The new book Scored To Death collects 14 interviews with composers primarily known for their sonic contributions to horror cinema, including members of the band Goblin, Harry Manfredini—the guy who came up with “ki, ki, ki, ki, ma, ma, ma, ma” for Friday The 13th—and the man behind arguably the most memorable horror theme of all time, John Carpenter. Scored To Death will be released later this summer, but author J. Blake Fichera offered The A.V. Club exclusive insight into the process of turning this book from a nightmare to a reality.
“I guess the fact that it hadn’t been done yet is really the reason why I wrote it,” Fichera says of a book focusing on horror movie music. “I really just wanted to read a book like this. There were some great interview-based books about film music, but none specifically focusing of horror film music and composers. So I just decided to write one myself.” Fichera has been hanging around in the horror section of his local video store since he was a youngster. “I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s. It was the era of the video store. So people of my generation grew up with posters of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees on our walls … I went off to college and film school and I really embraced it.”
There, “I got kind of obsessed with the synth-based stuff like John Carpenter, Goblin, and Fabio Frizzi,” explains the author, who also co-hosts the Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers podcast. “In The Mouth Of Madness was the first horror score I ever purchased, but I guess John Williams’ score for Jaws was probably the first one I really remember paying attention to. I think that everyone that grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s had at least one of Williams’ soundtracks in the house.”
The book features a simple, creepy cover designed by Wade Lageose. as well as terrific in-depth interviews with Alan Howarth, Nightmare On Elm Street’s Charles Bernstein, and frequent Dario Argento collaborator Claudio Simonetti. However, one of the biggest gets for Fichera’s book was John Carpenter, the “master of horror” and composer of the aforementioned Halloween and In The Mouth Of Madness. “He intimidated me the most. I mean he’s John Carpenter! His films and music have just meant the world to me for so long. You can literally trace the inspiration for this book back to him,” Fichera says. “Plus, he’s just an intimidating, no nonsense kind of guy. He and I ultimately had a lot of fun with the interview, but I was terrified.”
While Fichera, a musician himself, was pleased with the number of composers he got involved with the book, there were a few disappointments. “There were guys that I never managed to get a hold of at all, like Howard Shore, Richard Band, and Fernando Velázquez,”he says. Fichera also makes note of some of his favorite horror scores of the past few years: “Well, the resurgence of that ‘80s-style synth score has been quite noticeable in recent years, and two film scores in that style that I really enjoyed were Robin Coudert’s score for the Maniac remake and Disasterpeace’s score for It Follows. I remember smiling with glee at certain cues when I saw those two films in the theater.”
The best horror movies usually garner a sequel, so perhaps readers will hear from those composers in Scored To Death 2: J. Blake’s Revenge?
Scored To Death: Conversations With Some Of Horror’s Greatest Composers is now available for pre-order at Amazon. The book will be unleashed on its willing victims August 1.