To fans of classic science-fiction, Ralph Carmichael is the composer of The Blob. You know, the 1958 production where a 27 year-old Steve McQueen applied his Method acting to become a high school senior, while surrounded by actors a bit closer in age to their characters.

Mention The Blob, and the first thing that comes to mind is McQueen looking silly, if not the purple goo that tried to smother a town before one of Nature's elements helped cool the monster's appetite for human flesh.

The second thing is the theme song co-written by a young Burt Bacharach, with a looped set of lyrics, a catchy beat, and mouth popping sounds, added by the producer and Paramount in place of Carmichael's original (and far more dissonant) title music (which is happily present, alongside the Bacharach tune, on Monstrous Movie Music's CD).

But one of the reasons this blazing colour film still entertains and quietly maintains a creepy streak is Carmichael's score which, up until now, has remained unreleased. The music has made other public appearances – notably as part of the Valentino Production Music Library – and as Irvin Yeaworth, the film's director, states in his commentary for Criterion's DVD (ported over from the label's prior laserdisc), the love theme written by the director and his wife has also traveled the globe, reappearing in various TV, film, and commercial venues.

In the second part of our edited interview with Monstrous Movie Music's David Schecter we discuss Carmichael's score, its affect on listeners, and Carmichael's career path after the phenomenal box office success of The Blob, which didn't take him to Hollywood and integrate him as part of the scoring community.

He did score another sci-fi film for director Yeaworth and producer Jack H. Harris - the heavily jazzed up 4D Man (1959) - but like Yeaworth, Carmichael disappeared from the Hollywood scene, although technically both the director and composer were never really part it in the first place; Paramount picked up their first film, Universal distributed their second, and Yeaworth's final studio work (again for Universal), the juvenile Dinosaurus! (1960) was scored by Ronald Stein.

By 1961, Yeaworth and Carmichael had returned to their religious-themed work, and The Blob became an increasingly distant memory. Carmichael's own website doesn't even mention his two sci-fi film scores, and yet as Schecter explains, the composer is still quite proud of a score he crafted using far less financial resources than a standard studio exploitation picture.

As Yeaworth recalled in his film commentary, when the orchestra had finished playing the love theme, they musicians applauded with their instruments – an early indication the music written for a film about a man-eating ball of goo was and remains a special work.


Le Blob veux manger les cineastes...


Mark R. Hasan : Did you time it so that the two CDs, The Intruder (and other music by Herman Stein) and The Blob (and other creepy sounds), would come out around the same time?

David Schecter : I timed it strictly for financial purposes. When you're doing liner books, and you have to hire a layout person and do a bunch of other things to get things mastered and tweaked and everything, it's so much more cost-effective to have two things coming out at once.

If we were to print just one booklet, it would probably cost us close to what it would cost to print two because they've got to run the presses anyways; the paper stock is also bigger than one book, so otherwise you're just paying for the paper anyways and it's getting thrown away.

When you gotta start promoting something and you start emailing to all your customers and doing this and doing that, it's a lot of work. It's so much more cost-effective when you can say ‘Hey, we have two releases here,' and then hopefully they'll buy ‘em both.


MRH : I think I mentioned this in my review of The Blob that you really get drawn into the film when Ralph Carmichael's score kicks in; he plays everything straight, and it's a good solid, dramatic score. Every once in a while there's a shock cut that refers to the monster, but the score highlights suspenseful moments, tension, fears, and so on, and it's nice that a movie that's so tongue-in-cheek and has some unintentional laughs every so often realigns itself and becomes this little serious film, mostly because of the music.

DS : Yes, and to me, growing up with it, along with a number of other people, it's a scary little movie (much scarier than a lot of the other ones of a similar nature), and I think a lot of it has to do with the seriousness of the music.

While the music kind of weaves itself on you, it doesn't call attention to itself… I think it's this background thing, kind of simmering in there, helping to elevate certain passages, and like you say, create a certain sense of foreboding, and dread, and it operates kind of like Psycho (1960) does - just to keep you a little on the edge of your seat and to make you aware.

The Giant Gila Monster (1959) has that wonderful theme, but it really calls attention to itself, it's really out there, and it's not really a part of the film; it's kind of pasted on the film. The music of The Blob becomes a part of the movie, and I think if the music were not in there, it would really be a very different movie. I don't think it would be anywhere nearly as scary or as engrossing as it is.

Read the CD review!

Read the CD review!

Read the CD review!

Giant Gila Monster poster (cheap looking, isn't it?)

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