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DAVID SCHECTER/ MONSTROUS MOVIE MUSIC (2008) - Page 1
 
 
 
 
   

Back in 2005 we spoke with Monstrous Movie Music's co-founder, David Schecter, shortly after the release of the company's fine pair re-recorded score and cue compilation albums, Mighty Joe Young (and other Ray Harryhausen animation classics), and This Island Earth (and other alien invasion films).

MMM's albums are unique for closely matching the tone, verve, tempo and orchestrations of the original mono recordings from classic monster films, but after 5 albums - which include Monstrous Movie Music , More Monstrous Movie Music , and Creature from the Black Lagoon (and other jungle pictures) - Schecter and co-producer Kathleen Mayne, the multi-talented Mrs. Schecter, chose to release original recordings a first for the company plus additional rare material from the Valentino Production Music Library that has never been commercially released.

We've chosen to divide our very lengthy conversation regarding The Intruder (and other music by Herman Stein) and The Blob (and other creepy sounds) into three parts, of which the first centers around the late, great Herman Stein, a veteran composer clearly beloved by MMM's team and many fans of Universal monster movies (of which he scored oodles, including such classics as Tarantula, This Island Earth, and The Creature Walks Among Us).

Most of Stein's film work appeared alongside cues by other Universal contract composers a common tactic the studio maintained to train composers (including whipper-snappers like Henry Mancini) in a fast-paced factory system designed to churn out product, particularly B-level films.

As the studio system began to disintegrate under the mounting influence of TV and changing audience tastes, the huge music departments were reduced if not dissolved, and composers had to find other venues, which included the industrial-scale needs of network TV.

Many top composers survived the sixties writing music for the boob tube, but once in a while a film may have popped up, and in Stein's case, the chance to score a movie on his own came from Roger Corman, a producer-director who had enjoyed considerable success making and selling cheap exploitation fodder with his business partner, brother Gene Corman.

Most of Corman's ties were to American International Pictures [AIP] as well as odd B-pictures for studios like UA, but when Roger Corman brought Charles Beaumont's 1959 novel, The Intruder, to the big screen in 1962, what may have begun as hot-topic exploitation picture became a socially conscious message production a first for the producer-director.

Corman may have secretly hoped the film would've pushed him into more serious, studio-financed productions, but its failure at the box office pretty much ended his desire to make a serious contemporary drama again.

The director went on to make a string of popular Edgar Allan Poe films for AIP and star William Shatner bounced around in small roles before gaining immortality in Star Trek, but for Herman Stein, the theatrical failure of The Intruder was a blow to what could've led to a strong solo career in dramatic film.

MMM's Intruder album is more than a well-produced release; it's a vindication of sorts for a Herman Stein who perhaps felt his reputation as a skilled composer diminished each time one of the monster flicks he co-scored for Universal did the rounds on local TV, while The Intruder, a fine drama, disappeared from distribution outlets for more than 25 years.

From our prior interview with David Schecter, it's obvious Stein had a wicked sense of humour about himself and his better monster scores, so while his passing in 2007 was a terrible loss, it's probably fair to say he'd be extremely pleased and perhaps enjoying a satisfying chuckle, knowing his Intruder music is not only being rediscovered as a serious dramatic endeavor, but as Schecter discovered, has film fans rediscovering Corman's neglected film as well.

Herman Stein in his Cool Composer headshot

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