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Some of my favorite movie characters are iconic monsters. Getting scared with monstrous creatures can be really thrilling and engaging. King Kong, Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Phantom of the Opera, and Godzilla constitute a representative sample of the inhabitants of the pantheon of movie monsters.

 

Protagonists in these films may also include characters derived from folklore tales (Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster), “nuclear paranoia” creatures (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms), Japanese Kaiju (Gamera), vicious animals, mutated beasts, carnivorous insects, and dinosaurs. Sci-fi inspired monstrous characters include aliens, robots, cyborgs, and mad scientists’ experiments gone wrong (normally harmless animals, plants or machines turned into cold-blooded killers).

 

“Oh, no, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was Beauty that killed the Beast.” (King Kong, 1933)

Max Steiner’s breathtaking, timeless orchestral composition was the first film score ever written for an American “talkie”. The film tells the story of a gigantic ape creature who dies in an attempt to possess a beautiful young woman. Because his actions were not entirely based on choice, and were in fact the consequence of circumstances beyond his control, the monstrous island-dweller has elicit an outpour of empathic feelings from film viewers. King Kong has become a landmark in the history of cinema, and one of the world’s most famous movie icons.

 

“It’s Alive!” (Frankenstein, 1931) is the most legendary horror movie quote.

Dr. Frankenstein creates a mate for his monster in the famous sequel Bride of Frankenstein (1933), considered by most at least an equivalent and possibly a superior film. The famous character portrayed by Boris Karloff was introduced to us in a film with no original score, but the sequel was blessed with a Franz Waxman’s early film-music masterpiece. Gothic literature elements of horror and romance percolate thought-out the score. The wonderful melody beautifully captures the sinister side of the human soul. This extremely influential composition is considered a cornerstone of horror film music.

 

” You yell ‘Barracuda,’ everybody says ‘Huh? What?’ You yell ‘Shark,’ we’ve got a panic on our hands.” (Jaws, 1975)

The John William’s theme for this movie is the most recognizable horror score of all time. Going to the beach has never been the same for most people after watching the Steven Spielberg ‘s ultimate animal terror film. He also penned the beautiful and thrilling score for Jurassic Park.

 

“Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility… A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality” (Alien, 1979)

Jerry Goldsmith’s chilling, and otherworldly atmosphere of the alien ship and its monstrous inhabitant is reminiscent of his prior landmark score for Planet of the Apes. Along with the vacated Alex North’s original recording of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, it was one of the most requested and coveted soundtrack restorations. The complete original score for this monster film set in deep space was released in 2007.

 

To conclude, I will like to place in the limelight the composition that plays over the end credits of the film Cloverfield (2008). “Roar!” is a bold, creepy, exciting, and very well crafted overture by one of the emerging dramatists of contemporary film music, the “Smoke Monster” (Lost TV Series) composer Michael Giacchino. Due to similarities with the music of Akira Ifukube, it has been suggested that Giacchino’s overture is a tribute to the composer of Godzilla. Cloverfield also celebrates other legendary monster movies with embedded still frames from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Them! and  King Kong. Monsters, like movies, will be with us forever…

 

Monster King_kong

Notable Monster Movie Scores

 

Nosferatu (1922) – Hans Erdmann / Reissue – James Bernard

The Phantom of the Opera (1925) – Gustav Hinrichs

Dracula (1931) – it did not have an original score, Philip Glass was commissioned to write the score  for the 1999 DVD release

Frankenstein (1931) – there is no musical soundtrack in the film, except for the opening and closing credits

The Mummy (1932) – ballet Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky, also previously used for the opening credits of Dracula

King Kong (1933) – Max Steiner

Bride of Frankenstein (1935) – Franz Waxman

Son of Frankenstein (1939) – Frank Skinner

The Invisible Man (1933) – Heinz Roemheld

The Invisible Man Returns (1940) – Frank Skinner

The Wolf Man (1941) – Hans J. Salter & Frank Skinner

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) – Franz Waxman

The Ghost Of Frankenstein (1942) – Hans J. Salter

Phantom of the Opera (1943) – Edward Ward

The House of Frankenstein (1944)- Hans J. Salter

The Thing from Another World (1951) – Dimitri Tiomkin

It Came from Outer Space (1953) – collaborative score by Henry Mancini, Herman Stein, and Irving Gertz

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) – David Buttolph

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) – Hans J. Salter, contributions by Henry Mancini and Herman Stein

Godzilla (1954) – Akira Ifukube

Them! (1954) – Bronislaw Kaper

It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) – Mischa Bakaleinikoff

Tarantula (1955) – Herman Stein and Henry Mancini

20 Million Miles to Earth (1957) – Mischa Bakaleinikoff

The Curse Of Frankenstein (1957) – James Bernard

The Mummy (1958) – Franz Reizenstein

The Horror of Dracula (1958) – James Bernard

The Giant Behemoth (1959) – Edwin Astley*

*Astley’s most memorable work is the distinctive theme music for the British TV series The Saint

Brides of Dracula (1960) – Malcolm Williamson

Curse of the Werewolf (1960) – Benjamin Frankel

Kiss of the Vampire (1962) – James Bernard

The Birds (1963) – no score

Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966) – James Bernard

Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) – James Bernard

Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971) – Tristram Cary

Young Frankenstein (1974) – John Morris “Transylvanian Lullaby”

It’s Alive (1974) – Bernard Herrman

Jaws (1975) – John Williams

King Kong (1976) – John Barry

The Thing (1982) – Ennio Morricone

The Fly (1986) – Howard Shore

The Fly II (1989) – Christopher Young

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) – Wojciech Kilar “The Storm”

Jurassic Park (1993) – John Williams

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) – Patrick Doyle

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994) – Elliot Goldenthal

Mimic (1997) – Marco Beltrami

Alien Resurrection (1997) – John Frizzell

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 TV Series) – Nerf Herder

Godzilla (1998) – David Arnold

Lake Placid (1999) – John Ottman

The Mummy (1999) – Jerry Goldsmith

Sleepy Hollow (1999) – Danny Elfman

The Mummy Returns (2001) – Alan Silvestri

Brotherhood Of The Wolf (2001) – Joseph LoDuca

Lost (2004 TV Series) – Michael Giacchino

King Kong (2005) – James Newton Howard

Let the Right One In(2008) – Johan Soderqvist “Eli’s Theme”

Let Me In (2010) – Michael Giacchino

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