Soundtracks Highlights This Week

Recently uploaded is an interview with composer Daniel Pemberton, whose music from the British-U.S. co-production Monster Moves (aka Huge Moves, Impossible Moves, and Mega Moves) is out as a downloadable album (which I also reviewed). Probably 95% of the album’s content is comprised of addictive themes and vocal works, and while the TV series is still unavailable on DVD, one can view samples of the music at work via YouTube. (Editor’s Advice: start with “Deep Deep Down”).

Just uploaded are reviews of two La-La Land CDs: Michael Linn’s Allan Quartermain and the City of Lost Gold (limited to 1200 copies), and the compilation Zatoichi: The Best Cuts 1967-1973 (limited to 1500 copies).

The release of Linn’s music (lightly based on Jerry Goldsmith’s themes from the first film, King Solomon’s Mines) might come as a surprise to some because a) the film itself was barely released by a dying Cannon Films; and b) most who saw the film will likely recall many scenes were tracked with material from Mines. Whereas the two films were shot in tandem in 1985, Lost City didn’t hit screens until 1987.

I can still recall the news announcement of their back-to-back filming, and wondering a while later if Lost City would ever be released. This, for Cannon-philes, is significant, because in 1987 the company was going through a number of problems which ultimately led to its demise. However, Lost City’s abbreviated theatrical release was probably more symptomatic of the company’s mid-eighties attempt to go mainstream and become a major studio (fat chance).

I still have a copy of a hefty Variety issue that’s peppered with multiple announcements where Cannon trumpeted major directors contracted to make art house films, including Andrei Konchalovsky’s Runaway Train (a good film), Jean-Luc Godard’s King Lear (an incoherent mess), and what appeared to be a dip into classics: Rusty Lemorande’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Train was released to critical acclaim, Lear was spat out on VHS, and Journey was shut down and retooled into one of the most incoherent efforts by a studio to salvage a bad film using $2.85 cents in leftover change. (One day I’ll do a piece on these films. One day. With stimulants, as I progress from good towards outright rabbit rubbish.)

La-La Land also released Runaway Train on CD, so it seems little by little some of the good music from Cannon’s archives is coming out. Wish list: how about some Gary Chang?

52-Pick Up is screaming for rescue from oblivion.

Chang was a fairly prolific composer in the eighties and early nineties, and wrote some inventive synth scores, although is his best work remains Shock to the System – a brilliant soundtrack + film. Other underrated scores screaming for release include Dead Bang (1989), Miami Blues (1990), and the eerie music from The Nightman (1992), a TV movie apparently only seen by me, and no one else.

Other soundtracks of note are Edwin Wendler’s Home: The Horror Story (2000) available as a downloadable album, John Ottman’s really striking score for 2009’s clunky Orphan (Varese), Henry Jackman’s Monster’s vs. Aliens (Lakeshore), and Christopher Young’s deliciously evil Drag Me to Hell (Lakeshore), all of which I reviewed for the October issue of Rue Morgue.

Other soundtracks of note which were covered for an upcoming RM issue are Craig Safan’s Fade to Black (1980), and J. Peter Robinson’s The Believers (1987).

Perseverance has done a wonderful job in releasing these scores, with Safan’s full score making its debut (in mono) as a composer promo, and Robinson’s Believers (limited to 1000 copies) remastered and expanded with complete cues and source material that actually reduces the repetitiveness that affected the shorter Varese LP.

Lastly, some fans may have missed TCM’s airing of The Night Digger / The Road Builder, a rare thriller film from 1971 scored by Bernard Herrmann. Each Tuesday TCM is airing Herrmann-scored films, and it was a shock to see Night Digger quietly buried among the more familiar Hitchcock titles. I’ll have a review of the film next week, seeing how this is one of the few Herrmann films that evaded home video.

Still waiting to see White Witch Doctor (1953) and King of the Khyber Rifles (1953).

Wake up, Fox.




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