Friday, February 15, 2013

THE SOUND OF HORROR: PROPHECY




This review originally appeared in The Phantom of the Movies’ VideoScope magazine. 

PROPHECY Music composed and conducted by Leonard Rosenman. 20 tracks, 42 mins. Film Score Monthly Vol. 13 No. 1. $19.95

The ‘70s was a very productive decade for Leonard Rosenman (1924-2008). The composer tackled over three dozen motion picture and television scoring assignments whilst bagging two Oscars for music adaptation. In the midst of his ambitious output were three unreleased horror film scores that have since become a wish list trinity of sorts: Race With The Devil (1975), The Car (1977) and Prophecy (1979). Film Score Monthly’s momentous CD presentation of John Frankenheimer’s critically jeered Prophecy shortens that list. Scripter David Seltzer’s uneven mixture of eco-transgressions and Mother Nature’s payback mechanism via Tom Burman’s mutant super beast was splendidly rewarded with Rosenman’s unique symphonic handling. It’s an all-you-eat buffet of his trademark musical signatures nestled within a barrage of wicked and unrestrained compositions. Track 1 immediately lets loose with The Search Party, a 1-min. 32-sec. beating that features dueling brass above a floor of punching percussion, all lashing away as nocturnal would-be rescuers and their hounds track an unseen menace. Quickly following are two cues, Flight to Maine and Road Block, where the composer provides relief with majestically soothing and sweeping treatments that falsely anchor the vast forest environment as a pristine and secure setting. The respite will be short-lived because all that ensues presents a hair-raising pallet on which he’ll wreak musical havoc. For the spine-cracking monster cues he’s aided by Craig Huxley’s once popular blaster beam electronic instrument (a device heard in such films as Star Trek: The Motion Picture). It furnishes an unnerving guttural gnashing whenever the creature appears. Judiciously laced throughout are instantly recognizable structures such as Rosenman’s well-known use of tone pyramids, calling brass and woodwinds and thumping percussion. FSM accessed first-generation 1-in. 8-track masters (combining two and three cues where appropriate) that result in an exhilarating listening event. Of particular note is that Prophecy’s score was previously available as a poor-sounding CD-R bootleg. While identical in musical content it also retained an inconsequential non-Rosenman source cue that even hardcore collectors can do without. The meticulous text for the 16-pg. full color booklet is supplied by Scott Bettencourt and Alexander Kaplan. It details the making of the film as well as a track by track guide. Prophecy … one down, two to go.


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