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

Soundtrack Review: Dead Silence

deadsilencecdDead Silence
Released by Lakeshore Records, 2007
31 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 48:15 min.
Music by Charlie Clouser

While I was not a big fan of the movie itself when it first came out, it didn’t take long for the score to hit me like a freight train! With a very similar sound and feel to either a Carpenter score or even Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, Clouser has created an amazing theme that just resonates with the listener, immediately giving you the chills. But it doesn’t stop with just that theme. Throughout the running time, there are many eerie pieces of music that really sets the mood. Plus, the theme returns over and over again, with slightly different sounds or tempo but it still works.

Mainly known for his scores for the Saw series, Clouser is not only a talented composer, but shows how important an effective score can is and the impact it can make on the viewer. Where some scores are just background music, Clouser makes his music part of the film experience. Well done!

 

Soundtrack Review: VFW

VFW SoundtrackFW
Released by Lakeshore Records, 2020
27 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 73 min.
Music By Steve Moore

Much like Jeff Grace’s score for Cold in July, if you’re a fan of John Carpenter’s music, then this score is a must. Since the film VFW is a homage to Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), it only makes sense to have a score that feels like a Carpenter score. And composer Steve Moore has done just that. Using simple tones and those repetitive notes similar to Carpenter, he has created an effective score that has all the feeling of something from the late ’70s to early ’80s that a lot of grew up with.

We have tracks like Montage which kind of just plays in the background, setting the tone nicely. Nothing loud or over the top, but sets the mood. Then with the next tracks like Do What You Gotta Do and Run Lizard Run, the tension starts to build. In between these more up tempo sequences, it goes back down to the slow and moody set pieces.

Moore has created a very simple and yet very effective score that works really well within the film, but is also a great one to have playing in the background. It really helped making this film the homage that it is even more so.

Book Review: Taking Shape

Taking ShapeTaking Shape: Developing Halloween from Script to Scream
Published by Harker Press, 2019. 439 pages.
By Dustin McNeill & Travis Mullins

The Halloween series, as a whole, is not one that I would say I’m a huge fan of. I love the original and really like its sequel. This might have something to do with it playing at the theater I worked at upon the sequel’s initial release, where I would get to see parts of it over and over and over again, seeing its effect on the audience time after time. And yes, I was one of those original haters on Season of the Witch, but have since gotten over that and realize the pure genius of that entry. But from then on, there was never a sequel that I got excited over, or was waiting for its release.

Sacrilege, you say? I just felt the sequels got dumber with each entry. When Rob Zombie took his turn, while I thought the first one was better than the last several, I still didn’t care for it. And I still am confused at the reaction to the latest one, when we saw the re-re-re-return of Jamie Lee Curtis, with fans acting like it was her first return since the 1981 film.

Now you might be asking yourself why am I stating how much I really don’t care for the Halloween series as a whole? Because even with all of that being stated, I devoured this book! Continue reading

Ennio Morricone: In His Own Words

Ennio Morricone In His Own WordsI know I may be a little late to the party on this one (and kind of pissed at myself that I’m just finding out about this) but there is a book about this amazing composer out now, called Ennio Morricone: In His Own Words. Whether you are a fan of western soundtracks, horror, and any of the other genres Morricone worked on, you know he created an unbelievable amount of magic through his music. For me, going back to films like Nightmare Castle to the work he did with Dario Argento, his scores are always amazing.

According to the description, Morricone and Alessandro De Rosa had a years-long discussion of “life, music, and the marvelous and unpredictable ways that the two come into contact with and influence each other.” Published by Oxford University Press last March, this 368 page book covers the Maestros work and those he collaborated with, names like Leone, Carpenter, De Palma, Almodóvar, Polanski, and many more. According to Morricone himself, this is “beyond a shadow of a doubt the best book ever written about me, the most authentic, the most detailed and well curated. The truest.” How can you argue with that?

I know this will be among my next order with Amazon and I can’t wait to dig into it.

Taking Shape: Developing Halloween from Script to Scream

Taking ShapeDo we really need yet another book on the Halloween series? Well, since one of the authors is Dustin McNeill, who gave fans so much more insight into the Phantasm series with his book Phantasm Exhumed, then I would say YES! Not to mention that there is always more to learn about movies, especially a series that has been going on for over 40 years.

Just released and available on Amazon, Taking Shape has escaped from Harker Press and has over 400 pages of information about the Halloween series, including Rob Zombies two films, and the recent return of Laurie Strode in H40.

But what can this book bring you that we haven’t gotten already? How about a comprehensive story analysis of each of the films in the series? Or a rundown of all the deleted scenes, as well as the alternate ones. You’ll also get comparisons of early versions of the scripts to the final product, an in-depth dissection of the official novelizations (which could always be quite different than the films), and so much more.

The book is available now through Amazon and is a perfect title for the season. Priced at only $23.99, it’s a killer deal.

Hammer Horror & More from Scream Factory

How to make the beginning of the week better? Easy. Hearing a slew of great titles announced from Scream Factory that will be hitting Blu-ray last this fall!

Of course, anytime a Hammer title is release, there should be much rejoicing! No matter the title, to have these in a nice Blu-ray edition, with the blazing colors and clarity, it will be great to see these titles looking their best. Being release on Sept. 10th is Scars of Dracula (1970) starring Christopher Lee and Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1972) starring the stunning Valerie Leon! I know these titles don’t have a lot of fans, compared to maybe Hammer’s earlier titles, but they are still fun and entertaining.

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Book News!

Oargentone more thing we can look forward to in 2019 is the continuing proof that print is definitely not dead. Sorry folks, but not even close. Granted, my bank account very well could be, but there are more than a few books coming out this year that I know will be must additions to my library. Not sure where I’m going to be putting them when they do arrive, or when I’ll get around to reading them…

FAB Press announced that they will be publishing the English language edition of Dario Argento’s autobiography, simply called Fear. That is the only details FAB released but since I hadn’t even heard that he was even writing an autobiography (that was actually published in 2014…thanks Troy!), I am more than a little excited about hearing his stories, right from him. I can only imagine the insights and stories we’re going to hear right from the man responsible for so many incredible pieces of cinema.

Add this to the fact that Troy Howarth’s new book, Murder By Design: The Unsane Cinema of Dario Argento, will be out in 2020, that means we’ll have a few more Argento books for the library shelves. Maybe we’ll even get to see Volume 3 in Howarth’s So Deadly, So Perverse giallo series. Positive thoughts, my fellow book fiends.

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Book Review: Scored to Death

Scored to DeathScored to Death: Conversations with some of Horror’s Greatest Composers
Published by Silman-James Press, 2016. 356 pages.
By J. Blake Fichera

There is something to be said about film scores, something that I think most don’t know, don’t recognize, or even worse, don’t even think about. And that is the effect they have on the viewer. Sometimes a very powerful effect. The first time I can remember a film score having an effect on me was John Williams’ score for Jaws (1975), which I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. While it did bring up the tension and scare factor, I don’t think I made the full connection between the music and emotion it caused. That changed when Star Wars (1977) came out. Then it hit me how powerful of an impact a score can make. Star Wars was the first soundtrack I every purchased and I listened to it over and over. Each time, I could visualize the different parts of the film in my head and it would give me the same emotional reaction as if I was watching the film. It was at that point, I started to become more aware of a film score.

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Book Review: Horror in Space

Horror in SpaceHorror in Space
Published by McFarland, 2018. 248 pages.
Edited by Michele Brittany

The book’s subtitle is “Critical Essays on a Film Subgenre” and boy howdy, it sure is. If you’re looking for an easy read, one that might bring up some easy but not-too-deep thinking ideas about these movies that we love, then you might want to look for another book. When you have the words “Critical Essays” in the book’s title, that is a big hint at the kind of writing that you’ll find within those pages. The collection of authors that have been gathered here for this volume are all very intelligent scholars, from sociology teachers, doctoral candidates, to professors, so they know their stuff. So please don’t let my comments about their opinions and theories seem like I’m trying to say they are uneducated. That is not the point I’m trying to make.

Like a lot of these theory essay books, I’d make a guess that some of these are from a collage thesis or part of a future book. But I still stand by my own theory that sometimes a duck is just a duck. I know there are some films where the creators are weaving different subtext within the story, such as any version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But I feel a lot of these scholars take a subject matter and form into something that then fits a particular movie or sub-genre.

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