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Last Man on Earth

Last Man on Earth

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Published by Ross Care
Monstrous Movie Music CD
Monstrous Movie Music CD

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Categories:Types, Resumes & CVs
Published by: Ross Care on Jul 05, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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Paul Sawtell & Bert Shefter THE LAST MANON EARTH (1964) – Monstrous Movie Music- MMM-1965; 46 tracks, 54.39
Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter were a unique footnote to mainstream Hollywood music of thestudio era. Sawtell was a violinist and Shefter a concert pianist and each was conservatory-trained as well. But in the late 1950s they formed a collaboration that produced a number of classic genre scores for films ranging from low budget cheapies to fairly lavishCinemaScope/stereophonic Irwin Allen epics for 20th Century Fox. Among the former is a variedand extremely effective symphonic score for THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, an Italian productionstarring Vincent Price and helmed by low budget producer, Robert Lippert. The film itself isbased on the Richard Matheson novel,
I Am Legend 
, and Matheson himself originally adapted ascreenplay for Britain’s Hammer Films. But when Hammer bowed out the script eventuallyunderwent various alterations resulting in an ultimately mixed reputation for the final (ineptlydubbed) Lippert version. One aspect of LAST MAN that works remarkably well is the Sawtell/Shefter score, recentlyreleased in a complete world premiere stereo recording from Monstrous Movie Music. The storyof Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) fighting off a plague of vampire zombies is, as producer DavidSchecter’s liner notes point out, pretty much of an on-going downer. Add to that flashbacksinvolving the death of Morgan’s wife and child, plus Franco Delli Colli’s moody black and whitecinematography and the pervasively depressing mood of doom and gloom is complete. However, the atmospheric Sawtell/Shefter score certainly helps create variety and excitement aswell, for a film Schecter also calls “a unique and memorable example of low-budget sciencefiction moviemaking.” The CD includes 41 cues from the score as well as bonus tracks thatprovide versions of five cues without the choral overdubs used in the film. As far as I know it’ssomewhat unusual for the composer team to include wordless choral parts in their scores andSchecter somewhat questions their appropriateness in the context of this film. Personally I findthem very effective, giving cues such as “Beside Casket” and “Fights off Vampires” a brief jolt of the sound of Les Baxter’s exotic Capitol Records period. The score was recorded with a 41-piece orchestra, rather impressive for a low budget production,and the team certainly makes the most of it with evocative orchestrations that sometimes suggestDebussy and Alban Berg. The woodwinds are particularly well scored and performed and their solos beautifully captured in the vivid stereo recording. Science fiction staples such as vibes,harp, and celesta are also impressionistically utilized (“Killing Vampires”). In a more dynamicmode the use of muted trumpet with drums and strings at the end of “Goes for Supplies” is a brief but exciting passage which one wishes could have been developed more at length. The liner notes also meticulously document motifs and passages recycled from other Sawtell/Shefter scores such as THE RETURN OF THE FLY, IT! THE TERROR FROMBEYOND SPACE (another recent release from MMM), and JACK THE GIANT KILLER. LASTMAN is emphatically one of the finest releases so far from the adventurous and ever expanding

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