Crypt of the Living Dead/Phillip Lambro

September 19, 2006

Crypt of the Living Dead is a 1973 cult horror film directed by Ray “Legs Diamond” Danton and starred Andrew Prine (Miracle Worker and TV series Wide Country), Patty Shepard (A Barbara Steele look alike), and Frank Brana (spaghetti western fame). This is one of those films to watch late at night if you can’t sleep because there is really no plot, poor dialogue, low budget, but it is about vampires and there is always a fascination with these creatures that lure us to the screen to view. Just as there is a fascination with vampires there is also one with Phillip Lambro and the interesting atonal percussion style score he created for the film.

Phillip Lambro is primarily known for his works in the concert hall has produced such works as “Two Pictures for Solo Percussionist and Orchestra”, “Music for Winds, Brass and Percussion”, and “Dance Barbaro for Percussion” among many compositions. While this is a score that you would classify in the minimalist style it goes far beyond and more. While it is based on the twelve tone system it really doesn’t sound like it at all due to the rhythm of the percussion. And there is no defined pattern like you hear with Glass who seems to repeat himself over and over again. The key to the success of this soundtrack is percussion and very very unusual instrumentation. Hmm did Phillip study Herrmann? First of all he hired Emil Richards a master studio musician in the art of percussion. Then it was scored for harp, celesta (played by Lambro), accordian, flutes, oboe, trumpets, french horns, (8) strings, and everything but the kitchen sink in the percussion department. As Lambro explained in the liner notes “I use percussion for color but compose it just Iike I would for a violin.” And it is absolutely amazing what can be done with that array of instrumentation especially when it is performed by Richards! In addition there are vocals without words by Orriel Smith used extremely effectively. “Little Hannah’s Theme” is like a lovely little tune that sounds like it comes from a music box. It is also the same theme that Smith hums throughout many of the key tracks. This is one of those tunes that once you hear it a few times it will stick with you. You will find yourself humming it to yourself when you least expect it! Although it is used effectively in the film it is not a horror theme by any stretch of the imagination. While the melody is completely different it has a similiar feeling to the main title of Cat People, a childlike theme we would recite when playing like”you can’t catch me, you can’t catch me.” The motif has something to do with Hannah the vampiress, be it danger, a shot of her tomb etc. Other tracks of interest are the opening “Introduction and Hannah’s Atmosphere” which has dissonant strings, interesting harp chords, some weird noises, and the Hannah theme. “Hannah’s Mesmerization” a 4+ minute track which is an excellent example of creating an effective cue using little melody (there is a reference to the hannah theme) but lots of percussion, dissonant sounds, etc. “Alteration & Transfiguration” is an all percussion track featuring the bongo, gong and snare drums. “The Quest” has the steady pulsating rhythm with fluttering flutes, dissonant violin, and oboe. “Hannah On Fire” uses the oboe chanting a snake like theme with help along the way from celesta, harp, and the always present percussion material.

Please don’t automatically discount this as just another horror score because it truly is not! In fact forget the name of the title completely. We’ll instead call it Symphony for Oboe and Percussion. Phillip Lambro is extremely talented and if were not for the efforts of Robin at Perseverance, the material would have never come to a release, and we would all be sorry. This reviewer would have done just what you I told you not to do! Phillip should also be given credit (he wasn’t) for re-editing the original tapes to make them easier to listen to which they were. The digital transfer and recording was excellent from Penguin Recording. The liner notes by Randall Larson are informative, easy to understand for the most part, and cover all aspects including filming, composer bio, and material about the score itself. Look forward to new releases of more Lambro material in the future. Recommended.

Golden Scores Rating: (***)

Music composed, orchestrated, arranged, and conducted by Phillip Lambro

Executive Producer is Robin Esterhammer

CD# is PD009

Track Listing:


1. Introduction and Hannah’s Atmosphere (02:43)


2. The Long Darken Passageway (01:03)


3. Little Hannah’s Theme (01:27)


4. Medieval Courtyard & Chase (01:28)


5. Hannah’s Cryptal Admonition & Chase (02:30)


6. Little Hannah’s Theme (01:25)


7. Hannah’s Mesmerization (04:19)


8. Admittance Into The Sacred Sepulcher (01:31)


9. Incantation & Transformation (01:30)


10. Wolf Transition & Chase (01:28)


11. Hannah Emerges In The Night (02:09)


12. Spirits From The Crypt (00:50)


13. Possessed By Hannah (01:48)


14. Opening Of The Crypt (01:06)


15. Little Hannah’s Theme (01:24)


16. Hannah’s Seduction (02:01)


17. Incandescent Hannah (01:12)


18. The Mob, The Wildman & Chase (00:54)


19. Alteration & Transfiguration (01:52)


20. The Quest (01:09)


21. Hannah On Fire (02:29)


22. Little Hannah’s Theme (01:26)


Total Duration: 00:37:44






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