FILMS… Three Sensationally Spooky Horror Tunes

#1960s #1970s

 

Your hair may stick up on end with these spine-tingling scores…

 

The first of my Wandering Through the Shelves for October has three of my favourite spooky themed celluloid soundtracks.

 

 

After a wee summer break from this collaboration, this is the next of my 2022 posts for this weekly entertainment-themed challenge from Wandering Through the Shelves.  For my first post (and possibly the last post) for October, the challenge was to pick three of my favourite horror film tracks / scores.

More about this blog’s 2022 blogging challenge is found HERE… and this page also includes the blogger’s final challenge for this month, if you are now keen to join this fun collaboration.

…. welcome to Thursday Movie Picks a weekly series where you share your movie picks each Thursday. The rules are simple: based on the theme of the week pick three to five movies and tell us why you picked them.

All my weekly contributions for 2022 are found HERE…  and my and others’ contributions for this particular topic are HERE. Please note I will be adding all links to this collab as I get them

The three films I’ve selected to illustrate this topic are Endless Night (1972), Twisted Nerve (1966) and The Visitor (1979)…  and if you click on these blue-themed titles below, you will find my reviews for the fantastic movies that they accompany. 

Now on with the show, let the orchestra begin…

 

Endless Night (1972)…

Bernard Herrmann – Endless Night (Opening Titles), Easy Library

I described this Agatha Christie adaptation in a list of my favourites and a more in-depth post coming soon. In this post, I described this favourite film as,

Mike Rogers shares his dreams and tells of the nightmare that unravelled them with his killer twist.

After the opening track, the film takes us to a love story with a horror catch… He is Mike (Hywel Bennett) and the protagonist who narrates his story and she’s Ellie (Hayley Mills), his murdered wife.

Their love story is told from the day they met and set to a stirring Bernard Herrmann score with romantic and haunting themes. This is the first of two films in this post which was composed by Bernard Herrmann. Herrmann was a long-term Hitchcock collaborator for films including Marnie (1964) and North by Northwest (1959).

For this British neo-noir, he added the eerie presence of the Moog synthesiser which adds more than a disturbing presence to this score. The presence of this instrument adds to the horror and indicates the blurring between reality and fantasy our protagonist experiences up to and after his wife’s untimely death. This film is a horror, neo-noir but ultimately a love story.

Writer, George Kaplan tells HERE that this film was a flop in America and went straight to TV there. Kaplan adds that the author, Agatha Christie had been unhappy with a graphic sex scene in this film adaptation of her book and…

“Endless Night, however, proved to be a disappointing experience for Herrmann, and, embarrassed by the final product, he turned down an invitation to attend a screening with the author’s husband.”

Personally, I find it the perfect score and you appreciate this more when you watch this film a second time. The opening score accompanied by cashing waves against some rocks, at night equates to the endless torment of the protagonist and narrator, Mike Rogers. The eeriness of those opening credit scenes and the themes in those other tracks add to the storytelling.

The opening track has repetitive tunes which you will find as the music for a song – that explains the title of the film –  included in the soundtrack.  The song co-relates with the title, with lines from the haunting William Blake poem, Auguries of Innocence. Part of this poem is chillingly put to music and this song is sung by Ellie in the film. The lyrics appear unwittingly true of her husband’s life in this heartrending scene… 

Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born 
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight 
Some are born to sweet delight 
Some are born to endless night 
 

This title and the themes then evoked in this soundtrack combined tell our protagonist’s story… and has a blend of wistfulness and love and longing until Herrmann’s final note.

 

Twisted Nerve (1966)…

Twisted Nerve by Bernard Herrmann, StuntmanAustin

Another Bernard Herrmann film soundtrack with another role for Hywel Bennett with Hayley Mills. This tune you might just recognise from the Quentin Tarantino movie, Kill Bill Volume 1 (2003). George Kaplan also writes about this horror slasher film track HERE saying,

“Herrmann struck on the novel idea of orchestrating the main theme for solo whistler accompanied by a queasy vibraphone and a brutal climax of horns.”

This film tells about a man who – after his brother’s death – appears to have two personalities. Georgie is the more innocent and childlike and the latter, Martin more sexually frustrated and chilling… After “Georgie” meets Hayley Mills’ Susan –  after the pair are accused of shoplifting – both his personalities find her attractive.

Then as these personalities’ different worlds collide, Martin stalks Susan, like a cat and its prey… as he whistles this eerie tune.

The Sight and Sound Magazine’s obituary for Hywel Bennett HERE describes Martin as,

one of cinema’s most striking depictions of evil, Bennett’s Martin Durnley resembles a Joe Orton character cut loose from its theatrical moorings, toying with the narrative’s protagonists in the manner of a satisfied cat.

However, it is the vulnerable Georgie, who becomes her friend, and who moves in with Susan and her mother… as these two personalities collide…

Interestingly Bennett and Mills, in their first of three films together, played a pair of inexperienced newlyweds in The Family Way (1966). This film appears more of a kitchen sink drama and surprisingly could have boasted a Herrmann score. However in Günther Kögebeh’s interview with Herrmann’s wife HERE she said that his friend Roy Boulting asked him to write this score, and Herrmann said;

Don’t have me. Have a young person. You want a composer who is the age and spirit of those two young people in the film.”  That’s when they got Paul McCartney…

 

The Visitor (1979)…

Stridulum Theme, Franco Micalizzi

Now for something completely different with the theme of an all-star Hollywood ensemble Italian horror, and a spooky kid film.  Starring 72-year-old actor /director John Huston – as Jerzy Colsowicz – heading a cast including Shelley Winters, Lance Henrikson and Glenn Ford. Franco Nero also has a role as a space Jesus. Space Jesus sets Jerzy Colsowicz on a mission to earth to find the Devil’s descendent, an 8 year old girl… cue this music.

It’s one that also is remembered for this Franco Micalizzi’s out of place composition, which steals Huston’s thunder…  This composer and soundtrack score writer was known for his Poliziotteschi films – that is Italian police-themed films – from the late 1960s and 1970s. He also composed the score for more horror films including David Keith’s directorial debut, The Curse (1987), and a Van Johnson crime film, From Corleone to Brooklyn (1979). Micalizzi also has a Quentin Tarantino connection as his music can be heard in Deathproof (2007) and Django Unchained (2012).

It’s hard to describe this track as a horror theme, but I love its place as an alien theme in this daughter of Satan Horror. This alien theme is also commented on HERE in an interview with the film screenwriter, Ovidio Assinitis about the behind the scenes story…

“With The Visitor, we were at the end of the ‘70s, which was the dawn of home computers. And that really inspired a lot of what was going on within the soundtrack, the special effects, and the visuals in general. We had a major orchestra, but at certain points we hid the fact that there were a hundred musicians, and layered in synthesized music. It created a more alien sound.”

It’s more unpredictable than those in the Horror genre, and this theme adds to this crazy storytelling. You’ll note in this plot, more than a few familiar tropes including telekinesis and a certain computer game for this film. It was filmed in the even more bizarre setting of Ted Turner’s house. But the most bizarre thing after this is the career of that spooky kid after this film as she signed up for a coming of age movie with International Velvet (1978)’s Tatum O’Neal and The Pirate Movie‘s Kristy McNicol in Little Darlings (1980)…

Other horror films with fantastic opening scores include… the atmospheric Asylum (1972), the 1970s pop songs from Kiki Dee for The Legacy (1978) and from Pentangle for The Ballad of Tam Lin (1970),  James Horner for a sci-fi horror with Brainstorm (1983), the unnervingly nice theme for Carrie (1976), the eerie then beguiling Deadly Strangers (1975), the funky The Devil Within Her (1975), the spooky Halloween (1978) and The Omen (1976).

If you have been reading carefully, you will notice that two have Hywel Bennett and Hayley Mills in the lead roles, two have inspired Quentin Tarantino tracks and all add to the score which puts the bomb into bombastic… as time freezes you in your tracks with these great movie opening scores…

And check out all my weekly contributions for 2022 are all found HERE…  

 


Don’t forget to read the other contributions for this topic on Wandering Through the Shelves link up HERE.

And tune in for my next post in December…


 

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