Wednesday 12 November 2014

Horror Soundtracks Part 13

  Released for the first time soon. Can't wait.
They love a list over at FACT and here's another fabulous one. This time it's the 100 best horror soundtracks. Although having this posted at Halloween time kind of cheapens it a bit. So I've left it till now to talk about it. I'm not just into horror soundtracks at the end of October. I like them in December, May...... 25 of these I don't own, mainly the more recent ones. But that means I'm into 75% of the list. I didn't realise what a horror soundtrack buff I'd become. Although I have occasionally written about them here and there. For me it all started in the 90s with Morrricone, Spaghetti Westerns and Italian composers really. Discovering later that many of these Spaghetti Western guys also did scores for horror movies which were just as good if not better. Then also discovering that these Italians composers also did a lot of library music as well but that's another story. Having said that the quintessential Italian guy, with the best name in the biz, Allessandro Allessandroni comes in at number 9 with his classic score to The Devil's Nightmare. Everything this guy touches seems turns to gold, whether it's Spaghetti Westerns, Horror or library music. Next I got into Goblin and well it all spiralled out of control from there. So of course my top 100 would be top heavy with Italian composers and hey there's quite a few here including such favourites as all of the previously mentioned plus Fabio Frizzi, Libra, Bruno Nicolai, Giuliano Sorgini, Pino Donaggio, Stelvio Cipriani, Walter Rizzati, Francesco De Masi, Franco Micalizzi, Carlo Maria Cordio, Riz Ortoliani and probably a few I missed.

My only revelation here is Martin (both film and soundtrack) a 1977 film by George A Romero with a soundtrack from Donald Rubenstien. Watched the film on the t-box for $3.99 and enjoyed it. The soundtrack was excellent too. I've tracked down a copy and it hasn't been off the stereo since.

The list contains many recently reissued classics (tilting the list somewhat, but hey its 2014 nobody cares) like Creepshow, Surf Nazis Must Die, Witchfinder General, Zombie Flesh Eaters, Last House On The Left, Blood On Satan's Claw, Canibal Ferox, Re-Animator, House By The Cemetery, La Frission Des Vampires, Street Trash, Possession and many others of which I can vouch for. You can thank Trunk, Finders Keepers, Death Waltz, One Way Static, Waxwork et al. for reissuing these thus making them heard and in turn put on this list. There are a few obscurities though that haven't been re released or even released such as Carlo Maria Cordio's Rosso Sangue (Absurd), Klause Schulze's Next Of Kin, Burial Ground scored by Elsio Mancuso & Berto Pisano and Let's Scare Jessica To Death by Orville Stoeber. I'm not sure if the Lets Scare Jessica To Death OST has ever been released. I have a funny fan made mp3 of it which goes for like 17 minutes. I would have downloaded it from one of those old horror score blogs like Inferno Music Vault. I have this rubbish mp3 version of Absurd with like faulty tracks three quarters of the way through, the music's good though. I've never been able to find the Next Of Kin OST in any form and it's an Australian movie. Surely Burial Ground will be released by one of these Horror OST specialists, the bootleg and the fan made mp3 have eluded me so far.

The Hauntological Parish are represented on the list with the pagan, magikal, clunky and occult sounds of Basil Kirchin, Delia Derbyshire & Brian Hodgeson, Paul Giovanni, Mark Wilkinson and Paul Ferris

It's good to see OST gems in the hiding in plain sight category such as Nightmare On Elm Street by Charles Bernstein (How good is that one?), Rosemary's Baby from Krysztof Komeda (Tres creepy), Evil Dead, Harry Manfredini's Friday The 13th (love that), Amittyville Horror and I guess the one that started the modern era Berrard Herrmann's Psycho. Psycho would have to be the most influential and recognisable horror film score ever, still being referenced by composers today. All the cultiest post-Goblin/Tangerine Dream Carpenter-esque synth scores are here Chopping Mall, Slumber Party Massacre, The Boogey Man, Maniac, The Deadly Spawn, Inseminoid, X-Tro and The Entity.

Bruno Nicolai makes the cut with All The Colours Of The Dark but at least 3 others in his horror canon could have just as easily been here La Coda Dello Scorpione, The Case Of The Bloody Iris or Nightmares Come At Night. Pino Donaggio's Tourist Trap is a classic but many would think his uncanny score to Don't Look Now was even better. Stelvio Cipriani is in with Tentacles but he has many other horror greats like Incubo: Sulla Citta ContaminataBay Of Blood, Un Ombra Nell Ombra (the one he did with Goblin's Claudio Simonetti) and Solamante Nero with Goblin. Nico Fidenco's here with the cult soundtrack Zombie Holocaust but I reckon Porno Holocaust is just as good or even better. Donati and Maglione's Eaten Alive didn't make it but their equally brilliant Cannibal Ferox did. Riz Orloliani's Cannibal Holocaust is here but he has other classics that always get overlooked like Nella Stretta Morsa Del Ragno and Non Si Senzia Un Paperino. Morricone appears with Spasmo but could have surfaced with half a dozen classics including Four Flies On Grey Velvet, Cat O Nine Tails, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, A Lizard In A Woman's Skin, The Exorcist II etc. Franco Micalizzi is here with the score to The Visitor but it could well have been the superior Chi Sei?.

Never Seen Sorority House Massacre II but love the score
Some omissions that would have made my cut include Terminator composer Brad Fiedel's over the top and ghastly Fright Night, Masahiko Satoh's choice Belladonna Of Sadness, Angelo Badalamenti's Nightmare On Elm Street III, Joe Delia's Driller Killer, Giorgio Morrodor's disco horror Cat People and Chuck Cirino's delightfully doomed Sorority House Massacre II. I'm sure if I saw the actual movie it would ruin it for me. Killer Clowns From Outer Space is an alarming and strange soundtrack like someone tracing over hardcore math rock with a horror synth. If Susan Justin's Forbidden World is on the list I don't see why Tom Pierson's haunting Quintet OST to Robert Altman's dystopian nightmare flick couldn't be included. Madeline: Study Of A Nightmare by Maurizio Vandelli is a pearla featuring a 70s euro pop smorgasbord along with eerie synth and spooky ethereal lady vocals, sorta proto 4AD/This Mortal Coil at times. Nekromantik doesn't make it. No Messiah Of Evil! Gene Moore's sinister and evocative organ score to Carnival Of Souls is one of my all time favourite soundtracks. I think Carnival Of Souls would have been the first soundtrack I bought purely on the music having not seen the film. That trend would continue. I probably haven't seen half of these films. Perhaps the more recent Oculus (which I did see) OST from the Newton Brothers could have been included too.

The most seriously experimental and intellectual work included would have to be Howard Shore's Videodrome which sounds like it could have been made today. Not forgetting Mr Glass and his score to Candyman. Richard Einhorn, a graduate from Colombia Princeton who studied under the legendary Vladimir Ussachevsky, appears with the unheard (by me and most people) Shock Waves. I am eagerly awaiting that reissue which is apparently on its way. He also did the awesome 1979 sounds for the movie Don't Go In The House.

Phantasm is one of the all time great horror soundtracks, which I pointed out should have made that other excellent FACT list 100 LPs of the 70s. Good to see this spectacular yet underrated gem made the list. The collaboration between Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave was a one off I believe which is a real shame. I know Myrow worked with Alan Howarth (John Carpenter's right hand man) on the Phantasm sequel. Seagrave was apparently a professor and a serious composer (classical & Opera) as well as a rock producer. Anyone heard of Aviary? Well he produced them. Myrow composed the OST to Soylent Green amongst others. He was also a serious composer and conductor working with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and did some recordings for the prestigious Nonesuch label. He even worked with Jim Morrison on an abandoned film project.

Jerry Goldsmith is one composer I have never been able to get into. He's recorded hundreds of soundtracks. People rave about Planet Of The Apes and he's got two scores on this list Poltergeist and Alien. Well you can't be into everyone I guess. He's for other people to listen to. 

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