Soundtrack Review: Stake Land

stakelandcdStake Land
Release in 2011, by Screamworks Records
26 Tracks with total running time of 48 min.
Music Composed by Jeff Grace.

To say this score is epic sounding is really an understatement. It starts off with a bang, and then proceeds to hit all the different notes. No pun intended. The film is about a post-apocalyptic world and this score gives us just that feeling. We get those feelings of being alone… down… desperate. We see a world where there just might not be any hope left, and Grace’s score accompanies that feeling perfectly.  There are some action based themes or sequences in here, but mainly it is a slow and moody score, filled with wonderfully dark and brooding strings, often giving it a slight western feel to it.

There are action pieces in the score which work quite well in the film, and give the listener that same sense of excitement. But the overall score has a strange sense of sadness in the music throughout. Very somber. And yet, there are moments in here where with a few notes, Grace shows us a glimmer of hope. That shows how much of an emotional score this can be. The strings and piano used in the track Belle and the New Family or New Eden are perfect examples of that.

Ever since I heard this score, I’ve been checking out a lot of Grace’s work and have never been let down. An incredible talent that I look forward to with each and every film he’s worked on.

Soundtrack Review: Prince of Darkness

Prince of Darkness soundtrack (1)Prince of Darkness
Released by Alan Howarth Incorporated, 2008
28 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 134:50 min.
Music Composed by John Carpenter, in association with Alan Howarth

Back in 1988 when this movie first came out, I saw it opening weekend. I mean, it was a new John Carpenter movie after all. But upon that first viewing, I actually didn’t care for it that much. I did love the music, though, right from the opening queue. So while I didn’t care for the movie itself, I immediately started looking for the soundtrack, only to find it impossible to find. Supposedly, Varèse Sarabande released it in 1987, but I could not find it. Years later, I was able to finally score a copy of it from a German release. And after all those years, the score still kicked ass. I also finally came around to really liking the film. I still have a few issues with it, but it is still a damn good movie. Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: Maniac (1980)

Maniac soundtrackManiac (1980)
Released by Intermezzo Media
16 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 32 min
Music Composed and Conducted by Jay Chattaway

There is really nothing about this film where it doesn’t go above and beyond. And Chattaway’s score is another prime example of that. For a film as brutal and disturbing at it is, the music fits perfectly. As score starts out with the Main Title, it almost sounds like a sweet lullaby, or music box. But as the score progresses to the very next track, Apocalypse New York, we can feel the darkness seeping in. By using different instruments and even strange sounds, it starts to build that feeling of uneasiness. Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: Edgar Allan Poe Suite / Horror Express

Edgar Allan Poe Suite - Horror ExpressEdgar Allan Poe Suite / Cry of the Banshee / Horror Express
Released by Citadel
14 Tracks, with a total running time of 61:58 min.
Composed & Conducted by Les Baxter and John Cacavas

This release is a real gem and a treat for horror fans. First it has the music from a series of four different one-man stage plays starring Vincent Price, each based on a story from Poe: The Pit and the Pendulum, The Sphinx, The Cask of Amontilado, and The Tell-Tale Heart. Then it also has a suite from Cry of the Banshee that is almost 20 minutes long. These were both composed by Les Baxter, who did a lot of work for AIP and their Corman/Poe series. Then we also have the score for Horror Express by John Cacavas. Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: From Beyond

From_BeyondFrom Beyond
Released 2003 by La-La Land Records
13 Tracks, with a total running time of 46:06 min.
Music composed by Richard Band

At my very first horror convention, back in 1988 which took place in California, I had picked up the soundtrack for this on LP and I immediately fell in love with it. Composer Richard Band created a score that has a perfect combination of a science feel but still being able to create some very creepy elements to it. I was very bummed when I got rid of my albums and had to wait more than a few years for this to get an official release on CD, which I picked up right when it came out. Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: Hellraiser

hellraisercdHellraiser
Released in 1987 by Cinedisc
14 Tracks, with a total running time of 43:08 min.
Music composed by Christopher Young.

There are some contemporary scores that resonate with fans just as much as the themes from Jaws, The Omen, or even The Exorcist. They may not be as familiar with the normal public, but if you play a few seconds of Christopher Young’s score from Hellraiser, they will know what it is. Maybe because the film itself is pretty iconic and well known, but what Young has done here is make something special, and lasting. Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: Final Exam

finalexamFinal Exam
Released by American Entertainment Industries
13 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 36 min.
Composed by Gary S. Scott

I picked up a CD-R of this soundtrack at a convention, since it had never been released before on CD and I’m a sucker for soundtracks. I hope that it gets an official release at some point because I really enjoyed it! It is very simple, with seemingly done with a keyboard, but it is still effective. Scott comes up with some nice spooking sounding cues, others doing a nice job building some suspense, and a love theme in there. Yes, there is a track that it sounds like he’s making fart noises with this hands, but there is also a fun little song called The Executioner’s Song, with a great line about a guillotine “dripping with the memories of the people it had seen.” Awesome!

This was Scott’s first soundtrack before working on a lot of TV scores, including some work on Freddy’s Nightmares. While this might not be a classic score, for what it is, I found it pretty entertaining.

The movie, however, is not, and I would not recommend watching it. Oof!

Soundtrack Review: Fear No Evil

fearnoevilcdFear No Evil
Released by Percepto Records, 2005
16 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 37 min.
Music by Frank Laloggia and David Spear

With a movie being about the rise of the Anti-Christ, you’d think you’ve have a score that would be more reminiscent of something like The Omen, but what you get here is a beautiful piece of music. Okay, there are a few darker elements going on here, but it is more subtle than blaring in your face.

This was the first film by Frank LaLoggia, who also did the score for this, with David Spear. It really shows LaLoggia’s talent as a musician because he comes up with a truly haunting score, that blends perfectly into the film. With a combination of some electronic music with some beautiful strings, some slow and somber guitar, the score gives a sound much bigger than what you’d expect from a low budget feature. There are a few tracks here and there that have a more sinister tone to them, but he doesn’t go the easy route with them, instead making even those sound more like church music with a darker feel.

 

Soundtrack Review: Twins of Evil

twins of evilTwins of Evil
Released by GDI Records, 2000
22 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 44 min.
Music by Harry Robertson (listed as Harry Robinson)

One of the many things that made Hammer Films so memorable was the music. With booming sounding themes, they always made an impact. And Robertson’s score for Twins of Evil is no different. The opening theme immediately puts the images in your head of the Brotherhood riding their horses through the forest, searching out the wicked! One little cue was used in the trailer (as well as many parts of the movie) that has always stuck in my brain, probably from watching the trailer and movie more than a few times. But it is the march-type theme of the Brotherhood that is most familiar. 

The use of strings seems to be the most prominent instrument here, though we do hear from the wind instruments, such as in the Karnstein’s Guest track. This is a perfect example how a rousing score just adds to what we’re seeing on screen, and Hammer did that so well. Being one of my favorites of Hammer’s, this score is right up there as well.

Soundtrack Review: Rest Stop – Don’t Look Back

reststop2Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back
Released by La-La Land Records, 2008
20 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 64:38 min.
Music Composed by Bear McCreary

I believe this was my second Bear McCreary score that I was reviewing and once again was amazed at the sounds coming from it, not to mention how different it was from what I was expecting. This is really almost a blues album instead of a soundtrack, but that is the beauty of it… it still works extremely well as a creepy score!

Now there are a few tracks that are regular songs, 5 of them in all, which for me was a distraction from the actual score. One track, Jesus, He Forgives You Too, has the singer listed as Rev. Buford “Buck” Davis, but damn if it doesn’t sound like Weird Al Yankovic. They are part of the overall picture, so I can’t really complain. But the tracks that are just the straight background music makes this score one of my favorites. He is able to create mood and atmosphere by some of the strangest sounds, such as the track On the Bus, almost like guitar strings being pulled and stretched, then breaking into a guitar riff and melody. Very effective. Not sure if a banjo was used at times to come up with some of the sounds, but it amazes me the sounds that McCreary can create that work so well as a musical score. This one remains one of my favorites. It has it all, creepy and atmospheric, with a nice bluesy sound to it.