Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Mark of the Devil and Mark of the Devil II (Vinyl OneWayStatic)

Having recently reviewed the Blu-ray from Arrow Video of Mark of the Devil, I have been keenly focused on the score. It sounds like a classic Italian score; most specifically it sounds like the Cannibal Holocaust Score for Riz Ortolani some seven or eight years later. I assure you that this is a positive thing and that the lighthearted, dreamy vision of the Austria during the witch trials is ironic. The juxtaposition of whimsical with violent torture and brash violence is as effective as you might find in Cannibal Holocaust though I would say that Mark of the Devil is a less realistic vision of that violence.

Michael Holm balances the theme from Mark of the Devil, Liebesthema, with haughty, bold tracks that more or less feel like a castle siege picture from the 50’s or 60’s rather than a Horror movie. In fact this particular score does exactly feel like a composition that would accompany a Horror picture at all and that may be why it is so effective when paired with the film. It’s offputing. It unsettles. It confuses, and it also stimulates the imagination. Track three is a particular lovely classical piece, traditional, and I can’t seem to place its origin.
The main theme plays about every other track, so if the initial track seems brief, you’ll get several listens to the almost groovy theme that plays off 50’s crooner sensibilities and popular movie scores from Italy during the same period.

While I can safely say that I do not remember having seen Mark of the Devil II,I have now enjoyed the score. It has NOTHING to do with the original score as the sequel has little if anything to do with the original, however it certainly is impressive in its own right. It lacks the repetitive themes from the original score. It is a varied score that takes notes from Pino Donaggio at times; seeing as Donaggio started scoring movies professionaly in 1973, this is simply indicative of the stings and style of the times. Sometimes a light French accordion ballad is all you need on a Horror soundtrack to set the damn thing apart from the rest of the Euro Horror of the early 70’s. There’s a brief creepy organ track as well as tracks that reminded me distinctly of Amicus, most notably one that sounded like a track from Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors.

Mark of the Devil II is the best kind of soundtrack for keeping the mind fresh, the imagination going and a nice shift from the endless theme variations we have been seeing on more recent double LP’s from the industry. That’s not to say I can’t appreciate an in depth audio inquiry into the style and substance of the Absurd soundtrack, but sometimes the brevity of a single side devoted to the score of a movie offers a quick jolt of energy. I have been motived to watch Mark of the Devil II for years, a huge fan of the original. Perhaps this is the thumb screw torture I needed to make me confess my most urgent, witchy desires to DiabolikDVD.

While the music for both movies was composed by Holm, the two scores couldn’t feel more different. They almost don’t belong on two sides of the same record, but I’m glad they do. It’s as close to a mix vinyl of the witch-sploitation flicks of the 70’s as we’ll get. This could have easily doubled with Conqueror Worm on one side of a second LP and perhaps Burn Witch Burn on the reverse.

The transluscent green vinyl is nice and is indicative of the quality of OneWayStatic’s releases. I support this company with my whole heart. The label on each side is a standard black label featuring track list and title for each side. The cover art is a variety of images, shopped together and colorized. I think I would have preferred a vomit bag cover or something in keeping with more traditional art, but I realize that is not always available or desirable when trying to keep a record branded to a label.  The back cover is more colorized, red and blue art and the gatefold is a collage of scenes from the picture. It’s quite handsome and makes up for the bleak outer cover. There’s a color insert featuring some words from Michael Holm, Udo Kier, Michael Maien, Jacques Sirgent (an Historian) and an nice write up from Uwe Huber on both features.

I rate this record with a score of V for Varied and V for Violent and V for very awesome.

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