Halloween Head


by Tony Maygarden

Dunwich Horror LP cover

The Dunwich Horror, music composed
by Les Baxter

The Dunwich Horror, based on a story by H. P. Lovecraft, was released in 1970 and starred Sandra Dee (Tammy!?) and Dean Stockwell. Les Baxter, one of the kings of '50s and '60s exotica and lounge music, digs in musically with a strong central theme, blaring brass, booming drums and a good dose of eerie theremin. Always hip to new sounds, I do believe Baxter utilizes the then very new Moog synth in a number of places. He makes good use of his exotica roots with lots of percussion on "Devil Cult" and "Strange Sleep." The only real complaint is that the main theme is rehashed a bit too often. The cover pictured is the 1979 reissue on Varese Sarabande. The LP was first released on the American International label.


Westworld LP cover

Westworld, music composed by Fred Karlin

Karlin's score to this robot gone amok sci-fi thriller consists largely of ersatz country/bluegrass/honky tonk and baroque (from a subplot?) stylings. However, four cuts ("Chase," "Robot Repair," "The Gunslinger," and "Chase Part 2") have a real dissonant mechanical/industrial sound to them, with some nifty electronic elements. The liner notes state that on these four cuts "all instruments and electronic music performed by Fred Karlin." It's too bad he didn't get a chance to score the whole film this way. Fans of early industrial music might want to check it out. Released in 1973.


Videodrome LP cover

Videodrome, music composed by Howard Shore

It's fitting that the music score to a film about the potential nightmare of newfangled technology utilized the latest (at the time) music technology: the Synclavier synthesizer system. Shore dials in what sounds like a large pipe organ in places, playing dirge like melodies, and in other places the Synclavier does a pretty good job of imitating a string section. For a lot of the score, though, he uses totally new electronic sound colors. The mixed sound effect collage in "Welcome to Videodrome" is pretty amazing (and creepy). Sound effects are fully integrated into the score throughout, which was fairly unique for the time. Synth programming by Tom Coppola, computer programming by Peter Hedeman and Mauray Rosenfeld, sound effect programing Peter Burgess, sound effect montage by Paul Freedman. Released in 1982 on Varese Sarabande.


Young Frankenstein LP cover

Young Frankenstein, music composed by
John Morris

Young Frankenstein is a parody of Frankenstein monster films, so Morris' orchestral score goes along for the ride, not getting in the way of the jokes. Speaking of jokes, most of the album consists of comedic dialogue from the film. Very funny. The biggest laugh is the version of "Puttin' on the Ritz" by Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) and the Monster (Peter Boyle). Also, there's a disco version of the "Young Frankenstein" theme by Rhythm Heritage. Nice gatefold cover with lots of stills. Released in 1975.



Cat People LP cover

Cat People, music by Giorgio Moroder,
title song with David Bowie

Disco king Moroder takes a turn at writing a horror soundtrack, with mixed results. If you like horror music you can dance to, then this is for you. "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" with David Bowie works well over the film's titles.


Jack the Ripper, music composed by
Jimmy McHugh and Pete Rugolo, arranged and
conducted by Pete Rugolo

Pete Rugolo and Jimmy McHugh seem an odd pairing for the soundtrack to this 1960 version of the infamous London serial killer. Rugolo was a well established Jazz arranger and composer, while McHugh was better known as a show tune writer. They utilize ethereal voices, pipe organ, harpsichord and perhaps the hint of a hurdy-gurdy to add period flavor. The loud, dynamic brass parts (undoubtedly the work of Rugolo) sound a little out of place, though. "Ripper Kills Gateman" is an effective boozy barroom waltz, while "Chase the Hunchback" features a creepy, driving harpsichord line.



Gothic LP cover

Gothic, music composed by Thomas Dolby

This energetic score by synth rocker Dolby is performed mostly on a Fairlight synthesizer, with some of the tracks scored for orchestra. He brings some new ideas to the horror score genre, such as bringing his electronic dance sounds into what is a period movie. "The Devil is an Englishman" sounds like a Top 40 hit from 1987, not 1820.


Gothic LP cover Troll LP cover

Troll, music composed by Richard Band

Unearthly choirs, synth bursts, scrambling cellos (indicating the Troll, no doubt), lots of quiet atmospheric passages, and a lot that sounds too much like dozens of other horror film scores results in a soundtrack that doesn't really have much wrong with it, just not much that's right with it.