Soundtrack Review: The Dead

The Dead (2010)
Released by Howlin’ Wolf Records
31 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 64:44 min.
Music Composed by Imran Ahmad

We all know that within the zombie sub-genre, it’s hard to do something different. But in 2010, the Ford Brothers did just that with their tale of the undead, setting it in the desert lands of Africa. It was highly effective, and so well done. The same goes for the music, with composer Ahmad taking a different route, both in sound and design, but still delivering a powerful and emotional score.

Right from the first track, The Dead Theme, we hear this haunting vocals over a string instrument, some drums, and some kind of flute, all that work together to give us a start that makes quite the lasting impact, which continues through the rest of the score. The use of percussions throughout the score does a great job building the tension with the rapid beating, or even suspense when it slows down both in speed and volume, to almost like a heartbeat.

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Soundtrack Review: The House that Screamed

house-that-screamed-soundtrack-2The House that Screamed
Released by Singular Soundtrack
16 Tracks, with a total running time of 29:40 seconds.
Music Composed, Arranged, and Conducted by Waldo de los Rios

For this Spanish thriller that ventures into the realm of the Italian giallo, composer Waldo del los Rios sticks to more of a classical sounding theme, but does have it varying in range and tempo, following the action on screen. Because of the mystery aspect here, there are a lot of slower and quieter paced pieces, that really help set the mood. There are several tracks where we have a piece of music in the background and something different going  on in the forefront at the same time.

We have a combination of pianos, harp, and a variety of wind instruments, all used to create this era of suspense and mystery, and does it so well. Starting with the haunting notes of the opening track on what sounds like a piano slightly out of tune, it gives a haunting feel to it, which then morphs into more of a bigger sounding opening, but still retaining that theme. But the time we get to track titled Madame Forneau, we include some vocals into this short but very memorable piece titled after the head mistress of the school.

But the real treat here is Murder at the Greenhouse, where the film shows it’s giallo influence with a quiet and eerie piano piece that is played over one of the murders, which slows down as the victim dies. Not getting slower but as if the playback is being slowed down. It works so well in the film and is one of the best elements of the score, which shows the talent of this composer. For fans of Spanish horror, this score, along with the film itself, is a must.

Soundtrack Review: The Dark Half

The Dark Half
Released by Varèse Sarabande, 1993
13 Tracks, with a Total Running Time of46 min.
Music Composed by Christopher Young

I’ve been a fan of Young’s work since those first notes from his Hellraiser score reached my ears. He never ceases to impress me with the sounds and feelings from his scores, and this is no different.

This one starts out with such a beautiful opening track, a pleasant piano tune that is quiet and somber, before some strings and other strange sounds start to come in. And then the angelic vocals! But even with all this striking sounds, there seems to be a darkness lurking under there, waiting to break free. Considering the story, it makes perfect sense. Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House
Released by La-La Land Records, 2019
27 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 59:13 min.
Music by The Newton Brothers

The original novel by Shirley Jackson, and the film based on it by Robert Wise, remain my favorites in both literary form and in cinema, when it comes to haunted houses. I was overly cautious when I heard of this new series, especially when I realized it wasn’t a straight telling of the original story. I did enjoy it, but we’re not here to discuss the film itself, but it’s wonderful music. So let’s get at it.

Right from the opening couple of tracks, even the very first note you hear, the word “haunting” is defined by the music. At first with long notes from strings with an ominous but slow pounding on a piano, to a more quiet piano piece, slow and simple, giving the sense of lost and sorrow. Highly effective in setting the mood. The piano is a very strong element running throughout this entire score and I think it is one of the reasons it resonates with me so much. It gives off a multitude of feelings, from being graceful and beautiful, but at the same time  can bring up those feeling of sadness. The track “Whatever Walked There, Walked Along” is a perfect example of this. Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: Maniac (2012)

Maniac (2012)
Released by Hamburger Records  2013
16 tracks with a total running time of 35 min.
Music by ROB

When this remake was first announced, most fans (including me) were scratching their head, wondering once again why are they bothering remaking a classic, trying to replicate the incredible performance given by the late, great Joe Spinell. But it happened. And no one was more surprised than me on how good it actually was. One of those elements that helped it break that “shitty remake” barrier was the music. Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country
Released by WaterTower Music
62 Tracks with a Running time of over 2 1/2 hours!
Music by Laura Karpman and Raphael Saadiq

Wow. Talk about a soundtrack that encompasses just about everything!

The first 11 tracks are musical numbers from the show’s cast, that gives us the feel of the era of when the series takes place. After that, for the next 51 tracks, we get a mixture of music and emotions as we go down this long and winding road into a very strange story. Now, I have not seen any of the show, so this review is just going by the music alone. But I am more than interested in seeing it because of what the music is “showing” me. Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: Rawhead Rex

Rawhead Rex
Released by Silva Screen Records, 2020
15 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 52.31 min.
Music by Colin Towns

I remember being so excited upon hearing the news that a movie version of Clive Barker’s terrifying monster tale was going to be made. Yeah… never expected it to be as bad as it was, mainly due to the stiff costume on the title terror. BUT… we’re here to talk about the music itself and how does it hold up on its own. Movie scores are a particular thing because while they are really only there to enhance and help what is on the screen, some composers take it even further, creating beautiful pieces of music. This is one score that went above and beyond what it should have been! Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: Scars of Dracula

Scars of Dracula
Released by GDI Records,
22 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 48 min.
Music by James Bernard

No matter how you might feel about this entry in the Hammer / Dracula saga, I don’t think anyone could argue about how good the music is. Once again, James Bernard has created a score that encompasses what we love about these films. It has that rich and powerful score that seems to burst through the screen.

With the second track, Innocent Victim / Opening Credits, we hear those strings that immediately bring a sense of sorrow followed by those strong tones of the darkness. Bernard was able to bring visuals just from the themes that he created, whether it was villagers storming the castle, or Dracula’s resurrection, you could feel it in the music. That was one of the key elements to Hammer Films, and a lot of that had to do with Bernard. With just a couple of notes, like in Slaughter in the Church for example, you knew something bad was coming. I think that is where Bernard excelled so much in bringing an immediate emotion with just a few seconds of music.

While this CD might not be the easiest to find these days, if you are a fan of Bernard and of Hammer, then you really do need this in your collection. It will bring back memories of old castles, crazy servants, and the Prince of Darkness, and all with a smile.

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