Film Music Review
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Special Merit

THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS (1957)
and TEENAGE MONSTER (1957)

Music composed by Walter Greene.

Produced by David Schecter and Kathleen Mayne.
Digital editing and mastering: Ray Faiola.
Layout: Gina Vivona.
Liner notes: David Schecter.
Cover art: Robert Aragon.

75 Tracks (Playing Time = 77:14)

THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS
Tracks 1-40 = 43:29

TEENAGE MONSTER
Tracks 41 - 74 = 33:44

Bonus Track - 75 - Car Radio (tag)

Monstrous Movie Music, MMM-1968

Rating: ****

 

Previous albums from Monstrous Movie Music have been of the type which gives the label its descriptive name: THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD, PROJECT MOONBASE, IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE, THE BLOB, THIS ISLAND EARTH, MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON and the first two compilations: MONSTROUS MOVIE MUSIC and MORE MONSTROUS MUSIC.

And there are three non-monster music titles which are all worth considering for your CD library. One is an underrated film with a memorable score by Herman Stein, THE INTRUDER (Sammy Award for Best Vintage Score). Also there are two excellent CDs with music by Ernest Gold: SHIP OF FOOLS (Best of the Month) and THE McCULLOCHS (Special Merit).

Now we come to THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS, which I must admit made me giggle a bit at the silly title. You might expect the film to be silly too. Well, yes it is some of that but there are also good acting performances from John Agar and Joyce Meadows.

You might think the music is pure trash. But that is not the case. The music score by another unjustly forgotten composer from the past, Walter Greene, is extremely good. It is very inventive and clever and makes the most of the small orchestra used and the sound quality is exceptional for such an old soundtrack.

The film begins with a march like Main Title (track 1, 1:19) which reappears again in the score. This theme is described in the CD booklet:

Trilling woodwinds, short trumpet bursts, and a marching rhythm on saxophones and tuba create a unique sound only seconds into the movie. Greene's march that signifies Gor's evil power is the most indelible aspect of the score.

While that is certainly true, there are other wonderful cues in this score. One that may stick in your brain (as it should) is a sexy fox trot theme heard in "Barbecue" (Track 3, 2:03). This theme is also heard later on, like on tracks 22 and track 39. It's a simple yet very seductive theme.

The reduced orchestration makes ample use of brass and quoting again quoting from Schecter's excellent notes:

Greene cleverly included four saxophones in his ensemble. The saxes add some jazzily passionate coloring to the affection between the couple (John Agar and Joyce Meadows), and they help emphasize the sexual primacy of Gor's persona (brainsona?) regarding Sally.

This is a film score that is a joy to listen to because it has real passion behind it, and the heavy use of brass harmonies greatly enhances the score, especially since there are no strings used.

When THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS was released, the other film on the bill was another cheapie from Howco International titled, TEENAGE MONSTER. This also is heavy on the brass and is fun to listen to though not quite as inventive. Listening to these film scores is like you were being transported back to a 1950s drive-in where a double bill of cheaply made films were being shown. You might laugh at them but you can also enjoy the music.

This very handsomely produced CD has well over an hour of Walter Greene's two film scores. Also, there is a brilliantly orange cover art by Robert Aragon and a well illustrated 20 page booklet with several pictures of Walter Greene and also the lovely Joyce Meadows -- this CD is appropriately dedicated to her. Her website is: www.joycemeadows.net

I believe this is one of the most unusual and unique releases yet from Monstrous Movie Music.
Preserving such forgotten soundtracks is a very worthwhile endeavor and is to be commended. It is the kind of work featured on this website.

THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS is surely one of the great low budget film scores from the 1950s -- at least from 1957!

Let Walter Greene's music get into your mind like the film's "giant, evil, floating, sex-crazed extra-terrestrial brain."

Give this CD a try. What a fun time you'll have listening to this marvelous music!

Highly recommended.

-- Reviewed by Roger Hall, 30 November 2012

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