Music Monday – Zog Edition

The thematically-sound odd man out among Kevin Connor and John Dark’s spate of mid-70s Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptations may not actually be a Burroughs adaptation at all, but that doesn’t keep it from being the best of the bunch just the same. 1978′s Warlords of Atlantis takes Burroughs’ popular motifs and runs with them, crafting a suitably original tale of turn-of-the-century men forced to muster both brain and brawn against a slew of outlandish threats on the sunken continent. The scripting for this long-time favorite is pure pulp, and all the better for it, and Doug McClure is again tapped to play the quintessentially Burroughsian leading man, but it’s Roger Dicken’s stable of memorable creatures, many of which look to be ripped right from the edges of old maps, that really steal the show.

As with the previous year’s At the Earth’s Core, versatile composer Mike Vickers was tasked with providing the score for Warlords of Atlantis, and much of the picture’s success is owed to his moody themes and exciting incidental cues – none of which, of course, have ever been released officially. As such the cut today is presented as it is in the film, with dialogue and sound effects intact. And in case you’re one of those without a clue as to what a Zog is, do yourself a favor and pick up the film. It’s terrific old-school action and adventure, and comes highly recommended from this fan.

Music Monday – Space-o-Saurus Edition

Either you love or hate 1977′s Planet of Dinosaurs, and those in the latter camp likely hold more against the picture than just its amateur production values and dubious performances. Kelly Lammers and John O’Verlin’s ultra-low-budget synth score has earned plenty of ire in its own right, and seems almost to have been calculated to etch itself indelibly upon impressionable minds. Indeed, in the now decades since I first saw the picture I’ve never forgotten a note of it.

Whether the electronic tinkerings of Lammers and O’Verlin evoke fond remembrance or send you crawling up the wall, this Music Monday is for you. Needless to say Planet of Dinosaurs has never had an official soundtrack release, so the track today is sourced straight from the long-OOP Goodtimes DVD – the sample is of the traveling march composed for the film, a track that was the next best thing to nails on chalkboard to my poor mother. Enjoy it, loathe it, torment your friends… and be sure to check out the film here.

Music Monday – Spacey Edition

Another week, another sample from the unreleased score for an old Amicus production. In this case it’s the main title to famed cinematographer and sometimes director Freddie Francis’ hip ’60s sci-fi They Came From Beyond Space, a film that has the unfortunate distinction of being considered public domain here in the states. The music itself is composed by James Stevens (Sparrows Can’t Sing) and conducted by regular Hammer music supervisor Philip Martell.

Not only is the groovy score to They Came From Beyond Space at present unavailable, but all the domestic copies of the film are crap as well. Those interested in a quality presentation of it (and really, you should be) should check out StudioCanal’s new proper widescreen PAL-format DVD, available now through Amazon.co.uk.

Music Monday: Blissful Edition

Firstly, my apologies for the lack of The Horror!? last Friday. I’ve been… distracted by recent events to an extent that I did not expect, but things are returning to normal. Last week’s The Horror!? column will post this Friday. Meanwhile, Music Monday must go on.

Up today is a selection (actually three selections combined for your enjoyment) from Sir Arthur Bliss’ tremendous score to director William Cameron Menzies and producer Alexander Korda’s epic 1936 misfire Things to Come, courtesy of a fine re-recording from the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Rumon Gamba. These cues were composed for the effects-heavy building of the future Everytown, a scene I describe in my review as “perhaps the mother of all science fiction montages.” Bliss’ cues are as indelible as the imagery, and perhaps even more so, and it’s easy to see why his compositions are still popular with symphonies more than 75 years later.

The music here is sourced from the album The Film Music of Sir Arthur Bliss, which is quickly becoming a house favorite. Needless to say it comes highly recommended, and is readily available in both CD and MP3.

Music Monday: What day is it again? Edition

It’s a little late (this is getting to be a trend), but here’s our track for the week, sourced from Mike Vickers’ criminally unrepresented score for Amicus’ production of At the Earth’s Core (from the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs). To the best of my knowledge Vickers’ score for this film, as well as the later Warlords of Atlantis, have never been properly issued. The music presented here, the wonderful opening title for the film, is taken from a Netflix stream and includes some sound effects.

Music Monday: We are Controlling Transmission Edition

While I’m not overly fond of the episode itself, I have to admit that Tourist Attraction, from season 1 of the original The Outer Limits, had some smashing music composed for it. Co-producer and regular composer Dominic Frontiere (Hang ‘em High) brought in fellow composer Robert Van Eps (a veteran of studio music departments) to do the majority of the scoring work for the episode, and I can’t argue with the results.

Here’s Dive #2 / Capturing the Creature, off disc 1 of the 3-disc limited edition The Outer Limits: Original Television Soundtrack from La-La Land in 2008. For those of you fans who have yet to pick this release up, do so while you have the chance – it’s worth every penny.

Music Monday – Incredible Shrinking Hans J. Salter Edition

No fancy introduction for this Music Monday, just an excellent piece of music that demands to be heard. I present the title theme for Jack Arnold’s indelible science fiction classic The Incredible Shrinking Man, adapted by Richard Matheson from his own novella and released by Universal-International in 1957. The music here is by studio composer Hans J. Salter (The Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Wolf Man), and features the razor-sharp trumpet of Ray Anthony.

The title theme to The Incredible Shrinking Man has been released as part of a soundtrack suite on the mp3 album The Fantasy Music of Hans J. Salter, and is available for purchase through Amazon.com.

Music Monday – Quiet Disappointment Edition

I was singularly overjoyed this morning to discover, by happenstance, that Geoff Murphy’s memorable apocalyptic sci-fi yarn The Quiet Earth was out on Blu-ray in Germany, but singularly disappointed when a bit of simple searching later showed the disc to be a big disappointment – a 1080i PAL-speed rendering of a bright but noisy and unattractively sharpened HDTV master. Not exactly something I’m itching to put $40 down on, even with domestic DVDs of the film going out of print and no other Blu-ray in sight.

Still, with The Quiet Earth on the brain and a Music Monday post pending, I was inspired to dig out my Label X CD release of the film’s soundtrack for the first time in ages. John Charles’ score for The Quiet Earth is gripping, evocative stuff, and I’d argue more so than the film to which it is set. I’m not spoiling anything here with track 14 – Finale / Saturn Rising - as the imagery that accompanies it is plastered over practically every inch of the film’s advertising. It’s a striking image, admittedly, but I shudder to imagine how much of its brooding, nightmarish efficacy might have been lost without Charles’ contribution.

The out-of-print Label X release of John Charles’ scores for The Quiet Earth / Iris is available through third parties on Amazon.com.