The movies covered by this collection are undeniably classics. Without the
cheesy yet straight-faced approach of the Roger Corman productions and Vincent
Price's spot-on casting, the horror movie of today wouldn't know what to
do with itself.
The late nights you may well have spent watching re-runs of them won't prepare
you for the disc sadly. This is hard-edged stuff - often unpalatably so,
as in the opening cue from "The Pit & The Pendulum". This begins the
disc's bulk coverage of Les Baxter's material. A man who constantly pursued
the exotica; as witness his theremin albums of the forties and fifties. "Pit"
is followed by "The Sphinx" for the "The Edgar Allen Poe Suite", which at
first seems as if it'll sustain some semblance of tonality, with piano stabs
and stately strings but then devolves into a weird synth denouement.
This is the peaks and troughs experience of the album as a whole really.
Just as your ears prick up to a moment of tenderness (e.g. the delicate and
lovely "Cask of Amontillado"), it's followed hard upon by something that
immediately breaks the spell (in this example, by some truly uncomfortable
passages for high strings in "The Tell - Tale Heart"). This applies to the
nth degree for the almost 20 minutes of "Cry of the Banshee", with plenty
of aural discomfort to endure - although it ends on a nice beat from tambourine
and percussion over string-led melody.
Sad to say, the most consistently enjoyable piece of the album is John Cacavas'
"Horror Express" which fills out the running time at the end. Though slightly
dated by the mores of seventies music (whistling, funky guitar, etc) it is
nonetheless an engaging 20 minutes or so.
To those who really relish recalling late night horror specials, this will
undoubtedly hold many memories. Otherwise it's all just a little too scary.