Composer Harry Robinson
or Robertson as he is credited on this particular release was very active and at home scoring horror movies such as LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF,HOUSE IN NIGHTMARE PARK and THE GHOUL. His vibrant and inventive music for films such as DEMONS OF THE MIND, TWINS OF EVIL, LUST FOR A VAMPIRE, COUNTESS DRACULA and VAMPIRE LOVERS for Hammer are now considered classics among soundtrack aficionados and his music for AIP‘s THE OBLONG BOX is also a popular work with collectors. He had also worked on numerous Children’s film foundation films both as a composer and a writer/producer because Robertson was not just a talented and versatile composer he also wrote screenplays and acted as a producer on numerous films and TV productions. HAWK THE SLAYER was one such movie, he co-produced the film with Terry Marcel and also took a hand in its story and screenplay. I remember a TV programme called CINEMA presented by Chris Kelly
which was aired many years ago and there was a special on HAWK THE SLAYER where the programme went onto location to film the crew actually shooting HAWK and Robertson told the presenter that he was trying to create a style that was akin to that of the spaghetti western in HAWK and hoped to emulate the famous director Sergio Leone, which I think that he certainly did in some of the scenes, plus there is also some of the elements that were originally used in films such as THE SEVEN SAMURAI by acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Kurosawa that occasionally manifested themselves within the movies storyline., in essence Robertson created a fantasy that had Italian western influences with more than a gentle nod in the direction of the swordplay and code of honour displayed by the ancient Samurai. Robertson’s upbeat and infectious score also echoed elements of the spaghetti western the composer employing trills and strange sounding noises to punctuate proceedings and also act as a motif or accompaniment for the central characters of the story, either underlining their time on screen or heralding their appearance. The central theme is very much like the main thematic material for WAR OF THE WORLDS by Jeff Wayne
, composer Robertson utilizing a five note motif that is repeated and performed on synthesizer over the top of an upbeat backing that is carried along by strings and punctuated by the use of electronic drum beats that enhance and embellish proceedings.
Cover of Hawk the Slayer
Cover of Hawk the Slayer
At one point strings becoming more dominant and taking the lead elevating the theme and allowing it to become a more lush and romantic sounding piece. This core theme makes several appearances throughout the score, either in a more expanded structure or expansive sounding rendition and also at times it appears in a more intimate form or indeed as a variation or fragmented version of the theme, the composer making excellent use of the composition underlining and supporting action scenes with its more robust incarnation and then utilizing it in a different arrangement and with varying instrumentation to underscore lighter or more subdued interludes within the movie, as in track number 4, ELIANE. Or turning the piece into a darker entity making it a brooding, dramatic and sinister composition for scenes that involved the villain of the piece Voltan and his evil offspring Drogo. Robertson effectively uses themes or motifs within the score for the films central characters the Elf, the Giant etc etc. The music included on this latest compact disc release is the same as the original CHIPS records release, apart from one bonus cue which is a version of the HAWK THE SLAYER theme performed by Dominik Hauser which I think we could have done without, I personally would have been happy with just the original 11 tracks. The disc is presented well with the original art work from the LP record on the front cover and a number of stills from the movie inside the liner accompanied by informative notes by Randall D. Larson. An entertaining release and one I am pleased which has at last made it to compact disc. Recommended.
Read other recent reviews by John Mansell: Addio, Fratello Crudele
, The Dark Side of Light