Monday, July 31, 2006

No Way To Treat A Lady

William Goldman's oddball horror/comic novel No Way to Treat a Lady was made into an even odder 1968 cult film, starring Rod Steiger as a psycho strangler who goes after New York women in a variety of disguises (even in drag) while taunting Jewish cop George Segal. The wonderful score is one of the earlier efforts from the late and underrated Stanley Myers (The Deer Hunter, The Martian Chronicles), mixing some spooky whistling, a lilting main theme, some fun "swinging" bits, a great psychedelic track ("St. Matthew Fashion"), and even a goofy tribute to the Tijuana Brass entitled "Alpert Memorial."

Labels: ,

Friday, July 28, 2006

I'll Never Forget What's 'Isname

Before he turned into Charles Bronson's go-to man, British director Michael Winner was considered one of the more promising directors around with a string of acclaimed films like 1967's taboo-bashing I'll Never Forget What's 'Isname, which entered the history books for the first utterance of the "f-bomb" on-camera (by Marianne Faithfull) as well as the first depiction of oral sex. More memorable now is the opening sequence, which finds harried worker drone Oliver Reed taking an axe to his desk and charging out of the office to find a simpler life. It doesn't quite work out, of course. Amazingly, composer Francis Lai had only been in the game for one year and was enjoying the success of his first score, A Man and a Woman. His work here is quite strong, starting off with a gentle easy-listening vibe before plunging into swinging "mod London" tracks (as if the psychedelic album cover wasn't a clue already).

I'll Never Forget What's 'Isname
1. Cambridge (One Day Soon)
2. Andrew Dreaming
3. Boutique Music
4. School Reunion
5. Visiting Louise
6. Party Music - Show Out!
7. Chamber Music
8. Main Title
9. The Commercial

10. Keep It Cool
11. Radio Music

12. Meeting Susannah
13. Party Music
14. Cambridge (One Day Soon) (Instrumental)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Burn, Baby, Burn

Prog rock legend and former Yes-man Rick Wakeman startled a lot of people when he scored The Burning, a berserk 1981 slasher film most notable for its often-censored Tom Savini gore effects and early appearances by actors like Holly Hunter, Jason Alexander and Fisher Stevens. (Trivia note: it was also the first official Miramax release.) The electronic score is pretty wild and a far cry from the Halloween knock-off you might expect; there's even a narrated track relating the spooky backstory of Cropsy, the disfigured gardener running amuck with a pair of gardening shears.

However, Wakeman had already dabbled a bit in the soundtrack arena six years earlier with Lisztomania, arguably the wildest Ken Russell movie ever. In this amped-up successor to Tommy, Roger Daltrey stars as the popular composer whose bedroom conquests and long-running feud with Richard Wagner turn into opulent setpieces involving vampirism, a fascist Frankenstein monster stomping around with a machine gun, Ringo Starr as the Pope, and an organ-powered rocketship filled with scantily-clad women. Your average biopic this ain't. The soundtrack adapts several famous Liszt themes and climaxes with the rousing "Peace at Last," presented here in both its album and extended movie versions. Russell and Wakeman later reteamed in the mid-'80s for another classically-influenced score, Crimes of Passion, which is far more readily available.

The Burning
1. Campfire Story
2. The Burning
3. The Fire
4. Doin' It
5. Devil's Creek Breakdown
6. The Chase
7. Shear Terror
8. Theme From The Burning
9. The Chase Continues (Po's Plane)
10. Variations On The Fire
11. Shear Terror And More

1. Rienzi (Chopsticks Fantasia)
2. Love's Dream
3. Dante Period
4. Orpheus Song
5. Hell
6. Hibernation
7. Excelsior Song
8. Master Race
9. Rape, Pillage & Clap
10. Funerailles
11. Free Song
12. Peace At Last
13. Peace At Last (Movie Version)

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

'Tis Pity She's a Whore

'Tis pity indeed that one of Ennio Morricone's most powerful, heartbreaking scores has become so obscure. John Ford's scandalous, gory melodrama of incest and mass murder seemed a natural for the big screen in 1971, given the recent success of glossy Shakespeare films. However, the heavy doses of sex and violence didn't do much for audiences, despite the fact that the film is beautiful to watch thanks to underrated director Giuseppe Patroni Griffi (Metti, una sera a cena). Charlotte Rampling stars as Annabella, a noblewoman torn between a lustful relationship with her tortured brother (The Stud's Oliver Tobias) and a haughty suitor (Fabio Testi). Of course, it all ends badly with the bloodiest third act this side of Tenebrae. The music is pure romantic Morricone, with a haunting main theme ("Giovanni & Annabella") and a creepy, chanted finale ("Inter Mortuos Liber") that really packs a punch.

'Tis Pity She's a Whore1. Giovanni & Annabella
2. Wandering Brother
3. House Of Dreams
4. Au Fond Du Puits
5. Soranzo
6. Our Wonderful World
7. Love Me Or Kill Me, Sister
8. Tassilo
9. Inter Mortuos Liber (Dies Irae)

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 24, 2006

For Further Listening...

If you're hungering for more soundtrack oddness, you may want to browse through the iTunes store which has quietly been posting some mind-bending Italian titles lately. Among them are a stunning remastered version of Franco Micalizzi's Beyond the Door (Chi Sei?) (with sound quality that blows away the long out-of-print Japanese CD) and two excellent Stelvio Cipriani "Alleluja" scores that have never been released anywhere, ever: Il West ti va Stretto, Amico... E' Arrivato Alleluja and Testa t'Ammazzo, Croce... Sei Morto Mi Chiamo Alleluja. Some of the limited edition Digitmovies releases are up there as well including Twitch of the Death Nerve, Blood and Black Lace, Death Walks in High Heels, The Red Queen Kills Seven Times and much more.

Hopefully you regular visitors have taken the time to browse through some of the links to the right and find some more musical goodness. If you haven't, here are a few suggestions for some top-notch rarities to try out: Murderers' Row, De Sade, The Dunwich Horror, Candy and Maryjane at ScoreBaby; Sissignore and Codice d'Amore Orientale at Soundsational; The Landlord, Lialeh, In Cold Blood and Hell's Belles at Dust to Dust; tons of pop TV bliss at Mondo Daddykin; Daniel J. White library music at Monone's; Chariots of the Gods at A Closet of Curiosities; They Came to Rob Las Vegas and Willie Dynamite at You Don't Have to Visit This Blog; and... well, that's just barely scratching the surface. Happy hunting!

And most importantly, a special shout-out and thank you to Tim Lucas' Video WatchBlog and Dan Taylor's Exploitation Restrospect for mentioning 7 Black Notes in their columns; bookmark both and visit them often!

Grace Jones and the Corn Kids

New World Pictures got a lot of mileage out of composer Jonathan Elias, who collaborated with Yes on the ill-received Union and, apparently, now makes a good living scoring TV commercials. He started off strongly in 1984 with the multi-sequeled Stephen King adaptation, Children of the Corn, offering a catchy, creepy musical tapestry much stronger than the film for which it was written; the eerie main theme feels a bit like an amped-up version of The Amityville Horror. After scoring the '80s teen favorite Tuff Turf, he returned to horror with the cult favorite Vamp in 1986, writing a more abstract, darkly ambient score suited to the film's nocturnal terrors and Grace Jones bloodsucking. (And if you're looking for that Grace Jones song played during her stage act in the movie, it's "Seduction Surrender" from Bulletproof Heart.) Elias' subsequent credits include Parents,Two Moon Junction, and Leprechaun 2, a sure sign of diversity if there ever was one.

Labels: ,

Friday, July 21, 2006

Music To Make You Go Berserk!

One of the more unlikely box office heroes of the early '70s, Billy Jack first appeared onscreen in 1967's Born Losers but really took off in his self-titled 1971 feature, the directorial brainchild of star Tom Laughlin and his wife/co-star, Delores Taylor. The karate-chopping, Indian-defending, ex-Green Beret
became an instant star, returning in 1974's The Trial of Billy Jack and 1977's Billy Jack Goes to Washington (which never got to theaters). Jazz guitarist Mundell Lowe (Satan in High Heels) provides the score for the first film and offers some nice groovy flourishes here and there, though the highlight for many listeners will be the catchy hit theme song, "One Tin Soldier." Trial has a more traditional orchestral score by Elmer Bernstein, though you do get some weird touches like a Dies Irae death march, a choral version of "Give Peace a Chance," and the funky "Karate Fight." Read more about Billy Jack by visiting the official site.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Soap Gets In Your Ears: Part 2

The ultra-trashy novels of Harold Robbins have provided some entertaining, glossy sleaze over the years (see The Carpetbaggers, The Betsy and The Adventurers, for starters), but sitting at the top of the trash heap is The Lonely Lady. This side-splitting1983 soaper stars Pia Zadora as a wide-eyed aspiring screenwriter who gets raped with a garden hose (by Ray Liotta) and decides to sleep her way to the top of the Hollywood elite, thanks to her brilliant writing prowess and ability to copulate on pool tables. Featuring one of the funniest mental breakdown sequences ever filmed, this gem from once-talented Hammer director Peter Sasdy (Countess Dracula, Hands of the Ripper) won a boatload of Razzies and is still screaming out for a DVD release. The soundtrack is a wonderfully ripe chunk of '80s pop excess, including an over-the-top theme song (by "Ellis Hall, Jr.") and, best of all, a zippy cover of the Belle Stars' "The Clapping Song" enhanced by the vocal stylings of Ms. Zadora herself.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Feeeed Me!

Roger Corman's quickie 1960 horror-comedy has since gone on to become the stuff of legend, mainly for being shot in two days (kind of), featuring a young Jack Nicholson as a masochistic dental patient, and kicking off the careers of legendary Disney songwriting team Alan Menken and Howard Ashman with their hit musical adaptation and the subsequent movie version. The original tale about a downtrodden floral shop employee who nutures a blood-slurping plant, Audrey Jr., into a population-threatening monstrosity still holds up as a model of black comedy on an impoverished budget, still popping up time and time again on home video. The wild score comes courtesy of Fred Katz, who had just dabbled in beat jazz with the previous year's A Bucket of Blood and was busy doing other simultaneous Corman films like The Wasp Woman. Naturally this soundtrack comes with a handful of choice Audrey Jr. audio clips, perfect for playing at the dinner table.

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 17, 2006


You'd have to look far and wide to find a horror soundtrack more overwrought than 1977's Haunted, a regional drive-in obscurity from Arizona that disappeared from video shelves years ago. The film stars Aldo Ray, Virginia Mayo and Virgin Witch's Ann Michelle in yet another one of those "ticked-off dead supernatural woman comes back from the grave to get revenge centuries later" stories, this time with an Indian tribeswoman killed off during the Civil War doing the honors. Or does she? The music score by Lor Crane (who?) comprises half the album and is pretty standard late-'70s stuff (mostly sounding like Hardy Boys outtakes). On the other hand, the songs on here are incredible, kicking off with the jaw-dropping "Indian Woman"-- a 3-minute howler that manages to encapsulate the entire backstory of the film... badly: "Revenge is her only friend / Indian woooman! / Loving, hating, coming back to clear her name. / Indian woman! / They took her life for gold, now she's searching, tracking down the ones to blame. Indian woman!" Prepare to be amazed.

Labels: ,

Home Movies

Not many people bothered to see Home Movies, an oddball comedic experiment with Sarah Lawrence film students by Brian De Palma (sandwiched between The Fury and Dressed to Kill). Starring Keith Gordon, Kirk Douglas, and a scene-stealing Gerrit Graham (as a deranged scout leader who only eats organic), it's actually quite funny if you're in the right frame of mind. (And where else can you see Nancy Allen as a reformed sex performer who worked with a fuzzy, possessed rabbit puppet?) Pino Donaggio contributes one of his wildest and most melodic scores here, mashing in everything imaginable: rock, classical, disco funk, romantic instrumentals and much, much more. For some reason one of the strongest musical moments, a pop version of Kristina's theme played over the epilogue, was left off the soundtrack album; it's included here as a bonus pulled from the film version.

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 13, 2006


The best '60s British film no one seems to remember, Privilege is a wild rock and roll/political statement from uncompromising director Peter Watkins (The War Game) in his only major studio film. One of the film's stars, Mark London (To Sir with Love), chipped in on the songs with composer Mike Leander ("Do You Wanna Touch Me"), while star Paul Jones (from Manfred Mann) offers great vocals as a charismatic singer manipulated by the government into luring the youth in a variety of disturbing directions. Catchy, haunting, and definitely gutsy (check out "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Jerusalem"), it's ripe for rediscovery. For some insane reason, Universal has never bothered to release the film on home video in any format. However, anyone in the Los Angeles area can catch it on the big screen on Saturday, July 15 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, as part of the incredible, annual Mods & Rockers Festival (on a double bill with the equally hard-to-see Stardust); click here for more information.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Swedish Fanny Hill

The scandalous novel of an English girl's sexy misadventures went super-mod in 1968 courtesy of Swedish director Mac Ahlberg, who went on to become the cinematographer on Hell Night and pretty much every Stuart Gordon and Full Moon title. The original Swedish version featured a score by Pippi Longstocking composer Georg Riedel, but American distributor Cinemation opted for something a bit groovier and brought on composer Clay Pitts (who would do the incredible Female Animal two years later). Much of the soundtrack consists of Pitt-composed pop and rock numbers performed by "Oven," with a whopping 16-minute number, "Please Touch Me," closing it out. The bubblegum charms of "Sail a Boat" are hard to resist, too.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

18 Feet of Gut-Crunching, Musical Terror!

One of the most beloved '70s drive-in nature-amok outings, Grizzly proved to be a big hit for late director William Girdler, the cracked genius who also gave the world The Manitou and Day of the Animals. Along with stalwarts Christopher George, Andrew Prine and Richard Jaeckel running around in the woods firing bazookas at man-eating wildlife, the film features a melodic score by composer Robert O. Ragland, who had already done The Thing with Two Heads and Girdler's Abby. The soundtrack is pure '70s nature-disaster music movie heaven, with a poppy theme song ("What Makes a Man a Man?"), a tender love theme, and lots of creepy, sinister music whenever the bear (or its furry stand-in) appears.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 10, 2006

Soap Gets In Your Ears: Part I

Showgirls and Wild Things notwithstanding, Hollywood has been really slacking off in its delivery of lurid, overwrought soap opera trash on the big screen for the past decade. Just take a look back the '60s and '70s, which were filled with glossy, howlingly trashy adaptations of books by writers like Harold Robbins, Sidney Sheldon, and that tragic queen to rule over them all, Jacqueline Susann. She'll always be remembered for that catfighting classic, Valley of the Dolls, but the screen was also blessed with other Susann stories as well -- namely 1975's Once Is Not Enough and 1971's sadly neglected The Love Machine. Diabolik himself, John Phillip Law, stars as the titular "love machine," a local TV news anchor (they were once considered celebrities, believe it or not) who decides to sleep his way to the top and winds up tangling pyromaniac exec spouse Dyan Cannon and outrageously "flamboyant" photographer David Hemmings. Sony's really overdue with a DVD of this one. Composing duties here are handled by first-timer Artie Butler, a songwriter who went on to score The Harrad Experiment and The Rescuers. His work here has a surprisingly groovy edge, especially the two-part "House Party" cues, but most folks remember this for the two songs by Dionne Warwick (or "Warwicke" according to the album cover), "He's Moving On" and "Amanda."

Labels: ,

Girl Bombs Away!

Universally regarded as the worst film Mario Bava ever made, Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs was the less-than-spectacular follow-up to Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine with Fabian stepping in for an absent Frankie Avalon and Vincent Price still running around trying to cause world chaos. As usual with Bava's AIP titles, the film was drastically altered for its American release and, in its final version, appears to have been edited in a blender. Designed as a vehicle for would-be comedians Franco and Ciccio, the Italian version isn't much better but at least boasts a more coherent storyline; however, its teeth-grating music score by Lallo Gori (featuring Franco performing "vocal" duties) makes AIP's decision to scrap the entire soundtrack quite understandable. Taken on its own terms, the American LP is a great "with-it" pop collection alternating songs with instrumentals by the "Mad Doctors" (though Les Baxter is credited with the score on the actual film). Oh yeah, and musical direction comes courtesy of Mike Curb (see The Big Bounce below). As a bonus, you'll also find a homemade 6-minute suite of music from the Italian version; don't expect to listen to it more than once, but at least you'll get an idea of how very different the film's two incarnations really are.

Labels: , ,

The Big Bounce

Elmore Leonard's classic crime novel The Big Bounce has been botched twice on the big screen so far, though the first version from 1969 has some enjoyable exploitation elements (including a lot of skin for a 1969 studio film) and a very catchy pop score by Mike Curb, who scored plenty of drive-in favorites likeThe Wild Angels before taking over MGM Records, firing the Velvet Underground, inflicting Donny and Marie Osmond on the world, and becoming a failed, right-wing politician. Anyway, this score has a nice, summery feel to it, with the first eight tracks covering the instrumental score and breezy vocal adaptations filling out the rest. No vocals are credited, but it's very much in the same vein as the Mike Curb Congregation albums coming out around the same time. Perfect listening for your next trip to the beach.

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Yor's World

No fan of spectacularly deranged filmmaking can afford to miss Yor, the Hunter from the Future, a stupefying cable TV favorite from director Antonio Margheriti (Castle of Blood) about a buff, blond caveman who tangles with dinosaurs, aliens, and a cavegirl played by Story of O's Corinne Clery. Pretty difficult to see now, it's worth hunting for if you feel so inclined. Anyway, the feature was released in English by Columbia Pictures(!), drastically condensed from a four-hour Italian TV miniseries with a score by the fantastic Guido and Maurizio De Angelis-- who also gave you the insanely catchy Torso and Keoma and sing under the name "Oliver Onions." While their instrumental score is entertaining enough, it's the theme song, "Yor's World" (performed by - yep - Oliver Onions), that really claws its way into your brain, bursting from the soundtrack at wildly inopportune moments. Columbia decided their re-edit needed some extra music, so they brought on composer/library music maestro John Scott (before he hit the big time with Greystoke) to write some incidental cues here and there. Only 4 of his comparatively bland tracks made it to the soundtrack LP with the De Angelis Bros. still making up the majority (12 tracks), but the poor Italians still got shafted with an "Additional Music by..." credit on the front cover. Later an Australian CD was released, but it only contained Scott's music; so, to correct that oversight, we now proudly present the De Angelis-ized version of Yor, so sing along to your heart's content: "Lost in the world of past / In the echo of ancient dust / There is a man from future, a man of mystery..."

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Empire Pictures Sound

Before starting Full Moon Entertainment, Charles Band and company spent most of the '80s releasing horror and sci-fi titles under the banner of Empire Pictures. Most people remember them for Stuart Gordon classics like Re-Animator and From Beyond, but the rest of their fare is pretty unusual as well. Here we celebrate two lesser-known, very different scores from the golden Empire year of 1986, Richard Band's Troll (the one where Seinfeld's Julia Louis-Dreyfus becomes a wood nymph and Sonny Bono turns into a tree) and Pino Donaggio's Crawlspace (with Klaus Kinski as a crazy ex-Nazi who stalks women in his boarding house).

The Band score is an atmospheric, choir-heavy piece divided into five parts -- or as the cover label puts it, "Utilizing elements of avant garde Euro-progressive rock and haunting musical themes, Richard Band's evocative electronic and orchstral score for Troll is superb. Accented by otherworldly choral sections, the overall work takes on the ambiance of the classic Fantasia. At times serene and poignant and at other times simply unsettling, this is a work for fans of Tangerine Dream, Magma, Il Balleto di Bronzo and the like." Got that? [NOTE: link now removed as this has been commercially released.]

On the other hand, the Donaggio score is pure horror all the way, with a heavy emphasis on synths and a haunting main theme that really comes to fruition in the standout final track, "Martha's Lament / End Titles" (whose Hebrew lyrics are a memory of the horrors at Auschwitz). Incidentally, this was the second of Donaggio's three collaborations with David Schmoeller, also including Tourist Trap and Catacombs.

Labels: , ,