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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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