After posting my first batch of originals in early August, I’ve been working on a couple other projects, and now those projects are done, so I want to tell you about them.
I added original music, sound design and sound effects to Demons, Lamberto Bava’s classic, gore-ific zombie flick from 1985, as well as a lesser known flick Elves from 1989, which is a low-budget and completely bizarre movie about some little, vicious troll-gremlin type monster and something having to do with Nazis and it all revolves around a hot, young blond woman and stars Dan Haggerty (well after his Grizzly Adams days) who plays a down-and-out Santa at a dreary department store at Christmastime. I also remastered the original audio of both films for my versions.
Here’s how this all came to be.
I’d done a couple fan edits of Demons in the past, just for personal use. This amounted to cutting out all the scenes of that quartet of punk rockers aimlessly driving around Berlin. Those scenes are totally inconsequential to the film, so I axed them. I trimmed some other very small bits, but nothing as substantial as the punkers. Well, I had it on the flatscreen the other day, and something I hadn’t noticed before hit me- a couple of pivotal scenes are largely devoid of music. I don’t know how it was possible that I didn’t notice this until now, 30 years after the movie had originally been released and after having viewed it dozens of times. In fact, it’s the most famous scene from the movie – the transformation scene with the teeth and fingernails – and the climactic finale scene with the rooftop battle which are both are bafflingly light on music. So, I set out to fix that by composing my own and inserting it into the movie alongside those great Claudio Simonetti compositions and the 80s heavy metal songs.
The two songs I made for those scenes came together quickly. But upon watching the film again with a keen eye (ear) on the soundtrack, I started noticing all sorts of scenes that could be touched up with some added sounds or atmospheres. So, in the end, what I did was analyze the movie from beginning to end with an emphasis on the soundtrack, and filled in the gaps that I felt needed filling.
To give you a much better idea of what I’m talking about, I threw together a couple A/B before-and-after comparisons of those two famous scenes (using low res files; my master copy is 720p)-
Big difference, yes? The music in those scenes may come across as a bit too heavy or relentless or poundingly aggressive, but those are but a few minutes of a movie that is 90 minutes in length (well, actually 80 minutes now that I’ve excised the scenes of the hoodlums). I added all sorts of sounds to the rest of the film- sounds that are much more subdued and atmospheric, but appropriately spooky and creepy and ominous. So don’t expect the entire movie to be wall-to-wall industrial strength pounding drums and distorted synth bass lines.
I am very happy with the results with this first attempt of mine to rescore an old movie. So, I thought I’d do another. I selected Elves not because it had any scenes in it that were egregiously in need of music, but rather I thought that I could make great improvements in this movie by adding just some atmospheres and other minimal synth parts. So I started doing that, and, like Demons, I got a little bit carried away and ended up adding a decent amount of sounds throughout the movie. All told, though, I’d say that I ended up contributing less music to Elves than Demons. But still, the impact of those sounds is significant. I’m not gonna say that I’ve transformed the movie into a whole new thing. In fact, unlike Demons, I didn’t edit out any scenes from Elves at all. But with both of these movies, I like to think that I’ve improved upon the material that was already there.
And now I say to myself, ‘ya know, I’d bet there’s a bunch of people out there who might really like to see one or both of these. I wonder if I could find anybody who would be willing to screen them for a public audience.’ Having seen Demons a couple times over the years at Grindhouse at The New Beverly in Los Angeles, I know that movie has a sizable fan base. Elves, probably not as much, but it’s definitely one that fans of that era of horror flicks would like.
So that’s what I’m working on now- finding a venue that’s willing to screen these. And this is where I can use your help. I’ve contacted some people at theatres in my current city, San Diego, but none have expressed too much interest. I have some contacts through some of my LA friends, but I’m still coming up empty. So I’d be super stoked if any of you, my readers, might have any suggestions or know of any people who I could contact in the hopes of getting either of these versions screened.
My original idea was to do a Kickstarter to raise the funds to rent a theatre for a couple hours, and I still might do that, but I thought I’d first try to leverage the power of the internet and ask my network of social media friends. I’m hoping to find some place in San Diego, OC, LA or the Inland Empire, but I’d be happy to trek to anywhere in the region if need be. I don’t know if I’d be open to sending off the movie to some remote location where I wouldn’t be able to attend the screening. I’ll want to be there in person, and would even be hip to doing a Q&A about the work I put into my version.
I might also add that neither of these reworks are commissioned or authorized by the original filmmakers, composers, producers or movie studios or anybody involved. They’re simply a couple personal projects of mine in an attempt to challenge myself to find out if I could do it. And now that both final versions have surpassed my expectations, I thought some of you horror fans out there might like to see and hear them as well.
Hit me with any suggestions in the comments of this post, or drop me a note at email@example.com, or find me on FB.
Super. Thanks for everything.
Brian, Dancu and Humorless Productions