Category Archives: Reviews

A SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT EXTRA.

Welcome again to Soundtrack supplement extra, an extension if you like of Soundtrack Supplement, we start today with music from an animated movie, which has a delightful score. Even Mice Belong in Heaven, has a musical score by Polish composer Krzysztof A. Janczak, and it is just so good. There is so much going on within the work its hard at first to take it all in, but after listening a few times one begins to hear just how ingenious and fun this is. The score which as far as I can make out is fully symphonic overflows with inventive and effective pieces which are brilliant to listen to just as music and away from the images it was intended to support. I do have to say it is a wonderful score, and one that is very easy to listen to, but at the same time has so much happening, the themes are affecting and at times dramatic and emotive, the orchestration too is entertaining. The composer utilizing a music box effect at times which opens up a fragile and delicate side to the score. Being for an animated feature there is a lot of music here to keep any film music fan occupied and suitably entertained. I cannot really say that I can compare the composer’s style to anyone as it has to it an innovative and robust style and overall sound.

The composer also makes effective use of Soprano which we first encounter in the track Heaven and the Goat, and although it is brief in the introduction it gives the music an otherworldly or celestial aura, choir is also employed, again adding depth and giving the composition or more imposing stature. I love the track Heaven’s Baths it is a waltz inspired piece that just flows beautifully and has to it a grand and lavish persona. Strings take the lead and are supported by woods, percussive elements and punctuated via pizzicato.

The cue does alter direction a little mid-way through with quirky use of brass purveying a more comedic air to the proceedings the cue taking on a jaunty style and conveying a clumsiness?  This is a great score, so many themes are included within the work, that one is spoilt for choice, so just press the play button sit back and be marvelously entertained.  Released on Movie Score Media digitally on all platforms. You would be foolish not to check this out.

Staying with animation and as its nearly Halloween lets visit The Addams Family 2, shall we, music by Mychael and Jeff Danna. Again, this is just a fun score filled with a vibrant energy and a wicked sense of musical humour. The composers have created an over the top dramatic but quirky soundtrack, which is a fusion of both symphonic and synthetic. Its mad cap, tantalizing, a little irreverent and has a slightly melancholy sound to it. I suppose because anything is possible in animated movies composers really go for it when scoring them, and that is what the case is here, fast, and furious in places but frolicking and calming in others.

I am pleased that the composers make effective use of the original Addams Family theme, it is somewhat updated and has a slightly different twang to it but it does come complete with the clicking fingers, in the cue The Addams Family Returns, which is very brief but also very effective. The score itself at times sounds clumsy and cookey but is perfect for the subject matter. We are treated to rampaging and mental action cues that could be something out of the Keystone Cops, the style employed just conjures up for me a pantomime type of picture, or music for a farce on stage the pace being busy and frantic at times. But saying this it is a very good score, filled with inventiveness and certainly catches one’s attention as soon as you begin to listen. Recommended.   

Turandot: The Curse Of the Turandot | 2021 | | Official Trailer | [ Chinese ] – YouTube

From the world of animation to the world of fantasy, the plot of the movie The Curse of Turandot, focuses upon Princess Turandot, who is cursed by a mysterious power emanating from three Mazovian bracelets that were given to her as birthday gifts. The bracelets which have life-draining effects cause the princess to become cruel, and gradually lose her humanity.

Many foreign princes who come to court her are given the task of solving three riddles, one for each bracelet, and only when these are answered will the Princess be freed from the power of the bracelets. In the event any of the questions being answered incorrectly results in the death of the riddle solver.  One day, Calaf, an ordinary citizen, risks his life to answer the riddles to save her and inadvertently uncovers his own extraordinary past.

The movie which is a Chinese production is an exciting and exhilarating viewing experience and the musical score by Simon Franglen (who worked with James Horner) matches the action with proud and powerful themes that support and enhance every second of the movie. It is a grand sounding work and is brimming with action cues that thunder and boom along performed by brass, percussion and strings. As well as the action material the composer has also fashioned haunting and delicate themes that have to them an oriental flavour, these affecting and alluring tone poems are truly beautiful and stand out above the remainder of the score. Tracks such as Master Zhou Returns is one of these and is a charming and romantically laced piece.

The composer also stays in a magical and romantic mood for the cue Holding Hands, which is tender and emotive. This is a score that you must listen to and then add to your collection. The composer at times does slip into Horner mode with familiar sounding brass sounds and choral support, but other than those two noticeable styles it is in the main an inventive and above all entertaining work.  Available on digital platforms.

Halloween Kills is set to hit the cinemas and scare the life out of audiences old and new to the character of Michael Myers. And what would a Halloween movie be with the familiar and unsettling music of John Carpenter, who on this occasion is assisted by Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies on the score writing duties, the Halloween theme is utilised within the score and is woven into the proceedings entwining itself with new material. I think that the Halloween series as we already know it, would have never been so popular or impacting upon audiences if it were not for the scores for the movies, the music playing an important and integral part of the horrific storyline that is unfolding on screen. It is also I think at times the music that is remembered more than the movies, but that’s just my opinion. Like the other Halloween scores this is an all synth/electronic affair, but this does not detract anything from it in the quality and atmospheric departments. Certainly, worth a listen (with the lights on). Bruno Coulais is a composer that many say is an acquired taste, well I am so glad I have that taste because I have always found something within his scores for TV and film that I like and find interesting.

One of his latest scores is for the movie L’Homme de la Cave, (The man From the Cellar). Is I think one of his best scores to date, the subtle and gentle musical interludes are mostly calming having to them some fragments of thematic properties, but in each easy or melodic piece there are elements that purvey an atmosphere filled with apprehension and uncertainty. It is a score that you can sit and listen to and before you know it has finished, I do like scores that are unassuming or not in anyway overblown, and this is a work that fits that description for most of its thirty minute duration, I say most of, because there are a few cues, that do become more animated and upbeat, and these too are highly effective. The composer employs both conventional instrumentation and electronic support for the score and fuses these flawlessly to create tense moods and dark musical passages that are complimented by the lighter and more melodious compositions. Again, a score that I think you should listen to.  

Just Beyond is an anthology series of eight episodes that has recently aired on the Disney Plus channel. The series was created by Seth Grahame-Smith, who based his writings around the graphic novels of author R. L. Stine. The tales of horror, mystery, magic, Aliens and the supernatural involve teenagers that step into a world that is Just Beyond reality. Stine was also responsible for creating Fear Street which has also recently been produced into three films and screened on Netflix, and the movie Goosebumps. The music for Just Beyond is the work of Carlos Rafael Rivera who is already known for his work in both TV and film.

He is an Emmy Award winning composer who has scored Godless, for Netflix which was directed by Scott Frank and produced by Steven Soderbergh, starring Jeff Daniels and Michelle Dockery, as well as  the Universal Pictures release A Walk Among the Tombstones, starring Liam Neeson. He also created an atmospheric score for The Queens Gambit which was also a Netflix production. The music for Just Beyond is very much a magic and mystery filled soundtrack, lots of drama lots of magic, sparkle and mystical sounding interludes, it’s a strong and very appealing score, the composer using symphonic sounds alongside synthetic components to fashion a score that is wonderfully grand and at times evokes the style and sound of composers such as John Williams, John Debney and Jerry Goldsmith.

It’s a more traditional sounding score than we have been hearing of late coming out of the likes of Netflix and Amazon TV productions, which I know many collectors will welcome with open arms. A superb score that is available now on digital platforms. Highly recommended.  The Last Duel has been hyped a lot in recent weeks, and from what I have seen I would imagine it to be a movie that entertains on many levels, the music is by Harry Gregson Williams, and I thought this would be a all action score vibrant and robust and maybe a theme here and there.

Sadly I will say here and now I do  not like the score, its very downbeat and in a word dreary, ok it suits the movie and that’s what matters in the end but it’s a score I have listened to over and over a few times and I just cant get into it. I am not saying the music is awful, but its just not for me. Make up your own mind its on digital platforms now. Henry Jackman has worked on a number of movies in recent years and has earned a reputation of a composer that delivers mostly. His score for the animated feature Rons gone Wrong is not a bad work, considering the subject matter of the movie. Jackman has written a varied if nothing else score, with upbeat cues and poignant passages. Its not great but its also not bad.

Other scores I would like to mention are Superman and Lois season 1 which has a compelling score by the excellent Dan Romer, Paul Saunderson’s great music for The Obscure Life of the Grand Duke of Corsica, Richard Wilkinson’s brilliant music for the Dr Who video game Doctor Who- The Edge of Reality. Which is fifty minutes of great music.

There is also Herdis Stefansdottir’s music for Y:The Last Man, and season two of the Apple TV series See, with music courtesy of Bear McCreary. And action laced score for Don’t Breathe 2, by Roque Banos.

There are also some nice releases from Dragons Domain records this time around. Sorority House Massacre ll and ll,  being two titles that they have issued on a double CD release. The movies both contained music by the one and only Chuck Cirino, as we all know Cirino seems to excel creating grand sounding scores for low budget movies and these soundtracks no exception to that rule.

It evokes for me some of his other works, Transylvania Twist being one of them. The films Sorority House Massacre ll and lll were helmed by filmmaker Jim Wynorski who Cirino has collaborated with so many times, and this release I know will be welcomed by many. I always find thet Cirino’s scores are entertaining and there is always something within them that I and others just love. He has the ability to write great supportive film music but als it is film music that sounds good away from the film. Sorority House Massacre ll came to fruition because filmmaker Wynorski had noticed that some sets were available at Roger Corman’s studios. After getting permission to film on the sets from Corman’s wife Julie, while they were out of town and under the condition that Roger would not find out, Wynorski wrote, cast and filmed under the title Jim Wynorski’s House of Babes, with no producer supervision. The Cormans were pleasantly surprised at how well the film had turned out and thought it would be easier to sell if it were a sequel to an existing film but neither of Wynorski’s sequels as they became too be regarded, had anything to do with Carol Frank’s original movie, Sorority House Massacre which was released in 1986.

Chuck Cirino

Cirino’s music did much to enhance and assist the dramatic and atmospherics of both movies. This is an impressive release from Dragons Domain, recommended.

As are two scores by Cirino that have been issued by Dragons Domain on one CD, Teenage Exorcist and Witch Academy which are certainly worth adding to your collection.  Also, on the DD label this time around is a Richard Band score that I think is equally impressing, Deep Ones is a 2020 release in which we see Alex and her husband Petri visit California for a much-needed break from reality.

At an unassuming Air-BnB rental near Ventura Beach, they meet the mysterious Russell Marsh. Marsh introduces them to the oddly enthusiastic locals, fixes them a lavish meal and invites them out on his luxury boat. Little do they know that beneath Mr. Marsh’s thin veneer of avuncular charm lurks a dark devotion to an archaic evil. Richard Band is an underrated composer in my mind, he does as we all are aware work on a lot of horror movies and yes most are of the lower budget variety, but his music is in no way low budget, in fact his scores for films such as The Pit and the Pendulum, Mutant, Troll, and more recently Exorcism at 60,000 Feet are wonderfully epic sounding in places.

Like Chuck Cirino. Band also creates fantastically supportive music for film, which is highly rewarding to listen to just as music. The Deep Ones is one of the composers best scores to date, it is thickly atmospheric, with the composer fusing symphonic textures and colours with electronic enhancement. Other Dragons Domain releases include a rare documentary score by British composer John Scott, from the film Webs and Other Wonders and a re-issue of Scott’s score for the 1981 sci-fi thriller Inseminoid. Plus, a re-issue of the Thomas De Hartman and Laurence Rosenthal score for Meetings with Remarkable Men.

So, a varied collection of titles for your delectation from Dragons Domain. In closing mention must also be made of two Hans Zimmer and Stanley Myers scores that have been released on Note for Note, The Zero Boys and The Wind, are both soundtracks that should be in your collection.

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT FIFTY TWO.

Its that time again Soundtrack supplement is into its 50’s now so welcome to number 52.

What I said in the soundtrack supplement extra article last week about electronic and synth-based scores still stands but there has been a glimmer of hope in recent days for the future of melodic and emotive film scoring in the form of Claret by Oscar Martin Leanizbarrutia, which I reviewed just the other day as well as catching up with the composer and talking about the score.  

Plus, there have been a few scores released that are filled with proper themes and symphonically performed music, there is an exquisite sounding work being released soon by Mexican composer Alejandro Karo, the composer you might remember scored the movie Jesus of Nazareth (not the Zefferelli) but a more recent take on the life of Christ which contained a beautiful score. available on Kronos Records and digital platforms.

http://kronosrecords.com/

One of his latest works which he collaborates with Maya Lepro on is for the movie 90 Dias Para El 2 De Julio, the score is a fusion of electronic, samples, synthetic and conventional instrumentation. Which is balanced just so to create a work that is brimming with tantalizing and effecting tone poems and layered interludes that at times hint at themes and convey an emotive and lingering atmosphere. It has to it a pleasing and lingering persona, with the composers purveying a sense of calm and poignancy throughout, the solo piano passages being particularly affecting, available on digital platforms through Plaza Mayor, but this is a short score just four cues, with a running time of just under six minutes, very brief but it makes its mark upon the listener. Whilst listening to this score why not also check out two more recent scores from Karo, which are written in the same style but also have to them a more dramatic side the composer delving into darker musical areas, take a listen to Tocar El Cielo, and Buenos Dias Ignacio, I am sure you will enjoy both. There is also like a showreel album on digital platforms entitled Trailer Music vol 1, which is the work of the composer and Maya Lepro, certainly worth a listen as it shows off the ample talents of both composers. Mayra Lepró is a mexican composer and orchestrator who has been making her way into film scoring. After getting her B.A. in Music at the University of Sonora, she founded the company “Emission Music Service”, respectively working on the orchestration and music preparation for film composers.
During her music career, she has been head of music preparation in several mexican and international films with different film composers such as James Seymour Brett, Leoncio Lara Bon, Matt Uelmen, Edy Lan, Alejandro Karo, Gus Reyes, among others.  See the MMI interview with Alejandro Karo here. alejandro karo | Search Results | MOVIE MUSIC INTERNATIONAL. (MMI) . (wordpress.com)

Another composer who I spoke to a while ago was Arturo Cardelus and he has written the music for the Disney animated TV series Descendants a Royal Wedding, I have heard a handful of cues, but there is a suite of music from his score available on the likes of Apple and Spotify, the music is lush and rich with a luxurious style and sound, which one would expect from anything Disney. Dramatic, regal, and apprehensive with a touch of the comedic and melancholy, what more could you possibly want, take a listen and also revisit or take a listen for the first time to his scores from Bunuel in the Labyrinth of Turtles and the excellent Altamira.  Check out the interview with Maestro Cardelus here.  AN INTERVIEW WITH COMPOSER ARTURO CARDELUS. | MOVIE MUSIC INTERNATIONAL. (MMI) . (wordpress.com) 

Liv Grannes from Mosjøen became Norway’s highest decorated woman after World War II. But, both her achievements, and Stalin and Churchill’s false flag operation in Helgeland, disappeared in the darkness of history. This is explained and explored in the new movie documentary Jeanne D’Arc of the North, directed by Fredrik Horn Akselsen who also wrote the story. The score is by Raymond Enoksen who recently scored Kjaare Landsmann and Atlantic Crossing for Norwegian TV. He is one of Norway’s most prominent film music composers and has created many soundtracks for both film and TV, including Thale from 2012, and Haunted from 2017.

The composer was Born 1982 in Mosjøen, Norway. Coming from a musical family, he began playing classical and improvisational piano from a young age. In 2001 he was enrolled at composition study at the Norwegian state academy of music and studied there under the guidance of professor Bjørn Kruse and Olav Anton Thommessen. In 2007 he was accepted to the prestigious diploma of composition (Elite master) at the same academy. Here he continued his studies with Professor Olav Anton Thommassen. During the early stages of his studies, his professor recognized a talent for dramatical composition in him and established a collaboration with the state film school. This resulted in his first film productions Oscar and Tokyo Express.

His score for the documentary Jean D’Arc of the North is a varied one and has to it numerous themes that all combine to fashion a score that is simply delightful, although dark and even ominous sounding in parts the work is one that is entertaining away from the images it was written to enhance and support.

The themes are at times subdued but affecting, it has a haunting and beautiful aura to it, with the composer utilising female voice and choir to great effect at times. There is a lightness and a touching eloquence about this work that cannot fail to both attract and please. At times for me it evoked the styles of both John Barry and Ennio Morricone. Available on digital platforms, via Dream score records. The composer will be speaking to Movie Music International in the next few days so look out for the interview.

So far so good with melodic sounding scores or soundtracks  that are in the majority performed by actual musicians, the next score came out earlier this year and is by Mexican composers Gus Reyes and Andres Sanchez Maher, Cosas Imposibles is a work that is mainly constructed from the use of electronic instrumentation, but it is written and put together in such a way that the composers realise an alluring and attractive sound, it is entertaining, calming and at times surprisingly  powerful and upbeat, the composers have already established themselves as being a chameleon like duo who can easily adapt their musical talents to accommodate most scenarios and situations in both film and TV scoring. One only has to listen to their music for the TV series Falco and then to their score for the movie El Complot Mongol to realise their adaptability and also the quality of the music that they produce.

Cosas Imposibles is somewhat lighter listening material then the two scores I have mentioned but it is still a score that I would recommend that you check out. Its vibrant and inventive, and will I know become a favourite. Check out the MMI interview with Gus Reyes here. gus reyes | Search Results | MOVIE MUSIC INTERNATIONAL. (MMI) . (wordpress.com)

Please do not think that I am totally against the use of synths, samples and electronics in film and TV scores, they are if used well an essential component and tool for film music composers these days, it is just at times the un-musical results that I despair at with many of what we would call A list composers utilising them, but creating dronish and colourless pieces that simply act as an annoying musical wallpaper to various movies possessing not melody or substance and to be blunt is just noise.  Many composers use these tools and produce wonderful scores other combine both the synthetic and the symphonic and get the balance right so obviously there is a need and room for conventional instrumentation and electronic support. This latest batch of scores are a very mixed bag, but thankfully this time around the symphonic or at least the melodic and thematic examples are in the majority. That’s all for this soundtrack supplement short and very sweet, next is a special on the record label Dragons Domain and their latest releases.

CLARET.

Have you ever listened to a piece of music or a film score that has stunned you into silence and left you being without any words to describe the feelings that the music has stirred within you? Well, it does not happen to often these days when listening to music from movies, but just the other day I was recommended to listen to a score from a movie entitled Claret, I know very little about the film itself so forgive me for being ill informed. But the score just blew me away, the music is by composer Oscar Martin Leanizbaruttia who I interviewed a few years ago when he scored projects such as Poveda and Las de Soledad, both from 2016.

The score for  Claret is a perfect example of pure musical emotion, there are so many poignant and affecting parts to this score that it is I have to say hard to take it all in an appreciate that all this wonderfully eloquent music comes from just one score and one movie.  It was evident back in 2016, that this was a composer that possessed a rare quality and a talent for conveying emotions musically. He has a gift for melody and is also a purveyor of so many senses within his compositions, his music gets to the listeners core, invading not only their brain but their hearts, becoming mesmerizing and captivating.  

Claret is available only digitally at the moment on various platforms but hopefully that will alter soon and a CD will be released, it is a score that deserves to be released in every format that is available, it is polished and highly atmospheric and I was thinking when listening to it it is undoubtedly alluring and haunting which is down to the impeccable musical fingerprint and inventiveness of the composer, but at times there are touching nuances and small chinks of melodies that do evoke memories of Ennio Morricone, or Mark McKenzie, it also has certain affiliations with the music of Marco Frisina, (which is not a negative thing) but then one realizes no!

This is pure Leanizbaruttia, there is a consistent quality present here throughout, the composer realizing an exquisite, flawless and pure sound, that is filled with a spiritual aura and overflowing with a serene and dramatic persona.

Claret the score is a triumph and totally absorbing. Listening to the music made me want to see the movie, the composer has fashioned a score that is fragility and poignancy personified, but there is also a slightly darker side that raises its head momentarily on occasion, it is a score that one can listen to and be completely hypnotized by, its melodies are rich and full, its themes lasting and inspiring, this is for me the score of the year 2021 and I do not mean thus far  it is this years jewel in the crown of film music.   It is a welcomed oasis of wonderfully melodic music in a desert that is recently filled with droning non thematic examples of the art of film scoring.    

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT EXTRA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until the next time

farewell.

VENOM-LET THERE BE CARNAGE.

Marco Beltrami is a composer I have followed since the Scream movies and have interviewed him and gone to a couple of his sessions when he was recording in London. I think the attraction of his music is that he writes in what I think is a very operatic way, his scores are often sweeping and grandiose, even when he is scoring a movie that does not have a mega budget, he created themes and driving scores that not only supported the movie but went beyond that and gave it an even greater depth and stature. He has been busy in recent months scoring Fear Street, Nine Perfect Strangers, and A Quiet Place ll amongst other things. The latest release in cinemas to have a score by Beltrami is Venom-Let There be Carnage. I must admit to not liking the first Venom score by Ludwig Gorensson, (where is he lately?) but I did’nt like the movie either, so approached this musical installment with much trepidation. The score for Venom 2 (will call it that its easier), is a mix of dramatic symphonic and electronic stabs and layers that are fused with a more rock orientated style, it sounds rather chaotic but when listening to the score it really works.

There are the trademark sounds of Beltrami included with his grand and driving strings that are supported by percussive elements which are themselves bolstered and given more urgency by rasping and menacing brass. And I think menacing is a good way to describe much of the composer’s score. There is an apprehensive and turbulent aura to the work,

Beltrami does fashion thematic material amongst this but for the most part the music is action led, I would not say its atonal as there are interludes that are effective and deliver real moments of melody even if this is somewhat subdued and overshadowed by a more dramatic style. I also noticed that the composer seems to have re-introduced a style which he employed in some of his early scores such as The Faculty and the Scream movies, combining slicing and spiteful sounding strings with percussion and consolidating this with a fierce brass punctuation. I listened through three times, and I recommend that you do this too, as on the initial listen you may like I did think it was another up-beat rock infused affair. Recommended available on digital platforms now, CD coming soon, and the LP will be released in January 2022, which probably wont, do its sales any good.