Thursday, June 29, 2006

Apocalypse Tomorrow

Fantastically funky music from the 1980 Italian action/horror opus Apocalypse Domani (a.ka. Cannibal Apocalypse, Invasion of the Flesh Hunters, and about 10 other titles) by drive-in legend Antonio Margheriti. The movie follows a trio of Vietnam vets who terrorize the streets (and sewers) of Atlanta after suffering the delayed effects of a virus that drives its victims to take a bite out of other people. Though composer Alessandro Blonksteiner contribued five cues to Walter Rizzati's amazing score for House by the Cemetery, this remains his only full, solo film score; a pity, as it's lots of fun. From sweet and jazzy Morricone-inspired melodies ("Jane," "Impossible Love") to early '80s jazz/soul mash-ups ("Apocalypse," "Station Service"), the score is never boring and has a similar vibe to other Italian horror favorites from the same period. Nice use of bongos, too. Break out the munchies and enjoy...

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea

Jazz legend Johnny Mandel scored a big soundtrack hit with The Sandpiper (and its theme song, "The Shadow of Your Smile"), and eventually he returned to the seaside again in '76 for this much darker story, adapted from the controversial Yukio Mishima novel and featuring notorious love scenes with Sarah Miles and Kris Kristofferson (who also helped out with music duties). The music has a smooth and dreamy atmosphere in keeping with the story and period, taken here from the Japanese vinyl pressing.

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The Boogey Man

Spooky synth music for the 1980 horror hit, the most successful film by indie director/former Fassbinder colleague Uli Lommel. The score was concocted by three California-based sound consultants under the name "Synthe-Sound-Trax" and sounds a bit like a cross between John Carpenter's Halloween and Colin Towns' Full Circle (which isn't surprising, since the opening of the movie apes the Carpenter film pretty closely). The film itself is a bizarre twist on the slasher formula with a possessed mirror shard compelling people to die in imaginative accidents, with one especially funny bit involving a car door. The score was independently released by the composer in a limited (1,000-unit) vinyl pressing shortly following the film's release (this comes from #867, for anyone who's counting) and remains an interesting example of early electronic horror music.

New Download Link (FLAC/lossless)

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Look for a Star

One more AIP title, this time the influential 1960 British film, Circus of Horrors, about a plastic surgeon on the run from the law who decides to operate a circus and kill lots of sexy women 'cause the plot tells him to. The musical highlight is definitely the theme song, Garry Mills' "Look for a Star," one of those melodies that burrows its way into your head and refuses to leave for days. (Check out Jeepers Creepers: Songs from Horror Films for an amusing cover version by "Guy Haines.) The rest of the album is a straight-up music score from Muir Mathieson (best known for working with Bernard Herrmann on Vertigo) and Franz Reizenstein (Hammer's The Mummy), alternating bombastic circus music and "scary" stuff.

[link removed - soundtrack now officially available]

Angel, Angel, Down We Go

Exactly why this berserk horror/musical/satire about the cult lifestyle in Hollywood never caught on like Wild in the Streets or Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is anybody's guess. Jennifer Jones stars as an aging porn star whose closeted husband and loopy, overweight debutante daughter (folk singer Holly Near) are thrown into turmoil at a party one evening with the arrival of a charismatic rock singer (Jordan Christopher) and his band, including a tripped-out Roddy McDowall(!) and Lou Rawls(!!). Husband-and-wife songwriting team Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil ("We Gotta Get Out of This Place") supply the unforgettable songs including the great title tune, "Lady, Lady," "Mother Lover," and of course, "The Fat Song," plus an instrumental score by Fred Karger. AIP released this shortly after the Manson murders and tastefully retitled it Cult of the Damned (the title still used on some TV screenings). Oh, and it's the only directorial effort for the great Robert Thom, the mad screenwriter who brought you Wild in the Streets, The Witch Who Came from the Sea, Death Race 2000, and the incredible Legend of Lylah Clare. Watch for it!

New FLAC (lossless) Download

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The 4th Man

Spooky, elegant music from underrated Dutch film composer/jazz artist Loek Dikker (Body Parts) for the classic horror/black comedy film from Paul Verhoeven. The surreal and unpredictable story involves a neurotic writer's descent into seduction, switch-hitting, and (perhaps) the supernatural, with a grisly finish no viewer ever forgets. The music has a lush, old Hollywood flavor that pays homage to '40s Hitchcock scores, plus a few weird flourishes to keep things interesting.

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Wuthering Heights - Michel Legrand

A switch from the normal drive-in fare for American International Pictures, this glossy 1970 version of the Emily Bronte novel was directed by Robert Fuest (The Abominable Dr. Phibes) and starred Timothy Dalton and Anna Calder-Marshall. Unfortunately its roadshow prestige intentions fell by the wayside, and the film is barely remembered now. Likewise, the haunting Michel Legrand score has also fallen into oblivion and deserves rediscovery. The vinyl release from AIR (American International Records) also includes a vocal version of the main theme ("I Was Born in Love with You") by the Mike Curb Congregation not featured in the actual film.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Les Baxter Swings

A while back some rare isolated music and effects (M&E) tracks for a handful of AIP and Filmways titles fell into my hands; here's the first of those forbidden fruits for your listening pleasure: Les Baxter's freaky, atonal score for Roger Corman's Pit and the Pendulum (1961), one of the best (and scariest) Vincent Price/Edgar Allan Poe outings. Here's every note (53 minutes' worth) of Baxter's original score off the isolated track; you'll hear an odd sound effect here and there (creaking feet, closing doors), but hopefully that will just add to the ambience. Track titles are my own, assigned to give you some idea of the music's chronology.

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Yikety Yak

The late-night cable favorite Gwendoline (or as we Americans know it, The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik-Yak) was the last collaboration between director Just Jaeckin and composer/French pop star Pierre Bachelet, who also brought the better-known Story of O and Emmanuelle. Tawny Kitaen stars as an American explorer looking for a mythical butterfly who, with her two companions, winds up in a demented S&M neverland run by a sadistic queen. Never released on CD and only available on vinyl in France, this sweet, catchy score features Bachelet's typically strong melodic instincts and boasts some tracks that rank among his best (especially "Gwendoline" and "A Pikao"). Forget the corrupt and glitchy torrent files floating around out there; this is a fresh new rip direct from the original.

New Download Link (FLAC/lossless)

Read an interview with Just Jaeckin here.

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Gobble, Gobble

The Medved Brothers' Golden Turkey book series hasn't dated very well thanks to its bullying tone, but at least it did turn a spotlight on some very entertaining movies that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks. Late in the game but welcome nonetheless was the 1985 Rhino Records vinyl release of The Golden Turkey Album, featuring 16 catchy ditties from "bad" '50s and '60s favorites like The Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters, Wild Guitar, Eegah!, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, The Creeping Terror, and much more. Though a few were obviously ripped from the films rather than the soundtracks, others came out sounding quite nice. On your next date, be sure to crank up "Hey, Look Out! (I Wanna Make Love to You)" and see what happens.


Screaming Fishmen

In 1980, moviegoers turned out to see a horror film entitled Screamers with the can't-resist tagline, "Be warned: You will actually see a man turned inside out!" Bullpuckies. When New World realized they couldn't make any money with Sergio Martino's 1979 Barbara Bach/Joseph Cotten monster-fantasy, Island of the Fishmen (L'isola degli uomini pesce), they added some extra horror scenes featuring Mel Ferrer and Cameron Mitchell, then passed it off under its most famous title. The new scenes also featured additional music by Sandy Berman, but surprisingly enough, the original Italian score still made it out onto vinyl from Web Records (ST101), with liner notes by future drive-in filmmaker Jim Wynorski (of Chopping Mall fame). The score itself has an old-fashioned '60s Italian horror vibe courtesy of composer Luciano Michelini, who had already funked out with Gambling City and Secrets of a Call Girl. Despite the flood of Italian score releases on CD, this one has inexcplicably remained vaulted away. Happy listening!

[link removed - soundtrack now officially available]

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