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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Soundtrack Review: The Thing (1982)

The Thing (Re-Release)
Released in 2011 by BuySoundtrax Records
16 Tracks with a total running time of 61 min.
Music by Ennio Morricone & John Carpenter

I can’t believe I had never reviewed this score here! Next to Carpenter’s score for The Fog, this has been my favorite of his work. Yes, this is a collaboration between him and Ennio Morricone, but since I’m not sure either of them came out and said specifically who did each of the bits of music, I’m going to concentrate this review on the score as a whole. Though, I will say that when I first bought the LB soundtrack to this, listening to it over and over again, I do remember thinking “damn . . . there are some parts in here that sound a LOT like something Carpenter would have done!”

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Soundtrack Review: The Uninvited

The Uninvited
Released in 2009 by Lakeshore Records
15 Tracks, with a total running time of 48:44 min.
Music Composed by Christopher Young

We’ve been a fan of Young’s music since our first viewing of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, which remains one of our favorites to this day. We had not seen this particular film before hearing this score, so we were very interested in seeing the musical journey Young was going to take us on and we were not disappointed.

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Soundtrack Review: Who Can Kill a Child?

Who Could Kill a Child?
Released by Singular Soundtrack, 2010
54 tracks total, with a complete running time of 1:52:13.
Music composed, arranged, and conducted by Waldo de los Rios

While the film starts out with a child humming a little tune, followed by children’s laughter, it is only scary when you know what the rest of the film brings. That is exactly how the soundtrack plays out. There are a lot of tracks that start off like a child’s song, innocent sounding, only to start to be twisted into something with a strange or darker tone to it, such in tracks like The Desert Island, The Game, and Weird Games. There are a few tracks in the beginning that are in more of the romantic elements, like the tracks Night Talk (Love Theme) or To the Island.

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Soundtrack Reviews: The Wolfman (2010)

The Wolfman
By Danny Elfman
19 Tracks, with a total running time of 66:06 mins.

The last soundtrack from Danny Elfman that we bought was his score from Sleepy Hollow, which I hate to say but we were never really impressed with. In fact, it has been a long time since Danny Elfman has blown me away with a score Shame really too since he did some amazing ones back in the ’80s and ’90s. Because of that, I really haven’t been keeping track of what films he’s been working on. But once The Wolfman came out, I knew I’d have to pick up the score no matter what and give it a chance. Boy, am I glad I did.

Taking cues from the music and feel from the old Hammer films, Elfman has given us an incredible gothic and moody score. Sure, there are a few cues that sound very similar to other scores, especially the main hook from John Williams’ score from Dracula (1979). But none the less, Elfman does a great job bringing the violins and other strings that really set the mood and tone for this movie. Being a huge sucker for violin themes, we were really happy with hearing them used over and over here. Throw in some cellos and other strings, and we’re good to go. From the action-based themes to the slower and atmospheric cues, it’s great to see Elfman come up with a score that shows that he still has that talent left in there. We had almost given up hope.

Soundtrack Review: Warning Sign

Warning Sign (1985)
Released by Invada
29 Tracks with a total running time of 54 min.
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Craig Safan

Right off the bat, within the first few seconds of listening to this score, hearing the electronic sounds, it feels incredibly dated. Now that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it shows you the time when it was made. Just look at what John Carpenter did in the ‘80s before you start criticizing. But that being said, this score is very subtle in its approach, almost like something you’d be listening to while in a deprivation tank. There are some tracks with a little more up-tempo music but for the most part it is slow and soothing.

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Soundtrack Review: The Woman in Black (2012)

The Woman in Black (2012)
Released by Silva America
22 Tracks, with a total running time of 55:00 min.
Music by Marco Beltrami

With the return of Hammer Films, one of the things that made their films so noticeable and memorable was the music. When the music started, you knew in an instant that it was from Hammer. So, we were excited both for this movie, but also to see if the music would be as predominate as before. The answer is . . . sort of. First and foremost, you have to get the old Hammer out of your mind and just listen to this on its own merits, which I think there are plenty of.

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Soundtrack Review: Don’t Go in the House

Don’t Go in the House
Released by Howlin’ Wolf Records
44 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 66:43 min.
Music Composed by Richard Einhorn

Richard Einhorn is on one those composers that has created some amazing scores with just the simple use of synthesizers and a keyboard. One of my all-time favorites is what he did on Shock Waves (1977), which happened to be his first film score. His haunting piano score for Dead of Winter (1987) is another favorite of mine, simple and quiet but highly effective. When one thinks of a musical score for a film about a guy who burns women to death in his house, you’d think that not a lot of time and money went into creating a score for this type of film. Well, you would be correct on the time and money part, but the dedication and hard work was there. Einhorn still wanted to create a score that would enhance what we’re seeing on screen, but also give it depth and feeling, which is exactly what he did.

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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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