Column: Slicing Score: Sweeney Todd (2007)

By Maria Mitchell

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007). Composer: Stephen Sondheim.

The full edition of this film’s soundtrack contains a concise bio of Stephen Sondheim and a photo by Jerry Jackson. The lyrics to the numbers are reprinted and it’s interesting to read and hear the lyrics of “Alms, Alms!” that are omitted from the film. The soundtrack is interesting and well-represented. How well does a horror story fare as a musical? I have mixed feelings …

Maria MitchellColumn: Slicing Score: Sweeney Todd (2007)

Column: Slicing Score: Re-Animator and Bride of Re-Animator (1985; 1990)

By Maria Mitchell

Re-Animator and Bride of Re-Animator (1985; 1990). Composer: Richard Band.

Bride of Re-Animator‘s soundtrack is a challenge to obtain but worth the effort. It was still available on Amazon, last I checked and at the time I wrote this review, but it’s going fast. I snagged the last mint condition copy presently available, which is a merged edition of both Re-Animator and Bride of Re-Animator‘s soundtracks. It isn’t a wonder it’s going, going, soon to …

Maria MitchellColumn: Slicing Score: Re-Animator and Bride of Re-Animator (1985; 1990)

Column: Slicing Score: Wait Until Dark (1967)

By Maria Mitchell

Wait Until Dark (1967). Composer: Henry Mancini.

Blindness in Wait Until Dark was a handicap that the main character had to adapt to after having known sight. A soundtrack that accompanies blindness should epitomize blindness. The soundtrack to this film is one in which suspense creates a sound that is not only dark but kinetic and frightening, because it implies incessant motion without direction, guidance, or order. It sounds like chaos. It sounds dark restlessness and implies …

Maria MitchellColumn: Slicing Score: Wait Until Dark (1967)

Column: Slicing Score: Re-Animator (1985)

By Maria Mitchell

Re-Animator (1985). Director: Stuart Gordon. Composer: Richard Band.

The score to Psycho, composed by Bernard Herrmann, may have been the epitome of a score that slices sound, but Re-Animator‘s score is a score that splits a heart of darkness into shards of laughter. This score, I believe, was born, not of madness, but of affection and respect for a cornerstone of horror music contained between Herrmann’s original staves. This quality is an underrated and ignored aspect …

Maria MitchellColumn: Slicing Score: Re-Animator (1985)

Column: Slicing Score: Christine

By Maria Mitchell

Christine (1983). Original Score Soundtrack. Composed by John Carpenter.

Not many film scores have help from a sentient car that can willfully select music to express its evil through its possessed radio. Christine‘s was one of the lucky ones. This soundtrack, though, does not have the songs Christine’s radio plays in the film. It is purely the orchestral score. Plymouth fury, unadulterated and unabridged.

How do you greet the theme to a flaming car marauding down …

Maria MitchellColumn: Slicing Score: Christine

Column: Slicing Score: Sleepwalkers (1992)

Review: By Maria Mitchell

Sleepwalkers (1992). Score composed by Nicholas Pike.

Ailurophiles may have mixed feelings about this film. I know I do. I find the concept skewed but still interesting enough to pull a good soundtrack out of its music supervisors. I’ve got to mention that much of the soundtrack’s atmosphere makes use of what may be generically termed “jungle music”. A good portion of the score is relaxing music brought to an abrupt halt by quick, miniature crescendos. …

Maria MitchellColumn: Slicing Score: Sleepwalkers (1992)

Column: Slicing Score: House of Usher (1960)

By Maria Mitchell

House of Usher (1960). Composed by Les Baxter.

Sibling rivalry is a real bramble in the craw once one is found ingratiated in its fury. If anyone thinks death is going to make it any better, Edgar Allen Poe’s story “The Fall of the House of Usher” says, Don’t hold your breath.

Les Baxter’s score to Roger Corman’s film, House of Usher, is a subtle one. Its subtlety mimics the quiet, clinical tiptoeing of a jealous, …

IFPColumn: Slicing Score: House of Usher (1960)

Column: Slicing Score: Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

By Maria Mitchell

Bubba Ho-Tep (soundtrack, 2002). Composer: Brian Tyler.

Bubba Ho-Tep is a movie that gleefully shatters the mores of horror films. Based on the short story by Joe R. Lansdale, the movie has protagonists that are old, weak and thought to be insane by their caregivers at the rest home where they spend their elderly days. Through the course of the story, Elvis Presley and Jack Kennedy reclaim their dignity, as they defend their souls against a lethal …

IFPColumn: Slicing Score: Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

Column: Slicing Score: The Boys from Brazil (1978)

By Maria Mitchell

Slicing Score: The Boys from Brazil (1978, soundtrack). Composer: Jerry Goldsmith.

Waltz time is a metrical epitome of elegance. A Strauss Waltz is the musical backdrop for the film adaptation of Ira Levin’s book, The Boys from Brazil. There is little in the main titles to suggest anything beyond a lush, sweeping, romantic theme. Such trickery is common in horror and suspense film music.

What makes this story appealing as a horror story is its dark …

IFPColumn: Slicing Score: The Boys from Brazil (1978)

Column: Slicing Score: Dolores Claiborne (1995)

By Maria Mitchell

Dolores Claiborne (1995, soundtrack). Composed by Danny Elfman.

Depression is a horrid thing. It can take something promising and turn it into a nightmare. Why is this emotion worth expressing in literature, music and other artistic mediums? It often needs to be expressed so that this emotion can be coursed towards another, more productive experience, even if the emotion isn’t always expressed in a coherent way. Dolores Claiborne, the film adaptation of the book of the …

IFPColumn: Slicing Score: Dolores Claiborne (1995)

Shivers and Sighs: Column: Slicing Score: Psycho (1960)

By Maria Mitchell

Psycho (1960). Composed and conducted by Bernard Herrmann.

Conflicts between familial love and romantic love are familiar for many characters in cinema. No matter what type of love is being expressed, all love has a common denominator: devotion. For Norman Bates, the conflict was which did he harbor a greater devotion to: his mother or a woman he physically desired? The gravity and severity of devotion can twist a person’s mind into hideous convolutions. It is the …

IFPShivers and Sighs: Column: Slicing Score: Psycho (1960)

Angels and Demons Week: Column: Slicing Score: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

By Maria Mitchell

Rosemary’s Baby (soundtrack). Composer: Christopher Komeda, 1968.

The Devil in cinema pops up unexpectedly. In 1956, Catholic Cardinal Spellman and Episcopalian Bishop Pike clashed hotly over the movie Baby Doll, which Spellman denigrated as pornographic and Pike declared profoundly-Christian in message. Their difference of opinion made national headlines. I find this historical snippet interesting and relevant to this review because it illustrates how film has the ability to rattle organized religion to its core. Rosemary Woodhouse raised …

IFPAngels and Demons Week: Column: Slicing Score: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)