The 13th Floor

Talkin’ Tracks – The Other 80’s: Hidden Soundtrack Gems

‘I will take you places you’ve never been. I will show you things that you have never seen and I will see the life run out of you’ – Eva (GHOST STORY)

The 1980s was a fertile time for film lovers. The entertainment industry as a whole, while steadily growing since the late 1950s seemed to explode. Blockbusters seemed bigger; TV was non-stop and the music, in my opinion, kicked major ass. It is easy for me to say this because I grew up in the 80s and like every human on the planet, we all share some rose tinted goggled view of our childhood. Even so, when I look at my genre favourites 90% of them are 80s movies. Not only are they 80s movies but there is also a large portion of them that are sequels. Truthfully, I never really knew that sequels hadn’t always existed. Of course since the dawn of moving pictures there have been follow up stories but in the 80s everything seemed to go into overdrive. Would my love for Jason Voorhees be as strong if FRIDAY 13th PART VI – JASON LIVES, hadn’t happened? The same question could be asked of Freddy Kruger and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST PART 3 – DREAM WARRIORS. The horror sequel secured our hearts and, for me, the soundtracks/scores accompanying the images played a pivotal role in doing so.

If you look back at franchise horror in the 1980s there is a good chance you’ll find yourself some good if not great musical companions. While JOHN CARPENTER may have stepped away from the HALLOWEEN franchise after HALLOWEEN III – SEASON OF THE WITCH the score still remains one of the most revered amongst CARPENTER and soundtrack fans alike. With his departure, his frequent collaborator ALAN HOWARTH (who also worked on H3) picked up the baton and carried on delivering some truly superb and often overlooked scores for the continuing HALLOWEEN franchise. The same can be said for the outstanding work HARRY MANFREDINI and later FRED MOLLIN did on the FRIDAY THE 13th franchise. The NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST series took a different turn and each film hired a different composer, giving each film its own distinctive sound. Looking back now, the series has a who’s who of composers (CHARLES BERNSTEIN, CHRISTOPHER YOUNG, CRAIG SAFAN, ANGELO BADALAMENTI), at the time though, they were simply a hired guns.

I could rattle on about franchise horror scores and at some point I will. For now, though, I’d like to shine a light on some titles that you may have heard of but might not be very familiar with.

In this new series of articles, I’m going to bring you a selection of my favourite 1980s genre movie scores that often go overlooked and unloved. As with most (if not all) of my recommendations, you can pick up most of the following titles for less than the price of your lunch.

With the 1980s being a veritable treasure trove of genre films and scores, be sure to look out for my next article in the series where I take a look at a true blue American Giallo and explore the oddly wonderful score by Carter Burwell to a certain psychotic sequel. -TG

You can hear me talk all things soundtrack over on The Damn Fine Cast, available on iTunes & Soundcloud or The Milan Records Podcast.