What if the Best Synth Scores Are For Horror Films That Don’t Really Exist? - Dread Central
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What if the Best Synth Scores Are For Horror Films That Don’t Really Exist?

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Some of the best horror soundtracks are for films that don’t even really exist. The composers of these scores draw their influence from the likes of John Carpenter and Goblin, crafting evocative synthesizer-driven pieces that tell suspenseful and horrifying stories despite nothing ever put on film.

These aren’t merely instrumental albums with vaguely connected instrumental tracks. Instead, composers like OGRE & Dallas Campbell, Antoni Maiovvi, and Repeated Viewing craft elaborate stories to go along with their music. What we’re left with is, in many ways, a fully realized film for our ears.

As this year’s Halloween, the most hallowed of holidays, slowly fades from our memory, here are five killer synth scores for horror films that exist only in someone’s imagination.


Slasher Film Festival Strategy – Psychic Shield

What would you expect from an artist called Slasher Film Festival Strategy? If you’re thinking of something supremely creative and evocative, then you’re right. The South Carolina-based project’s album Psychic Shield, which Death Waltz released on vinyl in 2015, is incredible.

The story behind Psychic Shield centers on a cult of flesh-eating witches who use their craftiness to lure unsuspecting victims to their gruesome deaths. Cult survivors tap into a “psychic shield” in a bid to protect people and set forth in a terminal battle to rid the world of the flesh-eaters once and for all.

SFFS draws on an ambient and drone background, paired with a love for ‘70s and ‘80s horror flicks, to create an entrancing experience that’s variously meditative, kinetic, and almost always suspenseful to the point of paralysis. Highlights like synth-woven “The Chant,” the massive “Cold War” and the triumphant “The Somnambulist” are prime examples of the power of SFFS’s preternatural ability to tell a story with music.


OGRE & Dallas Campbell – All Hallows’

The trans-Atlantic pair OGRE and Dallas Campbell have crafted several scores for imaginary films, and rescores for real ones, but All Hallows’ is their true masterpiece. They use their vast analogue synth collections to craft the perfect homage to ‘80s slasher films. An added bonus: they have written a story, which they include with every track on the album’s Bandcamp page. A listener could easily ignore the story and just make up their own with each dynamic score cue (track) that utilizes ethereal nuance to build suspense and terror. Or the listener could follow along with the provided slasher tale.

For those interested in the musicians’ chosen story, the narrative behind the haunting and dissonant minimal synth cut “Rabbit Run” paints the following sample: “The clatter of him was close behind her, closer than she wanted… She was blind, branches swiping at her in the pitch black, cutting her face as she ran. He was still coming, still on her trail.”

Regardless of how one experiences All Hallows’, it’s pretty clear that OGRE and Dallas Campbell have a masterpiece on their hands.


Mega Drive – Sleeper Street (The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Mega Drive is a powerhouse electronic producer, who started out doing more straightforward dark synthwave before expanding his repertoire into more nuanced and complex compositions with diverse instrumentation and arrangements. His latest, Sleeper Street, is a masterclass in how to maximize nostalgia for ‘80s horror film synth scores while injecting something new into the mix.

From the frenetic theme that opens the soundtrack to softer, more contemplative fare like “Memories of the Room” and “Safety In The Dawning Light (A New Day)” and to the bit-crushed sensory overload of “Last Stand,” the Dallas, Texas-based Mega Drive gives the listener plenty of narrative milestones to work with in creating an entire film in their head. Interestingly, unlike some of his contemporaries, Mega Drive doesn’t seem to offer a prescribed narrative. It’s all on you, dear listener. Unfurl what you will.


Repeated Viewing – Street Force

One of the most compelling scores for an imaginary horror film is Scottish producer Repeated Viewing’s Street Force, released on Giallo Disco Records, a label that specializes in soundtracks for faux-films. On Street Force, Repeated Viewing (AKA Alan Sinclair) channels the likes of Goblin, Angelo Badalamenti, and at times even early New Order to tell the story of one man’s rampage across New York City in 1982.

These dark numbers cover an impressive swath of territory. The sweet and slow “Night Loving” has chunky percussive synth stabs you can feel in your bones, topped with delicate, crystalline melodies. “Dance Chat” has a circular drive and a jovial bounce to it that would have made it play well at Factory Records’ famed Manchester nightclub The Haçienda. “Hussein the Killer” is an onslaught of big guitar riffs, drums gated in a prison basement, and minimalist synths. These and other tracks underscore the need for a real Street Force movie. What an incredible film that would be. Even so, with just Sinclair’s work, you can conjure up something pretty intense on your own.


Antoni Maiovvi – Shadow of the Bloodstained Kiss

Nowadays, Antoni Maiovvi mostly scores real films, like Can Evrenol’s latest, Housewife, and Adam Mason’s 2015 picture Hangman. But the Giallo Disco Records co-founder made his name creating brilliant and elaborate scores for nonexistent horror flicks, often faux giallo stories he’d power with impressive soundscapes covering ambient, electro, Italo Disco, and everything in between. Shadow of the Bloodstained Kiss, released by Seed Records in 2009, is one of those.

Maiovvi posits Shadow as a sci-fi giallo released in 1983, and which tells the story of utopia-gone-bad on the Jovian moon of Europa. A sadistic killer is on the loose, killing anyone connected to a brutal crime. Some pretty stark, existential secrets are revealed. He succeeds universally in providing the listener with a compelling space horror story.

“They Return” is a spacey contemplative cut that transforms into a big and triumphant Moroderesque groover. “Nightmoves” is a measured track awash in white noise and suspenseful melodies, foretelling the imminent degradation of galactic colonial social norms. “6000SEX” has the frenetic arpeggiated synthesizers people so enjoy in their horror scores and the banging rhythms that make dystopia the hottest nightclub in town. Over the course of the entire release, it’s hard not to have fun despite a killer being on the loose.


Those are only five of the hundreds of fantastic, non-imaginary synth scores to imaginary horror films that you can find on the internet and in your local record store. I’d recommend starting with these five and going deep down the pitch-black rabbit hole. It’s dark and often deranged, but you’ll never be disappointed.

Aaron Vehling is publisher and editor-in-chief of Vehlinggo, a site dedicated to synth scores, synthpop and synthwave, among other electronic genres. He has written a sprawling feature on the Drive soundtrack that includes the insights of most of the soundtrack artists, and has interviewed horror film composers such as Disasterpeace and Wojciech Golczewski. You can discuss all things synthy with him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Which Monsters May Be Making Their TV Debut in Junji Ito Collection?

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Studio Deen’s highly-anticipated anime anthology Junji Ito Collection has been building buzz, especially since its new teaser dropped weeks ago. Eagle-eyed fans who are well-acquainted with horror mangaka Junji Ito’s body of work will spot some familiar faces in the new trailer, brought to the small screen by showrunner Shinobu Tagashira.

So, who among Ito’s famous menagerie of monsters may be making an appearance in the show when it airs next year?

Oshikiri Toru

Oshikiri is the morally-questionable highschooler who begins to question his perception of reality in Hallucinations, a series of some loosely connected one-shots. Oshikiri’s a little on the short side, with an even shorter fuse. One thing he’s not short on is moneyas evidenced by his impressive, albeit creepy, mansion. We’ve yet to see which of his adventureswhich range from murder to parallel dimensionswill be his television debut.

Yuuko

The once-chatty Yuuko falls ill and sees her worst fears come to pass in Slug Girl, the famous one-shot whose brand of body horror is sure to feel like a distant cousin (or maybe a predecessor?) to Uzumaki‘s “The Snail” chapter. It offers little in the way of answers but is best enjoyed in all its bizarre glory.

The Intersection Bishounen

In Lovesick Dead, one of Ito’s longer standalone stories, an urban legend causes a rash of suicides when young girls begin to call upon a mysterious, black-clad spirit called the Intersection Bishounen. The custom catches on quickly among teenagers, out late and eager for him to tell them their fortune in life and love, since his advice is to die for. Literally.

Souichi Tsujii

A long-running recurring character in Ito’s manga (probably second only to Tomie herself), you’ll know Souichi by the nails he sucks on or sticks out of his moutha strange habit borne out of an iron deficiency. He’s an impish kid whose fascination with the supernatural makes him the odd man out in an otherwise normal family. The morbid pranks he likes to playfunny only to him—don’t do much to endear him to his peers or relatives, either.

Fuchi

The titular character in Fashion Model, Fuchi works as a professional model for her, shall we say, unique look and Amazonian stature. When she and another actress are hired by a crew of indie filmmakers, Fuchi shows them that she doesn’t like sharing the limelight. She also makes a cameo in a couple of Souichi’s stories, and in them he finds her genuinely attractive. Beauty, after all, is in the eye of the beholder.

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Nemo Rising Signing Happening at Dark Delicacies on December 23

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Author C. Courtney Joyner will be signing copies of his new book Nemo Rising at Burkank’s Dark Delicacies horror store on Saturday, December 23 at 4pm. You can get the full details of the event and directions on Dark Delicacies’ website.

Nemo Rising will be a sequel to Jules Verne’s 1870 masterpiece Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and will see President Ulysses S. Grant recruiting the notorious Captain Nemo to destroy a gigantic sea monster which has been responsible for sinking ships. The gigantic eight-tentacled mollusc can be seen on the book’s cover below, and it looks like Nemo will have his work cut out for him.

Joyner also worked on the screenplays for the Full Moon films Doctor Mordrid and Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys, whilst his previous books include Hell Comes To Hollywood and the Shotgun series. If you can’t make it to the signing, Nemo Rising will be released in the US on December 26, and in the UK on January 13.

Nemo Rising Dark Delicacies Signing Details:
​Nemo Rising will be released on hardcover from Tor Books on December 26th, 2017.

JUST ANNOUNCED: On December 23rd at 4:00 PM, C. Courtney Joyner will sign copies of NEMO RISING at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, California!

C. COURTNEY JOYNER is an award-winning writer of fiction, comics, and screenplays. He has more than 25 movies to his credit, including the cult films Prison, starring Viggo Mortensen; From a Whisper to a Scream, starring Vincent Price; and Class of 1999, directed by Mark Lester. A graduate of USC, Joyner’s first produced screenplay was The Offspring, which also starred Vincent Price. Joyner’s other scripts have included TV movies for CBS, USA, and Showtime. He is the author of The Shotgun western series and Nemo Rising.

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Mill Creek Celebrates Shadow Stalkers and 100 Years of Horror in February

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Mill Creek Entertainment is kicking off the new year with a couple of collections that have nothing but giving you the shivers on their agenda!  Read on for the details of both Shadow Stalkers and 100 Years of Horror!

Shadow Stalkers – February 6, 2018

Let the nightmares begin with this freaky film collection filled with creepy clowns, masked killers, and maniacal murderers.

Out of the Dark – 1988 – R – Karen Black, Bud Cort
Happy Birthday to Me – 1981 – R – Melissa Sue Anderson, Glenn Ford
Eyes of Laura Mars – 1978 – R – Faye Dunaway, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Dourif
Don’t Answer the Phone – 1980 – R – James Westmoreland, Nicholas Worth
Nightmare in Wax – 1969 – R – Cameron Mitchell, Anne Helm, Scott Brady
Bloody Pit of Horror – 1965 – R – Mickey Hargitay
Silent Night, Bloody Night – 1972 – R – Patrick O’Neal, Mary Woronov, John Carradine
Funeral Home – 1980 – R – Barry Morse, Kay Hawtry
Don’t Open Till Christmas – 1984 – R – Edmund Purdom, Belinda Mayne
The Driller Killer – 1979 – R – Abel Ferrara

100 Years of Horror – February 6, 2018

Hosted by Christopher Lee, 100 Years of Horror is the first show of its kind ever produced; it chronicles the history of movie horror from the earliest experimental chillers through the unforgettable golden age of movie monsters and on through today’s terrifying fright films.

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