In 1977, George A. Romero released Martin, a modern vampire story. The film follows a young man, who is believed to be an 84 year old vampire, as he goes to live with his cousin in a small town in Pennsylvania. The film plays with the idea and mythology of vampirism wonderfully, portraying Martin as both evil and innocent throughout the film. We see him kill, we see he recount his evil doings, and yet the audience is always left questioning whether or not he is truly evil. What drives this point across in the most spectacular way is Donald Rubinstein’s score. A beautiful mix of classical inspired pieces mixed with jazz and haunting vocals, the soundtrack for Martin is a gorgeous example of film scoring. Now, thanks to the fine folks over at Ship to Shore PhonoCo, A Light In the Attic, and One Way Static we can experience the score in one of the best ways possible.
Right off the bat, the artwork captures the look and feel of the film. Gothic, modern, and very playful with the theme of Martin being a fake vampire. The contrast between the cheap fake vampire teeth and the bloody razor are a simple and elegant way of portraying the film, and its score, playful nature with its very serious content. The soundtrack is printed on a thick 180 gram vinyl and is taken from the original negative print of the score, ensuring great sound. The sleeve includes liner notes from both Donald Rubinstein and actor John Amplas. Rubinstein’s notes paint a picture of what he went through composing the score. He talks about writing the score, basing it mostly of the script alone, his influences, meeting George, where he was at at that point in his life and career, as well as talking about the stark contrasts in the score. It is always great getting more perspective from the composer years after the score has been made, and Rubinstein is a great storyteller and very insightful. Now its time to run some wax.
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The opening theme “The Calling”, sets the tone using a slow beat with gothic tones. This, with the operatic singing, help establishes the film with one foot in the past as a reminder of early vampire films like Nosferatu and Dracula. At the same time the piece is very hypnotic, like the voice is calling out to someone. I love this because it reminds me of Dracula quite a bit, how through out the novel his calls out to Jonathan and his fiance. It is a very hauntingly beautiful piece and the score does a great job of reprising this piece at key moments. But the soundtrack doesn’t just play haunting music, alot of the soundtrack is jazz.
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There are pieces from this soundtrack that make me forget I am listening to a soundtrack, “Back To Me” is one of them. The jazz pieces are a large reason why the film is considered hip and modern. It helps establish Martin and the viewers in the now and at times helps to add fuel to the chaos happening on the screen. When the jazz is mixed with the gothic pieces it helps to create an environment of chaos, innocence, but also of a man of two times. As John Amplas said in the liner notes: “It moves from gothic romance to operatic heights swirling into chaotic jazz filled with tension and soul. Its original and it motivates the story.”
One way to judge a soundtrack is if the piece works on its own, and Donald Rubinstein’s score for Martin not only drive the films major themes, but its stand on its own two feet. This is a beautiful soundtrack that has been given a fantastic and worthy release. I would highly recommend this not only for fans of horror soundtracks, but fans of music in general. MOJO Magazine named it as one of the “Top 100 Coolest Soundtracks Of All Time” and it is very true. There are multiple variants of this record being sold in addition to regular 180 gram black being sold by different companies and they are:
Ship To Shore PhonoCo is selling a black & white swirl called Transylvanian Flashback. Limited to 500
All three are selling 180 gram black was well and those are limited to 1000.
A1. The Calling / Main Title
A2. Train Attack
A4. Tat Cuda’s House
A5. Martin At The Butcher Shop
A6. Antique Chase With Villagers
A7. Garlic Chase #6
A8. Martin Goes To The City
A9. Christina Leaves
A11. Modern Vamp
B2. The Calling (Reprise)
B3. Braddock / Chase
B4. Back To Me
B5. Crawling Sequence
B6. Martin Martin Martin
B7. Marie – Interlude
B9. Fly By Night
B10. Exorcism / Classical Funk
B11. Stake, Well Done!
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