So many composers so many soundtracks, its hardly surprising that a handful of composers and their scores do get somewhat overlooked, Jeff Grace is a composer I have always thought of as being talented, simply because of the wide range of genres he has written for. I think his score for STAKE LAND was the one that alerted me to his music, which I followed up with THE INNKEEPERS. But I thought a look at his scores might also bring him to your attention if you have not already discovered his musical prowess.
I am going to begin with a 2009 release, I SELL THE DEAD, which was a comedy horror. The movie I thought was a fantastic attempt at combining horror with comedy, which at times we have to admit does kind of fall flat. In this case I think it was successful, mainly due to Ron Perlman and Domnic Monogham who were supported well by the likes of, Angus Scrimm and Larry Fessenden.
The film which was written and directed by Glen McQuaid is set in the 18th century the film relates the tale of a pair of grave robbers, who have been caught by the law and are incarcerated. With only a few hours to go before his date with the guillotine, Arthur Blake (Monogham) tells his life story to Father Francis Duffy (Ron Perlman) an Irish Priest. Before long, Blake has told the listening holy man how he got started in the grim corpse peddling business working for seasoned ghoul Willie Grimes (Fessenden). The story is filled with Blakes experiences whilst engaged in grave robbing combining elements from other such tales as BURKE AND HARE, THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS and THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVIL’s, and adding its own comedic twist in places, there are Zombies, Vampires and other such creatures which he helped to dig up in this entertaining romp. The central characters Blake and Grimes like a comedy duo who managed to get themselves into all sorts of scrapes, the film is more like a comedy version of a Hammer horror film, the sets etc being atmospheric and very well done. The story was accompanied by an energetic and quirky sounding musical score by Jeff Grace, the composer providing the movie and its various horrific/comedic scenarios with a balanced and vibrant work. It is a soundtrack that maybe a few collectors missed when it was released, but the same can be said for the movie, although it is a brilliant film, and one that entertains on so many levels, it is probably something that even horror fans would not instantly think of.
The music is symphonic, which is something I am pleased about, Grace, inventing edgy sounds and adding a romantic atmosphere to these at times, giving the soundtrack a rich and robust style. In fact, I would go as far as to say that maybe the composer had listened to some Hammer scores and took his lead from these. Tremolo strings feature on numerous occasions, with mournful and apprehensive woods creating an eerie and dark mood. There is also an abundance of short sharp shocking passages performed by driving strings that are punctuated by either brass and percussion or laced further by other string instruments. If this is a score you have not yet heard, then I urge you to check it out. It was released by Movie Score Media but is still available on all digital platforms.
Another interesting Horror/thriller is THE LAST WINTER, like I SELL THE DEAD the movie was produced by Glass Eye Pix, and it also starred Ron Perlman, the music is a collaboration or at least it is credited to both Jeff Grace and Anton Sanko, the latter was responsible for the scores for OUIJA, FRACTURED and RABBIT HOLE amongst others, and the cues that he is credited with on THE LAST WINTER are quite complex and atonal in there sound and style, whereas the cues that are credited to Jeff Grace have within them melodic content that is quite rich and even grandiose in places, such as the opening cue NORTH. Grace employing strings and piano to fashion thematic material. Again, released by Movie Score Media, its well worth checking out. Jeff Grace is at times thought of as a composer of horror scores, but this is not entirely true, although he has scored his fair share of films within this genre, what I do like about his music is that it does have to it positive thematic qualities, even if the cue either begins or leads into something that is more atonal. Also each of his scores has their own identity, I do not think that there is a uniform sound or a set pattern to the style of this composers music, which for me is a positive, because with each project one gets a score that is right for the project,
COLD IN JULY (2014) is one such example of the composer writing in a non-uniform way, within this score he utilises electronics, which are highly effective. In fact, the score is all synthetic apart from piano, but the composer still manages to bring to fruition compositions that not only serve the movie well but are listenable away from the picture. The movie which was a tense crime thriller, is a fraught edge of your seat movie, and the soundtrack reflects this atmosphere and mood, Grace building the tension and adding depth and greater impact to certain scenes, with his subtle but dramatic score.
One of my favourite scores by Jeff Grace is from the movie HELLBENDERS (2012), (no not the Italian western), but a movie that focuses upon The Augustine Interfaith Order of Hell bound Saints, which is a team made up of blasphemous ministers who live in a constant state of debauchery, working to drag the worst of demons that are on earth back to Hell. The composers score is superb, with a driving opening theme, that sets the scene for much of the score, it is dramatic, dark and foreboding. Every cue of the soundtrack is entertaining, filled with a robust and vibrant air, each being entertaining and at times harrowing and exciting. Another for your collection, again on most digital platforms thanks to Movie Score Media.
I think the score that many collectors recall when Jeff Grace is mentioned, must be STAKE LAND, this is a horror and a half with a score that is superb. Horror movies in general I feel do not have the power if that is the right word to hold ones attention for the duration, often the plot evaporates or dips, and this is when one starts looking around and your mind wanders a little, but STAKE LAND I thought was an excellent post-apocalyptic movie, well directed and also extremely well portrayed by a not very well known cast. It is a film that has a real story that is alluring and interesting, Think, of the film THE ROAD and add vampires to the equation. Jeff Grace’s affecting score, supports and enhances each moment of the storyline, it not only punctuates and gives a greater impact to the proceedings but is becomes an integral component of the movie. The music of Jeff Grace is something that all of us should experience, he has worked on many motion pictures and television projects, his music has been performed by several well known orchestras and he has worked alongside the likes of Howard Shore as an assistant on THE LORD OF THE RINGS, GANGS OF NEW YORK and PHILIDELPHIA. Several his soundtracks are available from the likes of Movie Score Media and Milan records, as well as being available to stream on digital platforms. The composer has been the recipient of many awards for his work in film.
Other scores by Grace that are certainly worth checking out include, TRIGGER MAN, I CAN SEE YOU, ROOST, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, MEEKS CUTOFF, NIGHT MOVES, to mention but a few.