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.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Oooh, scary! music - Part VI

Continuing what I said yesterday about Danny Elfman and Halloween, we come to a project that Elfman clearly relished, for it combined his vast talents as a songwriter and composer with his love of the holiday. That project is The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Halloweentown resident Jack Skellington (spoken by Chris Sarandon, sung by Elfman, and I'm struck by how alike their voices are; not really par for the animated musical course) is weary of Halloween and seeks a change. He stumbles upon Christmastown and tries to make the Yuletide season his own. Based on a story by Tim Burton, this is an impressive stop-motion feature whose reputation has grown over the years (thank you, Hot Topic).

Given how much narrative heft the songs carry, it's a little shocking that Elfman didn't receive a writing credit. (I guess a 'co-producer' credit works just as well.) It's a real kick hearing an orchestra doing the backing for these songs. "This is Halloween" introduces the citizens of Halloweentown with a gothic psuedo-march. (For an added treat, pick up "Music for a Darkened Theater - Vol. 2" which features a demo of Elfman singing all the parts!)

"Jack's Lament" makes for a mournful (if beautiful) bit of soul-searching as Jack longs for something more out of life (death?). "What's This?" is a complete 180-degree turn; an bouncy evocation of pure joy as Jack discovers Christmastown. "Town Meeting Song" expresses the citizens's curiosity and misunderstanding at the strange new holiday that Jack tells them about. "Jack's Obsession" (or "Something's Up with Jack") follows Jack's mania as he continues to understand Christmas.

"Kidnap the Sandy Claws" is a playfully malicious number following the plans of Lock, Shock and Barrel to...well, guess. "Making Christmas" interpolates the Dies Irae and a brief reprise of "Jack's Lament" as the townscreatures go about delivering a new kind of Christmas.

"Oogie Boogie's Song" is a very amusing Cab Calloway take-off detailing the villain's plans for Mr. Claws. "Sally's Song" is a lovely cabaret-style number; a heart-breaking expression of unrequited love, splendidly performed by Catherine O'Hara. "Poor Jack" is a beautifully dark tune, almost like a sequel/reprise of "Jack's Lament". "Finale/Reprise" moves from an uneasy take on "What's This?" to a truly romantic reprise of "Sally's Song".

The underscore to this film is also enjoyable. It's essentially instrumental versions of the songs, but still quite well-done. "Overture" begins with a soaring fanfare, before moving into a jaunty, sleigh bells-laden take on "What's This", followed by a 'tick-tock' "Making Christmas" on winds and horns and an appropriately searching read of "Jack's Lament".

"Doctor Finklestein" features the only non-song-derived motif, a staggering percussive melody for Sally's creator (Willian Hickey). "Nabbed" reprises the melody all-too-briefly while riffing on "Kidnap the Sandy Claws". "In the Forest" features a lonely flute and twittering jazzy horns, while "Christmas Eve Montage" follows Jack on his journey, accompanied by the "Lament" and "Obsession" melodies before taking a dark turn toward the end.

Two of my favorite score cues are "Jack and Sally Montage" and "To the Rescue". The former divides between soulful renditions of "Sally's Song" (with a superbly dark version at track's end) and wondering variations on "Jack's Lament" as Jack struggles to recreate Christmas. The latter is a driving action cue nimbly interpolating "What's This?", "This is Halloween" and "Making Christmas" and mixing them with the "Oogie Boogie" orchestration. The "End Credits" reprise virtually every song melody in a fantastic suite.

"Opening" is pretty much the narration from the film, while "Closing" (which wasn't in the film) provides a very nice epilogue to the story. Patrick Stewart's work is just marvelous and another good reason to own this disc.

The soundtrack (on Walt Disney Records) has been reissued with covers of the songs by the likes of Fiona Apple, Marilyn Manson and Fallout Boy...then again, it does feature Elfman's demos, so the choice is up to you.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oooh, scary! music - Part V

You know, it's a little sad that, with all the scores I've written about for Halloween, I've never covered the work of a composer who truly loves the holiday. That man is Danny Elfman, and he's no stranger to creepy films. One of the creepier ones was Sleepy Hollow.

A mysterious figure on a horse is leaving the citizens of Sleepy Hollow...much shorter. Investigator Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) tries to get to the bottom of the mystery. Huh. The Disney version I saw as a kid (and just recently) wasn't quite like this. Just as visually striking as you'd expect a Tim Burton film to be, this also features some impressive performances and, along with Mindhunters, one of the all-time great 'why I did it' killer speeches.

'Evocative' is the best word to describe Elfman's music. The orchestrations include deep male voices, quavering strings, pipe organ, a boy soprano, harsh horns, twinkling chimes, a cooing choir, tolling bells...and this is just the friggin' prologue! ("Introduction")

For the "Main Titles", Elfman whips up a cornucopia of skittering orchestral effects, leading to the main theme, a haunting piece of work run through four phrase interpretations on oboe, strings (and muted trumpet) and solo female voice. "Young Ichabod" continues with the main theme on boy soprano (pointing out the obvious in 3, 2...), likely to reflect the innocence of our hero as a child, before the soprano (augmented with the deeper voices) traiis off into a new, hopeful melody.

There's lots to enjoy here, from the scritchy-scratchy violins of "The Witch" to the romantic variations on the main theme in "A Gift". "Love Lost" features a subtler, not-immediately-recognizable take on the main theme.

Of course, it wouldn't be a story about Sleepy Hollow without the Headless Horseman, and Elfman provides him (it?) with a suitably blaring five note theme on horns (which pops up throughout "The Church Battle" and "The Windmill"), as well as a small sub-motif on growling horns (the beginning of "The Tree of Death", about halfway through "The Final Confrontation").

And then there's "The Chase". Listening to this rousing action cue, I can only assume that the string players in the London orchestra had to soak their hands after every take. The string work is that furious. "A New Day!" reprises the hopeful melody on horns and soprano, giving the score and film a happy ending.

Unlike a lot of scores I've talked about recently, this one is readily available (at No fan of Elfman should be without this fine score.

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Treehouse of Horror...

Like a lot of people, I love "The Simpsons". Also, like a lot of people, I love it considerably less than I used to. What I really enjoy are reruns of the show, esp. reruns of the Halloween specials. Curiously, none of the local channels are airing them...and it's a day before Halloween. Pretty bush league, if you ask me.

Still, I want to take some time to name my ten favorite segments of the various episodes:

10. Clown Without Pity: If only for the conversation between Homer and the curio shop owner.

9. Life's a Glitch, Then You Die: Pretty dated but very funny tale of Y2K destroying society. The plane load of passengers headed for the sun is a riot, and I really like the self-effacing nature of the guest passenger.

8. Desperately Xeeking Xena: Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl have to rescue Lucy Lawless from the Collector. Doesn't get talked about a whole lot, but it's a favorite. The ending is amusing.

7. Hell Toupee: Bad pun (derived from an "Amazing Stories"), but good episode. Neat guest appearance by Ed McMahon.

6. Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace: Groundskeeper Willie as Freddy Krueger. That says it all, really.

5. Bart Simpson's Dracula: "We had a story to go with this painting ("Dogs Playing Poker"), but it was far too intense, so we just threw something together with vampires. Enjoy!"

4. The Devil and Homer Simpson: Two words: Devil Flanders. Also, you gotta love the jury of the damned.

3. Dial 'Z' for Zombies: "Dad, you just killed the zombie Flanders!" "He was a zombie?"

2. Time and Punishment: Homer experiences "A Sound of Thunder". Some great cameos and properly chilling alternate universes.

1. The Shinning: Honestly, if I have to explain why it's #1, you've obviously never seen it.

Wasn't easy, since I hate listing things (though #1 was set in stone), and there are some good ones I left off: "Nightmare Cafeteria", "The Homega Man", "Fly vs. Fly" and "The Terror of Tiny Toon".

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oooh, scary! music - Part IV

As I mentioned last year, John Williams scored but a handful of horror films (and given his work in the genre, it's a genuine shame that he was never afforded the opportunity to revisit the genre): Dracula, Images, the first two Jaws films and The Fury.

A young man (Andrew Stevens) watches his father (Kirk Douglas) get gunned down. As it turns out, the father survived. The young man was spirited away to a facility to harness his gifts; he has the power of telekinesis and the father enlists a similarly-gifted girl (Amy Irving) to help track his son. Director Brian De Palma embues this story with a lot of style, but, really, it's all about the 'telekinesis as a weapon' set-pieces, even more so than Carrie. (To hell with The Devil's Rain; this film has the most incredible ending of, if not any motion picture, then certainly any 70s horror film. Suffice it to say that Williams, editor Paul Hirsch and the effects team earned their paychecks.)

The main theme, as introduced in the "Main Titles", is a beautiful dirge, wafting about with clairnet leading to strings and hair-raising horn work. The theme proves quite durable, becoming an action cue in "Through the Alley" and getting a creepy electronic reading in "The Train Wreck".

"For Gillian" introduces a motif for Irving's telepath, a peppy melody for strings and chimes that gets a drawn-out reading in the operatic (and undeniably Vertigo-esque, at times) "Gillian's Escape", which, itself, is capped off by a wonderfully melancholic variation on the main theme.

"Vision on the Stairs" is one of several beautifully hypnotic cues (others including "Gillian's Vision" and "Descent") that draw the listener in with dreamy winds, icy strings snd foreboding organ.

Amidst the sturm und drang, there are some moving pieces of music, like the oboe and string-laden "Remembering Robin" and "Hester's Theme", with its woodwinds and creepy string work that belies the theme's romantic intentions.

"Gillian's Power" (which I, seriously, would re-name "Childress Goes to Hell") is a hell of a finale, strings leading to horns and theremin and clattering horns and bells...honestly, I just can't explain it that well.

I should note that a great many of the cues I've mentioned come from the now-sold-out Varese CD Club release. However, the re-recording of the score is still available for reasonable prices. This release includes the source music from the "Death on the Carousel" scene, a carnival-esque version of the main theme that may not be for all tastes, "Gillian's Power" with synthesizer substituted for theremin and a concert rendition of the theme in "Epilogue". In any event, this is a score worth having.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Oooh, scary! music - Part III

Among many other aspects, slasher movies have been, more often than not, cursed with cheap-sounding music scores. Anyone with a Casio and too much free time can make a bad film worse or bring down a good movie. Still, every once in a great while, a slasher gets a fully orchestrated music score that raises the quality of the film. Such an event came with The House on Sorority Row.

On the verge of graduation, sorority sisters are picked off one by one. In other words, typical 80s slasher boilerplate claptrap. (Can you tell I've never seen it?) The film is interesting in that it was written and directed by Mark Rosman, who went on to, for a time, direct Hilary Duff vehicles (The Perfect Man, A Cinderella Story, 11 episodes of "Lizzie McGuire"). Yeah, it's weird.

The score comes courtesy of the ever-underappreciated Richard Band. In the "Main Titles", fluttering winds and shimmering harp give way to a very lovely soaring melody that alternates between strings and oboe. Listening to this music, you'd never suspect that nubile coeds were gonna be hacked least until the creepiness of the sustained note at the track's end.

The other major theme is a pretty music box medley that bears more than a passing resemblance to Schifrin's The Amityville Horror theme...something that is, more or less, copped to in the CD's liner notes. Still, in tracks like "Slater's Memories" and "Hallucination and Escape", it can be quite creepy. "Music Box" features the complete theme in earnest, with chimes and solo voice giving the tune a somewhat mournful edge.

The score doesn't skimp on action for the requisite 'pursued by the killer' scenes. "The Cemetary" and "Jeannie's Flight" race about with xylophone, strings and horns chasing after the characters.

Band also lends a sense of suspense in the film's quieter moments. "Kathy in Attic", for instance, interweaves foreboding cello work and icy strings with wafting woodwinds (while taking time to revisit the music box theme on chimes).

"Last Hallucination" is interesting in how it starts with the music box theme, then subtly works in low creepy strings and other peculiar orchestral effects, while "Retribution"'s swirling strings lead to the film's ending...spoiled by the final notes. (The film, not the music, which is appropriately creepy.) The "End Credits" revisit the music box theme, first on harp and chimes, then on full orchestra before reprising the "Main Titles".

Overall, this is a very exciting score. Unfortunately, it has been out of print for many years (released by Intrada in 1993 and paired on disc with The Alchemist, which was since reissued in complete form with Zone Troopers, which it - Alchemist - was originally released with on LP. Got it?) and the current prices for it are unspeakably gougey. Still, if you happen upon an opportunity to get it, do not pass it up. And, with the multitude of Band scores getting reissues (Ghost Warrior, Mutant, Troll), do not count out a re-release.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

From time to time - but certainly recently - I've found that being a fan is dangerous, because what you love (or, in this case, the people who love it with you) will disappoint you. At a film music message board, there was a topic about scores that didn't deserve Oscar wins. I swung the topic around to 1997's Best Musical or Comedy Score category...where someone had the grapes to say that none of the nominated scores deserved to win...and this included Zimmer's As Good as it Gets, Elfman's Men in Black and David Newman's Anastasia. Also, at the IMDb's composer board, I mentioned Patrick Doyle's Igor as a good recent score that no one's talking about. The two respondees were unimpressed by Doyle's oevure...and these same two people talked up a modern masterpiece of film composition...The Dark Knight. (Note to self: defending Patrick Doyle to fans of The Dark Knight's score is like pissing in the wind - pointless and messy.)

Still, not all film music lovers these days are on crack. A local critic mentioned, in his opinion, the ten greatest film scores he's ever heard:

Anatomy of a Murder (Duke Ellington)
Ben-Hur (Miklos Rozsa)
Fargo (Carter Burwell)
Hoffa (David Newman)
The Last of the Mohicans (Trevor Jones)
The Man With the Golden Arm (Elmer Bernstein)
Once Upon a Time in America (Ennio Morricone)
Paris, Texas (Ry Cooder)
Rebel Without a Cause (Leonard Rosenman)
Vertigo (Bernard Herrmann)

Quite a diverse list (with the inspiration for my taking notice of his list in bold) and proof that all is not lost in film music fandom. There are still people who care.

Incidentally, I'm listening to Marc Shaiman's Addams Family Values as I type this (It's Shaiman's birthday today, but I already did write a little something about it). Not an all-time favorite, but a really fun score. It's pretty nice to pull stuff from the collection and listen. You might end up loving something all over again.


Monday, October 20, 2008

First meal.

Going out for breakfast is something of a monthly ritual for me. I greatly enjoyed the breakfast I had today: three sausage links, two scrambled eggs, homefries that looked like they took up half the plate and toast cut into four pieces.

Reading the articles in a magazine known as Saveur, which recently had a 'breakfast issue', helped me appreciate the meal all the more. Without going into too much about 'how I wish...' (because there's been enough of that around here), it was intriguing to see what people eat in various parts of the world, and a lot of it looked appetizing.

I'd love to try some of those foods someday.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oooh, scary! music - Part II

Something that needs to come back to the genre of horror is good-old fashioned air-bladder transformations. Make-up effects artists would slave over a creation of some fearsome creature and bring it to life. These days, all a person needs to do is swerve a mouse around on a computer and BAM! Instant creatures. It's my honest opinion that something tangible and right before your eyes is far scarier than anything that CGI can conjure. In the heyday of such old-fashioned effects work came The Howling.

News reporter Karen White (Dee Wallace) tries to recuperate from an attack by serial killer Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo). On the advice of psychiatrist George Waggner (Patrick Macnee), she and her husband travel to a retreat known as The Colony, only to find that what she escaped to is far more terrifying than what she's running from. This is a very effective thriller from Joe Dante with some suspenseful moments, impressive make-up effects from Rob Bottin (though one has to admit that the final werewolf design is more cute/silly than scary) and a fine score from Pino Donaggio.

The score works in a lot of fragmented motifs that Donaggio, nonetheless, develops beautifully. One example comes in the goofy yet anthemic "Hunting for Shadows", the electronic and guitar piece containing the "Channel 6 Update News Theme".

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the score is the theme I've termed "Karen's Anxiety". The melody interweaves electronics, chimes and some moaning voices for good measure, ably suggesting hyperventilation and loss of control. The theme appears in full in "Karen's Nightmare" and recurs throughout the score.

The other major theme is a folksy theme for guitar and light electronics. Introduced in "Doctor's Orders", it gets a fuller rendition in the "End Credits" (not to give anything away, but though the ending contains one of my pet peeves - the pathetically overused 'here we go again'/'killer's not dead' ending - this film is redeemed by the last line and the wonderfully tongue-in-cheek final shot), and a slower version (augmented with harmonica) appears in "Terry and Karen".

Most of the cues are comprised of suspense material, but it's very top-shelf. "Wolf Bites Man!" moves from typically tense string work to a horrifying gothic organ roll. "Animal Magnetism" stands out for the peculiar orchestrational choice of a toy piano. Horns and electronics highlight the show-stopping "Transformation".

Something that I've noticed is the beauty with which Donaggio infuses his horror scores. Such an example appears in the string work of "Welcome to 'The Colony'".

La La Land Records still has copies of the soundtrack available (though, at the current price of this and other fine titles, they may as well be giving it away), and isn't now the best time to take advantage of picking up this fine score?

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

"I discovered a meal between breakfast and brunch."

In the graduating class at my high school, there were (roughly) a good three hundred people. At my reunion, however...there was only a quarter of that, if a third.

Even so, I had a really good time catching up with the people who did show up. Truth be told, I once had issues with some of the people I saw tonight, but ten years are pretty good at washing away animosity.

It's kind of a pity that they didn't have any categories like on that "Simpsons" episode I referenced. I just know I'd have had 'most weight gained' and 'shortest amount of distance traveled' in the bag.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Random thoughts.

- I liked Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull...and yet, I laughed myself silly at last night's new "South Park", where the boys try to come forward with the admission that their friend was raped. It seems more like a message board post than an actual storyline, but message boards - especially the ones at Ain't It Cool News - give me great entertainment value. Perhaps, it was Trey Parker's statement on how people overreact to movies online, equating it with much more serious issues like rape; 'raped my childhood' and so forth. While not quite in the same league as the brilliant "Free Hat", it was quite funny.

- Apparently, people are getting up in arms about the new DirecTV commercial. (In case you didn't know, their thing of the last two years is recreating scenes with actors in some of their famous roles hawking the product.) The newest one features Craig T. Nelson reprising his role of Steve Freeling from Poltergeist. The problem is that the ad features Carol Anne saying the line "They're here", then Nelson does the schtick. I found it amusing, but people are talking about how the ad sullies the girl's memory and how she's being used. Again, people overreacting, but that's to be expected. For me, it was way more off-putting when Kathy Bates addressed the audience about DirecTV just before Annie Wilkes was ready to hobble Paul Sheldon in Misery.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Duckman - Seasons 1 and 2 (part III of III)

Disc three, season two, like I said:

Papa Oom M.O.W. M.O.W.: (w: Michael Markowitz; d: Norton Virgien) While trying to cop a feel from some comely ladies, Duckman ends up averting a Presidential assassination...and, in the process, becomes a celebrity. Markowitz’s script sings from beginning to end, with some killer lines, razor-sharp commentary about the media and a truly-inspired ‘USA Original Movie’. Definitely an all-time favorite.

Married Alive: (w: Bernie Keating; d: Raymie Muzquiz) Bernice’s impending marriage to mogul billionaire Baron von Dillweed has Duckman in a good mood, until he learns that the boys are going with. Surprisingly, this leads to Duckman solving a case that may have to do with his potential new brother-in-law. Pretty good, with a fine mystery and some funny lines (mainly in Baron von Dillweed’s office/car).

Days of Whining and Neurosis: (w: Gary Glasberg; d: John Eng) The head of a prominent celebrity rehab center is found dead, so Duckman and Cornfed go undercover to investigate. The verbal jabs at celebrities and their addictions fly fast and furious in this episode. No classic, but incredibly hilarious.

Inherit the Judgment: the Dope’s Trial: (w: Michael Markowitz; d; Jeff McGrath) Which came first - the chicken or the egg? Duckman’s answer to this question lands him in a world of trouble in the small backwoods town where he’s stranded...which happens to be King Chicken’s hometown. The titular trial is amusing, particularly when Duckman assumes his own defense...even after he’s cleared.

America the Beautiful: (w: Bill Canterbury and Gene Laufenberg; d Paul Demeyer) Duckman goes in search of a supermodel named America. As it turns out, she’s lost her way. Well, it’s a good thing that we were warned about the "heavy-handed allegory" ahead of time, but, to be honest, this episode is pretty funny, mainly with America’s ex-boyfriends. The ending musical number does overegg the pudding, somewhat.

The Germ Turns: (w: Jim Pond & Bill Fuller; d: Bob Hathcock) At a new-age fair, Duckman gets to see his mother, who, for her negligent parenting, has been reincarnated as a germ. Wishing to avoid this fate, Duckman sets out to spend as much time with his boys as possible. Duckman’s half-assed over-parenting (especially with Ajax) is a riot and Katey Sagal is quite good as Duckman’s mom.

In the Nam of the Father: (w: Jeff Astrov & Mike Sikowitz; d: Norton Virgien) A young pig comes into the office claiming to be Cornfed’s son. This prompts memories of Vietnam, leading Cornfed to find the man’s mother. Duckman and his family tag along, as he promised them a vacation. The episode divides its time between Cornfed’s interesting introspection, Nam humor that may not be to every taste and some side-splitting film references as Duckman suffers flashbacks.

Research and Destroy: (w: Jay Moriarty; story: Jeff Astrov & Mike Sikowitz; d: John Eng) Ajax’s stream-of-consciousness poetry becomes a sensation, gaining the attention of a greeting card magnate. It’s not hard to draw parallels between the originality and creativity being drained from Ajax’s work and...well, anything. This episode speaks to me in a way I didn’t remember in my younger days. It’s also quite funny, with Bernice chewing out a bouncer and the shared reactions to people talking about the soul of creativity.

Clip Job: (w: David Misch; d: Jeff McGrath) In what has to be the strangest and most original framing device for a clip show, Duckman is kidnapped by a fanatical TV critic (a hilarious Ben Stiller) who believes that the show "Duckman" is responsible for the nation’s moral decay. Quite good, even if I don't recognize some of the characters toward the end.

No special features on this disc (probably wasn’t enough room), but I look forward to picking up where I left off in January.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Oooh, scary! music - Part I

It's not quite the 13 Scores of Halloween, but, all the same, I'll still be talking about horror scores this month.

Empire Pictures was rather lucrative in the 1980s, producing a number of genre films for the avid fan. Unfortunately, they were, more often than not, hamstrung by low budgets and cheesy ideas. For every Re-Animator or Trancers that became a cult classic, there were a number of films that ended up as objects of ridicule, like a Dungeonmaster or an Alchemist or a Crawlspace.

Despite such eccentricities as spying on his nubile tenants while he's hidden within the crawlspace and keeping company with a woman whose tongue he's cut out, Karl Guenther (Klaus Kinski) is just your average landlord...who happens to be the son of a sadistic Nazi doctor. Oh, and this new girl, Lori (Talia Balsam, daughter of Martin) moves in and, unlike the other chicks who are basically cannon fodder, suspects that something ain't kosher with Karl. Written and directed by David Schmoeller (whose finest film is - and if he doesn't return to filmmaking, shall forever be - Tourist Trap), this is less a film than a showcase for the wacky antics of Kinski's sadist slumlord. In some weird alternate universe, this could very well be a sitcom pilot.

(I almost feel guilty for slamming this film. If possible, try to track down the short film "Please Kill Mr. Kinski", where Schmoeller - who seems like a really nice guy - explains the hell that the star put him and others through making this film. In fact, it reminds me of a SNL episode: Kevin Spacey was doing a monologue and a crawl appeared that essentially said that he was a dangerous person to be around...though, in that instance, I can surmise that it was but a jest. One line from that crawl seems to perfectly sum up the Kinski-Crawlspace imbroglio: "Whenever you see him playing psychos, remember: he is one.".)

Three aspects stand out from this film. First is Giovanni Natalucci's art direction. The apartment block is the same one used in Troll, also released in 1986. The secret tunnels and ventilation systems looked fantastic. (At the IMDB, a goof is listed about the condition of the vents: not a speck of dust in them. Either this is a true goof or Guenther had more time on his hands than anyone could've imagined. In this - likely - instance, well-played, Messrs. Schmoeller and Natalucci.) Second, the sensitive performance of Sally Brown as Martha (the tongueless lass I mentioned earlier) really made one feel the character's suffering.

Third and foremost is the score by Pino Donaggio, which adds a crucial and much-needed sense of movement to the enterprise. The score is comprised of two main themes. One is a chopping string and horn motif - augmented with electronics - introduced in the "Main Titles" and reprised in "The Chase".

The other is a heartbreaking melody that, more or less, represents the suffering of Brown's Martha. A solo voice over klezmer figures in "Martha's Lament" and "Falling from Grace with the World", but a hopeful string-led version plays over the "End Credits".

There are two other themes that waft in and out of the score: a motif which, most obviously, represents Guenther's perverted hobby...or maybe, his perversion in general. This theme (on searching, swerving strings and electronics) appears in "Rats" and "Sorry, Kitty". The other sub-motif is a love - or, more appropriately, lust - theme with Body Double-caliber strings, saxophone and moaning female voice, popping up in such tracks as "Sorry, Kitty" and "Love Scene"*.

"Voyeurs" features primarily electronics, but they are noteworthy as the same kinds Donaggio would use in his score for The Barbarians. "The M&M Murders" also uses electronics, but to complement the cartoonish goings-on as Lori discovers that (surprise, surprise!) her fellow tenants are dead. (Amusingly, a whispering harmonica worms its way into "Blowpipe Blues").

Weirdly enough, director and composer collaborated on a few songs for the film. The piano-based "'Lovers Tonight' Rehearsal" is a remnant of this alliance.

The score was released long ago by Varese Sarabande on LP. I was lucky enough to obtain a CD transfer, but it hasn't been re-released...yet. In today's specialty soundtrack renaissance, just about anything is possible, so keep an eye open for this enjoyable score.

* - This isn't the actual track title, but I couldn't bring myself to type it out. Go to and look it up, if you like. There is no gruesome torture or dollar amount in existence that could get me to type it out.

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