Tag Archives: DISNEY


Twenty-nine years ago, Disney released a movie that I think even surprised them because it became so successful and popular so quickly. Hocus Pocus, has over the years attained a kind of cult following, and I have to say I am one of those followers, with the movie being essential viewing at Halloween, for myself and my children, well that family tradition has now been passed onto to them and their children, and Hocus Pocus is probably a film that we all just love unconditionally. It seemed as soon as the end credits began to roll in 1993, audiences all over the world were crying out for a sequel and let’s face it , it deserved to have one.

Alas after hearing so many times that a sequel was in the works, I as did many gave up on Disney.  But they say that all good things come to those who wait, and now streaming on Disney + is Hocus Pocus 2, I thought it strange that it should be released a full month before Halloween, but Disney know what they’re doing right? After watching the movie, I did feel that it was a little less affecting as the original, and there were certain scenes and lines I also felt were a little hammy. But its Hocus Pocus guys, its fine. The Sanderson sisters are back, and its about time.

Returning to reprise their original roles are Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson, Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson, Kathy Najimy as Mary Sanderson and Doug Jones as William Billy Butcherson who was Winfred’s sweetheart and apparently cheated on her with her sister Sarah. Sadly, as you’ll find out when you see the movie, these are the only original characters that have survived, there is no Thackery Binx, no Dani, who was played by Thora Birch, Omri Katz who played Max or Vinessa Shaw who portrayed Allison are nowhere to be seen, but there is a black cat in the cast called cobweb.

There is however a fresh cast of faces and characters, that ably carry on the legacy and the atmosphere that has been established by the original film. I did feel at times that the set piece songs were not necessary, especially when we see the Sanderson sisters resurrected in the forbidden wood, which kind of cheapens the whole coming back to life thing and the witches returning to impose their evil on Salem, turning it into a cabaret. They also perform One Way or Another, (I hate that song) but that is kind of a clever inclusion to the film’s storyline. Ok, Hocus Pocus (1993) purists, will probably be thinking what’s happened here, but like I always say its horses for courses, and it is an effective updating of the Hocus Pocus franchise.

Three hundred years pass in the movie, with the story opening in the town of Salem in 1653, which I thought worth doing as it tells us more of how the Sanderson sisters became witches, giving us more of a background to their relationship and how it was that Winnie became the prominent one in the trio of spell makers.

Hocus Pocus 2, has to it all the comedic and dramatic content that the original had, plus it has a degree more sensitivity, showing an emotional side to certain characters, let’s just say that you will believe a witch has a heart, even feel sorry for her and that a spell book can shed a tear.

It also effectively opens a new Hocus Pocus chapter as it introduces us to another trio of young witches, and that I hope will be another story that Disney might explore in the future (hopefully before 2051). Could this be the end of the Sanderson sisters? What do you think? Trick or Treat?


The musical score is by the Hocus Pocus composer John Debney, who has rekindled many of his original thematic material to enhance and support the three witches’ new adventure, he also works into the fabric of the new score the haunting theme as composed by James Horner, Come Little Children, as performed by Sarah Jessica Parker back in 1993 as her character Sarah Sanderson calls to the children of Salem.

John Debney has fashioned a wonderfully mischievous, sweeping, and raucous sounding work for the sequel. The now familiar central theme becoming the foundation and the mainstay of the work, the string section working overtime driving the work at pace, whilst the composer adds percussive elements, rasping and powerful brass flourishes and stabs, and heart felt woods.

There is darkness and light purveyed by the music, drama, tension and a jaunty and comedic air. The composer coloring and adding depth, atmosphere, and emotion to the proceedings. The soundtrack album we are told will be getting a compact disc release, but it is already available on the likes of Spotify, a twenty-eight-track recording, which consists of eighteen score cues, and nine songs, some of which are originals such as The Witches are Back performed by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy. But it is without a doubt John Debney’s music that shines within this movie and makes for great listening away from it. The film and the soundtrack are highly recommended.



Geoff Zanelli, is a composer who works steadily in Hollywood, and has scored a number of sequels for box office hits, these include THE SCORPION KING 4, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN-DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES etc, and here he is again following in the footsteps of composer James Newton Howard with his latest score for MELEFICENT-MISTRESS OF EVIL. To be fair I think collectors go into listening to a sequel score which is not by the original composer, in this case JNH with a very negative attitude, firstly they are a bit miffed its not the original composer and secondly because they are at times just in a mood. I know I am guilty of it, but I came to this score with an open mind and listened to it through three times before reaching any kind of conclusion about if I liked it or indeed if it was any good or not. Ok, well it’s not James Newton Howard, but, it is in fact pretty good, Zanelli has created a whole new set of themes, which are pleasing and very interesting, plus he does incorporate fragments of the original JNH theme, which is nice to hear too. It is a fusion of symphonic and choral with a little support from the synthetic department. On listening to it I did feel it evoked some of those early Disney movies such as BAMBI and ALICE IN WONDERLAND etc, ( well as its a Disney production I suppose that is ok really) it has a sparkly and magical style and sound to it that is heart-warming and tear jerking . Of course, because this is a dark and at times evil fairy tale, there are a fair amount of the more shadowy and fearful sounding musical passages, where the composer brings into play ominous sounding brass and percussion with at times male choral work. I have to admit to being surprised at how good this is, I was expecting something of a repeat of his Pirates of the Caribbean effort, which I did not rate at all, but this score has an abundance of rich themes which he develops and builds upon as the score progresses and grows. Worth a listen.



oliver wallace.


When discussing film music as in film scores, one does not ordinarily include movies that include songs, well I don’t any way. But, maybe we should, lets focus upon one composer who scored a number of animated movies for Disney, yep Disney, the films that Oliver Wallace was involved with in many peoples eyes are in essence musicals, I am talking of classics such as PINOCCHIO, DUMBO, PETER PAN, LADY AND THE TRAMP, BAMBI, SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, CINDERELLA and ALICE IN WONDERLAND to name but a handful. Wallace also created serviceable soundtracks for Disney animated and live action projects, THE THREE CABALLEROS, DER FUEHRERS FACE. (aka-DONALD DUCK IN NUTZI LAND), MELODY TIME, SEAL ISLAND, BEN AND ME, and THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY amongst them. He was in demand during the 1930’s and throughout the war years and then into the 1950’s and 1960’s. Wallace, worked on shorts and also documentaries during his career, and after his death some of his music was utilised in movies such as OPERATION DUMBO DROP.



Although the composer is mainly associated with a studio that is considered American through and through Wallace was born in London, England on August 6th 1887. At the age of seventeen he completed his musical training and it was then in 1904 he decided to go to America, where he worked and reside for a decade before becoming an American citizen. Wallace began his musical career in the theatre, and worked mainly in Seattle, as a conductor and then as an organist accompanying silent movies. Whilst doing this and gaining experience Wallace began to write songs and soon became known for his lyrics and accompanying music. In the 1930.s with the introduction of Talkies, Wallace began to work in Hollywood, and in the early part of 1936 he started to work for Disney studios. At first, he was given small assignments for shorts which were animated pictures, but it was not long before Disney noticed and appreciate his versatility both as a composer of scores for films but also as a lyricist. His output in the area of scoring short animated films was at times unbelievable and he was said to have written the music for at least one hundred and thirty of these for the studio, his most famous being for the 1942 Donald Duck short, DER FUEHERS FACE which was a propaganda cartoon.

1942 Der fuehrers face (ing)


The song from the film was a parody of a song originally from Horst Wessel and became one of the biggest hit songs during the second world war when it was performed by Spike Jones and his City Slickers. Wallace was also assigned to full length features such as DUMBO and SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, his music becoming as iconic and timeless as the movies themselves. It was Wallace who also provided the APRIL SHOWERS cue for BAMBI which too has gone down in film music history as a classic.


The composer was a master at taking phrases from the songs in a movie and incorporating these into sections of the instrumental score, thus creating a real continuity throughout and enabling audiences to identify with specific characters. Wallace received four Oscar Nominations one of which was for the music to a documentary WHITE WILDERNESS in 1958, which was unheard of at that time. But each time he lost out. Over a period of twenty-seven years, Wallace worked on over one hundred and fifty productions for Disney and created the soundtrack of many children’s lives via his infectious lyrics and delightful melodies. He passed away on September 15th, 1963. He was awarded a special Disney Legends award in 2008. I suppose Wallace was in effect the Alan Menken of his time, his melodies live on and his lyrics are part of not only film history but are an essential ingredient in the growing up and development of any child, or any adult that is young at heart. Who can forget, YOU CAN FLY, YOU CAN FLY, or FOLLOWING THE LEADER or indeed any Disney song, with Wallace’s endearing and supportive musical style.




Composer Alan Menken has always held a special place in my soundtrack collecting heart, his music along with the lyrics of Howard Ashman were in my opinion responsible for re-launching what was the popular genre of the Disney musical movie in the form of the now already classics, THE LITTLE MERMAID, ALADDIN, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, POCAHONTAS, THE HUNCHBAK OF NOTRE DAME, HERCULES and later with ENCHANTED and TANGLED. As we know Disney have embarked on a reboot schedule and have begun to re-create some of their classics in live action mode. BEAUTY AND THE BEST being the latest addition to the growing list. This movie has been much hyped and eagerly anticipated and awaited by all cinema goers both young and old, in other words by kids and even bigger kids, who probably won’t admit it. The film has not disappointed and has in my opinion managed to already cement itself within Disney history and is just waiting to attain the status of being a classic. The story which is familiar to all has been acted out on stage in the form of either serious adaptations or more recently as a musical, which proved popular with audiences all over the world, and also committed to celluloid on numerous occasions, the original Disney version which was animated became a firm favourite for everyone, and much of the appeal to both the Disney movie versions of this timeless tale is down to the clever lyrics of Howard Ashman and also Sir Tim Rice, and of course the melodic and haunting musical themes created by the one and only Alan Menken. I think that many of us forget that Menken is a fine composer and there is much more to him than the creation of nice little tunes that accompany catchy lyrics. The composer is more than capable of adapting his style and focusing his musical prowess to any genre, whether this be dramatic, comedic, romantic or all of these combined and is a highly talented composer of music for not only musicals but also film scores which do need lyrics to make them stand out (if you get what I am saying). The latest BEAUTY AND THE BEAST of course has within it many of the songs that we are already familiar with, as in, BE OUR GUEST, GASTON, BELLE and the title song BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, which is performed by Emma Thompson in the movie and given an update by John Legend and Ariana Grande. Other songs being performed by Emma Watson, Luke Evans, Sir Ian McKellan, Kevin Kline, Audra McDonald, Celine Dion, Ewan McGregor, Josh Gad, Adam Mitchell, Dan Stevens, and Josh Groban, and I think in many ways if I dare say it have the edge somewhat on the animated versions performances.



Plus, all the time we have Menken’s superb score which shifts up and down the gears adding pace, melancholy, drama and darkness and light to the unfolding story. Disney I am pleased to say have issued a de-luxe version of the soundtrack which is a 2-disc set and contains all the songs and some of the musical scores principal themes, along with Menken’s demo versions of certain songs on disc 1, whilst on disc number 2, we have the score, which is stunning, and gives us the fans or the listener a chance to savour this musical Maestro’s beguiling, magical and enchanting work for this movie. For whatever reason if you have the opinion this is a soundtrack that might be out of place alongside your collection of film scores, please re-think, take a listen, you may be surprised at what you hear, Menken creates some sublimely beautiful and fragile sounding tone poems, many of which might be already familiar, but there are also new motifs and themes that are intertwined with the already established material and these add even greater emotion and depth to the proceedings, the score radiating a vibrant persona that is, mysterious, poignant, charming and enthralling. The action cues too are really entertaining and gripping as in WOLF CHASE, BELLE STOPS THE WAGON, TURRET PURSUIT etc. And there is the track CASTLE UNDER ATTACK which mixes action with melancholy and comedy scoring. Fully symphonic this is a score that will continue to delight and excite no matter how many times one listens to it, so BE OUR GUEST, pull up a chair have a cup of tea and listen. Highly recommended.

Disc 1:
Main Title: Prologue, Pt. 1
Aria (Audra McDonald)
Main Title: Prologue, Pt. 2
Belle (Emma Watson, Luke Evans & Ensemble – Beauty and the Beast)
How Does a Moment Last Forever (Music Box) (Kevin Kline)
Belle (Reprise) (Emma Watson)
Gaston (Josh Gad, Luke Evans & Ensemble – Beauty and the Beast)
Be Our Guest (Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Ian McKellen)
Days in the Sun (Adam Mitchell, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Emma Watson, Audra McDonald & Clive Rowe)
Something There (Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Nathan Mack & Gugu Mbatha-Raw)
How Does a Moment Last Forever (Montmartre) (Emma Watson)
Beauty and the Beast (Emma Thompson)
Evermore (Dan Stevens)
The Mob Song (Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ensemble – Beauty and the Beast, Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, Stanley Tucci, Nathan Mack, Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Ewan McGregor)
Beauty and the Beast (Finale) (Audra McDonald, Emma Thompson & Ensemble – Beauty and the Beast)
How Does a Moment Last Forever (Céline Dion)
Beauty and the Beast (Ariana Grande & John Legend)
Evermore (Josh Groban)
Aria (Demo)
How Does a Moment Last Forever (Music Box) (Demo)
Days in the Sun (Demo)
How Does a Moment Last Forever (Montmartre) (Demo)
Evermore (Demo)

Disc Time:

Disc 2:
Main Title: Prologue
Belle Meets Gaston
Your Mother
The Laverie
Wolf Chase
Entering the Castle
A White Rose
The Beast
Meet the Staff
Home (Extended Mix)
Madame de Garderobe
There’s a Beast
A Petal Drops
A Bracing Cup of Tea
The West Wing
Wolves Attack Belle
The Library
Colonnade Chat
The Plague
Maurice Accuses Gaston
Beast Takes a Bath
The Dress
You Must Go to Him
Belle Stops the Wagon
Castle Under Attack
Turret Pursuit
You Came Back

Disc Time:

Total Album Time:



James Newton Howard first came to my attention back in 1987 when he scored the movie RUSSKIES, since those early days he has risen to become one of Hollywood’s most sought after film score composers and in recent years has written the scores for some of the world’s best known movies and also some of tinsel towns biggest box office successes. Born in 1951 Newton Howard began to write music for film and television in 1985 when he scored HEAD OFFICE. After which he became involved with movies such as PRETTY WOMAN, FLATLINERS, FALLING DOWN, DYING YOUNG, THE MAN IN MOON and many more. His most recent triumphs include THE HUNGER GAMES series, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN and its sequel THE HUNTSMAN WINTER’S WAR, CONCUSSION and MALEFICENT which in my ever so humble opinion stands out as one of the composers finest works for cinema. MALEFICENT is in essence a darker take on the SLEEPING BEAUTY and is quite far removed from the original Disney version which delighted kids and adults all those years ago, Newton Howards score is a masterpiece of dramatic and foreboding, fully symphonic and filled with wonderfully lyrical and lavish sounding passages that not only bring much to the movie but are as equally uplifting and enjoyable away from the images on screen. I think that Newton Howard is probably the closest to James Horner that we will get, he has the ability to fashion soundtracks that fit the movie perfectly but at the same time he creates music that is consistently very good. He produces little nuances and leitmotifs that at times seem to come from nowhere but establish themselves quickly and add depth and the correct atmosphere to each and every scene he scores. MALEFICENT is a film that I enjoyed a lot, filled with action and also it has a softer and slightly melancholy side to it, it is a story of a vengeful and bitter fairy who curses the baby Princess Aurora on the day of her Christening to fall into a death like sleep when she pricks her finger on a needle of a spinning wheel, but after she gets to know the child she realises that it is possible her that is the only one who can restore peace and harmony to a kingdom that is divided. Newton Howards score is overflowing with magical and sparkly sounds which straight away enhance and support the storyline, strings, brass and woodwind are the major players within the score, being further bolstered by percussion and a heavenly sounding choir in parts. To actually select a stand out cue is so difficult as every cue has something that will enthral, excite and mesmerise. Rasping brass and thundering percussion join forces to create a highly volatile and relentless piece in MALEFICENT IS CAPTURED with sharp brass stabs adding to the powerful composition and giving it far more urgent and agitated persona.

MALEFICENT FLIES is also a pretty awesome composition, beginning slowly and quietly, the composer setting the scene with low strings that are laced with woods and a beautiful soprano voice which leads into a short but affecting rendition of MALEFICENT’S theme which is very evocative of the sound created by Danny Elfman within a number of his scores, the track builds slowly swelling and growing until the string section take on the theme giving a full working the composer adding brass and percussive elements alongside choir to bring it to a wonderfully triumphant filled crescendo which then melts away and returns to a lower key version of the theme. Then we have BATTLE ON THE MOORS, fearful sounding male voices accompanied by brass and percussion open the cue purveying a sound that radiates foreboding, the composition slows momentarily but soon returns even more powerful and fearful, booming percussion underlining jagged brass stabs and sinewy strings until the piece reaches its conclusion Newton Howard reverting back to low sounding woods that are supported by strings. This is a score that I have to say I adore, it is filled with highly emotive and poignant tone poems plus it has its fair share of the mystical and magical, and of course the action music is superb. MALEFICENT is a score that is brimming with emotions of every kind, which are brought to the surface and made to be even more affecting and real by the talent and artistry of James Newton Howard. I know it’s been out a while, but if you love film music you will want this in your collection.