We here at 366 Weird Movies appreciate the contribution of music to the tone and impact of a weird movie, and try to highlight it whenever we can, but we’re not musicologists. We had long hoped to publish some kind of feature on bizarre movie scores, but when a pair of actual experts approached us with a similar idea, we jumped at the chance. Here are Butler University composer/professors Michael Schelle and Frank Felice’s choices for ten strange movie scores:
Over the course of film’s history, the styles and indeed the function of a film’s musical score has changed frequently, from the earliest silent film’s “pianist-in-the-pit” to today’s “anti-score” sound design of Hans Zimmer. Most of the time, however, the musical score for each movie serves to intensify the emotional core, underscore/buttress the plot, or some cases, function like an unseen character. For nearly its entire history, this musical underscore has been fairly conservative, with quite accessible classical music providing the basic music for most films, augmented (or replaced at times) by the pop music of the day. However, sometimes directors and producers asked their composers to go further, or more likely, the composers themselves took the risk or writing something unique, and their bosses accepted it. Here are ten scores (well, a few more) that are weird, either in their techniques, or their instrumentation, or how they interact with the images and dialogue.
Body Parts (1991) – directed by Eric Red, score by Loek Dikker
Much of the score by Dikker uses a typical horror music aesthetic and language, but what makes this film unique is one instrument’s frequent use a bowed musical saw. Just about perfect for a film about lost limbs and their replacements…
(listen for the saw doubling the violins at about the three minute mark)
Crash (1996) – directed by, score by Howard Shore
Howard Shore may derive much of his fame as a composer from his work on Lord of the Rings, but it’s scores like this that show his range—most of the music is derived from the sounds and a few chords played by the opening guitar parts. Other instruments augment this essential music, but the guitar is nearly always there lurking in the texture, certainly adding to the creepiness of this very bizarre film.
The Third Man (1949) – directed by Carol Reed, score by Anton Karas
This is so utterly bizarre! In what is surely one of the best suspense films of all time, wonderfully written, paced, and filmed, the music throughout the WHOLE of the film is performed largely by a ZITHER. Happy and cheerful. Even through the crazy chase scenes. Of course, some of the most intensely acted scenes have no music. Making the return of the zither each time it happens a lot less trustworthy…
Forbidden Planet (1956) – directed by Fred McLeod Wilcox, “electronic tonalities” by Louis and Bebe Barron
The first score to be produced completely by electronic means, Continue reading TEN OF THE MOST UNCOMMON AND WEIRDEST MOVIE SCORES