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Soundtrack Review

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The Hammer Legacy
The Vampire Collection


Composers: James Bernard, Harry Robinson, Laurie Johnson and David Whitaker
Silva Screen Records
RRP: £6.99
Available 28 March 2011

This is the second of three CD music releases by Silva Screen showcasing the music of the classic Hammer horror films. This time we’re in vampire territory, and my first thought is to the infinitely larger repertoire of fanged fiend films to science-fiction held in the Hammer golden archives. This is inevitably followed immediately by the shock that only eight movies are covered.

We begin with two tracks from The Kiss of the Vampire. The music for this film was composed by James Bernard, who had earlier worked on the Quatermass scores as a novice. 'The Opening Titles' is the creeping crescendo we have come to expect from these period horror pieces. In contrast, 'The Vampire Rhapsody' from the same film is an almost classical in style piano short.

The next two tracks feature the 'Opening Titles' for The Vampire Lovers and Countess Dracula, respectively. The first is a more subdued mood piece, whilst the second possesses more of a likeable theme. Both are composed by Harry Robinson, who had produced some quick work for the Hammer TV series Journey to the Unknown.

Lust for a Vampire incorporates the next two pieces of music, again both by Robinson. 'The Opening Titles' simply remind me of something long forgotten but stored away in childhood for later recollection; a nicely restrained section of instrumental flavour. 'The Dream' is atmospheric enough, using the main music from the previous track, but contains some echoed vocals it can frankly do without.

Twins of Evil is represented by only a single composition, but it easily stands out as the highlight of the disc - short as it is. 'The Opening Titles' for Vampire Circus, composed by David Whitaker, possess a cold, creepy feel using strings and flutes, and 'The Tiger Dance', from the same film, is a weird jungle piece, using maracas and tom-toms, but sounds crazily like an old man struggling to put the dustbins out.

Four tracks are taken from The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, again composed by James Bernard. A barely held in check dramatic march is followed by 'Ambush', an overly long monotonous building piece. 'The Battle Rages' is influenced by ancient eastern culture. Picture the Shaolin Temple in meditation and you’re on the right lines.

Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter, which starred the very lovely Caroline Munro, has just one introductory piece with horn-blowing military overtones, with a string accompaniment that throws you right into the film.

I don’t dispute the logic of these Hammer music releases; however, it’s obvious that most people curious about the music will simply purchase the DVDs to appreciate how it interacts with the relevant film. I’m simply astounded that none of the Christopher Lee Dracula films are represented here. Perhaps the tapes are not of sufficient quality to be remastered, but I doubt it.


Ty Power

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