Monday, November 28, 2016

And Then This Happened... Horrors of Spider Island

What is scarier than a turkey hangover or black Friday at the mall? The Horrors of Spider Island of course. Well scary might be a strong word. More likely you'll just be amused and confused by the wandering models, the "spider-man" creature and most of all the buxom and burly Babs as she hulks around the film. She's all woman all the time, to quote Crow.

There are also a couple of doofy guys in this movie who are supposed to be the heroes, but honestly I wanted Babs to be the amazon warrior who saves the day. But at least the twin doofuses give us this moment for you to caption.

And then this happened...

Friday, November 25, 2016

And Then This Happened... Speech: Platform Posture and Appearance

Are you concerned about how you look and how tall you stand? Sure we all are. Then you need to check out the short film Speech: Platform Posture and Appearance. Or maybe you just want to watch the MST3K episode featuring this short film and Red Zone Cuba and just marvel at all the ineptitude on display.

In any case this little moment from the posture themed short is perfect riffing fuel. Once again, I won't describe what is going on here. Provide your own caption!

And then this happened...

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

And Then This Happened... Sidehackers

Well it is getting close to Turkey day and that means heaping helpings of Mystery Science Theater 3000. If you aren't planning on watching any of this hilarious show this year, then maybe I can provide you with some bit sized tidbits to enjoy and riff on yourself.

First up is the biker/sports film Sidehackers. Yeah this movie is a mess, and has plenty of "did I just see that?" moments and characters. But this guy is one of the most annoying of the bunch. I'd describe what is actually happening here... but you know what, I think it might be more fun if you just caption it.

And then this happened...

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Score Sample: Legend (1985)

After making Blade Runner Ridley Scott wanted to get in on the action making a fantasy adventure film. He concocted a script that was based on classic fairy tales, but keeping the dark and disturbing edge they originally had. The movie had a really troubled production and that even came down to the music.

Originally Jerry Goldsmith crafted a very interesting orchestral score that used some synthesizer elements to it. It is a score that is dense with themes that each interweave and interact with each other in surprising ways. It may be one of Goldsmith's most complex scores, and is one that you appreciate more and more each time you listen to it. This may be the reason why Goldsmith was so disappointed when his score was thrown out after the movie was heavily re-edited. This caused Goldsmith's score to be unusable, and also gave the producers a chance to pull in popular electronic group Tangerine Dream to score the film.

Tangerine Dream has simpler more obvious themes but they are catchy and work really well in the shorter cut of the film. This is version I grew up with, so I actually enjoy this version of the score quite a bit. Still Goldsmith is my favorite film composer and what he crafted for this movie was really impressive.

So I figure I'll give you two pieces for the same scene and you can enjoy them. First up is Goldsmith's score for the Dress Waltz, a creepy scene where Mia Sara dances with a dark dress that absorbs her.

And then the Tangerine Dream version of the same scene called The Dance in this case. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Score Sample: Red Sonja (1985)

Originally we were supposed to get a trilogy of Conan movies back in the 1980s. But the poor reception of Conan the Destroyer and the fact that Arnold wanted to move beyond muscle bound sword swinging antics meant that a true sequel was out of the picture. But Arnold had a contract to make three films with Dino De Laurentis. So Arnold said he'd be a supporting character in the movie and they went ahead.

Thus Red Sonja was born. Brigitte Nielsen in the title role as an avenging warrior with red hair and a big sword. Arnold plays Kalidor who is pretty much a Conan stand in. The result is a movie that is pretty infamous for being really bad.

One aspect that is rarely criticized is the outstanding music provided by Ennio Morricone. Morricone is best known for his work on spaghetti westerns like The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly as well as a few Hollywood flicks in the 80s and 90s like The Untouchables and Once Upon a Time in America. Morricone has written a score for pretty much every type of genre, and we get a full blown fantasy adventure score here. It has a bit more of a classical feel to it, as opposed to the more medieval feel of Poledouris' work on the two Conan movies. But it works great as a solo listen.

One of my favorite tracks is Fighting the Soldiers which actually has the chorus chanting Sonja's name. Its kind of cheesy and yet so awesome all at the same time. So enjoy that track at the 2:23 mark in this suite from Red Sonja by Ennio Morricone.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Score Sample: Conan the Destroyer (1984)

When it comes to the big guns of fantasy music of the 1980s, you can't ignore the amazing score to Conan the Barbarian by Basil Poledouris. Nearly every track on that score is top notch film music material, and it is easily one of my favorite scores for the 1980s. The score became iconic in its time, and when the sequel came around the producers asked Poledouris to return.

While most of us will agree that Conan the Destroyer is an inferior film to the original, it has some solid fantasy tropes, some cool action scenes, and some really bad humor that doesn't work and some serious moments that turn out hilarious. It is a great movie to riff. But the music is actually one of the best parts of the production. Poledouris returns with a similar style, primal and rooted in medieval music stylings, giving it a very different feel to John Williams or James Horner's more classical trained scores.

Conan the Destroyer keeps the love theme, the main theme and even repurposes a few themes from the original score in unique ways. But the new material is really great. The villains get a bombastic new theme. The sequence with Conan facing the mirror room creature has a relentlessness to it, and there is plenty of magic in the score. While the original 80s album isn't too bad, there was an amazing rerecording that is the only way to listen to this score.

For you listening pleasure here is a suite of music from Conan The Destroyer by Basil Poledouris.

And the rerecording done by City of Prague Philharmonic for the amazing Tadlow album, that also includes music from the Universal Studios Sword and Sorcery Spectacular.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Score Sample: The Beastmaster (1982)

Continuing to listen to a lot of fantasy film music from the 1980s as I work on my fantasy novel for National Novel Writing Month. So many good scores to pick from, it gets tough to settle on what to listen to for the evening. I picked up the score to The Beastmaster earlier this year, and I've had it on pretty regularly while working on the background and the novel itself.

The score to The Beastmaster was written by Lee Holdridge, a composer you don't hear too much about these days. He never became a huge name like Williams, Goldsmith or Horner, but worked steadily over years, eventually moving from films to television miniseries where he was nominated and won a number of Grammy awards in the 90s and 00s.

His score to The Beastmaster is similar if feel to Clash of the Titans, and features a great heroic theme as the main focal point. It is very memorable and certainly one of the top themes of the genre in this decade. Holdrige also created some unique themes for the playful ferrets that feature in the film, as well as romantic love theme. He has some robust action music as well. This is a great score to write to, and I'm very happy to have it my collection. The deluxe version contains the score as it appears in the film, as well as the unique tracks performed and edited for the original album release in the 80s. There is also an excellent suite designed and rerecorded by Charles Gerhardt on there. It's a great package for any fan of the score.

So here A New Kingdom from Lee Holdrige's impressive score to The Beastmaster!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Anime Juke Box - Adesso e Fortuna - Record of Lodoss War

You know at some point I really need to do a proper review of Record of Lodoss War, one of the best fantasy adventure stories brought to the screen in the 1990s. This Japanese animated series took all the classic Dungeons and Dragons archetypes and tropes and blended them in one epic saga of animated adventure. These days the plot looks really standard and unoriginal, but back in the 1990s I had never seen those classic D&D characters and storylines brought to life in such a entertaining way.

The music for the series was mostly done on synths standing in for orchestra for budget reasons. Still there are plenty of medieval and renaissance style tracks in the score, as well as pure late 80s synths. The opening and ending themes were J-pop of course, but done in a way that actually fit the tone of the series. In most anime you have the perky poppy song as the opening and the more serious song as the end credits, but Record of Lodoss War reversed that. I did my best to find the Japanese song version of the opening track Adesso e Fortuna sung by Sherry. But all I could find was the English dub, not bad, but not great. It was an early dub from CPM and they were all over the place.

I did find a wonderful cover of the instrumental version featuring a piano and cello. Seriously these two pretty much nailed the sound and feel of the version on the CD. So enjoy some fans performing this anime classic.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Score Sample: Clash of the Titans (1981)

Since I am hard at work on may National Novel Writing Month project, expect only short posts on this blog. I'll try to get a couple out a week and most of them will probably be movie music related. But I might have a surprise or two in there.

I'm working on a fantasy novel or Nanowrimo and you can follow my progress at my other blog. Most of time I write with music blaring to help inspire and motivate me. Of course movie soundtracks are wonderful for this. I've got plenty of fantasy scores in my collection and a lot of them are from the 1980s when movie music wasn't afraid to go BIG!

The 1981 version of Clash of the Titans is a great example of this. Since the movie is a throwback to the golden age adventure films of the 50s and 60s the score follows suit. Laurence Rosenthal gives us big bold themes with plenty of in your face style. Some people think this score is a bit corny, but I love it (and love the movie). It was hard to pick just one track, but I really love the theme for Pegasus, and how is soars around the room. So here is the track Pegasus that combines the theme for the flying horse as well as the main theme for Perseus as he tames the wild beast. Enjoy!