THE HAUNTING OF MORELLA is a horror movie which was produced in the style of the Poe films of the 1960.s as released by American International Pictures and either produced or directed by Roger Corman. Released in 1990, it was directed by Jim Wynorski and produced by Corman, this is a movie that certainly oozes the mystery and the intrigue of those vintage horrors. Made in the same year as Wynorski’s TRANSYLVANIA TWIST. THE HAUNTING OF MORELLA is a highly watchable movie because it contains some interesting horrific touches, plus little brushes with lesbianism, nude bath scenes and also a handful of less than elegant period wigs and garments of underclothing. But it is the music we are primarily concerned with here, and the score I have to say for a fairly low budget movie is excellent. Music is courtesy of Frederic Ensign Teetsel with additional material provided by Wynorski’s long-time collaborator Chuck Cirino (seeing Cirino was involved was enough for me to want to listen to it). The movie opens showing us a witch who is executed in the America’s when they were British Colonies. She leaves behind a husband and a young daughter, the film then moves forward some seventeen years, the young girls is now grown up and is in line to inherit a large sum of money which has been put into trust by her Mothers family. It is now that the story begins to become more interesting as we are made aware that the Mother wants to be returned to life via possessing her daughter’s body.
To be fair this is not a bad movie whatsoever, and considering again it was relatively low budget, both the producer and director have managed to create a picture that pays tribute to the earlier works of Corman when he gave us such classics as, THE HOUSE OF USHER, THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM, PREMATURE BURIAL, THE TERROR, THE RAVEN and THE HAUNTED PALACE, ok maybe it is not so polished but there is something present that makes it entertaining and compelling. I think that the musical score aids the movie greatly, in fact it manages to re-create both the atmosphere and the mood of titles I mention. It has to it a gothic and highly attractive sound which is almost luxurious and purveys a sense of foreboding and apprehension throughout. I think it can described as a fusion of the music of the likes of Les Baxter and also composers such as Harry Robinson who worked on a handful of Hammer horrors most notably THE VAMPIRE LOVERS and TWINS OF EVIL, there are also at times shades of James Bernard and hints of the likes of Ronald Stein and David Whitaker.
The score is essentially symphonic, containing trumpet, French horn, cellos, violas and violins make up the string section as well as bass’s, plus brass and percussion are also present, and at key points we are treated to a spidery and icy feel that is conjured up via the use of harpsichord flourishes that seem to delicately trip across the other instruments. The work however does contain a scattering of synth choir, but this just further embellishes the work, giving it a greater depth and filling it with a chilling air. Chuck Cirino was not available to write the score for the movie, so Frederic Teetsal was engaged but director Wynorski had an idea to utilise some themes that Cirino had penned some years before which the director had in his music library. Teetsal, discussed the themes with Cirino and then wove them into the fabric of his score. The result is a work that is driving and powerful but also one that has romantic and melodic interludes. Which is perfect for the genre of movie and for the period in which it is set.
I was impressed with this soundtrack it is filled to the hilt with enticing and beguiling thematic material and has to it a fearful and tense musical aura. The notes by the flawless Randall D Larson are an interesting and absorbing read in which the writer talks to both Chuck Cirino and Frederic Teetsal as well as giving us a synopsis of the movie. Another great release from DRAGONS DOMAIN. Recommended.