Dark Skies


Dark Skies

Music by Joseph Bishara

Void Recordings – 2013

Darks Skies is definitely the surprise movie of the year for me (I didn’t see it until this year, though it came out in 2013).  It wasn’t on my radar until my friend Frank told me he caught it on cable and that I watch it.  So I took his advice and boy am I glad I did.


Dark Skies is a science-fiction horror film that focuses on a family that gets targeted by beings from   another planet that want to abduct one of them.  The movie is masterfully directed by Scott Stewart (Legion) who eschews his visual CGI expertise to focus on each character in the family and the difficulties they are having in life.  The way Stewart carefully and subtly integrates the threat of aliens, in this movie called greys, really impressed me.  Think about it.  What is scarier than the threat of losing a family member to something not of this earth?  The way the film is grounded makes it heart-wrenching and more powerful than 100 minutes of wall to wall computer visual effects.

Photo by Dean Karr

Joseph Bishara does it again, crafting an unbelievably effective film score that is a huge component to this movie’s success.  The talented composer has delivered music that is incredibly suspenseful and projects family warmth at the same time.

What I like most about Bishara’s score is that for much of the soundtrack it doesn’t sound like it’s from this Earth.  The music sounds otherworldly, which helps sell the onscreen possibility of beings from another world.

Love and sadness both permeate from the title track “Dark Skies.”  “Night Visit” continues the thematic representation of the family in the comfort of their home.  I found these cues and others like “Night Ride 2” emotional moving and extremely important in getting me to care about the family’s outcome.

The high pitch airy sound “Now Try to Go to Sleep” sets up the power of the venomous sting of “Migration” striking right after.  The sliding down sound Bishara creates is terrifying and is used almost like a sound effect, though it’s music.


“Grey Over” spells danger with dark ambience boiling beneath the surface and uses the same instrumental jab heard in “Migration.”

With Dark Skies Joseph Bishara continues his ascent to the top of the film world as one of the leading composers at making unforgettable frightening music.




The Making of George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead


The Making of George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead

By Lee Karr

Foreword by Gregory Nicotero

Plexus Publishing – 2014
ISBN 978-0859655187
288 pages, $24.95

I really appreciate Lee Karr’s approach on this extensive chronicle of how George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead was made.  He uncovers literally everything about the production, good and bad.  Usually if there is something you revere as much as Karr feels about this film, you’d figure he’d just talk about the positive things.  Thankfully he doesn’t by digging deeper, much further down into the guts of making a movie on a limited budget with a director that had to cut down his vision, a cinematographer that didn’t want to work with the director and a wild loose cannon special make-up effects leader within a dank, cavernous mine.

Gregory Nicotero, who got his start on Day and has gone onto great heights as the co-founder of KNB EFX Group and now an executive producer of AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead writes the foreword.

George A. Romero had a grand vision for his third installment of the Living Dead trilogy.  His first draft of the screenplay ran over 200 pages.  When Romero wouldn’t agree on guaranteeing an R-Rated movie, it left Executive Producer Salah M. Hassanein no choice but to trim down the budget, since the movie wouldn’t be able to play everywhere and get all advertising.  This led to a lot of back forth between both sides before they could be of the same opinion on a draft of the script that would be acceptable to fit the money allotted.


Around this same time Romero got tired of Pittsburgh and decided to move down to Florida and in the process alienate some of his longtime co-workers & crew.  One of these people was his Director of Photography since Martin, Michael Gornick.  Apparently there were a couple reasons for this internal strife, which mostly came from Romero not properly saying goodbye to Gornick when he left Laurel Entertainment office in Pittsburgh and because Romero was pissed that Gornick continued to work on Laurel Productions outside of Romero.  This is the first time I’m ever hearing of these particular struggles, which makes this book even more worth reading.

Then there’s Tom Savini.  The celebrated, lauded special make-up effects artist, who became a star on Dawn of the Dead, is described as an uncontrolled person that likes to play around performing practical jokes or screwing any willing lady that comes his way.  Some of his crew members paint a very different person than you might expect, which mostly comes from his inflated ego and belief that he was someone special.  When bored, Savini’s crew, his team of make-up effects artists, at the encouragement of Savini himself would get in trouble by causing all kinds of mischief.

Karr goes into great detail about every single shooting day, including “the quote of the day” and commentary from every possible cast & crew member that worked on the film.

To go along with this you get a massive scale of never before seen photos (both color and black & white), drawing illustrations (including the infamous min-comic book about Tom Savini’s conceded behavior) and more. 

You don’t have to be a fan of the living dead or even horror to enjoy this fantastic book. 





Jacob – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Music by Iain Kelso

Howling Wolf Records – 2014

Running just over 68 minutes Jacob is a very ambitious score featuring a wonderful approach to film scoring.  It’s classical based with composition utilizing viola, French horn and violin cello.

What I really like is that it utilizes strings more than the over common metallic electronic hit scoring we’ve heard far too much over the past decade.  The strings bring classiness to the score and make it more understated as well.

Kelso does kick things up a bit when he does integrate big clanging hits during “Edith Remembers the Renovations” but this common approach has impact because it’s not overused.

The longest piece on this soundtrack is “The Death of Lawrence Kell” running over six-minutes.  It has a compositional element of true crime.  There’s something about it that makes it seem realistic and focused on the sadness or sorrow of a human being.

The scoring for this movie is mature and not flashy.  I haven’t seen the film yet but the music seems to be underscoring beautifully.  In some ways this soundtrack reminds me of the family aspect of Brian Tyler’s score for Frailty.  That’s a pretty big compliment in movie music book.