Friday 4 April 2014

Horror Movie Soundtracks Need No Transformation

I've only just noticed this article from late last year where it is claimed that perhaps soundtracks are mere memorabilia and the vinyl reissue boom of horror soundtracks is not necessarily based in "the music's stand alone appeal." It is also claimed that the vinyl resurgence of OSTs of horror may have led to the live revival of certain acts.

Using me as an example lets have a look at these claims. DRG Records had this series of cds in the mid 90s Classic Italian Soundtracks. I have the first two volumes of the Goblin compilations, one on  Ennio Morricone's  trilogy of soundtracks for Dario Argento and 4 volumes of  of the Spaghetti Westerns compilations. Of the 17 soundtracks featured on those 2 Goblin comps I'd seen one of the films, Patrick, at the time. Since the mid 90s I have collected 9 individual scores by Goblin and even a couple from the solo Claudio Simmonetti. Now over 15 years later I've only seen one more of the movies that they scored Suspiria and I'm not even sure if that's worth watching. Three of my all time favourite Morricone scores (sure, I like a few others too) are the 3 he scored for Argento The Bird With Crystal Plumage, The Cat O Nine Tails and Four Flies On Grey Velvet. I've never viewed the movies and probably never will. But this music is some of the all time great music of the Twentieth century.

Now I will pick 10 of my favourite horror soundtracks off the top of my head not including any of the aforementioned.

  • Christine - John Carpenter & Alan Howarth
  • Maniac - Jay Chataway
  • Zombie Holocaust - Nico Fidenco
  • Porno Holocaust - Nico Fidenco
  • Halloween - John Carpenter
  • A Lizard In A Woman's Skin - Ennio Morricone
  • Chopping Mall - Chuck Cirino
  • La Coda Dello Scorpione - Bruno Nicolai
  • The Wicker Man - Paul Giovanni
  • Eraserhead - Alan Splet & David Lynch
These ten soundtracks I have listened to a zillion times (but only seen three of the films) and think the music is fantastic just as much as any other genre of LP I would listen to. In fact surely there is a case for John Carpenter to be considered one of 20th centuries great composers. I don't need some deluxe reissue for this terrific music to be transformed beyond memorabilia, do I Mr Reed? Perhaps your attitude to movie music needs to transform more than anything. I often think a lot of movies don't deserve the brilliant music they get to soundtrack their films. This all fits in with my 'music is a much more successful cultural artform than film' argument that has been mentioned previously on my blog. Sure you might think I'm just a music guy, so of course I'm going to say that. Once upon a time however I was a definite film guy and was going to go into professional movie reviewing.

For how serious and intense people are about soundtracks and sound design you may want to check out the three volumes published from Philip Brophy's Cinesonic conferences in 1998, 1999 & 2000 by The Australian Film TV and Radio School. Brophy also published the excellent 100 Modern Soundtracks which was part of the BFI Screen Guides series in 2004. Perhaps someone should publish (er... maybe me) a book on soundtracks that stand alone as musical artefacts considering I've just come up with 25 of them in this short article.

The live return of people like Alan Howarth, Fabio FrizziGoblin (Goblin have always been around in one form or another as far as I can tell) and another Goblin was inevitable as their cults grew bigger and bigger by the day. More than likely the internet has served as the main reason for these artists' growth in popularity. Having said that, if someone was cluey and cashed up enough in the 90s to promote these artists live I'm sure they would have sold out shows in capital cities across the world.

Don't get me wrong, beautiful new shiny packaging, special artwork and the fetishization of vinyl are all fine things but it's still all about the music innit? I mean Blue Jasmine is an excellent film but I'm not about to rush and buy that OST if its released with a bunch of extra bells and whistles on chunky vinyl am I?

Love the soundtrack & the poster.
I wonder what the film's like?


  1. you maybe never watch the movies? bad bad bad mistake...
    Music taste good, movietast not?

  2. Of those 10 films listed 2 are my all time favourite films ie Eraserhead and The Wicker Man. The other one I'd seen was Halloween. After writing this post yesterday, I decided to watch Christine. It was pretty good I thought. So seeing as though you're the taste police Anonymous, what films would you recommend?