Background Music

In a post on PressPlay, Jed Mayer writes about the relationship of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead to the shopping malls and public spaces of his youth:

“Dawn of the Dead is less a horror film to me than it is a distorted snapshot of my youth, one into which I still sometimes escape.”

He also touches on the power of background music–in films and real life:

“The film’s soundtrack consists largely of commercial background music of the period, what came to be called “library music”—LPs that could serve as a ready source of musical interludes to be played in the background…. An unofficial soundtrack release collects many of these from Romero’s film, and for anyone who grew up in the 70s, listening to it is the aural equivalent of watching a super-8 movie of an average, anonymous day out of the past.”

I wonder what it says about people like me–born in the ’80s and ’90s–who seek out the background music of a past we’ve never directly experienced. I used to think that I just wanted to relive the film in my head or perhaps live in the world of the film. I wonder now whether I wanted to live in the world the film was filmed in.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorites from Dawn of the Dead, Herbert Chappell’s “The Gonk.” It received heavy rotation in my college years.

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Soundtrack to ‘The Visitor’

For what will probably be a limited amount of time, Alamo Drafthouse has a 3-track sampler of music from Franco Micalizzi’s soundtrack to The Visitor. 

1. Stridulum Theme – Contains elements of an epic 1970s cop drama score: rambunctious horns, seagull-like flute-work, and emphatic strings–along with some warpy, synthy business.

2. Sadness Theme – This theme is sad, yes, but also very soothing in a funky, easy-listening, way. I especially love the ooooh, ooooh, ooooh vocals. (I think I may have problems.) I’m trying to think of what part of a film this belongs in…the credits, most likely–you know, after the protagonist discovers he can never go back, that the woman he loves was the killer all along, that he was adopted by space aliens and will never, ever fit in.

3. Hospital Sequence – Uh-oh! What’s that? An insistent beat upon a high-hat, an ominous kettledrum around the corner, ratcheting strings, shrieking horns. A Slinky-laser? Something is going down!

If you’re writing a thriller for National Novel Writing Month, these songs will get you in the mood. If you like the music of Ennio Morricone, Fabio Frizzi, or Riz Ortolani, you’ll want these songs.

Get the sampler while you still can: The Visitor 3-Track Sampler

Also, check out that cast: Mel Ferrer, Glenn Ford, Lance Henriksen, John Houston, Sam Peckinpah, Shelly Winters… and Franco Nero.