Soundtrack of the Week- The Amityville Horror (1979)

Soundtrack of the Week- The Amityville Horror (1979)

This week’s Soundtrack of the Week is for the 1979 haunted house (hoax!) The Amityville Horror.

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This soundtrack is amazing as theres so much going on and so much detail and nuance that might not be noticed on first listening/viewing.

If there was music that would be perfect for such fare it would be sinister and utterly unsettling children’s voices singing a lullaby cum nursery rhyme. Thats what we get here and it works beautifully. However, this basic coda is repeated throughout the film but each time is made to sound even more disturbing with added squeals and shrieks from a waterphone being used more and more each time. This perfectly mirrors the events in the film as they get darker and much more disturbing as time goes on.

There are also sounds of screeching, white noise and static that are used to blinding effect as undercurrents for some of the compositions. Theres even a track which is just the sound of a bass-like rumble to represent the unseen, omnipresent evil presence in the house that is one of the most unsettling and disquieting things I’ve ever heard on a soundtrack.

It’s no wonder that this film music is so brilliant when you consider that it was composed by Lalo Schifrin who wrote the amazing score for Dirty Harry and also composed some pieces for the aborted score for William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. Theres a story why this wasn’t used in the finished film in Friedkin’s autobiography of why they fell out over the music written and why they still unfortunately don’t speak.

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The edition of the Amityville Horror soundtrack that I have is the Quartet Records Spanish double CD edition that has the mono film score and also collects together the surviving stereo tracks along with loads of added and previously released tracks. Theres even a track of Schifrin’s SFX track that was used in the film. The number of tracks here is breathtaking. If you’re going to buy this soundtrack, look for this edition. You won’t be disappointed.

Book/Publication of the Week- Fangoria Magazine

Book/Publication of the Week- Fangoria Magazine

It was in 1986 when I discovered Fangoria Magazine. A comic book store in a beat up shopping arcade in York in the UK had started stocking it on import from the US. I instantly began buying it and fell in love with the publication. 

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The down at heel (but still sadly missed) Davygate Arcade in York, UK where I bought my first issue of Fangoria from in 1986.

There was a brief time after that that Fangoria couldn’t be bought in the UK anymore as SS Thatcher had purposely banned it’s import and other similar ones (Gorezone and the French Vendredi 13 were two such) as they were viewed as being obscene and as the spectre of the Video Nasty moral panic from a few years earlier was still looming large. But this didn’t last long and the magazines were restocked and horror fans were kept happy. 

A couple of years after this I started to escape the small town of York and escape to the big city of Leeds which was close by. There was a great film memorabilia store there called Movie Boulevard that stocked actual back issues of Fangoria that covered the late 70’s/early 80’s golden era of the slasher films and the time period when new horror movies were seemingly being released every week. I picked up many older issues from there including issue number 1 and also the issues that featured Halloween 2 & 3 on it’s front covers, amongst others.

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The Halloween sequels featured on Fangoria’s front covers

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When I moved to London to study Film in the early 90’s I found even more back issues in the amazing film stores there including the Music and Video Exchange in Notting Hill that were selling issues for as cheap as 50p a pop!

So what was it/is it that makes Fangoria so indispensable? In a word- everything. The articles on new releases, the pieces written about classics from the past and forgotten gems that are still unjustly under the radar of most horror hounds and the essays on films ripe for reappraisal that were criticised and ridiculed on first release by critics who sneer at most horror.

There were also pieces on the still vile MPAA and how they were trying to butcher the horror fare being released back then. In fact, I remember Fango’s editor Tony Timpone being one of the few people defending horror as a genre against the censors and so called ‘moral guardians’ in the US at that time. 

But it was also the ads for horror masks, for soundtracks and t-shirts. And it also featured the classified column which contained horror-based snippets from readers and their profound offerings (‘Jason SUX!!!’). 

To me, Fangoria felt like a vital piece of Americana, a gorgeous monument of American popular culture that only confirmed even more my love of this very special country over the pond.

Fangoria was also loved by those in the horror film industry. There were even pictures of actors on the sets of various productions reading the magazine.

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There were even cameos of the publication in various prominent films.

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Debbie reads Fangoria in a hammock in Friday the 13th Part 3D…

 

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…perusing an article on Tom Savini

 

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Her enjoyment of the Godzilla piece was interrupted though. You know what happens next…

It’s funny that a magazine can fully encapsulate that golden phase of my horror obsessed childhood. Fortunately one does and that’s Fangoria. It’s THAT special to me and thousands of others all over the world.

Fangoria continues to this day and is still as great as ever even though the golden age of horror is well and truly over. I’m glad it’s still being published. Now, we just need gorgeous coffee table books/compendiums of it’s back issues.

Until this is the case we can still look at back issues which have been scanned by others and ready to be perused due to the beauty of the internet. The Halloween 2 issue is here whilst the Halloween 3 issue is here. In fact, there are LOADS more issues on this site which can be found here

Poster of the Week- The Beast in the Cellar (1970)

Poster of the Week- The Beast in the Cellar (1970)

This week’s Poster of the Week is for the 1970 Beryl Reid shocker The Beast in the Cellar. Ms Reid deserves an article regarding her stellar output all of it’s own and one day that will happen.

This movie was actually released not just on it’s own in the UK but also as a double bill with the equally great Blood on Satan’s Claw and this is the quad that has grabbed my attention.

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Check out the almost goofy caricature of the monster used on this poster. The beast in the actual film was neither goofy or cartoonesque in the movie and so maybe this device was used so that he could take centre stage on the film’s poster without causing too much controversy for being too scary.

Whilst you’re perusing this gorgeous piece of art here’s the equally impressive Australian daybill and the UK quad poster for the film’s release on it’s own. I’m loving Beryl’s shocked expression on both.

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The Australian daybill…
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…and the UK quad poster

Poster of the Week- Westworld (1973)

Poster of the Week- Westworld (1973)

This weeks Poster of the Week goes to the classic sci-fi nightmare that is Westworld from 1973.

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There are so many brilliant images here that sum up the movie- the iconic image of Brynner’s demented robot gunslinger, the technician sat in front of a bank of monitors and control panels, the technological font used for the film’s title, the tagline that has indeed gone worng…

And whilst we’re at it, take a look at the similarly brilliant posters for the film’s sequel Futureworld, (loving this tagline too) and Westworld’s Japanese and Belgian posters. All gorgeous.

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Possibly the most colourful movie poster ever made. And possibly the best tagline ever too.

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A similarly iconic image used for the Japanese poster

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The pop art genius of the Belgian poster. Green skin is always cool.

Poster of the Week- Freaky Friday (1976)

Poster of the Week- Freaky Friday (1976)

This week’s Poster of the Week is one that is framed and adorns one of the walls in my flat! It’s artist Brian Bysouth’s extraordinary poster for the 1976 ‘body switch’ comedy Freaky Friday.

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The attention to detail is amazing with several scenes and characters from the film being depicted and drawn so well!

I’m so glad that a film that is now seen as a family viewing classic that effortlessly captured the goofy 70’s zeitgeist of it’s time should have a poster drawn with such love and imagination by an artist such as Bysouth. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if I saw this artwork outside a cinema back then and didn’t know anything about the film, I’d instantly venture inside to investigate further which is one of the effects of great film artwork.

To see portions of the poster in more detail please head on over to the excellent Film On Paper website.

It’s almost as if a great film inspires other great artwork for it’s advertising. Check out the German and American posters for the same film.

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How Freaky Friday was advertised in Germany…

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…and America

Poster of the Week- Taxi Driver (1976)

Poster of the Week- Taxi Driver (1976)

I was 14 and the exact right age to watch Taxi Driver for the first time. The perfect movie about alienation being watched by a moody teenager who felt completely alienated.

I would regularly venture from my hometown of York to the bustling neighbouring city of Leeds and it was on my next excursion after seeing Taxi Driver that I sought out the UK quad poster in a film memorabilia shop called Movie Boulevard (unfortunately long gone). The perfect movie (it’s still my favourite film to this day followed by John Carpenter’s Halloween and John Waters’ Female Trouble) had to have the perfect poster. And it did.

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Lead character Travis Bickle walking down a New York street, completely alone in one of the biggest and busiest cities in the world. The tagline ‘On every street in every city there’s a nobody who dreams of being a somebody’ is one of the poignant and apt in film history.

It’s strange how a film and it’s iconography can take on a life of it’s own. The ‘You talkin’ to me?’ line is one of the most quoted amongst cineastes and the general public alike but is also misunderstood and misinterpreted when taken out of context. Stills from Taxi Driver have also been taken out of context and made into posters to be hung on teenager’s walls. Strangely they seem to dwell solely on Travis holding guns which is alarming. I’m glad the studio made UK quad emphasised the loneliness aspect rather than the macho/firearms angle.

Soundtrack of the Week- The Warriors (1979)- Remastered and Expanded Edition

Soundtrack of the Week- The Warriors (1979)- Remastered and Expanded Edition

I can still remember the first time I watched The Warriors. It was one of my brother’s favourite films and I was captivated from the first frames showing the neon of the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island and the following nocturnal subway scenes. Then we see different gangs from different boroughs travelling to a kind of ‘big gang summit meeting’ if you will, each with their own identities, uniforms and threats of danger. Utterly intoxicating.

The soundtrack is a mix of the actual pop songs that several key scenes in the film hinged upon such as ‘In The City’ and ‘Love is a Fire’ and the dark, twisted psychedelia incidental music composed by Barry De Vorzon that was also a huge part of the film. Tracks such as The Fight and Baseball Furies Chase feature on the original soundtrack tracklisting and illustrated their respective scenes perfectly.

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The original Warriors soundtrack

But luckily for Warriors fans, La La Land Records released a remastered and expanded edition of the soundtrack that features a huge amount of De Vorzon’s music that featured in the original film but wasn’t included on the tracklisting for the original soundtrack. There are also tracks unused in the film that are just as brilliant and released for the first time.

Hence, we finally get the music exactly as it features in the film for the opening scene (this has been unreleased until now), the sinister and disquieting music used for the scene in which the rollerskated Punks and The Warriors confront each other in the Union Square subway station and the music used when The Riffs learn the truth about The Warriors and that they didn’t kill Cyrus.

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The remastered and expanded Warriors soundtrack

This music is absolutely essential to the film and makes this expanded edition just as brilliant as the original release. Bask in the glory of this nightmarish score that perfectly accompanied this tale of a crime-ridden Big Apple that was rotten to the core, full of criminal delinquent youth but more exciting and brilliant because of it.

And to finish, here’s some pictires of The Warriors soundtrack on 8 Track!

 

 

Soundtrack of the Week- Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Soundtrack of the Week- Dawn of the Dead (1978)

A peach of a soundtrack to look at is the Trunk Record’s compilation of some of the De Wolfe library music that was used within George A Romero’s masterpiece Dawn of the Dead. The fact that Romero used muzak that would be played inside a shopping mall within a film set in a shopping mall was both genius and audacious.

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To use music that was intended as background music at best and drag it centre stage and use it within a film that would be placed under the microscope and examined closely by both critics and audiences was quite a gamble. Would the plastic music cheapen the film and dilute it’s power? Would critics and audiences alike ridicule the film because of  the music used within it?

The answer was a resounding NO! Romero’s vision was so precise, well defined and strong that the use of library music added yet another layer of meaning to the film. Hence we get the goofy genius of The Gonk by Herbert Chappell, the otherworldly and futuristic Figment by Park, the strangely introspective and minimalist Desert de Glace by Pierre Arvay and the melancholic Sun High by Simon Park all used to underscore and emphasise key scenes within the film.

Just as the tracks gave Dawn of the Dead more meaning, so the film also gave the tracks a new dimension of meaning. It was the cinematic equivalent of Andy Warhol’s silk screens of Campbell soup cans and their being analysed in art galleries after being taken out of the supermarket. Genius.

I’ve heard songs from Dawn also used in schools programmes, porno movies, episodes of The Sweeney and Prisoner Cell Block H. That’s a testament to the tracks brilliance and versatility.

This collection of these songs hangs together very well indeed and feels like revisiting old friends as Dawn replays in your head as you listen to them. Essential.

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Poster of the Week- Carrie (1976)

Poster of the Week- Carrie (1976)

 

New feature! Every week I’ll be presenting one of my favourite film posters. I actually think of film art as art in it’s own right. I’m sure visitors to this website feel the same way.

This first poster is the iconic UK poster for Brian De Palma’s classic horror movie Carrie from 1976.

The UK quad poster was actually censored as it was felt that the shot of Carrie covered in pigs blood would be too graphic for the general public of the day. And hence why said pic of her was actually presented in negative.

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The uncensored poster resplendent with the original pic is shown below.

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But there was another poster that was made depicting a note from Carrie that warned people who had seen the film from warning their friends about some of the scares the film held so that the film wouldn’t be ruined by word of mouth.

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An iconic film with iconic imagery, Carrie is a classic on every level imaginable.

Review- The Night Visitor (1971) ****

Review- The Night Visitor (1971) ****

This Swedish thriller was long thought to be lost. I’m glad it’s now newly discovered and released on Blu ray.

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It tells the tale of a mental institution resident who is thought to have escaped to take revenge on the people involved in his case who forced him to plead insanity. But if he escaped, how did he do it as it seems impossible? Also, doesn’t returning back to the asylum after he has committed the crime just as impossible?

Max Von Sydow plays Salem, the criminal in question and is (predictably) brilliant in the lead. In fact, all of the actors are fantastic with great support from acting heavyweights such as Liv Ullman and Trevor Howard. Theres even a small supporting role by Gretchen Franklin- Ethel Skinner (from 1980’s episodes of EastEnders) herself! No sign of her Willie though (but there is a parrot).

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The locales are gorgeous and provide a very picturesque backdrop to the film’s events whether it be the large imposing monolith of the institution or the gorgeous snow-laden villages that Salem escapes to.

The ending is unexpected and completely from left-field. No wonder the film ends with Salem laughing at the absurdity of it.

A low key delight.

4 out of 5 stars