Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Lucky 13: Week One: Grindhouse & Exploitation

Well - I guess you didn't see this one coming. To be honest, neither did I. I'm sitting here on a Sunday morning thinking of something that I could post for this week and it dawned on me - Why not just include myself in The Lucky 13 project? What's that you say? Well, it's basically a 13 week project that I started for my main site - Brutal As Hell - in collaboration with Brian Solomon from The Vault of Horror. Every week, for 13 weeks, we'll be selecting our favorite films from a specific sub-genre of horror film and will talk about their influence on us, and of course what we find so appealing about our chosen film. Yesterday was the debut of week one where we covered Grindhouse and Exploitation films. You can check out the features here (BAH) and here (VOH).

For my favorite grindhouse film I picked Pieces. It was a tough call between that and Cannibal Ferox, but in the end I had to go with Pieces. It's way too fun and way too gory to not have been at the top of the stack.

But when it comes to soundtracks, theme songs, and the blazing synth riffs that define grindhouse cinema my film list goes in a totally different direction. Several themes immediately come to mind. Fabio Frizzi's score from The Beyond is easily tops and makes the lists of finalists. It's a well constructed score from top to bottom and I promise I'll make a post regarding this one at a later date. Another one, and I hate to say it, is the theme song from Robert Rodiguez's tribute to grindhouse, Planet Terror. This riff is quite catchy and has been already utilized in other films, such as Run Bitch Run. But I don't really consider Planet Terror to be true grindhouse. Homage is homage and we'll leave it at that.

When it came down to it, after pouring over my fairly large collection of grindhouse film one track in particular stood out well above and beyond any others. And that one is the theme track from Cannibal Holocaust. What I love about this track is that it is so unassuming. For a film as notorious as Cannibal Holocaust the main theme is a direct juxtaposition of tone. Its soft, serene, and almost calming effect clashes with the unyielding brutality that is highlighted throughout the film. Italian composer Riz Ortolani created something that is instantly recognizable and infectious. Once you give it a listen you'll have a hard time getting it out of your head. I'm even considering covering a variation of the theme for my band to take on. I probably won't even tell them what it is when I introduce it to them!

I'm not going to blather further about this song. Just give it a listen below and leave a comment on what your favorite grindhouse theme track is!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

No Tears Please, It's a Good Waste of Suffering

My first real post here just has to highlight one of my favorite horror film scores, and that is none other than Clive Barker's Hellraiser. Hellraiser happens to also be my favorite of Clive Barker's films. It's a gothic masterpiece that indeed may have a stronger following amongst the goth/fetish/industrial club crowd than that of horror geeks. It was my time playing keyboards in an small indie industrial band that I really started to explore the nuances of this soundtrack. On many nights this soundtrack swept me off to a deep peaceful sleep. (But I was also the guy who would sleep like a baby to Nine Inch Nails.)

Each track in this score is slowly paced and deliberately haunting. Sweeping strings gently flow over soft piano stabs, while bass horns and soothing cello's carry us away in a waltz of death. This is horrifying musical erotica perfected.

While many of the tracks from this score are outstanding in their own right it is the theme track that is most instantly recognizable. The repeating theme runs through the score and surrounds the listener in a blanket of darkness and gothic morbidity. To those enchanted by death, Christopher Young's masterful soundtrack is pure heaven, (or should that be hell?)

Throughout the years the soundtrack has been a study by the gothic/industrial music subculture and the music has been covered, remixed, and sampled by a variety of bands including Skinny Puppy and Entombed.

Take a listen to the first track "Hellraiser" below and then continue on to the forth track "The Lament Configuration". Notice how through Young's configurations he presents the theme proper, and then a discordant variation filled with noisy tonal undercurrents and abrasive audio attacks, though yet throughout returns to the main theme in order to create a perfect sense of cohesiveness.

Hellraiser Track 1: Hellraiser (Main Theme)

Hellraiser 1:43
Resurrection 2:32
Hellbound Heart 5:05
The Lament Configuration 3:31
Reunion 3:11
A Quick Death 1:16
Seduction And Pursuit 3:01
In Love's Name 2:56
The Cenobites 4:13
The Rat Race Slice Quartet 3:15
Re-Resurrection 2:34
Uncle Frank 2:59
Brought On By Night 2:18
Another Puzzle 4:06
Total Album Time: 42:40


by Marc Patterson

Right now there's not much to say. I've preliminarily started this blog because I love horror film and I love music. I've spent most of my life playing music, starting piano lessons as early as eight years of age. I continued with lessons for eleven years, and would have likely gone to study at a conservatory, except I was talked out of it by parents who felt I needed to study something more tangible. Somehow the thought of their son trying to hack out a career as a jazz musician was too much. Nonetheless it never abated my love of music. I continued studying, picking up bass guitar playing in diverse bands from funk to free jazz to punk rock and hardcore. Over the past few years I've returned to the keyboards with a fresh take on what is possible with a set of keys. Call it a decade departure.

I also run a pretty popular horror website,, where we dissect, discuss and argue the finer points of the horror genre. This is a spot where I hope the two will collide. My love for music with my love of horror film. Here I hope you'll find interesting scores to discover, bands that are re-defining horror in music, and interviews with composers, as well as a bunch of other cool shit I haven't even thought of yet.

I can't promise a fast of quick growth of this blog. It's going to be slow and steady, but I hope you'll stay tuned!

Rock n' Roll,