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.
Last October we reported that the complete scores that James Bernard created for Hammer’s The Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula would be coming out on CD, in their complete form, for the first time ever. And now, they are here! Continue reading
The Devil Rides Out
Released in 2000 by GDI Records
28 tracks with a total running time of 1:01:26 minutes
Music composed by James Bernard
Any fan of Hammer films should know the name of James Bernard. If not, start taking notes. Bernard was one of the main guys responsible for making Hammer films sound like they did. He created the music that surrounded the incredible colorful images that we were watching. Probably his most famous score was that of Horror of Dracula (just Dracula in the UK) where he would use the name of the film to create the main theme. The music is one of the things that let audiences know they were watching a Hammer film. Continue reading
Born: Sept. 20th, 1925 – Died: July 12th, 2001
There are some composers that make a cinematic impact, just as much as an actor or director. James Bernard is one of them. The music he created for films, especially the ones he did for Hammer Films, became part of the movie’s unique look and feel. When the music started, you knew you were watching a Hammer picture, just from the sound of it. It was always able to grab your attention and never let go.
His score for Horror of Dracula (1958) will be remembered as one of the greatest opening titles ever known to fans of cinematic music. It is still as powerful today as it was then. But he also created music for films like Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The House of the Baskervilles (1959), The Plague of the Zombies (1966), as well as the first two Quatermass films.
Most composers are hidden figures in the movie world, with only a few making a name where film fans would actually recognize. When it comes to horror fans, Bernard’s name is right up there at the tope. Thankfully a lot of his work has been archived on CD so we can still enjoy it, as well as fans to come. Truly a great and talented man.
Coming in 2019, Hammer fans will finally get the complete scores from Horror of Dracula and The Curse of Frankenstein, created by the late, great James Bernard. The scores have been reconstructed by Leigh Phillips, with booklet notes by David Huckvale, and produced by James Fitzpatrick and Leigh Phillips. They will be created through the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Nic Raine.
To say that I’m excited to see these two scores finally get a release is a slight understatement. Hopefully they can get the right sound and feel of the originals, but I know I’ll be adding them to my audio library once they come out. Once I hear more info, I will pass it on here.
One of the things that made Hammer Films stand out was their music. Yes, we had the boobs, blood, and beasts, not to mention an array of incredibly talented actors and technicians that worked on them, but the amazing soundtrack coming through the speakers made the impact even deeper. How can you not hear the blasting opening cues of James Bernard’s score for Horror of Dracula and not immediately get into the mood for some horror! Or even Harry Robinson’s march for the opening of Twins of Evil? Makes you want to grab your cross and stakes and go hunt some vampires! That is the beauty of the music that Hammer layered throughout their films. And now, thanks to the fine folks of Silva Screen Records, you can have a taste of themes from 18 different films, that range from 1957 to 1974.