Three horror movies released in 1986, all had a connection. Troll, Terrorvision, and From Beyond were all fairly-low budget movies, but also all contained effectively atmospheric musical scores by composer Richard Band. Band was very busy during the 1980.s and into the 1990’s scoring in the main sci fi and horror movies all of which had limited budgets. However, this never seemed to deter Band from creating large scale sounding symphonic works that enhanced the proceedings on screen. I think this is the reason that the composer was to become so busy and in demand. His ability to work quickly and to fashion commanding and innovative soundtracks was attractive to producers of movies and TV.
Many of his scores being performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra. Band is still as industrious nowadays creating powerful soundtracks for a wide variety of motion pictures and TV series. The three movies I have mentioned are all horrors, but three very different horrors. Terrorvision for example is more of a sci-fi horror which focuses upon the central character Stan who installs satellite TV for his family, which is a good thing one would think.
But, soon things become a little unnerving as Stan starts to pick up a signal from another planet and his television system becomes the gateway between earth and the aliens. A creature comes to his apartment but only Stan’s son Sherman sees it, his parents finding it hard to believe that the child is telling the truth.
Then there is Troll, in which we see a Troll King take up residence in an apartment block in San Francisco, the same apartment block where the Potter family have just taken up residence. Harry Potter Sr, (yes Harry Potter, but not The Harry Potter) and his wife Anne are bringing the packages to the apartment and their son Harry Jr (no this is not The Harry Potter either) and his younger sister Wendy Anne stay on the sidewalk. Wendy becomes curious about her new home and decides to explore going into the laundry room, where she encounters wicked troll Torok who uses his evil magic ring to possess her. Torok then proceeds to use the girls form to transform the dwellers and the apartment into trolls and builds his kingdom within it. Harry Jr. feels that something is wrong with his sister and seeks out a good witch Eunice St.Clair who by a stroke of luck also lives in the building.
It’s an entertaining movie and does contain some real moments of terror and apprehension.
Last but by no means least is From Beyond, Dr. Edward Pretorius and his assistant, the physician Crawford Tillinghast, have developed the Resonator, a machine to stimulate the sixth sense through the pineal gland. When Crawford activates the apparatus, he sees creatures flying in the air and he summons Dr. Pretorius. The experiment goes out of control and Dr. Pretorius refuses to turn off the Resonator.
Meanwhile their neighbour calls the police, and when the police officers arrive, they see Crawford trying to escape from his house and Dr. Pretorius beheaded. Crawford is sent to a mental institution under the supervision of the sadistic Dr. Bloch. However, the prominent psychiatrist Dr. Katherine Mc Michaels requests the custody of Crawford and Detective Bubba Brownlee that is investigating the bizarre case decides to stay with them. Katherine goes with Crawford and Bubba to see the Resonator and after reactivating the machine. Dr. Pretorius returns in mutant form and viciously attacks them, which heralds a long and gory night of violence which is filled with weird life forms.
The score for From Beyond, is an inventive one, the composer fashioning atmospheric and sinewy sounding themes that work effectively with the images on screen and support and underline the unlikely but disturbing storyline. The music has to it a Bernard Herrmann-esque/Jerry Goldsmith sound, with dark and commanding strings becoming the foundation and the most utilised instrumentation of the score, the composer embellishing these further with percussive elements and brass that are further driven by timpani and added electronic support.
The soundtrack was re-issued in 2021 with extra music and improved quality sound after being re-mastered. The re-issue is available on most digital platforms. Band’s score is oozing with mystery and malevolence, with shadowy sounding nuances and unnerving passages that realise an uneasy and foreboding persona.
To Troll now, I think that this along with Band’s superb The Pit and The Pendulum and Mutant are amongst my favourites by the composer. The use of choir within this score is as effective as the satanic choruses that were penned by Jerry Goldsmith for The Omen trilogy, maybe not as powerful but just as chilling and sinister sounding and just as affecting. The score is relatively short as in duration, but the music plays an important role within the movie that also becomes integral to the storyline.
The theme for the Troll, is masterful, and is at times dark and fearsome, add to this Danny Elman-like voices (before Danny Elfman wrote his first score by the way) has a dual atmospheric effect, as it is both threatening but nervously comedic. Band utilises to great effect strings, percussion and those choral performances as the score and the storyline develop. The combination of strings, electronic effects and choir has a superbly dark and sinister effect. The composer driving the action and underlining key moments with music that is frantic and chaotic in a melodic way.
The score is sectioned into five cues that are all entitled Cantos, the last track on the score Cantos V being the most driving and commanding, filled with an ominous and unrelenting air, in which choir and percussion are supported by brass flourishes and fast paced strings, but this action frenzy soon turns to a more settled and calm mood as the track reaches its conclusion and becomes the films hopeful sounding end titles. The five-track soundtrack is available on digital platforms and on compact disc. And the expanded Intrada release is sometimes available on various selling sites.
The score for Terrorvision leans towards a more electronic sounding work, but this is no way means that Band is not as inventive. In fact at times the score is probably one of his most innovative, and in keeping with the tech subject matter of the movie.
Band also employs rock like cues some of which are vocals by Fibonaccis. Not really my thing but work well in the context of the movie. The soundtrack is available on the likes of Spotify. All three releases are worth a listen and if you’re not a Richard Band fan I think you might be after savouring these.