Category Archives: Video Store Memories

THE MISSING “CREEPSHOW” MUSIC CUES!

Based on sheer unanimous appreciation alone, Creepshow may be one of the greatest horror films ever made. Truly: I’ve never heard one disparaging comment made about it. Inquire, and those who’ve seen it will excitedly describe their favorite segment, their eyes alight and hands animated. For those raised on it, it’s like a plateful of comfort food. And, due to its fall-tinged intro, it has become a Halloween staple. Needless to say, it’s a horror classic.

One of the things that helped cement Creepshow among horror royalty is its incredible score. Composed by frequent Romero collaborator John Harrison (using only a Prophet V synthesizer), the score successfully manages to craft a hauntingly Gothic aura punctuated by goofy camp – no easy task, but one that compliments the vibe of the comic book-inspired film perfectly. Romero himself has said that Harrison’s score delivers on the promise the tagline of the film avows: “the most fun you’ll have being scared”.

Not long ago I discovered Harrison wasn’t solely responsible for creating the amazingly spot-on EC comics-era sensation the score elicited. Many of the recognizable cues, it turned out, were from Capitol Records’ stock catalog. It was a trick Romero had used since the beginning of his career: pacing and editing his films using old stock music, which he often left in once the film was finished. (Just look at Night of the Living Dead‘s score – all stock music, some of which would later find its way into Romero’s Tales from the Darkside television show, as well as, you guessed it, Creepshow.)

Most recently, Waxwork Records released the original Creepshow soundtrack, but it was missing all of those additional stock music cues. In 2014, La-La Records released an “expanded” version of the soundtrack, which included a few of the music pieces, though not many – 14 in all, including only one from “Father’s Day”.

But, thanks to the help of the Internet (and my own dogged searching), I’ve collected almost 30 pieces of missing music cues, including 6 from “Father’s Day”. These pieces were incredibly difficult to track down. There are a few message boards which (thankfully, gratefully) have the music cues listed by name (and Creepshow‘s IMDB page is a wealth of info), but locating the actual audio files proved to be almost impossible. Even though some of these tracks were released on the Creepshow Expanded OST, they don’t even exist on Youtube.

(Complicating the search was the fact that a.) several of the songs have near identical names, and b.) many of the composers worked under different aliases. Whew, exhausting.)

It’s important to hear these cues in full because they’re just incredible. Bill Loose’s work, especially, which is all at once gorgeous, lush, and dramatic. It’s amazing these composers created these beautiful pieces with the knowledge they were to be cataloged anonymously along with hundreds of other pieces for the sole purpose of filling out a record company’s stock music library. It seems almost unjust, in a way – relegating these tunes to a lifetime of obscurity, only to be showcased for literal seconds at a time in the background of some nondescript cartoon or low-budget film.

(And check out Loose’s “Sonar Waves”, specifically about 45 seconds in – any horror fan worth their salt ought to recognize those notes instantly.)

As far as I know, this page is the only place online you can listen to the (almost) entire collection of missing cues from Creepshow in one spot. Unfortunately, it is not complete. I am still missing about 20 tracks, which is mind-boggling. Like I said, these have been hard hard hard to find. But I will continue to update this page as I discover the final, missing cues. Below, the tracks are listed in the order that they appear in the film.

None of this would be possible if it weren’t for the fine, informative folks at YowpYowp and Film Score Monthly (specifically, a member named PrimeEvil whose own keyboard handiwork I’ve included below).

I won’t bore you with my blathering any longer. If you’ve read this far, you deserve to be rewarded with the music. Enjoy, and if you happen to have a hot tip on any of the missing tracks, please email me!





 

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HORROR PET OF THE MONTH: Ella!

When the athletic Allan Mann (Jason Beghe) is tragically paralyzed in a freak jogging accident in George A. Romero’s masterful Monkey Shines, things – at first- seem hopeless for the injured Allan.

After the accident, Allan withdraws. He becomes a shell of his former lively self. He grows distant from his girlfriend. And most tricky of all, Allan hates his live-in the nurse, Maryanne – the only one who can actually physically assist Allan.

All is reversed, however, when Allan’s speed-freak med student buddy, Geoffrey (John Pankow, looking like Elvis Costello’s twin here), delivers him a surprise package in the form a cute little capuchin monkey, lovingly nicknamed “Ella”, after the famed jazz singer.

But what Geoffrey fails to tell Allan is that he’s been experimenting on Ella (and other monkeys, for that matter), injecting them with human brain tissue. Unbeknownst to even Geoffrey, the experiment ends up being somewhat successful, and in turn, Ella develops an almost psychic bond with Allan.

The relationship between man and monkey quickly goes beyond possessive and protective; soon it’s hard to tell where Allan ends and Ella begins. And that Ella, boy…she becomes one mean motherscratcher when pushed.

But ain’t she just so dang cute? Hard to stay mad at a furry face like that.

Who’s a good girl? Ella’s a good girl.

The Weird World of WATCH AND WEAR!

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I love talking about the ’80s for nostalgic reasons of course, but more and more I find that I like talking about that decade because I’m awed at just how archaic it seems now; compared to today’s Instant Everything culture where omnipotence is just a click away, the 1980s feel downright Paleolithic. And it’s especially hard for me to remember that the ’80s were 30+ years ago while we as a culture are stuck in this perma-’80s & ’90s closed circuit loop. I’m sure people in 1970 felt light years ahead of 1940, but 2016 feels like it could still be 1983-1997. It’s all very weird. Okay, okay, this old man’ll stop yelling at you to get off his lawn and get to the point. Continue reading The Weird World of WATCH AND WEAR!

Horror VHS Promo Videos!

If, like most Americans in the mid to late-’80s, you quit your law firm in the city to move to the boonies and open a video store amid the Great VHS Boom, you were probably fairly clueless on the subject and immediately found yourself struck with the most imperative decision of your new business venture: what do you stock your shop with?

You turn to your family for answers: your boy says “Freddy”, whoever that is; your daughter suggests anything with Johnny Depp; your wife offers something classic. All fine suggestions, but what do the people want? At a retail price of $99.95 a piece, video cassettes at the time were too pricey to simply buy blindly. That’s where promotional videos come in. In a pre-Google world, movie distribution companies — wanting to secure some video store shelf space — would send these promotional tapes directly to video store proprietors. Continue reading Horror VHS Promo Videos!

Horror Video Ads from the ’80s!

Long before the Internet — before Google, Wikipedia, Facebook, and whatever else people use to search and share information nowadays — details on the latest movies releases (especially the more obscure titles, especially horror titles) were a lot harder to come by. A lot harder. There were newspapers and word of mouth, of course. But if you were a gorehound or looking for info on more underground stuff, having a subscription to a magazine like Fangoria or Starlog was a necessity — especially if you wanted to buy these movies. (There were other movie-centric publications, like Movieline which was actually pretty decent, but the best genre-specific info required genre-specific magazines.) Continue reading Horror Video Ads from the ’80s!

Killer Silhouettes!

Perhaps the most basic — and yet somehow, most effective — approach to the VHS/poster art: the killer silhouette! When all else fails, just drape your figure in some shadow, and boom: instant scariness. There’s no denying it — it works!

This is a far from comprehensive collection, so please, if you have any suggestions, feel free to email me. Lastly, I won’t be updating this page with any new additions, but I will be updating the Camera Viscera FB page every time I add a new one – so be sure to check back there occasionally. And now, without further ado… “kill-houettes”! Continue reading Killer Silhouettes!