Film music is a magical phenomenon. It can create and enhance the sense of life and emotion and pacing in a film. It can also clue us in on the dark secrets hidden in a character's soul, and suggest what might be awaiting us a few frames later. Music is particularly important to the horror film experience. It can (and often does) put us on the edge of our seats, trick us with red herrings, and propel us on a wild ride from shock to shock to shock. It is an unseen hand, subtly directing our reactions and building our anticipations.
Scored to Death: Conversations with Some of Horror's Greatest Composers is the first book to delve specifically and deeply into the minds of noted horror genre composersthe musicians who make us tremble and jump out of our seats. Scored to Death's author/interviewer, J. Blake Fichera, both a film editor and a musician himself, has been fascinated by the music for horror films since his youth: "Film music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.... I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, during a time when the music of John Williams was shining a spotlight on the artistry of film scoring, Danny Elfman was shifting gears from pop star to film music royalty, and composers like Vangelis, Giorgio Moroder, John Carpenter, and the band Tangerine Dream were providing an electronic alternative to the traditional symphonic score... Horror films played a significant role in my upbringing. For those of us who grew up as part of the video-store generation, easy access to hundreds of movies allowed genre icons like Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Pinhead to become cinematic rock stars... My parents were not ones to regulate my viewing... and I was exposed to things that probably wouldn't be considered appropriate for a child today.
My real obsession with the genre, though, began while I was in high school, when renting horror movies with my friends became a regular occurrence. Coincidentally, it was also around this time that I began playing the guitar and discovered the music of heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath. All these things converging on my impressionable teenage brain at the same time made my falling in love with horror film music inevitable."
So it was all but inevitable that Fichera would undertake Scored to Death, a fascinating and entertaining investigation of the dark recesses of the film music world where terror lurks. Interviewed are 14 renowned film composers who have provided music for some of the horror genre's greatest films and franchises, including Halloween, A Nightmare of Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Hellraiser, Maniac, The Fog, Prince of Darkness, Cujo, Dawn of the Dead, Deep Red, Suspiria, Santa Sangre, Zombie, The Beyond, Insidious, The Conjuring, Hostel, The Strangers, House of the Devil, and many more. The book introduces us to director/composer John Carpenter; sound designer/composer Alan Howarth; Italian composers (and members of the band Goblin, known for their scores for Dario Argento films) Claudio Simonetti and Maurizio Guarini; Hollywood composers Christopher Young, Tom Hajdu (of the composing team tomandandy), Charles Bernstein, Jay Chattaway, and Nathan Barr; as well as such other horror notables as Fabio Frizzi, Simon Boswell, Joseph Bishara, and Harry Manfredini.
Prepublication comments about Scored to Death from the horror film world have been very good: filmmaker Stuart Gordon writes, "Fichera...introduces you to some of the genre's greatest composers as they explain the process of creating unforgettable nightmares of sound." Filmmaker Tom Holland observes, "This book is the best opportunity you will have to peek behind the curtains of those people who create the soundtrack of your life!" Filmmaker Larry Fessenden comments, "The musicians in this generous volume are given the time to reveal themselves and their processes." And B-movie aficionado, critic, and author Joe Bob Briggs writes, "Horror films live and die with their musical scores... If you claim to know how horror movies work, this book is a must-read."
Paper/$19.95, 376 pages, Illustrated (14 black-and-white photos)
Publication Date: August 1, 2016
Film / Horror Films / Film Music
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