Battle Beyond The Stars / Humanoids From The Deep

Battle Beyond The Stars / Humanoids From The DeepThough the movies themselves have faded into that special pocket of semi-obscure hell reserved for stuff produced by Roger Corman, Battle Beyond The Stars and Humanoids From The Deep hold a special place in the hearts of soundtrack fans as the big-screen debut of a promising new young talent, James Horner. Hired with a mandate to try to duplicate the sound of – ironically – Jerry Goldsmith’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture score, Battle is basically the calling card that brought Horner into the Trek fold proper. I know I’ve jumped all over Horner in the past where originality is concerned, but let’s give credit where it’s due and give the guy a break: for this first movie scoring project, he was told to mimic Goldsmith. Say it with me again: Goldsmith. No pressure, eh? And then, on the strength of Battle, Horner was hired by Nicholas Meyer and asked to emulate himself. It’s no wonder Horner used and reused this basic material throughout the 1980s.

The nautical woodwind motifs that Horner refined in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan can be heard here in a slightly more primitive form, and his rapid-fire bursts of heroic brass can be heard here too, though with a rhythm that’s almost jazzy. What you will hear a lot of is the Blaster Beam, that unearthly electric stringed instrument that Goldsmith put on the musical map with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Its appearance here doesn’t sound quite as graceful as it did in that first movie, but with marching orders to copy Goldsmith’s style, Horner makes abundant use of it. In that respect, if you’re a fan of that rarely-used instrument, this soundtrack is a treat.

To be completely fair, while there is indeed blatant copying of such Goldsmith cues as “Spock Walk”, there’s enough originality within this score’s context that one can hear where Horner would have been labeled an up-and-coming young composer to keep an ear out for. Unfortunately, in later years, Horner would seem to have taken the instruction “Make it sound kind of like the music from…” a little too literally, and a few times too many.

Humanoids, though commissioned, composed and recorded at around the same time (and it actually hit the theaters before Battle), sounds altogether more assured and mature, with Horner developing some if his more “scary” motifs in their earliest form – much of Trek II‘s Mutara Nebula music can be traced back to this score. For his first major horror scoring assignment, Horner isn’t shy about borrowing from the masters, with plenty of Hermann-esque “stabbing” strings on display.

Put together, Battle Beyond The Stars and Humanoids From The Deep are a debut that, even despite the rough edges, would’ve done any Hollywood 3 out of 4newcomer proud. And even if I’m not Horner’s biggest fan in the world, I’m even less of a Corman fan – his greatest contributions have really been in the area of bringing top-notch talent into Hollywood that eventually turns out better material than he himself could ever manage – and these may be among the very finest scores ever to grace a Roger Corman movie (or two).

Order this CD

    Battle Beyond The Stars

  1. Main Title (2:00)
  2. Malmori Read Guard (3:52)
  3. The Battle Begins (4:33)
  4. Nanella And Shad (1:27)
  5. Cowboy And The Jackers (3:36)
  6. Nanella’s Capture (1:29)
  7. The Maze Battle (3:11)
  8. Shad’s Pursuit (3:23)
  9. Cowboy’s Attack (1:46)
  10. Love Theme (3:52)
  11. The Hunter (1:40)
  12. Gelt’s Death (1:30)
  13. Nanella (1:32)
  14. Heading For Sador (1:00)
  15. Destruction Of Hammerhead (2:36)
  16. Epilogue And End Title (5:02)

    Humanoids From The Deep

  17. Main Title (2:27)
  18. The Buck (3:45)
  19. Unwelcome Visitor (2:03)
  20. Night Swim (1:48)
  21. Jerry & Peggy (0:57)
  22. Trip Upriver (1:59)
  23. The Humanoids Attack (2:54)
  24. Jerry’s Death (2:04)
  25. Search For Clues (1:55)
  26. Strange Catch (1:07)
  27. The Grotto (3:22)
  28. Night Prowlers (2:08)
  29. Final Confrontation (3:05)
  30. Aftermath & New Birth (2:22)
  31. End Titles (2:10)

Released by: GNP Crescendo
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 76:35

Krull – music by James Horner

Krull soundtrackKrull! If that word conjures up images of Kevin Sorbo and swords and sorcery…well, you’re in the wrong place. That was Kull The Conqueror. Krull was a big-budget 1983 popcorn flick featuring Kenneth Marshall and swords and sorcery, and it was practically designed to be the next Star Wars. Needless to say…it wasn’t. While it brought the concept of throwing stars to the attention of a great many youngsters (myself included), Krull wasn’t a box office smash. And much as I hate to say it, perhaps its soundtrack has something to do with that.

I’ll admit, however, that what is stated above is my opinion alone, and it’s not one shared by soundtrack collectors or film music fans for the most part. James Horner’s Krull soundtrack is revered, and this 2-CD version released in the 1990s by the now-defunct internet soundtrack specialty shop is considered particularly desirable on the collectors’ circuit. But when I listen to it, what hits my ears sounds like the music from Star Trek II, cut-and-pasted around a bit so it doesn’t sound exactly the same. Even the arrangements and the balance of instruments used is nearly identical. I do like the heraldic blasts of brass the punctuate the more heroic moments of the music, but so much of the bulk of Krull‘s music is borrowed from The Wrath Of Khan that it’s not funny – I already paid for this same music once. (See also: Horner’s music from Aliens.)

3 out of 4To be fair, though, I will give Horner some praise for his attempts to differentiate Krull from his previous work. There’s a cuttingly siren-like descending synth note in the attack scenes involving the Black Fortress minions that, while it’s a bit dated now, does indeed jump right out, grab you by the neck and telegraphs “bad news!” straight into your ears. “Ride Of The Firemares”, even with its own borrowed passages, is simply one of the best things Horner’s ever put in front of an orchestra.These new developments to what seems like very familiar material are interesting…but I’d be more inclined to adjust my thinking of Horner from unoriginality to an artist who keeps revisiting a theme until he’s perfected it if I hadn’t had to pay good money to hear every “work in progress” stage of that theme.

Order this CDDisc One:

  1. Main Title & Colwyn’s Arrival (7:34)
  2. The Slayers Attack (9:20)
  3. Quest For The Glaive (7:23)
  4. Ride To The Waterfall (0:54)
  5. Lyssa In The Fortress (1:29)
  6. The Walk To The Seer’s Cave (4:10)
  7. The Seer’s Vision (2:19)
  8. Battle In The Swamp (2:40)
  9. Quicksand (3:39)
  10. The Changeling (4:04)
  11. Colwyn and Lyssa (Love Theme) (2:38)

Disc Two:

  1. Leaving The Swamp (2:00)
  2. The Widow’s Web (6:19)
  3. The Widow’s Lullaby (5:02)
  4. Vella (3:47)
  5. Ynyr’s Death (1:42)
  6. Ride Of The Firemares (5:23)
  7. Battle Of The Parapets (2:53)
  8. Inside The Black Fortress (6:15)
  9. The Death Of The Beast and The Destruction of the Dark Fortress (8:32)
  10. Epilogue & End Title (4:50)

Released by: Super Collector / Supertracks
Release date: 1998
Disc one total running time: 46:10
Disc two total running time: 46:43

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Star Trek III soundtrackI praise Horner for his Star Trek II soundtrack, but I have to take issue with how he managed to score the next movie. A lot of the music – indeed, starting with the opening titles – is simply lifted from Star Trek II. Now, to some degree, this is understandable, as Trek III picked up directly where its predecessor left off and quite a bit of continuity is to be expected, but there are places where you’d swear the film was being tracked with music from Star Trek II. There are exceptions to this rule – Horner created a different musical vision of the Klingons than Goldsmith’s popular theme, and there are some 3 out of 4interesting passages in the eight-and-a-half-minute “Stealing The Enterprise” cue. There’s another surprise in the form of a synth-pop rendition of the main theme, titled “The Search For Spock”, which is the first concession to a pop music audience that the Trek movie series made, but it wouldn’t be the last.

Order this CD

  1. Prologue and Main Title (6:27)
  2. Klingons (5:55)
  3. Stealing the Enterprise (8:33)
  4. The Mind Meld (2:30)
  5. Bird of Prey Decloaks (3:37)
  6. Returning to Vulcan (4:49)
  7. The Katra Ritual (4:29)
  8. End Title (6:12)
  9. The Search for Spock (3:43)

Released by: GNP Crescendo
Release date: 1984
Total running time: 46:15

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – music by James Horner

Star Trek II soundtrackThis, along with Goldsmith’s music for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, seem to have entrenched themselves in the minds of the public and Trek fans alike as the definitive Star Trek movie scores…by virtue, I suspect, of having been the first two. There are lovely passages – and a beautiful main and closing theme – in this action-packed score, but in a few places the sound is just too thick and too boisterous, and it’s hard to keep up with it all. Still, it’s one of everyone’s favorite soundtracks, and it is good. It’s a much better entry than Horner gave us for the Star Trek movie that followed 3 out of 4this one. Also noteworthy was the use of that instrument/sound/thing called the Blaster Beam – a distinctive tone that distinguished the first two Trek films and then seemed to disappear completely until the eighth movie – in some new and different ways than it had appeared in Goldsmith’s score.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title (3:03)
  2. Surprise Attack (5:06)
  3. Spock (1:10)
  4. Kirk’s Explosive Reply (4:02)
  5. Khan’s Pets (4:18)
  6. Enterprise Clears Moorings (3:32)
  7. Battle in the Mutara Nebula (8:08)
  8. Genesis Countdown (6:36)
  9. Epilogue / End Title (8:40)

Released by: GNP Crescendo
Release date: 1982
Total running time: 44:35