A House Of Fun…A Gift In The Mail

So I’m sitting there on the couch minding my own business after a long day of driving(picked up my daughter from school for Christmas break Thursday) when my wife says “You got something in the mail.” Me? I got something in the mail? What could this be? So she hands me a small manila envelope. It’s origins? The Great White North: Ontario, Canada. My good pal and fellow blogging aficionado Aaron over at keepsmealive sent me a CD copy of the soundtrack to the 1981 horror romp The Funhouse. The Funhouse was directed by the late horror auteur Tobe Hooper and it was about four teens that get locked in a funhouse after dark and are being stalked by a deformed killer.

You know, the usual.

Anyways, so why would Aaron just randomly send me a score to some average 80s slasher? I mean, that’s kind of weird, right? Well, not really. Back in August Aaron sent me an email asking what I knew about the film The Funhouse. He said someone at work was talking about it and wanted to know my opinion on it. Of course I regaled him in the story about how my uncle took my older brother to see it. My older brother in 1981 was 13 years old. This was before the days of PG-13 films. You know, those movies that towed the line between child-like and adult. Maybe an F-bomb was dropped once or twice and possibly some side boob was seen or a butt crack was visible, but just for a second. Besides things that would offend the Christian right, the film was pretty much harmless. But The Funhouse wasn’t a harmless mid-80s romp. There was nudity, cheesy deaths, and general circus freakiness that would make a 13 year old in 1981 have nightmares, which it did to my older bro. Tobe Hooper made the film a grimy, sleazy mess. Why my uncle, who’d gone to a Christian college to be a youth pastor took such pleasure in freaking out his nephew is beyond me(gotta watch that Christian right, man.)

Yes, that’s John Beal’s handwritten initials.

I saw The Funhouse when I was a teenager as well, sometime in the mid to late 80s. I know it was after 1984 as we had a VCR by then(we got our first one November of 1984) and The Funhouse was a weekend rental by yours truly and one of my horror-loving pals. Honestly, it didn’t quite scare me like it did my brother. By then I’d been hardened by Nightmare On Elm Street, Fright Night, and George A. Romero’s ‘Dead’ films. I’d been building up an immunity to cheeseball horror and had graduated to more disturbing fare. The Funhouse was pretty pedestrian by 1986-87. Honestly, I’m not sure this movie would’ve scared me in 1981 at the age of 7. I think my brother was a little more fragile than I thought(but hey, that’s why I love him so.)

Apparently Aaron came across a CD copy of the soundtrack and kindly sent it my way. Having looked this up it seems it’s a pretty rare special edition version of the score. A promo version from 1998, actually. I didn’t really know what to expect, so I took it to work on Friday morning and popped it into the computer. Turns out, this is a really solid film score. It’s a traditional orchestral score, in the vein of John Williams, Bernard Herrmann, and Jerry Goldsmith. With later horror films the composer and orchestra was replaced with bits of incidental music and pop soundtracks. Music cues and emotion grabbers just weren’t there like they were “back in the day”. There were still some guys doing amazing stuff. Cats like Christopher Young(Hellraiser), Charles Bernstein(A Nightmare On Elm Street), and Brad Fidel(The Terminator) were putting amazing scores on modern horror and sci fi in the 80s, but for the most part we were seeing one guy and a synth doing the work of many.

John Beal, in 1981, was following the traditional path of film scoring and it worked quite wonderfully. I dare say this score might even be too damn good for a film like The Funhouse. But hey, that’s just me. Beal had plenty of practice scoring TV shows like Vega$, Laverne and Shirley, Happy Days, and Eight Is Enough. He also scored the horror movie doc Terror In The Aisles. Beal was a professional and it shows, especially in The Funhouse.

I’d just like to say thanks to Aaron for the most pleasant surprise in the mail this week. This little blogging community that we’ve created here is pretty special. Everyone seems to come together and share in their love of music, books, films, and pretty much just being a fan of art and its positive effects on our lives. I can say without a doubt that starting this blog up now just over 6 years ago was the absolute best decision I could’ve made for myself. I feel that opening my head and heart on these pages has turned me into the person I’ve been trying to be for years. Sounds overly dramatic I know, but it’s true. Before starting this blog I was really struggling to find some sort of identity outside of 9 to 5er, dad, and husband. For years I thought I wanted to be some singer/songwriter type. Writing songs and playing a bunch of instruments in my basement studio. I separated that identity from the day to day guy. It wasn’t healthy and it all came to a head eventually and I had to rebuild myself from the ground up. You can’t be two people. You can be one that has many likes and loves. If you separate yourself too much then everything gets splintered and hard to put back together. I’ve found that I love being a fan and writing about that passion is where its at for me. This whole community of writers has helped me get to this point, so thanks everyone.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, or Happy Holidays. Whatever butters your bread is good with me.

And thanks again Aaron. There will be something heading your way very soon. And I still stand by my first statement to you, if you ever see this playing on TV late one night give it a look. It’s entertaining to say the least.

Dark Tones : A Soundtrack For Halloween

We’re a mere day from Halloween. It’s time to have your costume figured out, the Fun Size candies bought for the trick-or-treaters, all the proper movies picked out to finish out the month with, and most importantly you need to be spinning all the appropriate Gothic-related albums to keep the eerie vibes humming along.

In honor of my favorite time of the year I thought I’d make a list of some of my favorite Gothic and generally dark mood records. Really, these records are spun by me year-round, but October benefits greatly from their maleficent vibes. Turn down the lights, light up some candles, and drop the needle(or hit play on the iPhone) and get a little weird with me.


Pentagram Home Video : The Satanic Path & Who’s Out There

I think one of my favorite musical finds in the last year or so has been the UK’s Pentagram Home Video. The band consists of one guy that makes hypnotic, dark songs that lie heavily in lo-fi electronic vibes. Synths that wail eerily over top simple dance beats. Most of his records are put together as “soundtrack & cues sourced from a parallel reality“. He’s a master of the imagined soundtrack. I picked up Who’s Out There last year, and earlier this year The Satanic Path was released. Both are very low key listens, but after they play in the background a bit you sort of feel yourself falling into those parallel realities. Who’s Out There soundtracks the tale of “a soldier sent back from a future war to 1986 to prevent an alien bounty hunter from tracking and destroying his target. A relentless pursuer emanating a powerful telekinetic wave of hallucinogen that frighteningly alters reality for anyone within its range. The story unfolds over the course of one night, across the streets & through the underground bars & clubs of New York.” It’s a very hypnotic record, full of old school synth tones of subtle beats. It’s a perfect listen for those cold, fall nights when you want to chill out or summon a demon.

The Satanic Path is a much more extroverted listen. It’s more bombastic, as a soundtrack that deals with the occult and the Prince of Darkness himself should be. There’s still the subtle beats and classic synth sounds, but the songs are more in your face. The story, if your interested, was interpreted by yours truly. Check it out right here, if you dare.

Both albums are exquisite and ooze dark moods and vibes. They’re the perfect spin for a dark and stormy night.

The Cure : Seventeen Seconds 

Sure, at a glance Pornography seems to be the ultimate Halloween spin. It’s dark, gloomy, the proto-Goth album, and even the opening line is “It doesn’t matter if we all die”. But for my money, Seventeen Seconds holds more darkness. It’s subtler, quieter, and it feels like more of an album that would be playing in your head as you walk a path lined with falling leaves and dark, overcast skies. Robert Smith hadn’t fully committed to all black attire and zombie makeup just yet. He was in manic-depressive ghoul transition, so Seventeen Seconds comes across more grounded in everyday horror. That existential dread was permeating songs like “A Forest”, “In Your House”, and “A Reflection”. “Play For Today” comes off like The B-52s going full Bauhaus. It also hints at what The Soft Moon would be up to in a couple decades.

Seventeen Seconds is really the ultimate doomed soul sadsack album.

The Night Terrors : Pavor Nocturnus

Miles Brown has taken the art of theremin playing to a new level. When he performs live or on records by his band The Night Terrors he truly emotes with the strange box with an antenna sticking out. He captures both the eerie vibes and melancholy sadness that comes from playing the instrument correctly. Three years ago he and The Night Terrors recorded a live album at the Melbourne Music Hall with one of the world’s largest pipe organs. That album is the Gothic and beautiful Pavor Nocturnus, an album that oozes with otherworldly vibes and doomed romanticism.

All you need to do is drop the needle or hit play on this record Halloween night to create the ultimate dark mood. It’s like Phantom of the Opera just ran headlong into Forbidden Planet. “Pavor Nocturnus” will make your blood go cold, while “Megafauna” sounds like Suspiria, had it taken place in a European discotheque. “Kuceli Woke Up In  Graveyard” makes good use of that giant pipe organ, as this song permeates with the melancholy of the undead.

Seriously, if you’re a fan of the creepy and a lover of Halloween then this record is a must.

Slayer : Reign In Blood

So if you were an adolescent in the 80s then “Satanic Panic” should’ve made some kind of impression on you. Not just the kids that went to church 3 times a week and twice on Sunday, but the kids that weren’t raised ultra-religious eggheads. It was also kids raised in a household that taught them good from bad, that being polite and having manners were attributes, and that true crime was far scarier than anything you’d watch on Creature Feature late on Friday night. It wasn’t the ghouls that hid under the basement stairs you should truly be afraid of, but those gangly punks with the studded dog collars, stringy mullets, and t-shirts that donned pentagrams, Iron Maiden’s “Eddie”, and nearly every cassette they owned had an “Explicit Lyrics -Parental Advisory” sticker. Kids that decided killing a suburban family would be cool because Rob Halford, Dave Mustaine, or Tom Araya told them to in a hidden message on a song. Those were the true monsters.

As it turns out, no heavy metal song ever made a half wit teen murder anyone. It was usually because said teen was already seriously damaged(usually by seriously damaged parents), but lousy adults needed a scapegoat for their lack of parental skills or empathy in general so Slayer seemed like as good as one as any. And let’s be honest, as far as bands go that really tried to walk the walk in the early days of thrash and speed metal, Slayer wore those shoes well. It took me many years to get into Slayer because of their reputation as Satan-worshipping psychopaths. Turns out they were just California punks that liked to incite people and drink themselvies into oblivion. They were happy to keep the whole Satan ruse going. Though, I do think there was a general interest in the dark side, at least as far as Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman were concerned, and Reign In Blood was their first true masterpiece.

It doesn’t matter where you hit play on this album, each song will take you on a journey into darkness and bloodshed. This is the ultimate boogeyman album. “Angel of Death”, “Necrophobic”, “Jesus Saves”, “Aggressive Perfector”, and “Raining Blood” all work their dark magic on you. This is the ultimate “Satanic Panic” album. Just don’t play it backwards, or Tom Araya will beckon you to watch The Golden Girls and double check your algebra homework.

Fabio Frizzi : City Of The Living Dead S/T

I think this is one of the great Italian horror film scores. Frizzi’s City Of The Living Dead S/T has all the eerie vibes, slow-churning dread, and melancholy feel you need to get in the mood for the witching hour. He’s done amazing work for decades(and continues to perform), but for me this album is a shining example of just how much was put into these old horror film scores. I think in many ways, these scores far outlive the films they were created for. This record is proof of that.

Turn the lights down low, have the candy at the door, and crank this on the home stereo. Those trick-or-treaters won’t know what hit ’em.

Walter Rizzati : House By The Cemetery S/T

Of all the great Italian horror film scores, Walter Rizzati’s House By The Cemetery is probably my favorite. It was the one that stuck in my head for over 20 years before I revisited it. It’s creepy, haunting, melancholy, and for me stands as an example of just how great the scores were and the passion put into these pieces of music. I think it also reminded me of the NES game Castlevania, with its baroque organ work. I think that helped to solidify it’s longevity in my sponge-y subconscious for so many years. Listening to it I could just as easily be fighting ghouls and vampire bats in a castle as I could be running from the undead in a Fulci film.

Rizzati went above and beyond with this score. It’s perfect and perfectly eerie.

Wojciech Golczewski : End of Transmission

Golczewski has been doing amazing film work in the last few years, but his own personal albums are where it’s at for me. Lots of intergalactic doom going on with albums like Reality Check and The Signal, but if you want true, old school space doom you can’t get any better than End of Transmission.

End of Transmission is an all analog affair that feels like Blade Runner on a budget. It’s like this little 30 minute album that takes you on a dark and mysterious journey into the graveyard of the milky way. Each “Transmission” is a heady exploration of analog synth and existential space doom. You can’t go wrong with this one blasting through your headphones on a cold, Halloween night.

The Soft Moon : Zeros

Luis Vasquez knows how to build Gothic doom. His work as the Soft Moon has always tip toed around both the dance floor and the dark corners we attempt to avoid. Imagine a cross between Bauhaus, NIN, and Depeche Mode, then mix in tribal elements and you’ve got a good idea of what’s happening. All of his records are great, but Zeros feels like the most October of them all.

From opening track “It Ends” on there’s a propulsive doom. Industrial at heart, but more singer/songwriter than anything Skinny Puppy or Ministry ever did, Zeros feels like a walk thru some dark and dilapidated house long since abandoned by the previous owners. “Machines” visits some old school Cure territory, while “Die Life” feels like Def Con 4 on the panic level.

You’d be remiss if you didn’t play this at least once on Halloween. Then hit up all of the Soft Moon’s discography and get lost in it the rest of the year.

John Carpenter : Halloween S/T

Of course this is on the list. Why wouldn’t it be?


So there’s a few to get your Spotify Halloween playlists started. There’s plenty of other great Halloween-appropriate albums out there for you, so if you don’t like my suggestions go find some for your own damn self.

Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

Countdown To Halloween : Indie Horror Films You Need To See

We’re knee deep in the month of October. Things are finally starting to cool down and the foliage is browning and withering like it’s supposed to. We’re also well into the season of horror. Here at the Hubner house there’s been lots of proper horror viewing going on. Some good, some not so good, but it’s always entertaining.

Are you wondering what are some good horror flicks to hit play on this Halloween season? Well let me throw a few your way if you don’t mind some suggestions.

The Void

Imagine a cross between The Thing, Hellraiser, The Beyond, and H.P. Lovecraft and you’re well on your way to falling for this low budget, practical effects smorgasbord of metaphysical horror. Plot is fairly simple: A group of people are trapped inside a rural hospital one gloomy evening when the whole place is surrounded by cloak-wearing weirdos with long daggers. They’re part of some cult that are of course trying to bring some ancient creature back from some other realm. It starts out as your typical jump scare fare with decent enough acting and mood and visuals for miles. Soon enough, though, things go from tense and brooding to just plain bizarre and transdimensional.

This is probably one of my favorite horror films in recent memory. Not because it’s perfect in every way and the effects are mind-blowing, or that the story is solid. It’s pretty much a hodge podge of ideas and cheaply put together practical effects. It’s that the filmmakers just fucking go for it. Who cares if the story makes complete sense, or that the effects are somewhat limited. The acting is done well and the effects look pretty damn good for a shoestring budget. This movie oozes mood and a general uneasiness. If you like your horror a little on the Lovecraftian side of things, look no further than The Void.

The Devil’s Candy

The Devil’s Candy is a disturbing film. There are far more disturbing movies for sure, but this one is pretty disturbing. The story involves a man, his wife, and their daughter buying an old farmhouse on the cheap and being overjoyed at their find that seems too good to be true. The man is a painter and the land has an outbuilding where he has his own workspace to paint commission paintings as well as his own work. He begins to start working on much darker pieces, as if he’s being possessed to do so. They’re upside down crosses, black voids where the faces of screaming children are coming through the darkness. He doesn’t even remember doing the paintings. Meanwhile a large, bald man appears at the house saying that it’s his home. Turns out he lived there with his parents and ended up murdering them both when he was told by him mom to turn down the metal guitar he was playing in his upstairs bedroom. The loud noise is the only way he can stop the voices from telling him to kill.

This film, despite being disturbing(our bald psychopath murders a little boy and dismembers him, though not seen), is so well made and the acting is perfect. Ethan Embry, Pruitt Taylor Vince, and F. Murray Abraham all do great work here, and the music is every metalhead’s dream. The score is pretty much crunchy guitar stabs mixed with some otherworldliness thanks to Sunn O))). There’s some occult vibes, as well as some 80s “Satanic Panic” feels. If you grew up in the 80s you would remember all the “metal is the devil music” talk, and this movie really goes a far way to prove those church ladies right.

Southbound

I’m a sucker for horror anthology films, especially when they’re done well. V/H/S and V/H/S 2 were done very well. The ABCs of Death? Ehh. Of course there’s the classics like Creepshow, Twilight Zone : The Movie, and Tales From The Darkside. Hell, I even liked Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye. Nightmares from 1983 was great, too. Southbound is another horror anthology well worth giving a shot.

So Southbound is 5 stories that sort of/sort of not intertwine. There’s two guys on the run from these floating black specters on some desert highway; three girls in a rock band get stranded on the same stretch of highway and are picked up by a strange couple in a station wagon; a man hits a girl in his car in the middle of the night on this same stretch of desolate road and ends up in the world’s most unhelpful ER; when a guy comes looking for the sister that went missing years before he finds more than what he was bargaining for and finally there’s a home invasion that goes horribly wrong and brings us back to where we started.

I’m not going to say this one was perfect because it wasn’t. But what it was was pretty entertaining with some interesting twists. Each story sort of bleeds(no pun intended) over into the next which gives the whole film a nice continuity. Each of our doomed characters are somehow or another heading south on this stretch of road that looks like Mad Max could show up any minute. Are they all heading to Hell? I don’t know. It may not be perfect, but it’s a fun ride regardless.

The House of the Devil

This is an older film by Ti West, but for me it’s an absolute classic.

A college girl recently gets a great apartment for herself and takes a babysitting job to help make some money in order to afford the sweet new living situation. When she arrives at the house where she’s babysitting she’s told by the man that hired her(the always excellent Tom Noonan) that in fact she would be watching his wife’s ailing mother. He tells her she shouldn’t be a problem as she’d probably just sleep all night. Of course, that’s not the case and weirdness ensues.

This film looks just like some creepy horror movie you’d come across late night while trying to find something to watch. It has the look of an early 80s film, though it was made in 2009. It pulls from slasher films, haunted house movies, occult, and that satanic panic I mentioned earlier. The cast is excellent, the score is brilliant, and the house it was filmed in evokes so much uneasiness that you can’t help but feel for this young woman stuck in the middle of nowhere with God knows what upstairs. It’s a classic in the genre of horror. Probably one of my favorite horror films that plays very well as an arthouse movie. Ti West has continued to make solid movies, but none as good as this. AJ Bowen, Greta Gerwig, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Dee Wallace, and Joceline Donahue all turn in incredible performances. There’s no “wink and a nod” irony here, either. They’re true to the times and the style and stick to it, which makes the film all the more enjoyable.

Okay, that’s it. You want more suggestions? Then let me know. I’m happy to blabber on about more films if you’d like. Until then, check these out and get ready to get weird.

I recently picked up the Southbound S/T, which was done by The Gifted. Great score done with all analog synths. Check it out if you get a chance.

 

Michael Myers and Trent Reznor

It’s Friday The 13th, so I should be talking about Jason Vorhees. But you know what, I don’t care. Michael Myers has always held a special, darkly-lit place in my heart. I can’t tell you how many times I watched Halloween growing up. It was on TV at least once a year(edited, of course) and I’d always watch it. Even prior to seeing the unedited version on videocassette, it was a very scary, visceral experience for me. The initial murder of Vorhees’ sister, the escape from the institution, stalking of Laurie Strode, and the murders at the end of the film all filled me with such dread that even the most goriest of films can’t come close to that angst I felt lying under a blanket on my parent’s couch in the living room as a sticky little kid.

Even years later that iconic theme music would stick with me, showing up in various forms(Halloween toys, plunking out the theme drunkenly on my best friend’s piano, and various viewings over the years), that I never thought someone covering this theme would affect me as much as the version I just heard today did. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross made a version of John Carpenter’s Halloween theme and released it today, on Friday the 13th, 2017.

It’s actually pretty amazing.

They take their time with it. They savor the nuances and tease the theme generously before going full Carpenter, with some generous Reznor/Ross vibes. They toy with the main theme with lots of distortion and chaos lurking in the background for a good 5 minutes before close to the end when a Reznor-approved beat comes crashing in to make Carpenter’s iconic theme become some sort of dark and sultry remix. It’s really rather stunning.

They haven’t rebuilt the Halloween theme more than they’ve reimagined it into something modern and dystopian. I think it’s genius. You may think it’s shite. That’s okay. Give it a shot and see what happens. I’m fanboying right now. I think Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are two of the most exciting film composers working today. The NIN stuff is still good to my ears as well(we can’t keep recreating the past now, can we dear?), but their film work is absolutely stunning. If John Carpenter decides to not score the new Halloween, I know two guys perfect for the job.

Happy Friday The 13th, lovelies.

They Came From Rue Morgue : The Musical

So there I was minding my own business perusing the interwebs and the social medias when I see a post from Christopher Ashley, aka Slasher Film Festival Strategy, about a new compilation he is part of. It’s a track called “Faithless and Forever Empty” and its on a compilation called They Came From Rue Morgue. It’s one hell of a track. I mean, with a title like that I was in immediately. So I clicked on the Bandcamp link and headed over to check out the whole compilation. Holy hell, this pretty much has every synth artist that’s worth burying into your brain. All of them Witches, Thorsten Quaeschning & Ulrich Schnauss, Burning Tapes, Joel Grind, Antoni Maiovvi, Zombi, the aforementioned SFFS, Umberto, Steve Greene(of Voyag3r) and a whole hell of a lot more. It’s 20 tracks and at press time it was a free download(I paid a little green as all donations go to charity.)

These are heavy hitters, guys. And these aren’t throw away tracks. These are killer tunes. Slasher Dave’s “Terror In Toronto(Dave Alexander’s Theme)” is achingly creepy and full of 80s horror vibes. “The Otherworld” by All of them Witches is seriously great. Has a melancholy occult vibe. I could hear this playing over some opening title sequence to some lost nugget of the Gorgon Video days. If you’re familiar with Thorsten Quaeschning and Ulrich Schnauss’ excellent Synthwaves LP then you’ll be familiar with “Thirst”, their contribution to this excellent compilation. Listen, if you’re digging They Came From Rue Morgue and you haven’t yet heard Synthwaves, brother make amends and put it in your ears. Burning Tapes gives us the ominous and stark “Kiva”. Imagine Vangelis being influenced by Throbbing Gristle and Klaus Schulze and you might have an idea of what’s going on here. Great stuff. Joel Grind’s “Centralia” feels like some lost track from House By The Cemetery. Pretty soon the drums kick in and we’re transported to some post-apocalyptic future cruising the nuclear wasteland.

Are you asking yourself what Rue Morgue is? Well it’s a horror magazine that was launched in 1997 by  Rodrigo Gudiño and it’s pretty much THE place to head for all things horror-related. Here’s what they say on their website:

Launched in 1997 by Rodrigo GudiñoRUE MORGUE is the world’s leading horror in culture and entertainment brand, spearheaded by its multiple award-winning magazine, Rue Morgue and Rue Morgue Digital; the Rue Morgue Library book series; the Rue Morgue Necropolis Horror Expo and Rue Morgue Presents CineMacabre Movie Nights monthly film series.

Rue Morgue Cinema, the company’s award-winning film production arm produced its flagship release, The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh, starring Aaron Poole and Academy Award winner Vanessa Redgrave.

Rue Morgue Magazine issued six times per year (Jan-Nov) and distributed worldwide; editions of the Rue Morgue Library are issued six times a year (Feb-Dec) and distributed across North America.

 

I grew up on Fangoria, Gorezone, and Gorehound magazines, so Rue Morgue is right up my alley. I’m pretty new to it, but I’ll be visiting it often. I mean, they curated this synth/horror compilation and offered it free. How much cooler can you be?

Anyways, back to the music.

Antoni Maiovvi’s “River Of Deceit” has a new age-y vibe to it. Sort of like contentment in desolation. Zombi’s “Cooties Demo” gives a glimpse of what that film might’ve sounded like in their capable hands(Kreng’s score was one of my favorites from 2014, btw.) I’m always excited to hear new Steve Moore/AJ Paterra, and this track does not disappoint. Slasher Film Festival Strategy continues to blow me away. “Faithless and Forever Empty” continues Christopher Ashley’s impressive run of horror/synth compositions. This one has the feel of Psychic Shield, but with a Fabio Frizzi lean. Voyag3r’s Steve Greene delivers with the looming and heavy “Noir, City Streets and Macabre pt. 2”, while Videogram’s “Test Subject 011” feels like some sort of space disco inferno into the heart of darkness. Umberto gives us the sly and deceptively low key “The Tower”.

There’s not a bad track here. Hexencraft, Anders Manga, LAWA, Confrontational(featuring Cody Carpenter) all deliver the goods. Start to finish folks, this one will stick in your head like bloody meat on ribs. Or something like that. Anyways, grab this great compilation and whisper an ominous thank you into the dark to Rue Morgue and all the excellent cats that made this thing possible.

Click the Bandcamp player below to check out the album and head over to the Bandcamp page and download it for free(or drop some coin and give to a good cause.)

Martin and Uncle Cuda

I think one of the more bizarre films in the George Romero canon is 1978s Martin(and yes, I’ve seen Knightriders AND Bruiser.) It wasn’t bizarre in a “bad” bizarre way. It was Romero’s take on the vampire story, but done in a modern way. Watching it back in the 80s I came away from it feeling kind of icky and queasy. It disturbed me. It wasn’t the typical tragic romantic take on the vampire lore. There was no melancholy, handsome Dracula feeding on big-bosomed women lying in ornate king size beds wrapped in satin sheets. There was no fear of sunlight or garlic or crucifixes. Martin, the film’s namesake, was a skeazy young man with a 70s hairdo and turtleneck shirt drugging, raping, and slitting the wrists of women and feeding on their blood till they had been bled to death. There was nothing mythical about the guy, other than he was a solid stalker with a taste for blood and a tendency to mix sexual tendencies with violence and murder.

He was basically a barely adult version of Ted Bundy with a blood fixation.

Now you’d think that since there was no magic involved here that the fear level would’ve gone down. “Hey, he’s just some skinny asshole that could be taken down with proper Chuck Norris fist punch to the throat or a Don “The Dragon” Wilson roundhouse to Martin’s whiney face. I got this.” But the fact that the vampire in this movie was just some skinny asshole was exactly what made the movie so disturbing. I don’t think a movie disturbed me more than Henry : Portrait of a Serial Killer. No powers or super human strength or demon possession there. Just some drifter that murdered people at will, and with no remorse. Martin got me to this familiar icks.

Martin isn’t a movie I revisit very often, or ever. Not like Dawn of the Dead which I watch at least twice a year in its entirety. It’s just something I don’t often think of sitting down and revisiting. Once or twice was enough, really. But recently on a vinyl-buying bender over at Light In The Attic I saw they had Donald Rubinstein’s original S/T for the film on sale for $9. Whether it’s a favorite or not I had to drop the cash for it. Just to say I have it, really. And you know what? It’s not too bad.

Donald Rubinstein is the brother of Richard P. Rubenstein, Romero’s producing partner on nearly all of his movies. While trying to find someone to score Martin, Rubinstein suggested they visit his brother in New York. After meeting and Donald nervously playing some music for the giant Romero, Romero was thrilled with what he heard. Rubinstein got back to work and finished scoring the new Romero vampire flick.

So how does it sound? Well it sounds like a ramshackle of 70s noises. Electric piano, eerie theremin-like sounds, and a touch of white guy jazz for kicks. Highlights include “The Calling/Main Theme”, which is all piano and mournful vocals. “Phased” is a quick punch of phaser-effected electric piano that sets some eerie mood. “Fly By Night” is some lounge-y jazz thrown in for good measure, while “Exorcism/Classical Funk” almost has an avante garde vibe with staccato-plucked strings and quirky piano lines.

Basically this is a minimalist score for a low budget 70s horror film. That’s what this is. It’s quirky, dark, melancholy, and at times kind of weird. But it’s endearing in its own way. I mean, you’re not going to be throwing this one on at parties or to impress your music nerd friends. But maybe on some quiet evening when OK Computer, London Calling, or Blood On The Tracks isn’t cutting it and the absynthe has run out, you might just feel like Donald Rubinstein’s Martin S/T could scratch that musical itch for you.

But more than likely not. For $9, I’m glad it’s available for just in case. And I’ll be ready with the Chuck Norris fist to the neck, in case any turtlenecks come knocking.

Scoring Horror : Steve Moore’s ‘The Mind’s Eye’

I find myself listening to more soundtracks than I do watching the movies they score. Is that a bad thing? I’m sure the film directors and writers and producers might think so. It’s not that I have anything against watching movies, it’s just that a lot of the time I have easier access to the scores, and the soundtracks are usually better than the film. That’s just a cold hard fact of life, people. I give the filmmakers credit, though. They’re smart enough to hire top notch musicians to score their films. And I’m not saying all those films are bad or anything. I’m just saying the soundtracks usually grab me right away.

There are a crew of great people making some amazing music for indie and low budget films that are really classing up these flicks. Jeff Grace, Wojciech Golczewski, Disasterpeace, David Wingo, and Steve Moore.

Not familiar with Steve Moore? Well he’s one half of the heavy synth/progressive rock duo Zombi. Not familiar with Zombi? Really? Just, well see yourself out the door, okay? Close the door, too. Okay, they’re gone. So anyways, Moore has been making some pretty incredible noise in Zombi for years now, and a few years ago he started scoring films. The first that I saw was The Guest, which was both a great film and an incredible score. Cub was another one he scored, and again he hit it out of the park with that score. Last year he scored the low budget horror film The Mind’s Eye.

So as I stated earlier, I don’t see a lot of these films I pick up soundtracks of. The Mind’s Eye is on my list of films to see, for sure. But I was more interested in hearing Steve Moore doing what he does best, and this soundtrack does just that. It’s got all of those great early 80s synth sounds Moore is known for. The moody, rhythmic arpeggios…the swaths of dissonance…the new age-y interludes…they’re all there. He tends to stick to certain motifs. I can hear repeated sounds and expressions in each of the soundtracks I’ve heard of his, but I think that’s true for a lot of film scores. Certain build ups during scenes, creating tension for a scene, yadda yadda. It’s sort of like a hallmark of a Steve Moore film score.

To get an idea of what Steve Moore does, you should hit up albums like Zombi’s Surface To Air, Escape Velocity, and Shape Shift. For my money, those three records really show his compositional skills(along with drummer AJ Paterra.) Then once you’re fully committed to this synth wizard’s chi(sorry, been watching Iron Fist on Netflix), I’d suggest you find his score for The Guest and put that in your ears. I think that’s the ultimate power punch in regards to his scoring prowess. It’s got it all, really. Want more? Then The Mind’s Eye should be your next stop. This thing is a massive chunk of synth-heavy goodness. It’s a double LP, so there’s plenty to enjoy here. 85 minutes of music, to be exact. It’s an epic collection of heady sounds.

The film itself? Here’s the trailer:

Like I said I haven’t seen it, but it seems to do a lot with a little. Low budget horror can be a tricky thing, but done in the right hands it can do what major studios do with millions more bucks and far better. This one sort of puts me in my of Cronenberg’s Scanners, just from the trailer. That was a classic of the genre, and a low budget flick to boot. If Joe Begos does just half of what Cronenberg did then The Mind’s Eye will be pretty damn good.

Well I’ve rambled enough. I think I got off point a bit, but that’s typical on a Saturday morning. Steve Moore. The Mind’s Eye. Film Composers. Indie horror. GO!