3 August 2009

A Selection of Soundtracks

I've been listening to some film soundtracks lately and thought it'd be a nice idea to share a few of them with you. There's no real rhyme nor reason to these selections, they're just pieces of music that I quite like from a variety of films, some odd, some rare, most incredible. If, after listening to them, you're intrigued enough to check out some of these movies, great.

Please note: These tracks are made available for evaluation/review purposes only. Please do not attempt to download these tracks - buy the albums instead and support the artists. Right, that's the legal bit done - let's listen to some strange music.

Death Line (US title: Raw Meat)

This is a 1972 horror movie starring Donald Pleasance as the crusty policeman Inspector Calhoun. A number of people start going missing from the London Underground and it transpires that they're being snatched by an inbred cannibal who is the direct descendant of a group of rail workers who were trapped at an uncompleted station years before when the tunnel collapsed. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a look if only for the cannibal who, after years in the darkness with only the sound of tube announcements to break the silence, tries to communicate by using the phrase, "Mind the doooooors..." Awful, schlocky effects, but entertaining nonetheless. Also, if you do track it down, look out for a brief cameo from the maestro of horror, Christopher Lee. I'm led to believe that the only reason for his appearance was so they could mention his name in the publicity, thus drawing in eager fans. The bastards.

Track: Death Line - Main Title

El Topo (The Mole)

This film is mental, yet strangely beautiful and compelling. It hails from the twisted mind of Alejandro Jodorowsky who also brought us the equally bizarre Santa Sangre. Dripping with occult and religious symbolism, El Topo features some of the strangest visuals you're likely to see committed to celluloid - one that leaps directly to mind is "the gunfighter" - an armless man who carries around a legless man in a leather sling on his back. Real amputees were used in this and, in one memorable scene, they try to climb a ladder, with mixed results. Whether this is representative of some deep existential point Jodorowsky was trying to make, or he simply thought it would be funny to watch, we may never know. El Topo is full of this sort of thing and it certainly isn't an easy film to watch. However, as cult classics go, chuck out your Rocky Horror Picture Show DVD, toss The Blues Brothers into the bin, and seek out a real cult movie.

Track: El Topo - Main Title

The Black Hole

I have a confession to make - I've never watched Disney's The Black Hole. I decided to remedy this recently by, ahem, availing myself of a copy of the movie. I think I managed to get through about ten minutes of it before switching it off, mainly because IT IS AS DULL AS DITCHWATER. Seriously, it's quite astoundingly dull. Perhaps, as a child, I would have been captivated by it but, as an adult with a rapidly decreasing attention span, it failed to grab me. But the music, ah now that's another matter entirely. John Barry creates a stirring, orchestral score for the film that is a delight to listen to. Give this a go and see what you think.
John Barry fact: Foul-mouthed comedian and magic genius Jerry Sadowitz is a big fan of John Barry's work. See? I bring you pearls.

Track: The Black Hole - Main Title

The Wicker Man

What can I tell you about The Wicker Man that you don't know already? Strangely, I'd never seen this film until about ten years ago when a friend urged me to watch it. I sat down, saw a little sea-plane flying around, heard some strange sort of folk music and a bloke singing about corn, and was instantly unimpressed. However, within moments, the sea-plane had landed at Summerisle and the magic began. I don't think I've ever changed my opinion of a film quite so quickly. It's a wonderful movie that easily stands repeated viewings and, although this is an overused phrase, hasn't aged at all - there's something wonderfully otherworldly about the island that means you wouldn't be surprised if it still existed in that form in the present day. Simply wonderful.

Track: The Wicker Man - The Landlord's Daughter

Dawn Of The Dead (1978)

Forget about running zombies. They are an abomination. Romero's shambling, blank-eyed motherfuckers are much scarier. You see, it doesn't matter how fast you are, how many guns you've got, or how well-barricaded in you think you are, eventually your food will spoil, your bullets will run out, and the masses of perambulating corpses outside will pull your hidey-hole to pieces. Zombies have the advantage simply because of their sheer numbers, their stubborn unwillingness to die, and their hunger for warm flesh. Zombies represent death, and no matter how fast you run, you can't escape destiny.
Dario Argento and his band 'Goblin' famously created a lot of the tracks for this movie, along with a great deal of library music. I'm chucking a couple of tracks in here, although it was a real struggle to narrow it down to just two.

Track: Dawn Of The Dead - L'alba Dei Morti Viventi (Dawn Of The Living Dead)

Track: Dawn Of The Dead - Sympathy For The Dead

Q - The Winged Serpent

A fantastic little movie from the early 80's which actually has more of a 70's feel to it. The late David Carradine stars as a policeman investigating a series of grisly murders - heads bitten off, body parts raining down onto the New York sidewalk, the usual. Of course, it turns out that the beastie responsible is none other than the Aztec God Quetzlcoatl, half lizard, half bird. Obvious really.
This movie is a strange mix - it features some impressive special effects in regard to the blood and gore, including a very well-created live sacrifice in which a man's heart is cut out, but the actual monster itself is, well, rather on the rubbery side. A nice little film to watch with a couple of beers and the pizza of your choice.

Track: Q - Main Title

My Name Is Nobody

Here's a nice cheery number to lighten the mood.
Many people incorrectly believe that Sergio Leone directed this film. He didn't. The screenplay was based on an idea by Leone, but written by Fulvio Morsella and directed by Tonino Valerii. I have to make a confession here - I haven't actually watched it yet. I know, I know, I'm a bad person but, currently, this is retailing at about £15 and I don't want to watch it badly enough to pay that price. The only thing I do know about this movie is, it has another wonderful soundtrack from the incomparable Ennio Morricone. Here, for your listening pleasure, is the main title which you may recognise as it was used in the excellent BBC comedy Nighty Night. Enjoy.

Track: My Name Is Nobody - Main Title


Piley said...

It's good, but have you got any Britney?

there's a spooky, freaky, rather uneasy Dan compilation CD lurking there... I'll put one together and threaten the kids with it when they loiter outside my house.

Start watching some more uplifting films FFS! ;-)


Dan said...

There was a Disney film in there! How much more uplifting can you get?!

Admittedly, it's one of the darkest, most disturbing Disney films ever made, but I think my point stands.

Just you wait - I've ordered a CD from the states of a couple of theremin-playing dudes whose album has been described thusly: "In their hands, the theremin is neither a twinky novelty nor a fossilized icon of 20th century modernism, but a portal to a hypnotic and disorienting alternate universe."

Now that's what we all want to hear!

Andy said...

If you can get hold of it, Goblin's soundtrack for "Suspiria" is perfect for scaring children. And adults.

Dan said...

I seem to be experiencing problems seeing some of these tracks that I've posted.

Is everyone else able to see and hear them OK?

Let me know and, if there's a problem, I'll fix it. With a hammer.

Dan said...

Andy, thanks for the recommendation about Suspiria. I have indeed managed to procure a copy of the soundtrack for review purposes and you're right - it is strange and scary. I might post a couple of tracks from it when I do a follow-up post on movie music.

Piley said...

unfortunately, I can hear ever one of em perfectly fella.... ;-)