Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

13 Scores of Halloween - Day 7

In the wake of Halloween, several filmmakers produced their own horror features about unstoppable killers, usually falling on some day of the calendar. David Schmoeller, however, well aware of other fine horror films produced in the '70s, wrote (with Larry Carroll) and directed Tourist Trap, a sort-of pastiche of slightly older horror (Carrie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), as well as a completely original work.

While searching for their friend who went to get gas for their car, a group of young adults stumble onto a wax museum run by the kindly Mr. Slausen (Chuck Connors). However, it's not long before the terrifying secret of the museum is uncovered and they end up running for their lives. No doubt about it: this is an odd bird of a movie. It's amazing what was accomplished on such a low-budget (check out the flying items in the opening scene). The film is creepy and peculiar, often in the same scene, making it worth seeing, if only once.

Given the limited budget, it's something of a miracle that the producers (among them, Charles Band - but let's not hold that against the film - and Halloween's Irwin Yablans) were able to get Pino Donaggio to write the music, but it paid off. Donaggio's score ably matched the mood of the film and is one of its strongest elements.

The main titles introduces a theme on strings and...honestly, it's pretty hard to describe, but it seems to be sort of backwoods-type percussion. This odd melody seems to be for the wax museum.

The opening scene features a harpsichord-based theme which, when notated, seems to (appropriately) state 'What the (fudge) is going on?' As you might imagine, this theme gets a lot of play. Sustained strings and the fudge theme accompany the introduction of Mr. Slausen as the girls are taking a swim.

Surprisingly, Donaggio works in a love theme for Slausen and his late wife. It's a touching piece of music that occurs in a number of guises, such as the lullaby-like treatment for her shrine, a solo piano and Carrie-like strings take and a waltz version toward the end.

Other themes include a chase theme on strings as the characters try to escape Slausen's demented brother Davey and a super-eerie melody for the realistic mannequins performed variously by strings and on-the-verge-of-orgasm female voices (this sounds like a derogatory description, I know, but wait till you hear them!).

Honestly, I could've done a whole week of Donaggio scores (maybe next year...), but this one stands out for, more than any score I've heard, his orchestrational inventivity. The score was released on Varese Sarabande (yay!) on LP (boo!). There's always the chance of a re-release by this or some other label, but, for now, the film is a reasonable substitute.

Tomorrow: The strange power of dreams.

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