Soundtrack reviews

December 6, 2010 | By

Rent me. Rent Me! RENT ME!

The unfortunate cancellation of a press screening for 2001: A Space Odyssey was kind of a bummer this morning – I’ll catch it later this month at the TIFF Bell Lighbox for an upcoming Editor’s Blog – but the sudden free time allowed me to move on with other important stuff.

First up are a series of horror score reviews, starting with Supernatural: Seasons 1-5 [M] (2005-2010). Water Tower Music released a solid album of lengthy theme suites composed by Jay Gruska and Christopher Lennertz, and the album is available as an Amazon on-demand CDR release.

There’s also Midnight Movie [M] (Howlin’ Wolf Records), with Penka Kouneva music for the 2008 slasher that featured a film-within-a-film storyline; and Spikes [M] (Phantom Records), a 2010 conceptual project by Darren Callahan that’s essentially a soundtrack written for a non-existent film.

Slashers, it seems, have left an indelible impression on horror fans, and there’s something weirdly soothing about analogue synth music (done well) that evokes the video nasties that made BBFC officials micturate in their knickers, had Ontario’s vile Mary Brown instinctively reach for her foot-long censorship scissors, and teased the interest of fresh-faced teens in local rental shops with VHS and Beta tapes sporting grotesquely violent cover art. That’s essentially what Spikes does for the listener.

I’d love to include 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams (BSX Records) in the review roundup, but there’s roughly 20 mins. of Patrick Copeland’s original score on the concept CD – a mélange of songs and numerous dialogue snippets. The somewhat orchestral score’s jarringly different from the rock source songs, and Copeland’s music captures the baroque, satirical mood the filmmakers probably aimed to recreate in their remake/revisitation of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ original 1964 gorefest. Kudos for the great arrangement of Lewis’ hillbilly ode, “The South’s Gonna Rise Again,” but in terms of a full instrumental album, it’s a disappointment.

The next set of horror score reviews will be augmented with an interview with composer Jeff Grace, done around the time of the DVD releases of I Sell the Dead (2008) and House of the Devil (2009) – the former a mordant character piece on blue-collar gravediggers, and the latter a near-perfect tribute to Italian slashers shot in middle America.

Also up very soon is a review of The Grey Fox (1982), and an Editor’s Blog on its screening last night at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. The blog will have some reflections on the screening, the concluding Q&A, and since the audio was way cleaner, audio snippets from the discussion.

Unsurprisingly, the first question to be answered was ‘When will this unavailable film finally get its DVD release?’ The answer was a likely 2011, but it’s not guaranteed. The audio excerpts will provide some angles on why Grey Fox is illustrative of this frustrating dilemma where a whole 15-20 chunk of our film history (sublime, good, and awful) remains unavailable on DVD.

Except in Spain, because as well all know by now, Spain has the world’s largest video archive of classic and rare films no one is able to release on DVD in their own native country. From RKO classics to Fox CinemaScope beauties, they have it, and both myself and a friend believe this magical store is nine blocks long, three stories above and below street level, and may be the only place where film fans will be able to buy hardcopies of their favourite classics when the bulk of major American studios abandon physical film releases in favour of downloads and HD channels.

I wonder if the then-unemployed film historians will flock to Spain to do commentaries and extras. The weather’s good, the food quite nice, the wine is rich and fruity, and they have this great almond biscotti-like cookie that goes great with coffee.

Los Foxalinas Greyalis con Canadiena il bideo? Si-si, seignor!



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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