May 4, 2009
LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS music composed by Debbie Wiseman
Lesbian Vampire Killers...Lesbians...Vampires...Killers...Lesbian Vampire Killers. Wow. Where to even start? The title alone can send this into so many different directions. When one starts out to write reviews for film scores, one never imagines Lesbian Vampire Killers sitting on his desk in a shiney jewel case, screaming to be placed in one's disc player, picked apart and ultimately written about in great detail. One never imagines this score to be really, really, really good either.
Lesbian Vampire Killers was written around the title itself. Stewart Williams and Paul Hupfield (Brit TV's Balls Of Steel...remember that show with the mock interview with Tom Cruise where he unexpectedly got squirted in the face) came up with a ridiculous title and wrote the script after that. The idea of that writing tactic drove the stake (ha-ha!) into the ground right there. Casting James Corden and Matthew Horne (from BBC's Gaving & Stacy) in the lead roles lifted the stake out of the ground a little...unfortunally not enough to make the film any good. What was supposed to be Britain's answer to Shaun Of The Dead for 2009 turned out to be more along the lines of 1999's horror-comedy (?) Idle Hands with one unbearablably dumb joke after another.
Hiring Debbie Wiseman to score this shitfest was a shock to most film score collectors and fans familiar with her name. Wiseman was most well known for her work on the film based on James Herbert's ghost story Haunted, France's comic-book blockbuster Arsene Lupin, and TV's critically acclaimed Flood and Jekyll. Wiseman joins the ranks of many composers who score bad horror films using everything they've got with the results of an impressive end product. Brian Tyler, Marco Beltrami, Graeme Revell and the late Jerry Goldsmith are names often attached to similiar projects...and now Debbie Wiseman is too. While the film is complete trash, the score often shines and is quite better than the material it has to work with.
"Centuries Ago" begins the whole ride with a simple chime and chilling solo vocal provided by New Zealand's own Hayley Westenra (another name surprisingly attached to this film). The vocal seduces you with a four note motif and builds into an enchanting gothic orchestrated beauty that leaves the listener in pure awe with it's power. The cue makes no attempts to mask what the primary influence was...Elfman's Sleepy Hollow.
"ADV_NTURE" starts out like it's going to lead you into sort of epic adventure both magical and exciting with it's soaring horn section, but it quickly diminishes that notion that with a clumsy saunter led by a woodwind section and a plucky piano playing off eachother, while the strings come in and add a slight chill down the spine every now and then. It's silly but it's fun, like old Elfman or perhaps even closer to Prokofiev's Peter & The Wolf.
The action music begins to peer around the corner very quietly with "Have You Been Hanging Out With Vicars?" It introduces itself with quick choral jabs that seem to be channeling the same sort of gothic drama that Wojciech Kilar's score for Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula did.
Perhaps, Wiseman was trying to set the record for world's longest score track name with "I Know Something Really Wrong Is Happening Here, But Is There Any Chance We Can Just Ignore It?"...who knows? This track is a jumble of different themes, but I love it for that. It begins with what seems to be a slight tip of the hat to Nino Rita, with it's slight waltz motif, but it quickly gets creepy with a low omnious quiver from the string section, with some standard playing and what appears to be a number of bows being dragged along some strings very slowly. Whatever it is, it's very effective. Building itself into the main theme first heard in "Centuries Ago", were are lead into some rousing action music that plays for so short a time, you can't possibly stop there...you thirst for more.
'Vampires? Lesbian Vampires!" is exactly what the doctor ordered after the previous track. It begins with a masculine string and horn section (which no Zimmer fan is a stranger to), but it quickly drops off into the main theme and develops quite beautifully, with it's wonderful string section dancing around you like it's taunting you with lesbian biting death. Then Wiseman, proves to the listener that she's not just ripping off other composers, she adds something fresh to the mix and the orchestrations, in the last few seconds of the cue...a wonderful piano piece which is more than welcome to any horror theme.
"Give Me One Last Kiss" & "My Axe-Girlfriend" are entertaining as it they are surprising to hear. They might actually be a little out of place in the middle of all these straight-faced horror cues. Especially the latter cue, as it quotes from Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld. Fortunally these two tracks are played back to back, so once they are done, our moods are gently slipped back into the broody blood sucking lesbian state of mind.
Wiseman is at her best with "The Dawn Of The Red Moon". It is pure classic horror scoring which is so rare these days in the synthesized soundscape slashing and creaking noise that has become all too common. It fits in nicely with Elfman's Sleepy Hollow and Beltrami's Dracula 2000, as choral gothic beauty perfected. It haunts you with Westenra's voice, a rumbling church organ, the dramatic string and horn sections and a piercing choral chant that melds so perfectly together I often repeat it after a listen.
"Jimmy, I Love You" develops the love theme, which was first introduced in "You're A Virgin?" It wouldn't be out of place in a Jane Austen adapted film (although not out of place here either), with it's lush strings and simple beauty.
"The Crypt Of Carmilla" takes us back to the masculine sounding Zimmer-string and horn section, but it quickly melds into an almost over-the-top variation of the main vocal theme only this time it's the full orchestra gracing us with it's power. As short as the cue is, it's a definite album highlight. Marching into the rousing "Carmilla The Vampire Queen", it comes out swinging and punching, like it's competing with Alexander Courage's cue from the original Star Trek classic episode, Amok Time...but only for a moment. It teases us with that short action motif, but slows down and builds the tension with a ascending string section.
"Whores of Fucking Hades, Prepare for Fucking Death!" is quite possibly the best title name for any film score ever...and I'm fucking serious about that, you Lezbo Vamp fans. It builds up to the climax and is basically an entertaining action cue that couldn't be any better...plain and simple, end of story.
Wiseman saves using the title of the film until the final climax cue, "Lesbian Vampire Killers", it's dark, gothic, powerful and action packed. It almost echoes that of Elfman's climax cue "High Steel" from Darkman with it's melodrama and all or nothing orchestration. It comes at you from all sides, leaving no rock unturned. What is perhaps the best variation of the main vocal theme appears in this cue with all it's glory, magic and power. The score finishes off quite nicely with "Lesbian Vampire Killers It Is... Let's Ride!": a the boys get the girls and ride off into the moonlight cue. So sweet.
Leading us out, is Showaddywaddy's cover of the Curtis Lee classic "Under The Moon Of Love". This is perhaps one of my favorite songs at the moment, just for it's pure cheesy fun. Classic 50's rock...I love it. I can only imagine it being performed by some vampire bats and spiders on The Muppet Show....it's that fun.
Although many tracks make it no secret that they are based off the temp tracks, (Sleepy Hollow and Dracula), Wiseman's Lesbian Vampire Killers is not just some cheap knock-off. It's a brilliant horror-comedy score, which Wiseman keeps fresh with some interesting and unique orchestrations and wonderul choir work. Wiseman played it smart and composed a mostly straight-faced horror score for an extremely silly movie, something Elmer Bernstein did in his day and it worked well for him. Like Theodore Shapiro's Tropic Thunder and Christopher Lennertz's Meet The Spartans, Wiseman scored an astonishly wonderful straight score for a goofy premise of a movie with astonishing results that deserves more recognition than it will probably get at the end of the year.
In the end, I can't recommend this score enough to any score collector. A definite must have in your collection. A well-rounded album presentationa with a classic horror socre which is all too absent in films these days of synthesized soundscapes. It's perhaps my favorite score so far for 2009....and that's going up against some heavy hitters in my book.
Yeah...that's right...Lesbian Vampire Killers.
* * * * 1/2 out of 5