VAMPIRE LOVERS marked the first time that Scottish born composer Harry Robinson had worked for the House of Horror for a cinema release He had already completed the score for THE OBLONG BOX for American International Pictures in the States, who I suppose were the American equivalent of Hammer in those days. In fact VAMPIRE LOVERS was a Hammer/A.I.P. co-production, and was something a little different for the seasoned Hammer film audiences. More nudity, more blood, more of everything in fact, including the loping off of heads. An intriguing storyline with some pretty gorgeous young ladies including a glamorous looking Ingrid Pitt and some fresh talent in the forms of Hammer starlets Pippa Steele and Maddy Smith. The score by Robinson was a very important and highly integral part of the picture, it was more interwoven with the story that was unfolding on screen than previous Hammer scores, it is true to say that James Bernard's DRACULA scores were and still are the most popular and promptly recognised of Hammers musical archive, but Robinsons music brought new life and excitement to this Hammer movie, it was as fresh and different in its style and sound as the movie was different from previous Hammer vampire movies. The score is full of themes and musical phrases that suggest an atmosphere of dread and virulence. The main thematic and atonal properties of the score underline and support the fearful and for want of a better description scary and gory passages within the film, Robinson using the approach of scoring a frightening or harrowing section of film with a piece of music that itself has a melody to it, thus increasing the actual moment of tension or horror because the music does not hint that something terrible is about to happen, so this gives the scene extra weight and impact. There is also a milder almost romantic side to the score, Robinson employing strings to great effect to enhance and accompany Ingrid Pitt's character Mircalla / Carmilla as she goes in search of fresh human blood, usually from another female. The film was a first thought to be too risqué for British audiences, and the censor expressed concerns about certain scenes, but the movie proved to be a great success on both sides of the Atlantic.Robinson's soundtrack too was well received and soon made it to the top of many soundtrack collectors wants list's. To satisfy the demand for Robinsons music, Hammer did release a short track from the score on an EMI LP back in the mid 1970s it was part of a collection of four excerpts from Hammer films, which formed the FOUR FACES OF EVIL on the B side of an album which had as it's A side a Dracula story read by Christopher Lee which was supported by a specially adapted score by James Bernard. Robinsons score for THE VAMPIRE LOVERS has a presence to it that evokes a feeling of unease. Let us just say if the composer was attempting to style a soundtrack that created a sense of foreboding and evil he succeeded in doing it here. Maybe previous Hammer scores had been a little clichéd and predictable or had become that way because audiences and filmmakers alike were used to this kind of scoring in a horror picture, accepting the simple but effectiveness of for example James Bernard's compositions as the norm. Robinson's music however has a style and sound to it that was not only perfect for the movie but has the ability to be entertaining and interesting away from the film which is no mean feat when writing music for a horror flick. The GDI release of VAMPIRE LOVERS is presented wonderfully, lots of stills, extensive notes on the film, the music and the composer, a striking front cover and sound quality that is dazzling. This was one of GDI's first releases and set the standard for other CDs within its catalogue. VAMPIRE LOVERS still remains one of its best and most popular titles and also stands as a fitting testament to the music of Harry Robinson. Highly recommended.
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