World premiere release of spooky 'n' kooky Les Baxter score for American International fright picture, directed by esteemed Jacques Tourneur, starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone. Quartet of iconic stars should be enough to attract attention but add Richard Matheson script, story about undertaker needing fresh "supplies" to keep business afloat and ingredients for fun are built in. Les Baxter keeps that in mind, writes music with equal parts fun, fear. Rare for Baxter/AIP projects, MGM vaults happily contained complete score as recorded in mono, with all rolls in beautiful condition. Baxter writes for orchestra with economy in mind. Everything plays briskly to keep pace with picture, remains transparent in keeping with light touch. For enthusiasts, wacky (intentionally) out-of-tune song "He Is Not Dead" is included where positioned in film as it is integral to musical continuity of score. Feel free to program piece at end of album or...? Fun cover art. Interior of booklet offers complete cue assembly details. Les Baxter conducts. Intrada Special Collection release available while quantities and interest remains!
To present this premiere release of Baxter’s fun score, we were incredibly fortunate to have access to the complete mono session elements stored in MGM’s vaults. Much of the A.I.P. music library has long since been lost to the ages and locating the numerous coveted A.I.P./ Les Baxter/horror film scoring session masters in their entirety is as rare as the proverbial hen’s tooth. With all the tapes in hand, we were able to present everything Baxter recorded for the movie from the opening A.I.P. emblem right down to a closing emblem not used in the finished film. Because Baxter recorded much of the score in small fragments (as was his norm), we were able to assemble many of the small pieces into musically coherent larger ones.
The session masters were preserved on ¼˝ tape at the slower speed of 7½ ips, so nominal wear and tear (as well as some tape hiss) was evident. That said, the sound quality remains clear and vibrant. As is our custom, we made no attempt to artificially remove the inherent tape hiss, which would otherwise affect the original dynamics of the tapes (especially important considering the flute and piccolo registers in this score). With economy in mind, the entire score was recorded on a single day in November 1963 on the Goldwyn Studios scoring stage. Because of the small acoustics of the room and the dry recording present on the tape, we have added a judicious amount of stereo reverb (courtesy of the state-of-the-art Altiverb system) to provide a degree of two-track ambience and keep the dead-center mono effect to a minimum.
We present the score in the sequence Baxter originally intended — without any of the musical alterations done editorially during post-production. Since we had all the sessions, we were even able to include the off-key organ music as well as Joyce Jameson’s off-key but important funeral song ("He Is Not Dead"), which is actually based on the main theme and was recorded separately. We also found the lone triangle jingle underlining the closing shot of a "dead" Basil Rathbone, called "Never Say Die" in the scoring session cue sheets. However, for sanity's sake, we have not included the several outtakes and short codas that Jameson recorded for the movie, each drastically out of tune as per her character's less-than-optimal singing voice. The longest, used in the funeral parlor scene, seemed quite enough.
So get in a ghoulish mood, sprinkle in a spirit of fun, and let Les Baxter and his band keep you awake all night.
Composed and Conducted by Les Baxter.
Recorded on November 15, 1963, at The Goldwyn Studios Scoring Stage, Santa Monica, California.