Review: Monstrous Movie Music
4 / 5 Stars
Many times when we get re-recordings of soundtracks, we're treated to someone else's interpretation of the work and usually a quick one off in the studio mixing. The timing and the sound are seldom the way you heard it in the movie. Simply put, it always sounds "off". Producers Kathleen Mayne and David Schecter are two people who understand this and have done something wonderful. They've faithfully recreated soundtracks to classic horror and sci-fi movies from the 50's. Faithful not only to those composers' works but also in recreating the sound and the miking techniques commonly used when recording soundtracks. The results are amazing.
The music sounds and feels like it came straight from the 50s, the only difference being the high level of fidelity. For the first in their series (3 so far), Mayne and Schecter have chosen movies with prototypical 50's horror music. The scores are heavy on the brass and percussion and one of them, It Came From Outer Space, incorporates a theremin, the instrument used to create that spooky Woo-hee-ooo other-worldly sound. While the style of music may sound dated, it certainly doesn't detract from the enjoyment.
The CD sets the tone for everything right from the beginning with a couple of brief cuts from The Mole People. It immediately segues into the score for THEM!, one of the all time classic horror movies and still a prototype for modern monster movies such as Aliens and Tremors. The cues start off with a slow but urgent tempo as our heroes slowly discover the mystery behind a series of strange events in New Mexico. The pace quickens as the seek-and-destroy mission against the giant ants becomes the focus of the film. Composer Bronislau Kaper does an excellent job of giving the film a constant forward energy and punctuating the heroes' horrifying discoveries.
The music for It Came From Outer Space seems to perfectly embody our idea of what sci-fi/horror music from the 50's sounds like. Spooky and fast-paced for the most part, the score sometimes takes a break from the action for a bit of eerie introspective disquietude. It Came From Beneath the Sea, on the other hand, is almost all brass-heavy monster-on-the-loose (in this case a giant octopus) music. It gives the feeling that something is constantly being destroyed or being threatened.
What a magnificent find this is. Scores to classic sci-fi and horror movies from the 1950s done right. They may not be the original soundtracks, but these recreations are as close we're going to get (kudos also to conductor Masatoshi Mitsumoto). It must be said that while the style of music is quite different than the modern horror movie music to which we're used, these scores are incredibly fun to listen to. Not to be overlooked are the extensive liner notes detailing the creative history of each track, the numerous composers involved, and often times noting which other horror movies have borrowed them. If anything, this CD makes you want to check out these classic movies and watch them with a fresh perspective. I couldn't recommend this CD enough, especially to fans of horror movie scores.
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