The Beast Within/Baxter

September 25, 2010

There have been eight Les Baxter releases in the last eighteen months four of them are already sold out in this age of limited edition material. A few copies of this later work from Les Baxter are still available from Intrada (Special Collection #132). This 1982 film from MGM starring Ronnie Cox, Bibi Besch, Paul Clemons and Don Gordon which the director Philippe Mora called an “encyclopedia of horror movies” makes use of the new shape-shifting art beast special effects. The main character in the movie had a desire for human beings for food, enough said about that.

Les Baxter must have had heart palpitations when he discovered he had a budget over minimum wage and a 60+ piece orchestra to work with. While it was to be his last horror film it was a good one. In fact this reviewer is surprised it has not sold out like so many of his previous releases.

The “Main Title” is a strong melodic theme which is tragic in nature but with a hint of something to come which is what Les wrote for the film. Apparently the melody was too schmaltzy for the producers as parts of “Beastly Transformation” were substituted in its place which definitely has more of a horror sound. As a stand alone track this is one of the better ones from Baxter. The end of the “End Credits” which is very similar to the “Main Title” was also eliminated from the film as not being horrific enough. Go figure because I can’t; but then again I’m certainly not the market they were looking at when the picture was made.

In between there are a good selection of horror cues mixed with tremulous fluttering strings, dissonant chords from brass, strings, piano, and well placed percussion along with weird sounds from the synthesizer where appropriate. This is not the type of the material you’re going to sit back and get lulled to sleep with. In fact with Halloween fast approaching there are some tracks that would lend itself to background music to greet the kids. “Beastly Transformation” is a good example of one that could be used to frighten.

This is yet another score from Baxter that I enjoy and will revisit from time to time. While it has more impact because of budget it merely enhances the film I’m sure and made it much easier for Baxter. This recording was edited and remastered from the two track stereo tape elements thus a true stereo sound. The minor imperfections noted by producer Douglass Fake were barely detectible if at all. I did notice a distorted bass chord at the beginning of the main title but it quickly disappeared. The liner notes from Daniel Schweiger provided ample information about the film as well as a track by track analysis of this 58 minute soundtrack. Take advantage of the fact that there are still copies left and pick one up sooner rather than later.

Intrada Special Collection #132

Track listing:

1. Main Title (02:07)

2. The Beast (01:25)

3. Alone In The Forest (05:32)

4. The Scary Dream (03:22)

5. Horrifying Discovery (00:41)

6. Patient Escapes (04:20)

7. Attack Of The Newspaper Man (01:48)

8. Skeletons Uncovered (04:41)

9. Embalmed Alive (03:36)

10. Crystal Ball (01:18)

11. He Ain’t My Father (00:38)

12. Attack Of The Doctor (01:29)

13. Electrocution Of An Indian (02:28)

14. Bloodthirsty (05:43)

15. Beastly Convulsions (02:14)

16. Beastly Transformation (04:12)

17. Flight Of The Judge (02:35)

18. Beast Destroyed And End Credits (09:20)

Total Duration: 00:57:29

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