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SCORE! The 150 greatest OST’s – pt. 13 (of 15)

30.) Touch of Evil (1958) – Henry Mancini

Orson Welles directs and stars as the bigoted Hank Quinlan in this visually stunning crime film with style to burn. Charlton Heston is horribly miscast as a Mexican narcotics officer (do they still have those?) and Janet Leigh as his newlywed wife, who become embroiled in the drug trade when an American is killed in a bomb blast at the border. There’s a memorable opening tracking shot, incredible cinematography, and a fantastic sleazy sounding jazz score by Henry Mancini, the man who brought you The Pink Panther, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Experiment in Terror, Charade, and The Party – all fine outings, but this is his best, perfectly capturing the mood of a 1950′s border town. Here’s the main title:

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and track 9, “The Boss”:

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and track 19, “The Chase”:

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29.) Drag Me to Hell (2009) – Christopher Young

Sam Raimi returns to Evil Dead II form with this roller coaster ride of a movie, starring Alison Lohman and Justin Long in the tale of vengeful spirits haunting a well-meaning naïf. From the opening smash-cut title card (punctuated with an intense musical stinger) to the shocking finale, it’s a perfect example of visceral thrills, with plenty of twists and turns, sublimely fun comic relief, and some fantastic music, courtesy of Christopher Young, who also scored Haunted Summer and Hellraiser. Here’s track 1, “Drag Me to Hell”:

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and track 11, “Brick Dogs Ala Carte”:

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and track 13, “Auto Da Fe”:

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28.) Beautiful Kate (2009) – Tex Perkins and Murray Patterson

Actress Rachel Ward takes the director’s chair, personally adapting the script from Newton Thornburg‘s novel in this sentimental drama about a writer who returns to his remote family home to say goodbye to his dying father, and finds himself haunted by memories which awaken long-buried secrets from the family’s past – revolving around his beautiful twin sister. I haven’t seen it, but the score by Perkins and Patterson is haunting and fantastic and make me want to. Here’s the beautiful main theme:

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and track 2, “Wilpena Pound.”:

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and track 17, “This Little Bird”:

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27.) Cannabis [French Intrigue] (1970) – Serge Gainsbourg

Pierre Koralnik directs the infamously debonair (and deviant) Serge Gainsbourg as a killer working for the Mafia who goes into hiding when an attempt is made on his life and takes refuge at a stranger’s apartment (played by real-life lover Jane Birkin). It’s what you would expect from an art-film-gangster-movie-starring-non-actors-who-are-real-life-lovers. It’s like watching Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci but with less acting talent. The music is out of this world, though. Check out track 1, “Cannabis instrumental”:

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and track 11, “Derniere Blessure”:

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and track 13, “Cannabis bis”:

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26.) Requiem for a Dream (2000) – Clint Mansell

Darren Aronofsky‘s notoriously invasive drug opus is based on Hubert Selby Jr.‘s novel and stars Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly in a visually stunning yet emotionally disturbing (and often shocking) movie about four friends whose lives are destroyed by heroin use. The emotionally charged soundtrack by Clint Mansell (who also did Moon) is absolutely riveting. Here’s the opening track, “Summer/ Summer Overture”:

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and track 4, “Summer/ Party”:

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and track 26, “Winter/ Southern Hospitality”:

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and track 27, “Winter/ Fear”:

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25.) Solamente Nero [The Bloodstained Shadow] (1978) – Stelvio Cipriani

Antonio Bido directs this formulaic giallo set in Venice, where a rash of murders – all tied to the unsolved strangulation of a young girl years before – baffles detectives. Though there are better movies by Argento and Martino, it’s a nice competent exercise in suspense and horror, backed by Stelvio Cipriani’s (who also did Bay of Blood and Twitch of the Death Nerve) moody score. Here are the opening titles:

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and track 3, “Incubi Ricorrenti 3″:

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and track 6, “Incubi Ricorrenti 6″:

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24.) The Connection (1962) – Freddie Redd

Another movie about heroin addicts! Shirley Clarke‘s film adaptation of Jack Gelber‘s play tells the tale of 8 addicts waiting for their “connection” in a New York apartment who have agreed to let a budding filmmaker film them if he pays for their fix. Things get truly interesting afterward, when the men talk the filmmaker into trying heroin – with disastrous results. Redd was a soulful jazz pianist whose work for the Blue Note label is definitely worth seeking out, and this soundtrack also features alto saxophonist Jackie McLean – whose wailing solos come from a place of experience – read about him in the seminal Four Lives in the Bebop Business. Here’s the opening track, “Who Killed Cock Robin”:

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and track 5, “Theme For Sister Salvation”:

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23.) Sitting Target (1972) – Stanley Myers

Douglas Hickox directs Oliver Reed and Jill St. John in this crime thriller about a vicious convict who busts out of prison to hunt down his wife when he discovers she is pregnant by another man. Stanley Myers’ incredible score perfectly complements the emotionless London in which the story takes place. Here’s the main theme:

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and track 6, “Laundry Park”:

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and track 12, “Squealing Pig”:

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and track 13, “Split Down The Middle”:

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22.) Chi Sei [Beyond the Door] (1974) – Franco Micalizzi

Ovidio G. Assonitis & Robert Barrett direct this unapologetic Exorcist knockoff – complete with similar makeup effects, creepy demonic voice and requisite head spinning scene – about a pregnant woman carrying Satan spawn in modern day San Francisco. The soundtrack is incredibly weird and groovy, courtesy of the man who brought you the Diabolica and Karate Amazones soundtracks. Check out the spooky opening track, complete with eerie narration, “Bargain with the Devil”:

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and track 3, “Dimitry’s Theme”:

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and track 7, “Bargain with the Devil orchestral version”:

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21.) Shaft (1971) - Isaac Hayes

Gordon Parks directs Richard Roundtree in the granddaddy of all blaxploitation flix, the one that cemented the genre’s earning potential and led to dozens of imitators. The film’s crossover success had tons to do with the charisma and attitude of its titular character, but was helped in large part by Isaac Hayes’ score. Shaft was so huge in fact that it made Hayes himself a superstar, and led to a starring role in Truck Turner (which he also scored). Check out the instantly recognizable “Theme from Shaft”:

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and track 2, the groovy “Bumpy’s Lament”:

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and track 3, “Walk From Regio’s”:

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Click to see part 1 (OST’s #141-150) , part 2 (131-140),  part 3 (121-130), part 4 (111-120), part 5 (101-110), part 6 (91-100), part 7 (81-90), part 8 (71-80), part 9 (61-70), part 10 (51-60), part 11 (41-50), part 12 (31-40), part 13 (21-30), part 14 (11-20) and part 15 (1-10).

And tune in next week, as we inch even closer to the thrilling, fantastic conclusion of our countdown!

November 15, 2010   No Comments

SCORE! The 150 greatest OST’s – pt. 2 (of 15)

OST = Original Soundtrack.

We continue our countdown with numbers 131-140…

For the first installment, including my self-imposed guidelines, check part 1.

140.) Omega Man (1971) - Ron Grainer

Boris Sagal’s take on Richard Matheson’s classic I am Legend stars Moses himself – Charlton Heston – and reeks of 70’s sensibilities. The soundtrack is a fun affair, alternating between Ron Grainer’s quirky atmospheric score and jazz-tinged muzak, reminding us that an unpopulated Earth is much like an empty department store. Here’s track 2, “The Omega Man”:

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139.) Yol (1982) - Sebastian Argol

Directors Serif Gören & Yilmaz Güney wrote and directed this award-winning Turkish film about prisoners on furlough which starred James Bond himself – Sean Connery – in a movie I’ve often confused for the sword and sorcery epic Yor, The Hunter From The Future, released a year later, and the old Atari 2600 title Yars’ Revenge, released a year earlier. Regardless, it’s a powerful soundtrack for a movie I’ve never seen, combining middle eastern elements with ambient electronics. Here’s track 6, “Horsemen in the Wind”:

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138.) Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010) – Eric Serra

Since 1983’s Le Dernier Combat Luc Besson has been employing Eric Serra as his composer of choice, and this soundtrack, their most recent collaboration, is their best – with a kooky, kitchen-sink approach that features cacophonous car horns, discordant electronics, a dramatic chanteuse and sweeping themes that capture the spirit of high adventure. Check out this target=”_blank”>trailer and tell me you don’t want to see the movie. You liar. Here’s track 2, “Hiéroglyphes”:

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137.) Naked Angels (1969) – Jeff Simmons

Don’t know much about this Bruce D. Clark biker flick, except that that cover is absolutely sick and the composer, Jeff Simmons, would later become a Frank Zappa collaborator. And that the music is rocking, with fuzz guitars and a steady rock beat.

Here’s track 1, “Naked Angels Theme”:

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and track 5, “Cop Out”:

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136.) Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) (1958) – Miles Davis

Louis Malle’s suspense noir might be a tad dated, but this Miles Davis soundtrack sure isn’t – it’s his best score for a film, though Kind of Blue is still the greatest soundtrack he ever wrote to a movie never made. Here’s track 5, “Florence sur les Champs-Elysées”:

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135.) High Noon (1952) – Dimitri Tiomkin

Fred Zinnemann’s classic western gets a fantastic old-era-Hollywood score courtesy of Tiomkin, who also scored The Alamo, Guns of Navarone, Giant and countless other classics, and who later wrote the TV theme song for Rawhide. Here’s track 1, the main title, sung by Tex Ritter (John Ritter’s dad), which won the 1953 Academy Award for best song:

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134.) Avalon (2001) - Kenji Kawai

Anime director (Ghost in the Shell) Mamoru Oshii directed this live action sci-fi movie about a destitute future where virtual gaming determines financial reward-or death by catatonia. The film’s unique flavor stems from its Japanese-Polish production, heavy referencing of Arthurian mythology, and muted sepia-tone cinematography, and is carried over into the soundtrack, where Kawai’s haunting score features Polish language chanting and tons of murky futuristic melancholy. Here’s track 2, “Log Off”:

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133.) Heathers (1989) – David Newman

Michael Lehmann defined a generation with his smart, satirical high school revenge flick, which took John Hughes’ high school comedies and ramped ‘em up to high black-comedy heaven. The cold, electronic soundtrack enhances the feeling of detachment which Winona Ryder and Christian Slater feel in their popularity-obsessed high school. Composition runs in the family – Newman is the cousin of Randy, the brother of Thomas and the son of Alfred. Are any other Newmans gonna make this list? Are all of them? Do me a favor – Wait and find out. That way I can stop asking rhetorical questions. Here’s track 3, “JD Blows Up”:

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132.) Institute Benjamenta (1995) – Lech Jankowski

The Brothers Quay deliver a vivid black and white dream of a movie, based on Kafka-predecessor Robert Walser’s Jakob von Gunten, a surrealistic 1909 novel about a mysterious institute where men learn to become servants. Lech’s sparse, haunting soundtrack, complete with strained strings, lonely trumpets, rumbling bass, haunting voices and intermittent silences makes it a perfect accompaniment, which also stands on its own as an eerie listening experience for fans of challenging music.

Here’s track 6, “Introdukja Liliowa”:

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and track 8, “Kolysanka wg Erika S”:

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131.) Didn’t You Hear? (1970) – Mort Garson

Not many people have seen Skip Sherwood’s college film about a daydreaming teen, which not only features a young Gary Busey, but also a score by the legendary Mort Garson. Here is a review of the movie. A friend once bequeathed unto me an entire DVD full of Garson’s albums, including this one, and I’ve been a fan ever since (both of Garson and my friend).

Here’s track 5, “Kevin’s Theme”:

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and track 9, “Walk to Grange Hall”:

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20 OST’s down, 130 to go! What’s your favorite soundtrack? Will it make the cut? Check back next week, and be sure to leave feedback… it’ll make us stronger here at the isle!

Click to see part 1 (OST’s #141-150) , part 2 (131-140),  part 3 (121-130), part 4 (111-120), part 5 (101-110), part 6 (91-100), part 7 (81-90), part 8 (71-80), part 9 (61-70), part 10 (51-60), part 11 (41-50), part 12 (31-40), part 13 (21-30), part 14 (11-20) and part 15 (1-10).

September 2, 2010   No Comments

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