time friend Jack Kirby, and asked him to come up with ideas as to how Spider-man would look, Kirby did so but Lee was not happy with what the artist had sketched, he wanted spiderman to be more like an ordinary looking person, and not a full on superhero. In the end Lee decided to ask artist Steve Ditko who was also working for Marvel at the time to design the character. After a few submissions Ditko came up with an image that Lee liked, and it was this that formed the look of the character that we still see today, and one that has become iconic. The heroic crime fighter has throughout his comic book and cinematic, animated life seen a few varying costumes, but for the most part they have been the red and blue spandex suit, that has the spider emblem on the chest, and not many have strayed far from Ditko’s original concept. It was in 1962 that Spider-man made his first appearance in the pages of a comic book.

Which was in the last issue of Amazing Fantasy, which was a series that had been cancelled.The story almost never got published as Lee’s publisher was still not convinced that Spiderman was something that people would want to read about. Lee however convinced him to run the story, saying it did not matter because it was going at the end of a comic book that had been cancelled and no one really cared either way. But, as it happened it transpired that the last issue of the series was to become a best seller, because of the inclusion of Spiderman. And it was because of its popularity from this one issue that Lee was asked to write an entire series featuring Spidey which was entitled The Amazing Spider-man. At times it looks like Spider-man has numerous iconic villains to battle, but in truth the hero has not one persistent archnemesis, apart maybe from the leader of The Sinister SixDoctor Octopus, who is widely regarded as one of the character’s more prominent enemies. But there are other lawbreakers such as the Green Goblin and Venom, who are thought of as the characters nemeses. So, the character of Spider-man has become one of the most popular from the Marvel stable and has also converted well to the big screen and TV. The character has appeared in so many animated TV shows and movies, that it is hard to keep track of them, these range from Spider-man and his amazing friends, through to Spectacular Spider-man right up to his more recent cartoon incarnations in the films Spider-man into the Spider Verse (2018) and Spiderman far from Home (2019). There have of course been several animated excursions for the webmaster, Spider-man the animated series, which ran from 1994 through to 1998, The Spectacular Spider-man (2008/2009) and the movie Spider-man Homecoming in 2017. Spiderman made his animated TV appearance on the ABC channel in the United States on a series entitled just Spider-man (1967-1970), the series became known mainly because of its low budget, but this did not stop it becoming popular and remaining on air for three years.

 It is surprising that after the success of the series that Spiderman seemed to disappear from the screens, and did not re-emerge until the 1980’s. When he re-appeared in a re-boot of the series briefly before being seen in the company of the likes characters such as Iceman from the X-Men series as well as new characters such as Firestar and Gwen or Spider Woman.Since those early days the character has featured and starred in Spidey devotees’ favourites such as Spectacular Spider-man, and The Ultimate Spider-man. With a new animated series announced entitled Marvel’s Spider-man. But it is probably the live action movies, that have created the most interest with cinema audiences and subsequent DVD sales and outings on streaming channels etc.

 

Each of the live action movies had a quality and attraction of their own and although all were Spider-man stories, each had an identity all of its own. Likewise, the musical scores were all different, even when a composer might reprise his duties on a sequel or prequel in the series. The first movie in the series was released in 2002 and directed by Sid Raimi, it contained a vibrant, pulsating, and highly rhythmic score from Danny Elfman, which from the off contained so many familiar nuances and quirks of orchestration that we all associate with Elfman’s composing fingerprint, to be honest it could have been another Batman score or even a revamp of the music Elfman penned for Darkman, but it still grabbed the attention of the watching audience and served the movie well. The score was certainly filled with offbeat quirks and off the wall musical experiments, the track Costume Montage sounding somewhat spaghetti western in places. The score was not all action led as Elfman displayed in the track Alone which was filled with a quiet sadness purveyed by strings and subdued woodwind. But in the main the first Spider-man outing on the big screen contained a full-on action score, filled to overflowing with over-the-top themes and some inventive orchestration and innovative writing and familiar Elfman trademarks. The composer returned to the scoring stage for Spider-man 2, and the music he created again was high flying and sweeping with just as many if not more of those familiar Elfman musical trademarks, but on this occasion the sound seemed even more grandiose with the composer utilising a greater brass section, lavish strings, booming percussion and creating more choral moments. The tense and dramatic sound that he achieved underlined and supported the web hurling crime fighter and also made for a good listening experience away from the images on screen.

 Spider-man 3, again starred Toby Maguire as Spidey, and was also helmed by filmmaker Sid Raimi, the music however was composed by renowned film music Maestro, Christopher Young, but it did also contain some of the themes that had been written by Danny Elfman for the first two moves in the franchise. Now Young had created iconic soundtracks for films such as the first two Hellraiser movies and had been active in the writing of film music for years. His Spider-man 3, score which was revered by collectors was at times condemned by certain critics, and because the movie was not as successful as it was anticipated at the box office, the music that Young penned was never to see the light of day as a commercial CD release. Instead, a song album was released and presented as the original soundtrack, the film company hoping to re-coup some revenue from the sales of the album. The composer issued a private pressing of his score, which contained fifteen cues and had a running time of just over an hour. Young’s atmospheric music is in my opinion probably the best Spider-man score written, grand and imposing, fearsome, dynamic, and dramatic it is a high powered and commanding work.

In the main it is a symphonic score but does contain some electronic or synthesised elements that act as support. Young combined powerful symphonic moments with choral performances and wildly relentless thematic material, which although scored for action scenes still contained an engaging and strong melodic content. It’s a funny thing every time I hear Young’s score for Spider-man 3, it evokes memories of Jerry Goldsmith, Chris Young kind of composes in a similar way, with big brass and driving strings for the action sequences, but he scores the quieter or more intimate scenes with poignant strings and woods and has the ability to fashion beautifully haunting melodies as did Goldsmith. His music from Spider-man 3 is like his many other soundtracks inventive and inspired, and within it one can hear glimpses of past Young scores and sounds and styles that the composer would employ in future projects, Spider-man 3 [jm1] [jm2]  is an underrated work and one that so deserves an official soundtrack release. Next in the series was The Amazing Spider-man (2012) which had a change in the lead actor, and a new director. Andrew Garfield became Spider-man, and the directorial role was taken on by Marc Webb, with the musical score duties falling to James Horner. As one would have expected, Horner created a large-scale score for the movie, but although it underlined, punctuated, and supported throughout, for me it still did not have to it the presence or indeed the inventiveness that we had experienced with both Elfman and Young. In many ways this was a conventional sounding superhero score if there is such a thing. But it was still bristling and bursting with that superhero sound, bold, sweeping, and energetic. Horner also brought melody to the proceedings which manifests itself in a more developed form in the track I Can’t See You Anymore, within which the composer utilises heart breaking piano solo that is enhanced by strings to purvey an emotional and affecting composition.

For The Amazing Spider-man the composer fashioned an original sounding score that was removed from the previous three movies, as in there is little reference to these within Horner’s work, and it’s striking that we cannot hear any of the composers trademarks that he always seemed to include in other soundtracks, yes we know instinctively its Horner, but it’s different and is possibly one of his better works in the latter part of his career. The End Titles are highly emotive and one of the composers most gracious and uplifting pieces that ends in a wonderfully lush way. The Amazing Spider-man 2, was possibly when the franchise hit rock bottom, musically speaking that is, with Zimmer, and Pharrell Williams having a hand in writing the score, as well as contributions from Junkie XL and the Magnificent six? This can be the problem with Zimmer he never seems to create a score by himself, or if he does it happens rarely in more recent assignments, is this because he can’t or is it because if it’s bad, he can blame someone else?

This score for me resembles a hotch potch of styles, that contains fuzzy and crashing elements that are grating and to be honest annoying, no wonder it is such a mix of unsuitable sounds and styles when you have more than nine people working on it. I will not even go any further because this score was, well not that good, it’s a work that should be forgotten as soon as possible, it makes me laugh, that Chris Young’s excellent Spider-man 3, was denied a release but this uninspired excuse for a soundtrack got more than one release with the various four million re mixes getting out there to the poor unsuspecting members of the public. Then in 2017 we got Spider-man-The Homecoming, music by Michael Giacchino, an ok movie with a relatively good score, Giacchino being no stranger to sci fi movies via his work on the reboot of the Star Trek films. The score for Homecoming was a symphonic one although it does rely on some electronic support, Giacchino fashioned an appealing and serviceable score that incorporated the original theme as used for the TV series many years before. Which worked wonderfully, even if it was a little cliched.

A year later an animated version of the Spiderman story hit the cinema screens, Spider-Man- Into the Spider Verse, was an interesting updating take on the story and character. British composer Daniel Pemberton provided the score for the film, and like many of his other scores was a fusion of styles, he is a composer who is difficult to categorise as his style never remains the same and he is always evolving and developing his musical sound and style. I enjoyed his efforts on this movie, some of the pieces were very quirky, but I think that is the attraction of this composer because of his undeniable talent and his unconventional approach to scoring movies and TV projects. For his foray into the Spiderman franchise his outlandish and unpredictable style paid off and it is undoubtably a score that people will return to many times once savoured.

In 2019 Michael Giacchino returned to scoring duties on Spider-man far from Home, again the composer created a grand sounding score, filled with urgent and frantic action led cues, a good soundtrack but not as entertaining as the composers work on his Spider-man Homecoming score. I felt that the composer conformed a little to the way in which other superhero movies were being scored, and it had hints of the likes of Silvestri, Williams and even John Ottman within it, whereas it would have been nice to hear a little more of Giacchino as I know he is in there somewhere.

From the wall crawling, web leaping, spandex clad crime fighter, lets head into the territory of the superhero that is the figure many associate with being the supreme superhero. (no not Banana man) Superman, alias Clark Kent, Kalel, or Christopher Reeve, (sorry he will always be Superman). The origins of Superman were that he came from the beleaguered planet Krypton, which was about to explode, he was put in a spaceship and sent into the safety of deep space by his parents and managed to escape the planet’s atmosphere just as it exploded. He then arrives on Earth and is adopted by the Kent’s who find the child after he crash lands.

The original story was the work of Jerry Siegel with illustrations courtesy of Joe Shuster the character appeared for the first time in Action Comics#1 in 1938. Then as more stories were written and put into comic book form the writer established and expanded the information on Superman, these details were about his home planet and how he received his superpowers etc, it also explored the central characters relationships with various other characters that popped up within the stories. The story has gone through many changes in its lifetime and been the subject of not just comic books but Radio broadcasts, television shows, serials, and a plethora of film adaptations, the story continues to evolve and being added to even now with each new cinematic adventure that is released. In the early days, the storylines were at times confusing and muddled when it came to the background of Superman, but as the story began to become more familiar and the character remained popular into the 1970’s and beyond, the continuity of the storylines also began to be clarified by writers and filmmakers, who took the basics from the original writer and illustrator as a foundation, and invariably built on this to suit the storyline of the movie or TV series that they were creating, often adapting it and altering it to suit current trends and tastes. Superman first appeared on screen in serial form after the second world war making his on screen debut in 1948 and then returning in 1950. The two serials each contained fifteen episodes or chapters actor Kirk Alyn took on the role of Superman and Noel Nielle was the love interest portraying Lois Lane. Spencer Gordon Bennett directed, but also shared the credit with filmmaker Thomas Carrin. These early episodes acted as inspiration for a movie, Superman and the Mole Men which was released in 1951, and starred George Reeves as the Man of Steel, with the role of Lois Lane being portrayed by Phyliss Coates. The movie, which was directed by Lee Sholem, was intended to act as something of a warmup act for a planned TV series The Adventures of Superman which hit small screens in 1952 and ran for six seasons through till 1958, the series also starred George Reeves in the central role.

 

The first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies are arguably the best from that period, with later instalments falling rather short of the mark and becoming ever more camper and comedy laden. Sadly, it was comedy that at times failed to make an impression upon audiences and the punchlines would often miss their target.

Maybe it was because the humour was more Americanised, and audiences outside of the States just did not get it. However, Superman (1978) and Superman ll (1980) were and still are movies that can easily be placed in the iconic category of film. The former being directed by Richard Donner, and the latter movie being helmed by Richard Lester and Donner also being involved but uncredited for his role. The scores for both were also popular with composer John William (who else) being enlisted to provide the score for the first movie and for the second outing composer conductor Ken Thorne would weave the central themes that Williams had fashioned for the man of steel into his soundtrack.

Thorne returned to score Superman 3,(1983), which like its predecessor was directed by Richard Lester, and in my opinion and don’t forget this is a personal take on the films, I felt that Lester was the downfall of the Superman franchise, others will disagree, but his movies were played for laughs, and I know there are no such things as superheroes, but these just seemed to fall apart with an over the top performance from Richard Prior, that I for one think is just, “stupid” and nowadays unwatchable. But there was always Christopher Reeve, and very much like his character Reeve was always there to save the day and the movie.

Superman iv, The Quest for Peace (1987) was the last in the series of the original Superman movies, and it did not fare much better than the Lester directed instalments, for this outing Sidney J Furie, took the directorial reins and musical duties were undertaken by Alexander Courage, who adapted the music of John Williams for the film as well as conducting the score.  

Its an interesting thing that in between Superman 3 and Superman iv, another Superhero made their debut on the silver screen and in full colour, Supergirl directed by Jeannot Szwarc, burst onto our screens. With actress Helen Slater fitting very nicely into her blue, red and yellow suit in the title role. Supergirl was Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin.

The film despite having Peter O Toole and Faye Dunaway in its cast failed to create much interest at the box office, and the only real super thing about the movie was the excellent score by Jerry Goldsmith, which contained a particularly stirring opening theme and a beautifully written theme that was used to support one of the Flying sequences.

Talking of excellent scores, I must mention the music for the Superman animated series, a lot of the music from these animated movies was released on the La la land compilation, entitled Superman the Animated series, (what else). Shirley Walker is featured on the compilation, Walker who is sadly missed provided the series about the Man of Steel with some robust and richly thematic material. Her spirited sounding opening theme for the series is also the opening cue for the compilation, with a proud and anthem like sound created by flyaway woodwind and timpani acting as a background to somewhat cautious sounding brass flourishes that are them-selves supported by driving strings and transform from slightly apprehensive into full blown and proud performances. In just over a minute Walker sets the scene perfectly for the adventures of this superhero. Composer Lolita Ritmanis also wrote scores for the series and is represented here with her music for The Last Son of Krypton which according to, John Takis (who penned the excellent sleeve notes for the compilation and also the Batman Animated collection)  was originally broadcast as a feature length movie, but is divided into three sections, the first part being scored by Ritmanis, who created a quite unrelenting score filled with action cues and a multitude of thematic material, in my opinion her style is not dissimilar to that of the late Elmer Bernstein, especially in the more action orientated passages and even at times within the quieter moments of the work as well.

Dark underlying strings laced with brass and percussion erupt into a more sustained onslaught if that is the right way to describe it that although essentially action music somehow remains melodic, Ritmanis at times echoes the Shirley Walker theme or at least fleeting references to it within her score, which also enlists the support of synthetic instrumentation. Part two of the story is scored by Michael McCuistion with part three being the work of Harvey B. Cohen. McCuistion penned a suitably poignant soundtrack for the coming-of-age section of the story where we see the young Kal-El taken in by his earth parents after crash landing near their farm in Smallville and then growing into the young Clark Kent, McCuistion’s score is an accomplished one that includes many variations and serves up so many musical styles, treats us to a particularly rousing Superman central theme where we see Clark learning to fly. These are scores that are pleasantly surprising, all are grand and have to them an epic style and sound they are crammed with action cues but also have to them their fair share of lighter moments that include compositions that ooze melancholy, romance, and emotion. It is also a showcase release that wonderfully highlights the importance of music in animated productions, that sometimes have their musical scores ignored, simply because they are animated movies and not live action affairs.

There have also been several spin-offs along the way the TV series Superboy for example, which ran from 1988 to 1992, was produced by Ilya and Alexander Salkind, who also produced the first three Christopher Reeves Superman films as well as Supergirl. The TV show starred John Haymes Newton as a young version of Clark Kent/Superman who is attending college. The series also features Stacy Haiduk as Superman’s love interest Lana Lang and Scott James Wells as Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor.

Then in 1993, we were served up another TV series entitled Lois and Clark-The new adventures of Superman, which by all accounts was a surprise hit and ran for four seasons. It featured Dean Cain as Clark Kent and Terri Hatcher as Lois Lane. The series opens with Kent taking a new job at the Daily Bugle in the city of Metropolis. It is where he meets Lois Lane and falls in love, the series was more focused upon the relationship between Clark and Lois but did have some great action that included several new villains.

This paved the way for the Smallville series which aired in 2001 and was successful for a decade.  Tom Welling is the high school-aged version of Clark Kent living in Smallville. It became the longest running Superman TV series, with the Superman origin background being altered slightly for the series. Michael Rosenbaum takes on the role of Lex Luther who is also attending Smallville High with Clark, and other villains such as General Zod and Brainiac also pop up. Music for the 10 season series was the work of both Mark Snow and Louis Febre.

But now its back to the new generation of feature films as the Superman saga continues but gone are the comedic undertones as the Superhero gets serious. And with a more dark and serious tone also comes a much more driven and sombre sounding score at times. As tales of Superman entered a new cinema age, we would see something within the superhero that was not fully explored before and that is the emotion of the character as in Superman and his alias Clark Kent, also his human side would also be unearthed, and a darkness and a vulnerability also would rise to the surface. Hardened devotees to the character had mixed feelings about this change in direction, but surely better this way than down the road of cliched half comedic slanted failures, which surely would have happened if the franchise had continued the merry way it was going. Like Batman, Superman had come of age cinematically and had landed in the harsh and violent world that we live in or at least a version of it. And Batman and Superman would also face off against each other in this new filmic take on the Superhero who is arguably the most well-known crime fighter of all time. In 2006 Superman Returns was released, and it aimed to start where the series starring Christopher Reeve left off, however the film starts where Superman ll ended, and completely ignores three and four, (well maybe it’s a better judge of quality than many of us were). Thus, it is a little confusing for audiences, and does not make much sense as the story unfolds.

However, the movie did contain a great score by John Ottman (X Men Days of Future Past, X Men Apocalypse, Valkarie) who thankfully included the original John Williams theme within his score as well as writing some very impressive original action cues, as well as supplying the movie with emotional musical support. But the film is like someone had finished reading issue 1 and 2 of a Superman comic and then jumped to issue 38. Brandon Routh puts in a solid performance as Superman, who has returned to Earth after a five-year absence to find his arch enemy Lex Luthor played by Kevin Spacey plotting to kill him and destroy the United States to create his own continent that he can rule. Superman also must deal with problems in his love life, as Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has moved on from him during his absence from Earth. Oh well, he should have called at least (oh sorry that’s ET isn’t it).

Man of Steel came next and was the first of what can be categorised as The DC new Universe, darker and more hard hitting the film starred Henry Cavill, who certainly made his own impression upon the character of the Superhero. The movie also had Russel Crowe as Superman’s birth Father Jor-el and Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Clark Kent’s adoptive parents the Kent’s. After the death of his adopted Father Clark is consumed by grief and decides to travel the world to conceal his true-identity. But eventually he must accept who he is and become Superman once again to save the world from the evil Kryptonians who are led by the power mad General Zod portrayed by Michael Shannon.

The musical score is the work of Hans Zimmer, who also enlists the aid of Junkie XL, Nick Glennie Smith and Atli Orvarrson. It’s a score that at the time of the films release I must admit I did not like at all, but I think like many other film music collectors I had been slightly brainwashed (in a nice way) by the music of John Williams and that stirring theme that accompanied Superman on his many adventures. The music for Man of Steel is completely removed stylistically from anything that had supported and accompanied Superman previously. There are no marches as we know them, but instead the composers involved serve up an at times harsh and rather grating score it is shadowy and brooding in its overall persona, but it’s not all bad news for anyone who loves thematic film music, because there are a handful of cues that at least hint at a theme. But saying this, in the movie the music is brilliant, it supports, it heightens the atmosphere and creates sweeping and grand moods, plus it has a tender and touching side to it. On refection and after re-listening to this score I have to say it is not only serviceable but affecting. The cue Goodbye my Son being one of the soundtracks highlights with its use of female wordless voice choir and underlying strings, that bring a near celestial sound to the proceedings.

In 2015, Supergirl took to the skies once again, but this time on the small screen for the TV series, a series which is still running today. Kara Zor-El is Supergirl played by actress Melissa Benoist, and like her cousin Kalel was sent to earth when she was thirteen years of age, but unlike her cousin’s spaceship her vessel was knocked off course and is taken on a detour, through a phantom zone before it eventually arrives on earth. The consequence of this detour is that she is thrown twenty-four years into the future, where she discovers that her younger cousin is Superman.

Batman Vs Superman-Dawn of Justice was released in 2016, again the score was by Hans Zimmer who on this occasion collaborated with Junkie XL, the score for this movie was I think more developed and had to it a more melodic undertone. But saying this it also had the darkness that had manifested itself in Zimmer’s Batman Christopher Nolan scores and the power and drive of his previous Superman soundtrack.

Plus, it also contained some riveting and robust action music and a driving almost rock sound which weaved in and out of the soundtrack. Again, probably not a soundtrack to sit and listen to as just music although it has its moments in that department. This is a film score that serves the movie, supports the action enhances the images and creates atmospheres and moods wonderfully. The film focuses upon to of the most iconic superheroes, who on this occasion are pitted against each other, Batman seeing Superman as an alien interloper who needs to be stopped and Superman looking upon Batman as not an ally but an adversary because of his vigilante stance and sees him as just as threatening as the criminals that roam the streets. But as the two cloaked warriors engage in battle, they are unaware that Lex Luther, is developing a weapon that will be able to destroy them both.  The character of Superman I think will be with us for many years to come, and there is a new film in the works with plans for a black Superman.

TO BE CONTINUED………….

We will return in a FLASH in episode three, to talk about more KICK ASS superheroes, a woman who is a wonder and and machines that were toys and both filmic and comic characters, and the musical scores that accompanied them all.