Friends, I am afraid that yet again we have managed to deliver a new episode of the Saturday Frights podcast a couple of days later than intended. In all honesty it has to do with the new job and the strain of attempting to find the necessary free time to devote to the show. Having said that though, we do have a very special episode of the podcast for you today, as the Projectionist and I are joined by three friends on this show. Fellow PCR authors who were kind enough to share their top 5 horror soundtrack picks with you, focusing on memorable music from all manner of film and television shows. I am willing to bet there are going to be a few on the lists provided today by our guests that you may not be familiar with!
Joining us to share her top 5 horror soundtracks is none other than Ashley Thomas aka The Nerdy Blogger, whose work is frequently featured on Fangirlish as well as the Sci-Fi 5 podcast. The daily five minute podcast that provides the best in sci-fi, fantasy, and horror history – produced by Roddenberry Entertainment.
We also are lucky enough to have the esteemed Earl Green join us on this special episode of the podcast. Earl is no stranger to the Sci-Fi 5 podcast himself, as well as running The Log Book.com – one of the longest running sites on the internet focusing on everything pop culture.
Last but certainly not least is Rockford Jay, my co-host on the Saturday Frights Facebook page – who does his level best to help me keep a lid on the madness of the Vault. He manages to share his love of retro horror on a nearly daily basis, and I am sad to add is frequently the target of the Projectionist’s schemes and explosive temper.
Without further ado, please join the Projectionist and myself at the Haunted Drive-In, as we discuss the top 5 horror soundtracks on the Saturday Frights podcast. As always we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to listen to the show, and hope that you are enjoying season three of the podcast so far.
If you have any suggestions for topics you would like for us to cover in a future episode – or possibly you have comments on the current show itself, email them to me at VicSagePopCulture@gmail.com You can also contact me on Twitter and on Facebook. In addition I certainly hope you will take the time to visit the Saturday Frights Facebook Page. There you can find posts from Rockford Jay, Preston Griffith and myself on a daily basis.
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Friends, it might surprise you to learn that as much as I adore the work of John Carpenter, we have in fact only covered three of this films on the Saturday Frights podcast so far. To date, the Projectionist and I have managed to discuss The Fog, They Live, and In the Mouth of Madness – although Carpenter’s work has been brought up in the likes of the Halloween specials as well as the Intermission episodes. This is not an oversight on the part of my shadowy co-host or myself – as we always intended the podcast to focus more on the horror films and television shows that fans might not be so familiar with. And in truth, when discussing such films as Halloween, The Thing, and Escape from New York – I am not sure that the Projectionist or I could add to what is already known.
John Carpenter might be best known for creating such cinematic icons as Michael Myers, Snake Plissken, and John Nada – but he is also well known for his memorable film scores. As Carpenter himself has stated in the past, his use of synthesizers in a majority of his film soundtracks was because it allowed him to create a score that sounded much larger than he could afford. Of course it should be pointed out that Carpenter has collaborated with the likes of Alan Howarth on a number of the scores for his films, as well as Ennio Morricone and Shirley Walker to name a few.
And while it seems that Carpenter has for the time being stepped away from the director’s chair – he is killing it now as musician – teaming up with his Son, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies. John Carpenter has even gone on multiple tours thanks to the overwhelming success of 2015’s Lost Themes album, which was followed by Lost Themes II the following year. It turns out that the trio’s third studio album entitled Lost Themes III: Alive After Death is set to debut on February 5th of this year – although you can get a taste of the album courtesy of this animated music video featuring the titular track.
The music video for “Alive After Death” was animated by Liam Brazier and features artwork by Boneface. In closing out this article I want to give John Squires of Bloody Disgusting a tip of the hat for the heads up on the release of the video.
Friends, one of the benefits of working down in the Vault with the Projectionist – is that on occasion he will let me borrow something from his collection to share. Case in point this ‘flyer’ of sorts, which I assume was sent out to film distributors and possibly movie theaters to let them know what Universal Pictures had in store for 1982. It would certainly seem that Universal Pictures felt that audiences would be packing their local movie auditoriums and drive-in theaters to catch films that represented the genres of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Although in all honesty there is at least one that in a roundabout way manages to include all three genres – The Dark Crystal.
Granted the ‘horror’ elements of The Dark Crystal are mainly the fates of quite a few of the podlings… and of course the Skeksis in general. For what little it might actually be worth, working at a local movie theater for nine years – I saw quite a few newsletters as well as similar types of advertisements – generally double-sided with suggestions for how to decorate the theater for an upcoming film, etc.
I will admit that while looking at this, I was rather impressed by the amount of focus they put on the legacy of the Universal Monsters – in addition to their classic science fiction and ‘modern’ horror films like Jaws.
But what films was Universal Pictures rallying behind in 1982 – the answer might surprise you. It is quite understandable that they would be crowing about the release of Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and of course The Dark Crystal, they are Family pictures after all. Obviously Conan was chosen to represent the fantasy (More Sword & Sorcery in my opinion) genre like with Jim Henson and Frank Oz’s film. With Paul Schrader’s Cat People, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and Videodrome showcasing the horror films that Universal Pictures was set to release. However it is David Cronenberg’s iconic science fiction/body horror that I find rather an odd choice – especially considering Halloween III: Season of the Witch was being released at the end of October.
You might be interested to know that of the dates listed – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Videodrome had their release dates altered. Steven Spielberg’s beloved science fiction film moved up one week to June 11th – with Videodrome finding itself being simultaneously released in Canada and the United States on February 4th of 1983.
In closing out this article, how many of these 1982 films did you see in the theater back in the day?
If there are two non-political things uniting Americans right now, it’s Halloween season and the fact that half the country seems to have only just now discovered Cobra Kai. A new slate of classic soundtracks is here to provide musical accompaniment for both spooky shenanigans and sweeping the leg.
A taste of October’s soundtrack smorgasbord. (Just kidding about the pumpkin spice.)
La-La Land Records has rolled out a newly remastered, expanded edition of Bill Conti’s score from The Karate Kid Part II, which has been out of print for quite some time. A brand new transfer from the original studio tapes fills a single CD to the brim not only with what was previously released, but some material that has not been released before, including alternate versions of what made it into the movie – the musical equivalent of deleted scenes. There’s also a new liner notes booklet to go with the new release; 3000 copies are available.
But hey, you came here for spooky stuff too, right? I mean, Halloween is just a few weeks away, and La-La Land has you covered there too with a single CD release of Anthony Marinelli and Brian Banks’ score from Stephen King’s Graveyard Shift. Again, there are new liner notes and bonus tracks, including the trailer music composed by John Beal, the reigning king of ’80s/’90s movie trailer music. Only 1,000 copies are being pressed, so this title may go scarily fast.
If you missed the big, every-score-from-every-movie-in-the-franchise Friday The 13th box set a few years ago, La-La Land is making sure you’re covered there as well, with the score from Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood, composed by Harry Manfredini, Jason’s composer of choice since the first movie, and Fred Mollin, who had joined the Friday franchise by way of Friday The 13th: The Series. 2,000 copies of this soundtrack are available.
Also at La-La Land, a number of soundtracks that had previously been backordered are back in stock, including Day Of The Dead, Krull, Die Hard, Minority Report, Ladyhawke, Planet Of The Apes: The Series, and the original Friday The 13th. They’re also having a sale on spooky soundtracks, including The Bride Of Frankenstein, Child’s Play 2, Creepshow, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and The Haunting Of Hill House, among quite a few others. Clearly La-La Land is trying to scare up some business here, so give them a shout – or, dare I say it, a scream? – and fill some gaps in your collection.
Intrada also has some musical chills on tap with its latest release, with a definitive 2-CD release of John Williams’ score from the 2005 Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise remake of The War Of The Worlds. The complete score, plus alternate unused music, is included, as well as the original 2005 album in freshly remastered form, meaning you can hear the soundtrack with Morgan Freeman’s opening narration (on disc two as part of the original album release), or without (on disc one).
Varese Sarabande is also delivering a couple of much-anticipated expanded releases. John Powell’s amazing score from How To Train Your Dragon is being expanded to two discs, with a significant amount of new material that hasn’t previously been available, making this one deluxe edition release that definitely isn’t toothless. 3,000 copies will be available.
The other Varese release is the complete score, over two discs, from John Carpenter’s Village Of The Damned, with music by Carpenter himself the Dave Davies of the Kinks. The deluxe edition of the score from this movie is limited to only 2,000 copies.
Needless to say, if you need some spooky mood music, you’re spoiled for choice this month. Spoiled…rotten.
Friends, would you believe that 40 years ago today Terror Train was released to theaters, as well as the fact it marked the third horror film to be released in 1980 that featured Jamie Lee Curtis? While Curtis might have had made her big screen debut in the unexpected box office bonanza that was John Carpenter’s Halloween – 1980 was the year that seemed to cement her role in films as a Scream Queen. Beginning on February 8th she appeared in another John Carpenter film, that underappreciated tale of supernatural revenge – The Fog. Five months later saw Curtis starring in Prom Night – the high school themed slasher – the first in the genre shot in Canada. Then of course on October 3rd of 1980, Curtis starred in Terror Train, which was also shot in Canada – with producer Daniel Grodnik stating on a Scream Factory featurette for the movie that he envisioned the film as being “like Halloween on a train.”
Now for what it might be worth, I was able to see The Fog, Prom Night, as well as Terror Train at the drive-in theater of my youth. Personally I feel that John Carpenter’s 1980 follow-up to Halloween is easily the better film of the trio – having said that though – there is a lot to enjoy about the campy fun of Terror Train.
Personally one of the things I recall the most about watching Terror Train was it was my introduction to the stage magic of David Copperfield. As I understand it, this is the only film or television series where Copperfield plays an actual character, not just as himself. Thanks to the IMDb trivia section for the film, I learned that Copperfield remarked about filming Terror Train:
“Film is a magnifying glass for magic, so I had to be very careful. What you see on screen is exactly what the extras saw during shooting.”
While Terror Train might not be quite as masterful as the likes of Halloween – it does manage to deliver a pretty memorable slasher film. As the central plot is the train is host to a New Year’s Eve costume party – it allows the killer to make use of numerous disguises to not only evade capture once the bodies begin to be found – but get ever closer to the true target… Alana Maxwell (Curtis).
So, here is to 40 years of Terror Train – perhaps since this is the Season for things spooky and scary, you might celebrate the anniversary by giving it a watch tonight?
Friends, I have said it far too many times in the past weeks but it sure does appear that 2020 is attempting it’s level best to keep kicking us in the ribs in regards to the loss of beloved entertainers and artists. We lost the the likes of Alan Bates, Dame Olivia de Haviland as well as John Saxon mere days ago at the end of July. And now we start off August with the news from a friend to the Saturday Frights podcast that we have lost Wilford Brimley too. There are 152 days left in 2020 and I am not so sure that I can handle which icon or performer we might be losing next. I realize that Wilford Brimley was 85 years old when he passed away, I personally consider that to be a very good run to say the very least. In addition we can take some comfort in the fact that he left us with a solid number of film and TV roles as his legacy. The Internet Movie Database says that Brimley received his first of 77 credits back in 1969, an uncredited role in John Wayne’s incredibly popular adaptation of True Grit. The first film I caught him in though was 1979’s The Electric Cowboy – not that I realized who he was at that time – however I did take notice of him just three years later as Dr. Blair in John Carpenter’s The Thing!
You might not be aware of this but Wilford Brimley was a man who did not set out to become an actor – in fact it is completely honest to say that in his lifetime he wore many hats. He dropped out of High School to enlist in the United States Marine Corps – for three years he was stationed in the Aleutian Islands. After that he managed to become a bodyguard for none other than Howard Hughes – moving on to learn horseback riding and wrangling as a ranch hand. Skills that he would later use to his advantage in motion pictures, including becoming a blacksmith – it was his lifelong friend Robert Duvall (To Kill a Mockingbird, The Godfather) that managed to convince him to become a stuntman and extra for Western films and TV shows.
Wilford Brimley would initially appear in television series with the likes of Kung Fu, The Oregon Trail, and The Waltons, until in ’79 he was cast in not just The Electric Cowboy but The China Syndrome. More roles in TV movies and film would follow including The Wild Wild West Revisited, Brubaker, 10 to Midnight, and The Natural. He was perhaps better remembered for those of us of a certain age as Ben Luckett in 1985’s Cocoon and it’s sequel three years later.
And while I can say that one of my favorite roles of his was as Gus Witherspoon in the popular Our House television series – I would be remiss to not point out that he aided the Ewoks as Noa Briqualon in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor!
As always when we lose such an entertainer – we will dim the lights in the auditorium. Did you have a favorite role of Wilford Brimley? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.
Friends, just a couple of hours ago the much-awaited teaser trailer for Halloween Kills debuted – giving us our first glimpse at the follow-up to 2018’s Halloween. It is only a mere 33 seconds long but immediately the emotional response to Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her Daughter (Judy Greer) and Granddaughter’s (Andi Matichak) realization at what is about to occur feels very real and tugs at the heartstrings to say the least. Then as is to be expected – there is a quick shot of Michael Myers – before it is revealed that sadly Halloween Kills has been pushed from it’s October 2020 spot to October of 2021. Which I will admit isn’t exactly a shock considering how things are playing out at this time… but there is a pretty huge silver lining to that ‘bad news’ – more on that after you watch the teaser trailer.
It definitely looks like Laurie, Karen (Greer), and Allyson (Matichak) are not going to be able to start the healing process from the horrible events of the 2018 film any time soon. You also have to wonder what the kindly passerby in the pick up truck who gave them a lift at the end of the film is thinking with Laurie yelling in the back, right?
I mention a silver lining to the news that the film had been pushed back and that comes from a post on Twitter shared by none other than John Carpenter as well as Jamie Lee Curtis. An announcement addressing the understandable delay of the film – but as heartbreaking as it is for fans and those who worked on Halloween Kills to have to wait another year… Universal Pictures is going to also release it in IMAX.
In closing, a bit of exciting news with both the Halloween Kills teaser and the future IMAX presentation – even if we have to wait just a little longer to finally experience it. We just have to remind ourselves it is a mere 66 weeks and 2 days until we can once again revisit the cinematic town of Haddonfield and witness the continuing terror and tragedy that Michael Myers leaves in his wake.
Friends, a little over a week ago we lost Carl Reiner and now we have the unfortunate task to pass along the news that another legendary artist has passed away – as it has been confirmed that Ennio Morricone has died today. I accept that 91 years is indeed a long life and it cannot be denied that Morricone has left behind a truly staggering amount of music in film and television as a legacy that will be hard pressed to ever be matched – with 520 credits as a composer and his work used in over 300 soundtracks. But as I said in the article about Carl Reiner – I’m just not ready to say goodbye to someone I have admired for so many years – in this case a man who has delivered so many memorable film scores that I hold dear. Taking a quick glance at his IMDB page before I sat down to write this article – he had two projects from this year, an episode of a TV Mini-Series entitled Cine Chalom and a short film called On the Road with a future project, an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost listed as being in pre-production. I think it would be fair to say he was quite the prolific composer and before I get into paying my respects to Ennio Morricone I am going to share this trailer for the 2017 documentary Sad Hill Unearthed – which is about rebuilding the cemetery used in the The Good, The Bad and the Ugly – a powerful testament to the love of film and one you can watch on Netflix this very minute.
Ennio Morricone got his start scoring films and theatrical productions in ’55 – this was after he had a career as a trumpet player in various jazz bands. I have read online that his early work as a composer was as a ghost writer for other artists or by using pseudonyms on his music. I feel it would safe to say that he earned worldwide acclaim thanks to his work with Director Sergio Leone – the ‘spaghetti westerns’ starring Clint Eastwood as The Man with No Name.
I am going to do something a little different in this article – to honor the passing of Ennio Morricone I am going to present a handful of my favorite pieces of the numerous scores he worked on over the years. Starting off with The Ecstasy of Gold from The Good, the Bad and The Ugly – the third and final entry in the Dollars Trilogy.
Another one of my favorite soundtracks that Ennio Morricone composed is for Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables from 1987. This soundtrack was one of the very first I bought with the money I earned during the days working at a local video store in my youth – and many a night I would fall asleep listening to it.
While many of my favorite scores that Morricone created had a tendency to be uplifting or in some cases soothing to sit and listen to – his soundtrack however for John Carpenter’s The Thing from 1982 is anything but that – especially the track entitled Humanity (Pt. 2)!
I am going to end this article with a sampling of the score for Cinema Paradiso – it is the one Morricone soundtracks that ALWAYS causes me to cry when I sit and listen to the score. A score that is a fitting testament to the talent and passion for film and music that Ennio Morricone obviously possessed – a film that I believe I will watch this very evening to pay my respects.
Your friendly neighborhood soundtrack aficionado is back with a smorgasbord of summer listening!
I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I’m still not venturing out into a world that seems to have collectively forgotten that there’s a dangerous and highly contagious health hazard still out there, so what to do while staying inside? Ah, yes… soundtracks. There are always soundtracks to listen to. And it just so happens that some of your favorite soundtrack labels are gracing you with some new ones, and new editions of old favorites.
Dragon’s Domain Records is unleashing a trio of releases that’s… eclectic, to say the least. A new recording of Lee Holdridge’s score from the 2004 NBC miniseries 10.5, about a cataclysmic, west-coast-shaking earthquake, is probably the least obscure of the three; it’s worth noting that the miniseries was also co-written and directed by the late John Lafia of Child’s Play fame. Why a new recording? Due to the lion’s share of 10.5’s budget being thrown at stunts and special effects, there was only enough money left for an electronic score with no orchestra. Holdridge collaborated with MIDI wiz Robert Irving to try to make it sound orchestral, and it’s Irving who is behind the new version of the score, bringing more modern technology and samples to bear on that tug-of-war between “electronic instruments” and “orchestral sound”. 500 copies will be available.
The oddest of the three releases, if it’s not a now-forgotten 2004 disaster-flick miniseries? It’s an entire disc devoted to the works of composer Dr. Edward David Zeliff, who often provided the scores to religious films that had a somewhat limited audience. But his orchestral and choral works both large-scale and small are represented here – Beyond The Next Mountain, The Living Word, Under Fire, Ezekiel File, and Pilate’s Easter – in their original recordings. Volume One – wait, there are going to be further volumes? – will be limited to 500 copies, the first 50 of them signed by the composer.
The last of the Dragon’s Domain trio features Richard Band’s original score from 1978’s The Day Time Ended, which was only Band’s second foray into film scoring (his first, of course, being the infamous, MST3K-lampooned Laserblast, composed in collaboration with Joel Goldsmith), but his first created with an orchestra in mind. Band also contributes to the liner notes of this release, which has been remastered from the original session tapes. 500 CD copies will be available; all of the Dragon’s Domain releases also give buyers access to an instant download of a digital copy of the music, complete with a digital copy of the booklet, so technically…you don’t actually have to open the CDs.
Quartet Records has remastered and reissued Ennio Morricone’s album of music from John Carpenter’s 1982 classic The Thing, digging the original master tapes out of the ice and thawing them out because, really, what could go wrong? The original running order of Morricone’s album – which featured some music not used in the movie because late editing changes were rescored by Carpenter and Alan Howarth – is preserved for this CD release. As things would have it, at the time I’m writing this, The Thing is temporarily out of stock, but more copies will be pressed to meet demand – watch Quartet Records’ page closely, because it’ll probably go fast.
Varese Sarabande Records is delivering a couple of much-anticipated expanded releases as part of its limited-edition CD Club line, starting with Harold Faltermeyer’s score from The Running Man (1987). While The Running Man did have a soundtrack release alongside the film’s premiere, this CD edition more than doubles the number of tracks from 17 to 35, adds original cover artwork and liner notes, and gives the orignal records a fresh remaster. Pre-orders are being taken ahead of the August release of a CD edition of 2000 copies, as well as a double LP vinyl edition.
Getting not just a vinyl release but a picture disc release is another title from Varese’s vault, the songs from the Xena: Warrior Princess episode Lyre, Lyre, Hearts On Fire. The CD has been available since the episode’s premiere, but this LP edition is a new one, with packaging aimed, perhaps, at display rather than play. (On a personal note, I just never dug Lyre, Lyre‘s “cover album” selection of existing songs as much as I did the original numbers from the first Xena musical episode, The Bitter Suite.)
Varese is digging into its vault of already-released TV soundtracks for August’s other CD Club surprise, a remastered edition of 1995’s seaQuest DSV score by John Debney. If you measure the value of a soundtrack reissue by how many tracks it adds to the original, this one is worth the (re)investment: the original 1995 CD contained 14 tracks from the pilot episode, but this new edition balloons out to two discs, featuring a whopping 58 tracks spanning Debney’s music from the entire first season of the show. seaQuest fans parched for anything related to the much-missed show better be thirsty enough to jump on this one fast – only 1500 copies of the 2-CD seaQuest deluxe soundtrack will be pressed.
Looking ahead, Intrada has already start dropping hints about a late June release of a 2-CD edition of Hugo Friedhofer’s music from The Young Lions (1958). Whether this will be 2 CDs devoted entirely to that film, or if it’ll be sharing space with another classic film score, won’t be known until Intrada gives more details. As of now, there isn’t even a pre-order link available.
See? There’s a lot to listen to while you’re still practicing your social distancing and contemplating whether or not our future is a little too uncomfortably close to the plot of The Running Man.
Friends, on the Saturday Frights podcast as well as Facebook page, we have shared an awful lot of love for the films and even the podcasts of Mick Garris. I think it is easy to understand why as not only is his Post Mortem podcast one of the best shows for anyone interested in the horror genre – Garris in my personal opinion is one of the nicest people working in show business. Obviously it doesn’t hurt that he also happens to be a fantastic writer and Director – bringing us the likes of Critters 2, Psycho IV: The Beginning, The Stand, Riding the Bullet, Nightmare Cinema, to say nothing of being the one behind the Masters of Horror series on Showtime – as well as the legendary dinners that brought about the series. It was these dinners which started back in 2002 when Garris asked John Landis (An American Werewolf in London), Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, Joe Dante (The Howling), Don Coscarelli (Phantasm), John Carpenter (Halloween), Larry Cohen (It’s Alive), Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), Bill Malone (House on Haunted Hill), and Guillermo Del Toro (Crimson Peak) to a gathering. Not to get a touch maudlin but of that very first dinner – in which it was Guillermo who dubbed the gathering the ‘Masters of Horror’ – we have lost Cohen, Hooper, and just recently Gordon… a true blow to the horror film genre.
Now Mick Garris back in ’79 began hosting a program on the Z Channel entitled the Fantasty Film Festival – an interview show that featured the likes of William Friedkin, Harlan Ellison, Douglas Trumbull, John Boorman, William Shatner, and Steven Spielberg to name a few. It was in 1982 however when he was able to moderate a round table discussion of sorts with none other than John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and John Landis – where they touch upon the challenge of special effects as well as the MPAA and the results of test screenings. As I understand it, this was done to push the release of An American Werewolf in London and the upcoming releases of both The Thing and Videodrome – airing on the Z channel.