March 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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EDITOR’s RECOMMENDATION March 2002

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Compilation:
Hammer The Studio that Dripped Blood!  
James BERNARD, Mario NASCIMBENE, Carlo MARTELLI, Humphrey SEARLE, Christopher GUNNING, David WHITAKER, Benjamin FRANKEL   OSTs
  SILVA SCREEN RECORDS FILMXCD 357 2 CD SET   [68:01, 68:46]

Hammer Horrors

DISC 1

  • Dracula - James Bernard
  • Dracula Prince of Darkness - James Bernard
  • The Scars of Dracula - James Bernard
  • Dracula has Risen from the Grave - James Bernard
  • Taste the Blood of Dracula - James Bernard
  • Frankenstein Created Women - James Bernard
  • The Devil Rides Out suite - James Bernard
  • Kiss of the Vampire - James Bernard

DISC 2

  • One Million Years B.C. - Mario Nascimbene
  • When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth - Mario Nascimbene
  • Creatures the World Forgot - Mario Nascimbene
  • Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb - Carlo Martelli
  • She - James Bernard
  • The Abominable Snowman - Humphrey Searle
  • Quatermass II - James Bernard
  • Hands of the Ripper - Christopher Gunning
  • Vampire Circus - David Whitaker
  • Vampire Hunter - James Bernard
  • Curse of the Werewolf - Benjamin Frankel

I grew up watching Hammer horror movies (on TV as I’m too young to have seen them in the cinema!), but I think it would not be overstating the truth if I said that collectively those movies had a greater influence on my artistic tastes than anything else during my formative years and certainly musically they were like an invitation into another world, a darker, dangerous place where melody joined hands with dissonance and moved to the beat of the ‘Danse Macabre’. And of course when speaking of Hammer and their music there really is only one name that comes to mind, the man who created the ‘Hammer sound’, the late, lamented James Bernard. It was he who composed the music that accompanied my nightmares as a child, it who he who announced the ominous presence of Dracula and Frankenstein. And now with this magnificent compilation everyone gets an opportunity to experience the shudders and thrills of what is truly a unique musical style. There’s never quite been anything else like it.

Among the many, many highlights are the melancholy ‘Funeral in Carpathia’ from Dracula Prince of Darkness and the remarkable suite from Taste the Blood of Dracula, which is worth the price of the CD alone. The only real sadness when listening to the latter piece is how little of it actually appears in the film itself (at least based on a UK late night showing a few years back). Even so, this is an incredible achievement (particularly the stunning ‘Death of Lucy’) and is James Bernard at his very finest.

Elsewhere, Mario Nascimbene’s eight minute suite from One Million Years B.C. makes a strong impression and Bernard’s memorable themes from H. Rider Haggard’s mystical adventure She have become for me old favourites. Also the ‘Prologue’ from Vampire Circus is another outstanding piece and it’s a pity that David Whitaker’s masterpiece Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde wasn’t included too but we can’t have everything can we!? Perhaps Silva will do the decent thing and provide us with a follow-up collection!! As an extra treat there is the suite Vampire Hunter based on music written for a documentary concerning the most unpleasant bloodsucking creatures on the planet. Conceived as a tribute to Hammer horror this was the final work of James Bernard.

All in all a thoroughly wonderful collection of tremendous music. Miss it at your peril.

Mark Hockley

****(*)

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