HOUSE OF THE GORGON – Reber Clark


House of the Gorgon follows a young woman who travels with her mother to marry her university sweetheart. En route they meet a mysterious priest who knows a dark secret: the house where they are all due to stay is also the home to two Gorgon sisters who seek eternal youth via the sacrifice of virgin blood. The movie is a nod to Hammer Film’s The Gorgon (director Joshua Kennedy’s favourite movie) and is filmed in the style of the classic films of the Hammer studio. The movie is notable for starring four notable Hammer film veterans: Christopher Neame, Veronica Carlson, Martine Beswicke and Caroline Munro (the latter two actors playing the Gorgon sisters). The movie is scored by Reber Clark whose other works include the music for the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s Dark Adventure Radio Theatre.

By all accounts the movie’s production echoes the Hammer Horror movies of the late ‘60s or early ‘70s and this feel is reinforced by Clark’s music, which harkens back to the music of Hammer film regular, James Bernard. Tension, brooding suspense and a sinister atmosphere is the overriding feeling of this score with low tremolo synths/strings, guttural brass and woodwinds all contributing to create an effectively gothic soundtrack. The score opens with “Intro and Title House of the Gorgon”, a track straight out of the Hammer studio with its fanfare brass, trilling woodwinds and exuberant harp glissandi figures creating a grandly melodramatic start. After a relatively light opening, low-register strings and woodwinds provide the first hints at the horror about to unfold (“Arrival In Carlstadt”), and the horror quotient ramps up with the appearance of shimmering synths and strings that are so evocative of fog-laden scenes of classic vampire movies (“Gods and Goddesses”). The inclusion of a theremin-like component adds to the overall atmosphere.

There’s quite a bit of non-descript ambient passages throughout the score with various instrument tinkerings that sustains an eerie ambience which links to the more action-oriented moments (e.g., blaring brass trilling and frenzied string stabs in “Christina’s Death”). There’s a welcome appearance of the briefest of fragments of a lyrical theme (e.g., “Abduction of Isobel”) that will recur at various points in the score. The final few tracks feature the most dramatic of parts of the album. “Leave Now and Never Come Back” opens with the most innocent statement of the lyrical melody with sympathetic and floaty woodwinds plus delicate harp and bowed strings that gives a strong, tender quality to the music. However, the tone of the music then darkens and ominous strings begin to dominate. Ethereal voices appear – perhaps a nod to soprano Patricia Clark’s involvement in Bernard’s original score for The Gorgon? – and these vocals transform to demonic chanting, increasing the horror. The lyrical melody is played as a music box-type theme, a device that is resurrected in the next track, “Anna’s Dream”. All the various musical ideas are brought together in “Exorcism” where we hear the full force of the orchestra for the climax of the movie: Clark even include the familiar clock melody, the Westminster Quarters/Chimes, with dissonant brass that leads into the tolling of a bell. This excellent track concludes with an uplifting passage that suggests that the story has been resolved positively. But, as with any Hammer horror worth its salt, ominous strings and increasingly demonic wordless female choir have the final word (“Farewell and End Credits”).

House of the Gorgon appears to be a labour of love for all those involved and Reber Clark’s well-tailored score is a thoroughly enjoyable, tongue-in-cheek listen from beginning to end. The relatively short running time means that there’s little opportunity for the score to flag and the composer knows his way around the genre musically to make sure that score signposts well what befalls the film’s protagonists. On the back of this score I may now go at delve into Clark’s significant back catalogue of Radio Theatre scores.

This album can be listened to in full and purchased HERE on Bandcamp.

Rating: ***/*****

  1. Intro and Title House of The Gorgon (1:54)
  2. The Train (0:54)
  3. Arrival In Carlstadt (0:45)
  4. Teaching Carl To Dance (1:04)
  5. Poor Hans (0:52)
  6. Gods and Goddesses (1:06)
  7. Christina’s Death (1:18)
  8. Leave Now and Never Come Back (7:26)
  9. Anna’s Dream (3:02)
  10. Abduction of Isobel (3:44)
  11. Exorcism (5:02)
  12. Farewell and End Credits (3:27)

Running Time: 30:40

Reber Clark (2019)

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