Category: Film

5 Soundtracks by Tangerine Dream That You Should Hear

5 Soundtracks by Tangerine Dream That You Should Hear

By Rob Watts    @RobWattsOnline

As a writer, I find it necessary to have some form of background music playing. I think many of my writer friends will agree that dance music, death metal or gangsta rap blaring from the speakers serves more as a distraction than a soothing counterbalance while concentrating—perhaps I’m wrong, but I know it wouldn’t work well for me personally. While working in the creative realm, I tend to play instrumentals in the background; less distraction, I’m not singing along and losing my concentration and it adds a certain ambience while helping me frame a storyline properly. I usually find my comfort zone in film scores. To those who know me best, it’s no secret that my favorite film scores were produced in the 1970s and early 80s (huh, that’s funny, that’s when the best films were made as well.) Along with John Carpenter and John Williams, my other favorite soundtrack composers are the European synth rock band, Tangerine Dream. While their entire body of non-soundtrack work is amazing, especially Zeit (1972), Phaedra (1974), Rubycon (1975) and Stratosfear (1976), their film scores are equally as impressive and as much as I’d love to list each and every soundtrack release, I’ll whole-heartedly recommend the following five. It will be worth seeking them out, trust me. 

Sorcerer (1977)

Tangerine Dream’s first soundtrack album to William Friedkin’s existential thriller, Sorcerer, the music is a mesmerizing mixture of classical music run through a synth-pop blender. Each track truly sucks you in and captivates you with its ominous presence. 


Thief (1981) 

The band’s second soundtrack album to Michael Mann’s Thief, this is yet another captivating piece of work. It moves you along, front to back, leaving the listener is a suspended state of ear candy euphoria.  
Wavelength (1984) 

Their fourth soundtrack to the little known low budget Science Fiction film, Wavelength, just might be my favorite.  While the film might be poorly produced (look for the boom mic in the top corner of the shot, at least three times), it does have its moments and the film score certainly amplifies these occasions. A high point in the film for me is the scene when the three alien boys are being driven along Sunset Boulevard by their rescuers (Robert Carradine and Cherie Currie) while the hypnotic film score rolls on. 

Firestarter (1984) 

While I’m not a big fan of the film, the score is far more memorable for me. It keeps in line with the previously listed soundtracks, especially Thief. 

Risky Business (1984)

One might not consider Risky Business’ soundtrack to be very memorable other than the addition of the (ugh—so overplayed) hit song, Old Time Rock and Roll by Bob Seger. No one seems to recall that Prince, Phil Collins and Journey offered their contributions to this bore fest (just my opinion) of an 80s film as well. What enhances any salvageable portion of this film, however, is Tangerine Dream’s film score, once again proving that they truly crafted and set the benchmark for soundtracks for the remainder of the 80s, as they went on to contribute to Flashpoint, Three O’Clock High, Near Dark and Legend. 

More Scary Movies to Watch This October! 


More Scary Movies to Watch This October!! 

By Rob Watts. Follow @RobWattsOnline 

Generally speaking, I don’t watch many horror films throughout the year, but like most fans of the genre, I like to indulge during the fall season, especially October as the countdown to Halloween begins. Halloween night is traditionally spoken for by John Carpenter’s Halloween, usually a classic Dracula (w/ Christopher Lee of course) and possibly a more contemporary horror film, so long as it doesn’t include an uber-annoying cast or plot line. Last month, I wrote a post recommending Five Horror Films to Watch this October. Well, here are some more to add to your viewing pleasure this month. Most are from my childhood, with a few contemporary features to keep it interesting. These films scared the life out of me at one point—in fact, some of them still do to this day. But that’s the point of a well-written horror film—scares, jumps and good fun. Enjoy and happy haunting! 

Patrick (1978)
This creepy Australian horror flick freaked me out for months after first seeing this. Patrick, who’d murdered his mother and her lover in the bathtub by way of electrocution, falls into a coma and his only way of communication is by electronic typewriter via psychokinetic powers. Although he is completely written off as nothing more than a catatonic vegetable, he can still murder anyone who crosses him. The thought of Patrick lying still in that hospital bed with his eyes wide open is still enough to keep me awake tonight.


Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)


This is the film that made me petrified of the translucent grinning mask. Set in Paterson, NJ during the early 60s, 9-year-old Karen (played by Brook Shields) gets strangled to death at her First Communion. Her jealous older sister Alice is of course at the center of suspicion although the actual killer is the last one you’d expect. This film was rather unique for its time as you hardly ever saw young children being murdered on-screen. With the exception of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 that same year, I can’t really remember many films that crossed that Hollywood taboo. This film was actually theatrically released three separate times under three different titles due to Brook Shields’ ever-growing popularity after this film was made. Communion in 1976, Alice, Sweet Alice in 1978 and Holy Terror in 1981. Alice, Sweet Alice has remained the official title since then. If you haven’t seen this classic 70s flick, check it out. It has everything, a bitchy jealous sister, a fat creepy landlord and of course the horror movie’s best friend, the Catholic Church. How can you go wrong?


Magic (1978)


A movie about a man and his dummy. Ventriloquist Corky (Anthony Hopkins) and his foul-mouth dummy Fats are on the road to stardom but when Corky feels the pressure of showbiz, he retreats to the secluded Catskills where he reunites with his high school crush (Ann Margaret.) Fats however does not enjoy competing for Corky’s attention and soon talks Corky into “getting rid” of the people in his life that could potentially separate them from each other. The dummy, Fats, is just unsettling in every way. This was another film that made it impossible to sleep with the lights off after viewing it for the first time.


Summer of Fear (1978)

A made-for-television gem starring Linda Blair and Lee Purcell and directed by Wes Craven. Based on the Lois Duncan novel of the same name, it’s a pretty simple plot where Rachel (Blair) and her family invite Rachel’s cousin Julia (Purcell) to come live with them as Julia’s family died tragically in a car wreck. Things seem fine at first until Julia becomes jealous of Rachel, then of course strange things begin to occur in Rachel’s world. If you don’t mind simple storytelling and a rather predictable plot then you’ll probably enjoy this lost classic. Hey, it was directed by Wes Craven after all.

The Houses October Built (2014) 


Oh gee, another found-footage movie about a group of jackasses out seeing adventure! That’s exactly what I thought when I first started watching this film, however, the plot drew me in quickly and from then on I was hooked. Five friends set out on a road trip (in an R.V.) to visit haunted house attractions throughout Texas, hoping to find the ultimate scare. Through their documentation they encounter a lot of backwoods craziness, coupled with some terrifying visits through the haunted attractions. Their final visit to what’s to be the ultimate haunt, turns out to be more than they had hoped for and the intense scares just keep coming at you until the very end. This movie was cast very well (no obligatory annoying characters to the point of nausea) and there is a lot of great production value for a such a low-budget film. 


Monster Dog (1984)


Rock star Vince Raven (Alice Cooper) along with his girlfriend and band, travel to Vince’s childhood home to shoot his new music video. While at the house, strange noises and occurances begin to take place. People disappearing, packs of wolves surrounding the home, mysterious cars and crazed men having a shoot out Alice Cooper’s character. It’s definitely not a great movie, but worth a viewing for the sake of Alice Cooper in a leading man role. 


Sisters (1973)


In this Brian De Palma psychological thriller, Margot Kidder stars as a French-Canadian model whose separated Siamese twin is suspected of murder by a Staten Island news reporter (Jennifer Salt.)  The film takes many twists and turns and has a very Alfred Hitchcock feel to it. It even features a score by Bernard Hermann. The filming technique adds to the edge-of-your-seat suspense, with various split-screen shots for dramatic effect. This is a very chilling movie if I do say so myself. 


The Strangers (2008)

Suspense and tension. The Strangers had plenty of those two elements. The only caveat to this film is that it’s a one-time viewing experience to gain its full shock value. After that, the scares are watered down because you know exactly what’s happening. But upon viewing this film for the first time, you’d agree with me that this is one suspenseful ride. In short, a young couple arrives at their summer home in the country very late at night. They get a strange late-night knock on the door from a girl looking for someone who doesn’t live there. She is turned away and the guy decides to take a ride to the store to run an errand for his girlfriend. While alone, the mysterious girl knocks on the door again asking for the same person. She gets turned away again but it’s revealed (to the viewers) that masked strangers have entered the home unbeknownst to the girlfriend. Even though this movie has a few moments where you ask “why would you run that way when you should go that way?” It’s loaded with suspenseful unpredictable moments that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. It starts off very slow-paced but it definitely builds tension leading up to the action. Remember, this film only has shock value the first time you watch it, so turn the cellphones off and don’t allow yourself to be distracted.


Salems Lot (1979)

Blending elements of vampires and haunted houses, this Tobe Hooper directed mini-series based on the Stephen King novel is very memorable for keeping us kids awake expecting to find our friends tapping at our windows in the middle of the night, only to discover that they are vampires. It still gives me chills, along with the eerie town setting and creepy night time shots. This, in my opinion, is one of the best Stephen King adaptations and it’s really lost nothing over time. 

Popcorn (1991)


Saving the not so best for last, this campy and oh-so-generic horror flick is worth a watch simply to remind you of how awful horror films had become at the turn of the 90s decade. I guess it still holds a slight sentimental value for me as I remember that my sister and I actually went to see this in the theater when it was released. We weren’t all that impressed. However, I wouldn’t add it to this list if I didn’t feel it still had somewhat of an entertainment factor. This movie is great to watch with a few friends who are looking to laugh a lot during a horror film. There are some cool visuals and although it’s presumably set in Los Angeles, it’s actually filmed entirely in Kingston, Jamaica. The film is about a group of college film students who put on an all night scare-a-thon in an old abandoned theater. Surprise, surprise, things begin to go horribly wrong throughout the night as people are killed off one by one. It stars Jill Schoelen, Dee Wallace Stone, Tom Villard and Ray Walston

5 Horror Films to Watch This Halloween Season! 

By Rob Watts. Follow @RobWattsOnline

It’s only my opinion, but I think you’ll enjoy most, if not all of these 5 underrated (some forgotten) horror films. In no particular order of importance, here is my recommended list. Also check out my 10 More Horror Movies to Watch.

Borderland (2007)

Selected as one of the “8 Films to Die For” at the After Dark Horror Fest, Borderland is based on the true story of Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, the leader of a satanic cult that practiced human sacrifices. The plot involves three American college students who travel down to Mexico for a week of strip clubs, prostitutes and debauchery. While their guard is down, being the naive travelers that they are, one of the men gets kidnapped and is held in a secret location as he awaits his fait during a human sacrifice. Keep and eye out for actor Sean Astin as he plays an uncharacteristically sadistic character. The film is very suspenseful, dark and gritty. It avoids the typical horror film stereotypes (as much as it can anyway) and keeps your interest throughout the film. 

You’re Next (2011, 2013)

This independent slasher film revolves around a family reunion at a big vacation house in Missouri. The family, suffering from their own dysfunction, is targeted by masked assailants who surround the home, allowing no one to escape. Each family member is picked off one by one by the unknown terrorizers and it’s up to the remaining few to band together for their survival. There is, however, a pretty clever twist at the end. So if you’re not wild about gory effects in movies, the payoff at the end may be enough to keep you engaged throughout the entire film.  

The Babadook (2014)

This creepy Austrailian psychological thriller is a film about a single mother and her young son who are tormented by an evil entity brought upon by a mysterious pop-up children’s book. In addition to the creeptastic tone of the film (like most Austrailian horror films), it also deals with sadness of losing a spouse, a child’s behavioral problems and deep psychological issues. It all swirls around a deep-thinking horror film that should be viewed with little distraction. You might be left scratching your head for a bit after watching this, but it has a way of staying with you until you’ve formed a solid opinion of the film. 

The Hearse (1980)

Looking for an old school, classic ghost story from back in the day but are tired of watching the ones you’ve already seen? This 1980 film went widely unnoticed but it still packs the punch of a creepy, haunted house film made with the techniques that only the late 70s/ early 80s could provide. A city woman moves into the country after inheriting her late aunts house in a small, yet suspicious town. She is immediately shunned by the community upon her arrival at the home, which was used by her aunt to practice witchcraft and other satanic practices. Little does she know, the house is filled with secrets and slowly but surely, haunted occurrences begin to unfold in this eerie, suspenseful film. 

Alone with Her (2006)

As if personal privacy hasn’t been a big enough issue already, this 2006 psychological thriller Alone with Her will creep you out at every turn. This part hidden camera, part POV shot film stars Collin Hanks as a twisted stalker who breaks into people’s homes, sets up hidden nanny cam-type spycams  throughout the house, and begins to obsess over his victims, studying them to the point of lunacy in attempt to make interaction with them based on his knowledge of the victim’s daily routines, interests and behavior patterns. This is exactly what happens when he obsesses over a young girl that he randomly discovered in a local park one day. The fact that she was completely unaware that she was being spied on is disturbing enough, but how he manages to enter her life is truly terrorfying. A must-see film that should serve more as a wake up call, rather than a an entertaining horror film.