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Great Scenes – DEAD & BURIED

With Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus scheduled to land June 8, 2012, we thought we’d throw some logs onto the hype bonfire with some Alien-related film coverage leading up to the return of what shall hitherto be known as “THE FRANCHISE” (all apologies to ex-Houston Rocket point guard Steve Francis). So what does 1981’s Dead & Buried, directed by Gary Sherman, a Twilight Zone-y piece of unassuming pulp have to do with the upcoming sci-fi (fingers crossed) opus? Only that it was scripted by the team that brought you the first Alien (1979) – Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett! Check out the opening scene in this crazy creepy movie – in which a photographer finds a half-clad Lisa Blount innocently loitering on a picturesque beach. But be forewarned: there’s nudity. And a twist that’ll make you feel even ickier than the soft-porn lead-up!

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April 25, 2012   1 Comment

SCORE! The 150 greatest OST’s – pt. 8 (of 15)

80.) Gothic (1986) – Thomas Dolby

Ken Russell directs the fictionalized account of the much-ballyhooed night that Mary Shelley gave birth to the horror classic Frankenstein at Lord Byron’s manor. Ghost stories, personal horrors, fantasies and drug-induced nightmares come to life as sweet Mary is tempted by the sexual appetites of her lover Shelley and cousin Claire, while holding sway over all the evil Lord Byron toys with his guest’s souls. Starring Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands, and Natasha Richardson in her feature film debut as Mary Shelley, with a soundtrack by 80’s electronics whiz Thomas Dolby. Here’s track 5, “Party Games”:

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and track 6, “Gypsy Girl”:

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79.) Sin Nombre (2009) – Marcelo Zarvos

Written and directed by Cary Fukunaga, this film tells the stories of those seeking a better life for themselves on the trains bound for the US, as their hopes and dreams clash with the realities involved in smuggling them in. The soundtrack is somber and beautiful, full of pulsing accordion, probing guitar, and mournful strings. Here’s track 1, “The Journey”:

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and track 3, “Vera Cruz”:

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78.) Conan the Barbarian (1982) - Basil Poledouris

John Milius and Oliver Stone wrote this adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s adventure stories, which Milius directs, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones and Max von Sydow. It tells the story of the eponymous warrior searching for the evil sorcerer and leader of the Snake Cult, Thulsa Doom, the man responsible for the death of his parents. Basil Poledouris’ soundtrack is a classic, perfect for a testosterone-fueled quest for vengeance. Here’s the Prologue, narrated by the legendary Mako, which leads into “Anvil of Crom”:

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and track 6, “Theology / Civilization”:

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77.) Yellow Canary (1963) – Kenyon Hopkins

Buzz Kulik directs this Rod Serling-penned mystery which stars Pat Boone as a nightclub singer whose child is kidnapped and Barbara Eden (of TV’s I Dream of Jeannie) as his wife, with Jack Klugman as the Lieutenant in charge of the investigation. 20 years ago you’d know who all these people were. All you need to know is that the soundtrack, by Kenyon Hopkins, is full of some of the best, coolest jazz you’ve never heard. Here’s track 5, “The Spindrift”:

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and track 10, “The Menace”:

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76.) Le Passager de la Pluie [Rider on the Rain] (1970) – Francis Lai

René Clément, avid Hitchcock admirer, directs fan favorite Charles Bronson in this mystery set on the French Riviera, in which a woman shoots and kills a masked man who rapes her, dumps his body, and then out of nowhere meets a man who seems to know all about what she’s done. Bronson and co-star Marlène Jobert’s chemistry is palpable, and the odd artsy tone is not unlike the director’s own Purple Noon. Francis Lai, better known for his A Man and A Woman theme, delivers his best score ever. Here’s track 2, “Dobb’s Dualite”:

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and track 20, “Theme Mellie”:

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75.) Beetlejuice (1988) – Danny Elfman

Tim Burton’s classic horror/comedy/fantasy stars Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis as a recently deceased couple who need to exorcise the living (played by Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones and Winona Ryder) and enlist the aid of Michael Keaton’s title character to do so. It features one of prolific composer Danny Elfman’s most complete scores, full of kooky chanting, crashing crescendos, and a hint of calypso. Here’s track 2, “Travel Music”:

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and track 19, “End Credits”:

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74.) Stone (1974) - Billy Green

Sandy Harbutt stars in and directs this cult film about the Grave Diggers, a bike club whose members are being murdered one by one. Full of nudity, violence, gore and motorcycle stunts, Stone stars several actors who would later make up the core of George Miller’s Mad Max. It’s a low budget, dated exploitation movie, but like other cult Australian films (Stunt Rock, The Man From Hong Kong) it’s got that unique Aussie brand of fun (check out Mark Hartley’s Not Quite Hollywood for more info). The soundtrack is eclectic and zany, full of didgeridoos, funky wah-wah, and even some crazy banjo, like on track 2, “Septic”:

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and track 12, “Stone”:

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73.) Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) – Marc Wilkinson

Piers Haggard directs this low-budget horror film set in 17th century England about a farmer who unearths inhuman, fur-covered remains that seem to cause the townsfolk commit horrific acts, and may have something to do with the satanic rituals the town children begin performing in a desecrated church in the woods. Atmospheric and beautifully shot, the performances are strong, including Patrick Wymark’s, who died soon after. The soundtrack is creepy and elegant, befitting such a sophisticated take on witchcraft. Here’s track 9, “Mark Alone”:

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and track 21, “Ralph Chops Tree”:

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72.) Les Gants Blancs Du Diable (1973) – Karl-Heinz Schäfer

Karl Heinz Schäfer’s moody, psychedelic score for László Szabó’s rarely seen crime drama (which translates to White Gloves of the Devil) features some inventive instrumentation and is a mixture of soothing and startling sounds that make me wonder what the movie which accompanies them might be like. You can do the same as you listen to track 1, “La Victime”:

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and track 3, “Kidnapping”:

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and track 7, “La Couleur Des Yeux”:

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71.) Himalaya (1999) – Bruno Coulais

Eric Valli directs this tale of an aging Nepalese chief whose only son dies returning from Tibet’s salt lakes, and who blames Karma, his son’s friend, for the death, refusing to make him the new chief in his son’s place. What follows is a battle of wills and a glimpse into the inner politics of a group we don’t get to see much, all set to the sounds of traditional singing arranged by Coulais. It was a difficult choice, as I also love his soundtrack to Coraline, but this score got the nod for it’s sheer unadulterated beauty. Here’s track 6, “The Night”:

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and track 9, “The Songs”:

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and track 11, “Karma”:

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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).

October 11, 2010   No Comments

SCORE! The 150 greatest OST’s – pt. 3 (of 15)

130.) I Want to Live! (1958) – Johnny Mandel

Johnny Mandel’s soundtrack to the great Robert Wise’s film about a wayward woman whose life spirals out of control is jazzy with a Latin tinge, full of bongos and flutes and sudden changes in tempo and tone, meant to represent the protagonist’s low-class lifestyle, which back then meant jazz. Here’s track 4, “Henry Leaves”:

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129.) Coffy (1973) – Roy Ayers

Jack Hill, one of the greatest b-movie filmmakers of all time, gave Pam Grier her first leading role as Coffy, a nurse who’s kid sister is hospitalized after shooting some contaminated heroin, and who hits the streets in search of revenge. This contribution to the world of Blaxploitation soundtracks comes courtesy of jazz-turned-R&B vibraphonist Roy Ayers, and is an altogether funky affair. Here’s track 4, “Aragon”:

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128.) Elephant Man (1980) – John Morris

David Lynch’s first feature film after Eraserhead was produced by Mel Brooks, starred Brooks’ wife Anne Bancroft, and was composed by Brooks’ frequent collaborator John Morris, who had scored Brooks’ parodies and comedies – not the composer you’d pick for a dramatic art film about a disfigured side-show freak in Victorian England. But the soundtrack is magnificent, with dark segments played against lighter, carnivalesque ones, lending the soundtrack as creepy a feeling as anything Angelo Badalamenti would compose for Lynch’s later films (in fact it sounds like Badalamenti lifted entire segments for Jeunet and Caro’s City of Lost Children). Here’s the title theme:

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127.) Mickey One (1965) – Stan Getz & Eddie Sauter

Like many of the directors of the American New Wave, Arthur Penn was influenced by the French Nouvelle Vague, who themselves were inspired by American film noir. So it figures that when Penn made Mickey One, a crime film about a comedian (Warren Beatty) on the run from the mob, that he’d dive deep into the New Wave handbook and emerge with a movie full of jarring cuts, inventive camera angles, atmospheric lighting, and moody JAZZ! It’s a fantastic soundtrack, melodic at times and challenging at others, marked by Stan Getz’s West-Coast-Cool tenor stylings. Here’s track 5, “The Succuba”:

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126.) Daimajin (1966) – Akira Ifukube

Akira Ifukube composed the soundtracks to many of Ishirō Honda‘s most memorable movies – including Gojira (aka Godzilla) – but his score for Kimiyoshi Yasuda’s haunting film about giant stone God-statue rising to protect a nearby village from an evil warlord is his best, filled with rumbling bass clarinets hitting unbelievably low notes, traditional Japanese drumming, and an orchestra of strings, which fuse to create the perfect ominous, otherworldly atmosphere you want out from your kaiju eiga. Here’s the main title theme:

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125.) ¡Mátalo! (1970) – Mario Migliardi

Cesare Canevari’s western, also known as Kill Him! is reportedly one of the trippiest of the genre, a psychedelic mood-piece filled with wild camera angles, heavy use of slow motion, and a climax which features boomerangs – all which place it firmly on my list of “must-watch Westerns.” And if it’s anything like the soundtrack, which is filled with acid-tinged fuzz guitar and weird discordant sounds, then I’m sure it will not disappoint. Here’s the theme song:

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and here’s track 6, “Old Town”:

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124.) Beat Girl (1959) – John Barry

Edmond T. Gréville’s beat-era film about strippers, divorces, and rock and roll is nothing to write home about, but the soundtrack, by Mr. James Bond himself, John Barry, is instantly recognizable, a guitar riff that immediately transports you to the era. Here’s the main title:

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123.) Z (1969) – Mikis Theodrakis

Costa-Gavras’s political thriller is the true story of a Greek cover up, and Mikis Theodrakis’ soundtrack mixes folk music heavy on the Bouzoukis with passages of tension-filled atmosphere, a smattering of jazz, and even caps it off with a couple of traditional songs. It’s a fantastic soundtrack. Here’s track 2, “To Yelasto Pedi”:

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and track 7, “Batucada”:

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122.) Donne-moi la Main [Give Me Your Hand] (2008) – Tarwater

I’ve read mainly negative reviews of Pascal-Alex Vincent’s movie, which I have not seen, but the soundtrack is amazing, composed by Tarwater, the German post-rock/electronic band comprised of Bernd Jestram and Ronald Lippok. Here’s track 3, “The Blacktop”:

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and track 9, “Wednesday’s Child”:

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121.) The Belly of an Architect (1987) – Wim Mertens & Glenn Branca

I’ve never really been a fan of Peter Greenaway’s films, with their cold theatricality and inflated self-importance, but of all of them, Belly of an Architect is by far the one I can almost say I like. Perhaps it’s because of Brian Dennehy, an actor who brings some passion and conviction to the otherwise pretentious affair. Or maybe it’s the soundtrack, which features compositions by minimalist composers Glenn Branca and Wim Mertens, and is chock full of swelling, twirling piano motifs, driving flutes, and even the occasional oboe. Here’s track 7, “Time Passing”:

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30 down, 120 to go!

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).

Check back in the coming weeks to see the rest of the countdown.

And be sure to leave feedback!

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September 6, 2010   No Comments

Great Puppet Debauchery – MARQUIS

MARQUIS is the other, lesser known “puppetry of the penis” movie.

1989’s Marquis is absolutely riveting, and so visually striking it’s like nothing else you’ve ever seen. Henri Xhonneux directs from a script co-written with Roland Topor, who was screenwriter of the animated classic Fantastic Planet and Polanski’s The Tenant. The characters in this film are played by dancers in full costumes and elaborate masks (sort of like the ones in Garbage Pail Movie but not as creepy, being less human-like). Their movements are subtle and hypnotic and weave a spell around the viewer, which when synced up to the overdubbed dialogue lends everything a sing-song-y quality. It works on some profound levels – I’m no psychologist but I can tell you there’s something deeply unnerving about watching a curvaceous body in a dominatrix costume sporting the head of a horse! The two main characters are the Marquis and his penis, and they spend a lot of time locked in prison, discussing various philosophies, among them the appeal of holes in nearby walls. And as you find yourself sucked in to this bizarre world where the photography is lush and the camera lingers on an adorable little penis face urging its master to take him out to play, you’ll no doubt feel several mixed emotions, many of them wrong – but in a good way.

May 21, 2010   2 Comments

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