MISSILE TO THE MOON (1958) and
FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER (1958)
Music composed by Nicholas Carras.
Produced by David Schecter and Kathleen Mayne.
Digital editing and mastering: Ray Faiola.
Layout: Gina Vivona.
Liner notes: David Schecter.
Cover art: Vincent Di Fate.
56 Tracks (Playing Time = 59:52)
Monstrous Movie Music, MM-1970
Ah, those cheesy 1950s science-fiction films! They are so poorly acted and filmed that a film viewer can only laugh at the silliness of it all. But the music is oftentimes not as laughable, unless you are a purist who can only accept the best known science fiction films like, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (Bernard Herrmann), or THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (Dimitri Tiomkin). They are of course probably the best science fiction film scores of the 1950s and maybe of all time. But the music for MISSILE TO THE MOON and FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER are at the lower end of the music scale.
In the CD booklet it is described this way:
Adding a sense of scope to the minimal production, Nicholas Carras contributes a boisterous music score that often makes us forget that 75% of everything in the picture is either a gorgeous woman or some form of cardboard. Subtlety is not an ingredient of his musical concoction, nor should it have been considering the completely-unsubtle screenplay.
That being said, this score really isn't very good, full of short repeated themes that don't get much chance to develop. Yet they are played with much emphasis, as Schecter states, by a very small orchestra of only 23 players. There are a few cues that offer something different from the usual eerie sounds so typical of '50s sci-fi scores. One of them is "Blues for a Blonde" (track 7) which Carras also used in FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER where it was titled, "Blondie's Blues" (not included on the soundtrack portion of this CD). It's a nice jazz number for the unusual combination of roller rink organ and drums with brushes.
Both scores sound pretty much alike since they were both released in 1958 and are two of four sci-fi films directed by Richard Cunha that year and all of them on a very small budget. Schecter mentions that MISSILE TO THE MOON was filmed in only seven days. That's a carry-over from the B movies of the 1930s and '40s which were often filmed in a week or two and usually lasted barely over an hour of screen time. Both of the scores on the CD are less than an hour and that's plenty since the themes tend to not go anywhere.
The sound quality is somewhat shrill at times but that's from an era when soundtracks were not always recorded at the highest quality, especially for such extremely low budget films like these two.
Of particular interest are the seven bonus tracks (50-56), which provide examples of a dance for bongos and tambourine, several with electric violin and vibraphone, and a drum sweetener. These give a good sampling of the special eerie sounds employed on both soundtracks.
In the CD booklet there is a good succinct biography of Nicholas Carras, one of those forgotten, hard-working composers working mostly on television shows and also who worked on a Broadway musical, Happy Town.
Though I wouldn't suggest this CD is a must have for your sci-fi collection, the production values are superb. There are excellent, detailed notes by David Schecter and a beautifully designed CD booklet by Gina Vivona with impressive cover art by Vincent Di Fate.
Though both scores are mediocre they are given a first class presentation by the Monstrous Movie Music team.
-- Reviewed by Roger Hall, 1 December 2012
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