Soundtrack Review: Dracula (1979) Deluxe Edition

Dracula (1979)
Released by Varese Sarabande, 2018
2-discs, 37 tracks total, with a total running time of 1:48:49
Music Composed and Conducted by John Williams

When I started to really get into soundtracks, one of the first horror ones that caught my eyes . . . or ears, technically, was John Williams score for the ’79 version of Dracula, starring Frank Langella. Now because of Jaws (1975) and more importantly Star Wars (1977), I knew the name John Williams pretty well. The soundtrack for Star Wars was the first soundtrack I ever bought and listened to that endlessly. After seeing this version of Dracula, I also fell in love with the score. That opening track alone is enough to capture your imagination. It immediately draws you in with that amazing opening cue and never let’s go. It has been one of my favorite scores, even after all these years. And . . . while this may upset some Williams’ fans, even after I started to notice and realize some of the similarities between this score and the one he did for Star Wars, that was done two years before, it has not changed my love of this soundtrack.

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Soundtrack Review: Symptoms

Symptoms (1974)
Released by Dragon’s Domain Records
10 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 38:59 min.
Music Composed by John Scott

The violin has always been one of my favorite instruments when it comes to setting an eerie mood, which is the first thing we hear when the score starts. Then composer Scott takes it up a notch, using some wind instruments (maybe a clarinet?) to further add some suspense, before going into some slow and echoing piano notes. All of this in the first track.

This isn’t a score that is going to fill you with a sense of terror or dread. But what it does hit is a lot of different levels of mood. There are several pieces that are very somber and almost peaceful, but then we’ll get a change where it almost tells the listener that something is about to upset that mood. The way the bass tones, sounding like from either a standup bass or maybe a cello, gives that deeper and darker sound to give more depth into what we’re feeling.

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Soundtrack Review: The Dark and the Wicked

The Dark and the Wicked (2020)
Released by Bandcamp
34 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 78 min.
Music by Tom Schraeder

As I mentioned in my review of the actual film, it’s a very strong and emotional draining ride, that constantly pulls at your emotions. And one of the things that helps with that is the score. This is not one with music per say, with melodies and such, but of sounds and emotions. And it works so well.

Schraeder uses a couple instruments, in very unusual ways, to create these amazing sounds that immediately put the viewer on edge. There are haunting piano notes given a slight echoing to them, or what sounds like metal slowly being dragged across another piece of metal, with different speeds and tones, but again, highly effective. A perfect example of that is track 8 – Not the Carrots, especially if you’ve seen the film which means you’ll probably remember the scene. It’s almost hard to watch and hear the music that Schraeder created for this, makes listening to it almost as effective as the visuals.

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Scored to Death – The Documentary!

Back in 2016, a book came out called Scored to Death: Conversations with Some of Horror’s Greatest Composers, which I finally got around to reviewing in 2018. And then two years after that, in 2020, author J. Blake Fichera released a second volume, continuing his goal of bringing attention to these talented musicians who help enhance the scares and atmosphere in the movies we love. But now, Fichera is taking this one step further, by making a feature length documentary on these composers.

Scored to Death: The Dark Art of Scary Movie Music will be the first feature-length documentary that “explores the fascinating relationship between music and horror cinema.” Starting today, they have launched a Kickstarter campaign that will run through Halloween, hoping to raise the funds to make this project a reality. Production has already started, so fans of movie music need to make sure that it is able to continue.

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Soundtrack Review: Crimes of the Future

Crimes of the Future (2022)
Released by Mercury KK
17 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 38:13 min.
Music by Howard Shore

Ever since really getting into movie soundtracks and David Cronenberg films, I’ve always enjoyed what composer Howard Shore brought to his films. Each one was unique, different, and always fit the individual film so well, no matter the content or the subject matter. Shore always made the music part of the overall film experience. With Cronenberg’s latest, a return to the body horror genre he was known for, Shore once again doesn’t disappoint.

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Soundtrack Review: She Will

She Will (2022)
Released by Mercury KK
11 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 44:55 min.
Music by Clint Mansell

I remember seeing the trailer for this and seeing that Alice Krige was in it, I knew I was going to see it. But then forgot about it until it popped up on Prime. I’ve been a fan of Krige since Ghost Story (1981) so I figured it would be another great performance, no matter of the quality of the final product. What I didn’t expect was the captivating soundtrack that seemed to surround the story itself.

I also knew of Mansell’s work that he has done with Darren Aronofsky, but never had any of them really grab hold of me like this score did. Maybe because it was a combination of the beautiful cinematography here, where it felt like the music was interwoven into the images onscreen.

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Soundtrack Review: Rosemary’s Baby

Rosemary’s Baby
Released by La-La Land Records, 2012
36 Tracks with a total running time of 71:21 min.
Composed by Christopher Komeda

Coming from a jazz background, one wouldn’t think that composer Komeda would be able to create a score for such a haunting film, but he does just that in a very different sort of approach. Right from the opening track, Lullaby from Rosemary’s Baby Part 1, with Mia Farrow doing the vocals, it sets the tone with what should be a soothing lullaby but becomes something darker. Which switch back to a soft and easy jazz piece in Track #3, Moment Musical, before going back into something more frightening with Track 4, Dream. From the piano work, the strings, the chanting, it all comes together to give one incredible and powerful score. Just listen to Track #28, What Have You Done?, and tell me you can’t feel the emotions from that ending in the film?

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Soundtrack Review: Salem’s Lot

Salem’s Lot
Released by Intrada, 2013
84 Tracks, with a total running time of 99:53 min.
Music Composed and Conducted by Harry Sukman

If you’re one that grew up in the ‘70s, then you remember the made-for-TV movies back then were sometimes more entertaining than what was screening at the theaters! At least they were to me. One of the things that always enjoyed for those films were the scores. They just had this same feel and style to them that were easy to recognize, as well as being very effective. Thankfully, we now have the complete score for one of the best made-for-tv movies ever to be made. And one of the reasons for that is the incredibly creepy!

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Soundtrack Review: The Phantom of the Organ / Vampyre at the Harpsichord

The Phantom of the Organ / Vampyre at the Harpsichord
Originally Released 1973-74.  Re-released in 2000 by Electric Lemon
15 Tracks, with a total running time of 56:38 min

I remember first coming across this music in the early ‘80s, strange looking albums that weren’t soundtracks but contained creepy, gothic sounding music. No idea that they had originally released in the early ‘70s. I had no idea that they had been remastered, combined, and released on CD in 2000 by Electric Lemon, but was so happy to add it to my music library.

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Soundtrack Review: Undead

Released in 2005 by La-La Land Records
17 Tracks, with a total running time of 51:40 min.
Music composed by Cliff Bradley

While we usually prefer our soundtracks to be on the creepy side, but when the director’s wanted to have the score to have a quirky 50s sci-fi feel to it, composer Bradley nailed it. It sounds a little like something from an early Tim Burton / Danny Elfman film, but Bradley has given it his own style and flare and it works really well.

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