Invaders local, and from way out there!

As we say goodbye (and good riddance) to January – cold, grey, blacchy and consistently the most ideal month for migraines – we present reviews of things invasive, lethal and gooey, although none in this week’s wave are related to anything viral or body-snatching.

That reference is, of course, tied to Warner’s stinky remake of Jack Finney’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which ensured rewrites, reshoots, re-edits, and the addition of what else, a car chase when the first edit didn’t please the producers. We’ll have a review of Invasion next week, but for now, here are some genuinely entertaining efforts.

On the DVD front, we have a review of Chris Gorak’s Right At Your Door, a creepy tale of an already fractured couple affected by a dirty bomb blast in Los Angeles. Gorak’s directorial debut features an impressive production design for such a low budget film, and the lack of a specific antagonist means this tale of modern paranoia will age extremely well as things on the planet get nuttier and weirder. Released by Maple (Canada) and Lionsgate (U.S.A.), it’s a solid DVD release that once again features another arresting poster campaign that’s become a signature of Lionsgate’s smart publicity department.

Also of note from Maple is Joshua (2007), a smart thriller about a young boy who conceives and executes the vicious downfall of his family when he gets jealous of all the hugs and kisses being poured on his new shiny happy baby sister. It’s been compared to the Omen, but George Ratliff’s film deals with a kind of primordial evil that kicks in when the self-preservation urge goes into overdrive. Maple’s loaded DVD features the same contents as the U.S. disc released by Fox, and deserves a look amid the usual crop of blah thrillers and lame remakes.

We’ll have a review of Anchor Bay and Starz Home Entertainment’s The Girl Next Door shortly, which will probably be regarded as one of the toughest dramas to sit through in recent years. (It’s billed as a horror flick, but this careful adaptation of Jack Ketchum’s best-selling novel is a terrifying depiction of child abuse.)

In the soundtrack department, we’ve reviews of two new titles from MovieScore Media and Film Music Downloads, Michael Wandmacher’s The Killing Floor (2007), and The Killing of John Lennon, with the latter marking a rare return to feature film by standout composer Martin Kiszko.

And from Monstrous Movie Music comes the first of two original score recordings. MMM have deservedly earned a high reputation for the faithful, full-blooded re-recordings of classic monster music, and both The Blob and The Intruder (1962) mark the label’s first original score releases.

We’ll have a review of Herman Stein’s Intruder shortly, but we thought in keeping with this week’s theme we should start with The Blob (and other creepy sounds). Filled with the usual fat & detailed liner notes, the CD contains the complete Blob score by Ralph Carmichael (including his unused main title music and some outtakes), plus a real treat for fans of trash cinema: stock music cues from the Valentino Productions Music Library.

A lot of fine mood music was composed for music libraries, much of it used for TV and feature film productions that couldn’t or didn’t want an original score, and among the composers represented on this disc are Roger Roger, Mario Nascimbene, and Angelo F. Lavagnino. Roger’s music is of note because many of the selected horror/suspense mood cues make up a good portion of the score fitted for Joseph Green’s nutbar gore film, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. Sometimes haunting, jazzy, or just plain weird, the music is presented unedited in clean mono, and is another reason this limited CD is a must-have for horror and soundtrack fans.

Lastly, we’ve also got an interview with Tim Ferrante, the producer and bigwig of new soundtrack label Elysee Productions. The label’s debut release, The Mad Doctor of Blood Island, features Tito Arevalo’s complete score to this exploitation classic with John Ashley, and may well be the first widely available commercial release of film music by a Philippines composer. Similarly packed with detailed liner notes, we’ll have a review of the CD soon (my Rue Morgue review has to run first), but those interested in how this rare gem came to CD should read our interview with Ferrante, a producer and fan of many unsung composers who made their mark writing great music for classically sleazy drive-in fodder.

One of the composers highlighted in the Q&A is Joe Greene, a veteran jazzman who scored three of Albert Zugsmith's exploitation films, including On Her Bed of Roses (aka Psychedelic Sexualis). The film was apparently released on VHS by Something Weird Video and is LONG overdue for a DVD release, just like Greene's score deserves a CD release. The original soundtrack LP came out on the short-lived Mira label in 1966. I used to see the album cover in used LP bins for years, and it was worth taking a chance on this odd little album. Because it remains unavailable on CD, we've also added a review of the 12" platter.


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