CAPTAIN KRONOS:VAMPIRE HUNTER (1975)
Music composed, conducted and produced by Laurie Johnson.
37 Tracks (Playing Time = 59:39)
Album produced by Ford A. Thaxton and James Nelson.
Music recorded by Eric Tomlinson at Anvil Studios. Digitaly edited and mastered by James Nelson at Digital Outland. Booklet essay by Randall Larson. CD art direction Mark Banning.
BSX Records 8831
Limited edition of 2000 copies.
Any release of a score by Laurie Johnson is cause for notice. With over 400 film scores to his credit, it’s always amazing that Johnson’s work is not more well known beyond DOCTOR STRANGELOVE. CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER has all the earmarks musically of those wonderful Hammer Horror films of the 1960s and 1970s. The score comes towards the end of Johnson’s (who turned 80 this year) career. The 1974 film, Brian Clemens only directorial feature, is the story of a mythical vampire killer who roams the countryside in his quest to destroy these evil monsters. The Hammer production was one of the first to combine elements of the swashbuckling pirate film, the western, and the horror film. Added to the mix was Hammer’s typical over- the-top shocking “gore” and racy (for the time) sexuality, exhibited here by the beautiful Caroline Munro.
Johnson ’s score kicks off in its main title with a wonderful swashbuckling gesture, a brass idea which represents our hero. This genre-gesture is combined with a Herrmann-esque thriller sound—think NORTH BY NORTHWEST meets PSYCHO. The music moves easily between strictly tonal and wildly dissonant music. All of this amazingly orchestrated to create a variety of musical textures. Low, deep rumbling woodwinds are used to depict the vampires. There is even a hint of modal harmonies that stand along side the more dissonant sounds in tracks like “Evil in the Church.” A little love theme idea also helps provide a lyrical break from the surrounding material. But what is most amazing is he number of ways that Johnson creates tension in this score. It might be with his low rumbling winds, a hunting horn idea, a strange melodic outline on a cimbalom, or the building of tension through amassed dissonances. Somehow all of these gestures help make the score itself quite engaging. This mostly gothic horror film receives one of Johnson’s finest contributions.
It’s one of those scores most might completely ignore, but it is filled with tons of things to admire from its varied orchestration to engaging thematic work. BSX fills out the CD with a final 8 minutes of “bonus” material—mostly horror music “effects” and a re-edit of the main theme.
Note that the mono sound is quite good with only occasional signs of compression.
Randall Larson provides excellent notes to make this a great package.
Captain Kronos is a limited edition, only 2000 copies licensed from GDI. Soundclips are available at the label’s website: www.buysoundtrax.com.
--Steven A. Kennedy, 2 November 2007
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