Music From The Hammer Films/Bernard, Gunning & Whitaker

July 29, 2007

 

Books or at least chapters of ones on horror films always talk about Hammer Film Productions as having produced some of the finest horror movies for the cinema. Having the advantage over Universal of higher budgets as well as color photography they were able to achieve the cult status they have today. This Silva Screen 1989 release has chosen Horror of Dracula, Hands of the Ripper, Dracula Has Risen From The Grave, Vampire Circus, and Taste The Blood of Dracula. The three Dracula films are composed by James Bernard, a master of the terror soundtrack. Like his American counterpoint, Universal horror specialist Hans Salter, James created his sense of terror and suspense without the use of shrieking violins, blaring distorted brass, and any of the newer styles one might hear in a film today. And yes there is a real honest to goodness motif for Dracula that is carried from film to film just like Hans did with the Mummy and Frankenstein monster.

“The Dracula Suite”, taken from one of the first Hammer Productions Horror of Dracula (1958), a story based on the Stoker novel, has enough good music in the 12+ minute suite to be worth more than the price of the CD. Bernard uses a clever combination with the strings and brass to create the “Main Title”, switching the melody back and forth between the two sections. “Funeral In Carpathia” is written in a similiar fashion to a Russian funeral march from Glazunov. “Finale: Confrontation and Climax/The Fall of Dracula” as well as “Dracula’s Rage” has some of the best chase music ever written for the cinema. Bernard inserts the theme into the racing violins as they go faster and faster definitely building up tension! This film is one that is made better by the outstanding soundtrack and is one that should be looked up to as a standard for all horror music.

Christopher Gunning scored Hands of the Ripper (1971) very early on in his career and used a subtle approach for the majority of the score. The “Anna” theme is quite a warm and moving one, almost seeming out of place in this yet another story about the infamous Jack the Ripper.

The David Whitaker score to Vampire Circus (1972) starts with a classical approach but quickly shifts into a more disturbing dissonant style of composing and orchestrating. There is a theme but it is really quite a simple one stated by the brass section and repeated in this “Prologue” track.

Taste The Blood of Dracula (1970) features the theme again but it is in the form of a variation of the theme. The “Romance The Young Lovers/Shadow Of The Tomb” has a beautiful love them which again seems out of place until the very end of the track when that ominous motif yet again appears. “Romance at Dusk” is the love theme again with the flute answering the theme as a bird would before the romance of the strings enters. “The Victory of Love” portrays the theme as a good over evil track ending the 17+ minute suite.

The thing that one needs to be careful with as far as any Silva releases are concerned is there constant use of recycling the material in other compilation releases with other material. It is very easy to get exactly the same material on another compilation so check carefully especially with the 12+ minute “Dracula Suite”. Well worth looking into as part of your collection. Recommended!

Golden Scores Rating (***)

Silva CD # FILMCD 066

Produced by Eric Tomlinson

Engineered by Mike Ross-Trevor

Track listing

1. The Dracula Suite MAIN THEME (02:15)

James Bernard

2. INSIDE CASTLE DRACULA/THE LURE OF THE VAMPIRE WOMAN/DRACULA’S RAGE (03:05)

3. THE KISS OF LIVING DEATH (02:08)

4. FUNERAL IN CARPATHIA (02:25)

5. FINALE: CONFRONTATION AND CLIMAX/ THE FALL OF DRACULA (02:31)

6. Hands Of The Ripper MAIN TITLES/TRANCE/MRS. GOLDING’S MURDER/ANNA’S THEME (10:33)

Christopher Gunning

7. Dracula Has Risen From The Grave FINALE: DRACULA AND THE CRUCIFIX (05:24)

James Bernard

8. Vampire Circus PROLOGUE (09:15)

David Whitaker

9. Taste The Blood Of Dracula THE BLOOD OF DRACULA (02:11)

James Bernard

10. ROMANCE: THE YOUNG LOVERS/SHADOW OF THE TOMB (03:21)

11. RIDE TO THE RUINED CHURCH (02:56)

12. ROMANCE AT DUSK (02:30)

13. DRACULA TRIUMPHANT/PURSUIT/THE DEATH OF LUCY (03:39)

14. THE VICTORY OF LOVE (02:20)

Total Duration: 00:54:33

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