Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sexy Vampires, Homicidal Farm Children, and Ambient Prayers? Welcome to the world of composer Jonathan Elias!

Although you might not immediately recognize his name, you surely know his work. From the “Yahoooooooo!” jingle to the Columbia Pictures logo that precedes many movies, New York-born music composer Jonathan Elias is a staple of music in pop culture. One piece of his music even became an iconic standard in the homes of millions of people through the 1980s – the MTV “moon man” station ID clip! Since establishing his own company, Elias Arts in 1980, he has built a formidable empire of commercial and film trailer music.

He had also been nominated for a Grammy for his hybridized neo-classical / world / new age music project, American River. Elias spends whatever time allows to another passion, the creation of his Prayer Cycle music series, which culls notable musicians and celebrities from around the globe in a passionate musical and spoken word experience.

But there is another side to Elias…a darker side. In 1984, the man who had helped make MTV a household name struck fear into the hearts of moviegoers, when he created the musical landscape for the Stephen King thriller Children of the Corn. The combination of choirs, gentle synthesizers, and the unassuming visuals of a cornfield made pulses race, and caused people to think twice before stepping onto a farm, in much the same fashion that John Williams and Steven Spielberg gave people Thalassophobia (fear of the sea and oceans) a mere decade before.

Read my full interview with Jonathan Elias here!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Getting Filthy: Movie soundtrack reviews with guest commentary by Cradle of Filth’s mischievous singer

As you may or may not know (it really depends if you read my album reviews at Examiner), but I’ve taken on the challenge of writing a horror (or related) feature every day for the month of October to bring a little autumnal cheer to the masses. What I didn’t count on was the overwhelming enthusiasm I received when I inquired if Dani Filth wanted to participate (and get a few nods for his new book, of course). Not only has this been a fun experience, but the man knows his movies and music, adding an extra dose of darkness to my features.

Here is the current rundown of where his assistance appears:



HORROR OF DRACULA (featuring excerpts from The Gospel of Filth book)


Stay tuned for more wickedness!

Here in Autumn TWILIGHT: An in-depth review of the NEW MOON soundtrack

Go ahead, say it. I sold out. Well, not exactly, but I was actually intrigued at how the music would turn out, given the year's worth of hype and speculation.

New Moon is inarguably the most anticipated soundtrack release of the year. There is an irony in that statement, because historically (with a scant few exceptions) soundtracks are the red-headed stepchild of the music industry. However, thanks to such monstrously popular releases like the High School Musicalseries, the Hannah Montana comps, and last year’s jaw-dropper Twilight, soundtracks are enjoying a resurgence that hasn’t been seen since the early 1980s, when Footloose, Flashdance, and Purple Rain were dominating the charts.

But with popularity comes a price. While the 1980s soundtracks were sculpted to draw in a variety of audiences, the modern soundtracks target very definite groups, be they children, ‘tweens, females, males, or genre-specific fans. New Moon seems to be designed to break down some of those barriers and open up its built-in audience to a broader spectrum of musical experience. While its predecessor Twilight was like a hodge-podge of “it” bands, taking advantage of a scene, building a franchise and an opportunity (not to mention bleeding Paramore’s fame just a little bit “more”), New Moon is more adventurous, no, daring in its bold choice of songs and artists.

Read my full track-by-track analysis here!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Slipping back into the water with JAWS – A new look at John Williams’ classic movie soundtrack

Today I posted an article, no, rather an essay about John Williams’ unparalleled soundtrack to the 1975 classic Jaws. I know it’s not exactly a horror film, but can anyone honestly say that it did not scare them, even a little? Anyway, I think a tribute to Williams’ work on this one is long overdue, despite his Academy Award for it, so I gave it a go. I also included excerpts of Spielberg and Williams interviews to add a bit of color to the piece, though it probably made it appear more like a book report than a retrospective review.

The more I do these articles, the more I get the weird feeling that I am among the last bastions of film score music. I can’t exactly explain it, but it seems as time goes on, less and less people care about this artform. But I’m not giving up; I need to keep these pieces of aural art in the minds of as many people who are willing to open their minds to them.

Check out the fishy fun here!

Halloween Horror Music Happenings – Soundtrack and Film Score reviews with bite!

For the month of October, I decided to start writing up extensive spotlights on a number of horror movies…well, some of them are horror, and some just have scary elements. Everybody does features pertaining to the best horror movies (or scariest, or goriest, or most shocking), but no one seems to give any attention to the music that, in many cases, is the actual backbone of the frightening atmosphere.

So, for every day this month, I am creating feature articles to give respects to some amazing soundtracks. Sure, some of the movies might not be the cream of the crop, but this is about the music, not the movies themselves. You would not believe how many bad movies are released every week that have great musical backdrops.

The factor that sets the horror genre apart is that most of the composers work either with unbelievably small budgets, or they have a very limited time frame in which to work. So it is even more incredible that they are able to produce quality product.

In addition to giving a little overview of the film and examining the soundtracks, I also have been coloring the features with excerpts from Roger Ebert’s reviews from when the films were originally released (because his work is more entertaining than it is legitimately critical), and I have also received some guest commentary from Cradle of Filth vocalist Dani Filth. I’ve also got some VERY special features to post in the coming weeks, so be forewarned!

So far, I have posted articles spotlighting Children of the Corn, Disney’s The Haunted Mansion, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Candyman, The Silence of the Lambs, The Lost Boys, Christine, and the recently released Trick ‘r Treat. You can join the fun every day here.