Click here to return to the main site.

Soundtrack Review

Cover Image

The Hammer Legacy
The Science Fiction Collection


Composer: Tristram Cary, James Bernard, Don Ellis and Dennis Farnon
Silva Screen Records
RRP: £6.99
Available 28 March 2011

This is one of three CDs, released by Silva Screen, intended to showcase the film score music from the immensely popular Hammer horror films. This time we concentrate on the science fiction horror and, as there were significantly less of these than Frankenstein and Vampire films, it’s no surprise that fully nine of the twelve featured tracks are lifted from Quatermass and the Pit.

However, we begin with the 'Opening Titles' of The Quatermass Xperiment, composed by newcomer James Bernard, after John Hotchkis (the original commissioned musician) fell ill. Bernard would become a recognisable name connected with Hammer, and he launches off here with suitable dramatic flair, employing the talents of The Royal Opera House Orchestra (TROHO) and incorporating strings and timpani, with which he felt comfortable. In fact, this is a good representation of the light and dark, smooth and discordant formula used in the fifties and sixties. Track 2 consists of three edited together pieces from Quatermass 2. This is again from the combination of Bernard and TROHO, and similarly carries a close style to that of his previous film - the last time before he would almost radically change his arrangements.

Now we are into the meat of the disc. Quatermass and the Pit was composed by Tristram Cary, probably best known for his work on early Doctor Who (most notably, The Daleks). The music over the nine tracks is refreshingly diverse, with low key incidentals being overtaken by loud crashing climaxes, only to be replaced by a spacey electronic sound - unusual in this era, to say the least. 'Panic in the Underground' has an arrangement that wouldn’t be out of place in a Barry Gray piece for a Gerry Anderson show. It’s a credit to this music that it enhances the dramatic elements of the movie without ever taking it over. It’s curious that his closing music wasn’t deemed fit for the purpose, and was replaced by Dennis Farnon’s.

We finish with an oddity. 'Moon Zero Two' is the only song in this collection, and it’s probably just as well, with twee music and vocals by Don Ellis and Julie Driscoll respectively. This sort of overly-jaunty ditty was prevalent in the film and TV of the time, and seldom appropriately suited the atmosphere of the project.

So, there you are. A small memento (only 33 minutes) from the golden age of Hammer Films, but not much of a cross-section film-wise. Association meant that I couldn’t help picturing the films when I listened to the music, rather than appreciating the music in its own right. It makes decent background music which won’t break your concentration from something more pressing, and will no doubt much more appeal to collectors of film scores. It acts as a happy reminder to me that Hammer is back after so longer in the wilderness.


Ty Power

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£5.99 (
MP3 album
£6.99 (
MP3 album
The Hammer Legacy: The Sci-Fi Collection - Various Artists
£5.99 (iTunes GB)
MP3 album

All prices correct at time of going to press.