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Friday, April 14, 2006

CD REVIEW - Crypt of the Living Dead


Crypt of the Living Dead
Music by Phillip Lambro
Perseverance Records PRD 009
22 Tracks 37:53 mins

I guess to film music enthusiasts Phillip Lambro will always be remembered as the composer who was replaced by Jerry Goldsmith on Roman Polanski's Chinatown, and whilst he did compose scores for a handful of pictures in the '60s and '70s, he is probably better known in classical music circles, where his works have been performed by some of the world's greatest orchestras.
Based on his score for this low budget horror from 1973, which originated from Spain, but which was adapted for American audiences, I can only feel nothing but disappointment that he was largely lost to the concert platform. For Crypt of the Living Dead, the composer was basically asked to save the picture and came up with a truly eerie, largely atonal score, featuring inventive use of combinations of instruments, 'layered in rhythmic patterns.' The opening "Introduction" introduces an effectively, doom-laden piano march, followed quickly by "Hannah's Atmosphere," with its repeating piano and somewhat erotic wordless female voice. Both these elements are reused throughout the score, with interesting variations and effects, such as harp runs and seesawing violins - all very eerie and affecting. There are also a handful of exciting, timpani-driven chases and the bongos-driven action of "The Mob, The Wildman & Chase." What little melody there is being reserved for "Little Hannah's Theme," a mysterious xylophone theme, at the same time with a childlike innocence to it. It's all very effective scoring and good that it is preserved for posterity on this disc, as I doubt very much if I shall ever get the opportunity of seeing this largely forgotten film.
Accompanying the CD is a splendidly illustrated booklet, featuring a fascinating essay by Randall D. Larson, which features comments by the composer, who actually re-edited the original tapes to come up with a better listening experience for the album.
Horror music fans should definitely check this one out.

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