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Section Header
Lesbian Vampire Killers
(2009)
Composed, Orchestrated, Conducted, and Produced by:
Debbie Wiseman

Performed by:
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and The Crouch End Festival Chorus

Solo Vocals by:
Hayley Westenra

Label:
Silva Screen Records

Release Date:
February 16th, 2009

Also See:
Arsène Lupin
Sleepy Hollow
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Van Helsing
Cherry 2000

Audio Clips:
1. Centuries Ago... (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

12. The Dawn of the Red Moon (0:29):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

14. All Grown Up (0:32):
WMA (213K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

18. Lesbian Vampire Killers (0:29):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

Availability:
Regular European release, available for download internationally. Difficult to find on CD in America.

Awards:
  None.









Lesbian Vampire Killers
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Buy it... if you're ready to grab the nearest crucifix and battle the undead to the sound of monumental and glorious Gothic magnificence of extreme harmonic force, robust symphonic and choral colors, and memorable thematic grandeur at unsafe volumes.

Avoid it... if you simply can't accept the fact that the best parody scores in any genre make little attempt to hide their influences, because Debbie Wiseman's impressive adaptation of vampire and horror genre stereotypes will remind you of several existing scores.



Wiseman
Lesbian Vampire Killers: (Debbie Wiseman) Why do movie critics even bother with things like Lesbian Vampire Killers? The whole point of the 2009 independent British romp was to parody classic Hammer Horror films and produce a exposition of flesh so wretched that it was funny. Wretched it was, slammed by critics as among the worst features in the totality of cinema during the year. Anyone looking for logic in the plot will face immediate and perpetual problems during the quickly-paced 88-minute film. Two young British men, tired of the trials of their urban life, decide to take a hike in the countryside. They stumble straight into a curse that has existed for centuries, one that plagues a small town by turning all of its 18-year-old women into lesbian vampires. By supplying the blood-sucking clan with fresh meat, the locals of the village are spared death, and when one of the two young men, Jimmy, turns out to be the last descendant of a baron destined to slay the vampire queen, Carmilla, the plot (if you could call it that) is set in motion. The bumbling friend, Fletch, and a local vicar team up with an escaped woman (Lotte, lured to a potential eternity serving Carmilla) to use a sword (with a cock as a handle... a running gag) to strike down the evil bitch before she can extend her rule to places where lesbians nor vampires are welcome. Low brow humor with plenty of obscenities and comical references to vampire lore are central to the appeal of the script. The amount of flesh and sex, outside of a multitude of naked thighs early and an innumerous quantity of naked boobs later on, is surprisingly slim in Lesbian Vampire Killers, though from the urban scenes to the ceremonial resurrection late, director Phil Claydon playfully utilizes the sounds of female sexual gratification as background noise. He also seems to have been inspired by some of the camera movements and sound effects from Moulin Rouge, with sudden shifts and swooshing sounds to accompany them in an MTV fashion suitable to the writers that both came from that mould. The film performed so badly after being crucified by critics that it was actually offered as a free download from iTunes on New Year's Eve, 2009. Both a religious group and a lesbian organization protested the film, and the production's fruitless American debut (just two days prior to the free offering) was limited in title to "Vampire Killers." A waste of space, these pious and politically correct imbeciles.

Anyone who has actually witnessed Lesbian Vampire Killers will certainly recall its obvious emphasis on music. It's doubtful there has been a score in context that has stood out like such a sore thumb to this extent anytime in recent years. How the production was able to afford the services of Debbie Wiseman and the impressive collaboration of her ensemble and singers is a head-scratcher. Beyond her massively-proportioned orchestral score, the film also utilized a collection of 1950's-styled rock songs, some ambient colloquial source material, a few classical references, and "Amazing Grace." The rock songs accompany the early humor of Lesbian Vampire Killers, spanning the comic-like main titles and the introduction to the ladies of the tale once the men reach the countryside. The film also closes with this campy tone. Otherwise, Lesbian Vampire Killers relied upon Wiseman, who perhaps choose to accept this assignment out of humor and some lingering affinity for trashy horror of the worst B-rate variety, to create the appropriate parody atmosphere for the vampire topic. The best parody scores are, as the saying goes, the ones that take themselves absolutely seriously, and Wiseman approached the project as though it were nothing less than a mainstream vampire epic with a $300 million budget. There's nothing in the style of the music to address the lesbian element directly; the songs take care of that. Instead, she whips up a Gothic storm of immense fortitude, explosive in its unrelenting power and elegant in its romantic appeal. Outside of one cue that specifically pulls quotations from recognizable classical or pop culture tunes, as well as a few light rhythmic pieces, this score is clearly focused on morbid melodrama of unrestricted power and unashamed application of stereotypes. Some reviewers of film music have struck their ratings of Lesbian Vampire Killers, despite recognition of its prowess, because of its referencing of both genre stereotypes and ideas from specific vampire and horror scores in the recent past. For such writers, the music clearly falls into the guilty pleasure category, serving the vampire genre like Basil Poledouris' Cherry 2000 did for the futuristic Western. Dismissing Wiseman's achievement for Lesbian Vampire Killers is completely unfair, however, for several reasons. First, it's a parody score, so it's supposed to expose its inspirations. Secondly, there's only so much you can do in the vampire genre to make it creatively unique without betraying the parody purpose. Thirdly, Wiseman vastly overachieved for the assignment; this film certainly did not deserve this score.

If you are, like those reviewers who downplayed the quality of the music for Lesbian Vampire Killers simply because of its necessary configuration (or the hideousness of the film), ultimately bothered by hearing Wiseman cross territory already covered by Danny Elfman's Sleepy Hollow, Wojciech Kilar's Bram Stoker's Dracula, Alan Silvestri's Van Helsing, and several other notable scores to have recently graced the vampire and/or horror genre, then you're missing the point. A sense of humor is more valuable when evaluating Lesbian Vampire Killers than a comprehensive knowledge of the film music that inspires it, because what matters is the effectiveness of the music in supplying the expected parodied sound with complete sincerity. So, with that issue out of the way, a review of Wiseman's music can commence without any grumbling about a lack of inspiration. The scope of Lesbian Vampire Killers is what will strike you immediately. Wiseman has written the majority of the score to utilize as much majestic harmony as possible, only skirting dissonance in individual stingers or hazy atmosphere from violins. As such, you get one mammoth declaration of Gothic power after another, often connected by forceful, ambitious rhythms from angry bass strings, pulsating low brass, and rip-snorting percussion. If you were impressed by Wiseman's robust symphonic whirlwind Arsène Lupin five years prior, then Lesbian Vampire Killers will condense the same flurry of impressively orchestrated activity into a more consistent Gothic romp. The composer's handling of the spectrum of instrumental tones is potentially overshadowed by the harmonic beauty of the work, but if you get past the massive size of the whole, you often can hear a fantastic collection of free-floating treble accents. These violin, piano, xylophone, flute, and chime contributions aren't mixed at the forefront of the recording, so you don't get the feeling that you're hearing an awkwardly dainty Alexandre Desplat technique in a Gothic environment. Rather, in her emphasis on providing elements native to the treble clef with something to do at all times, Wiseman avoids allowing the otherwise incredible bass power of the recording to dominate. The Cherry 2000-like trumpet at the end of "You're a Virgin?," for instance, is sublime. It should also mentioned that she seemingly accomplishes all of the momentous force in Lesbian Vampire Killers without any electronic enhancements of the bass region. A pipe organ effect (specifically for the vicar) instead supplies the right dose of religious gravity.

While the orchestral side of Lesbian Vampire Killers is extremely impressive in the handling of its individual pieces, the choral aspect is equally intelligent. The Crouch End Festival Chorus joins The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the task of breathing new life into the vampire genre, and Wiseman goes far beyond just the stereotypical harmonic accompaniment or counterpoint that such singing groups often contribute for the mere purpose of adding depth and legitimacy. The chorus is sometimes split into several sections, performing complimentary lines or exhaling in chants that announce the arrival of the dreaded lesbian vampires. On top of these sonic colors is the pristine tone of popular soprano Hayley Westenra, whose voice was introduced to film music collectors at the conclusion of James Horner's The New World. Anyone dissatisfied with Wiseman's collaboration with Westerna for the underachieving disaster score written by the composer for Flood a few years before Lesbian Vampire Killers will delight in her role this time around. From the opening logos of the film, Westerna provides the score with its cold, distantly erotic appeal, beautiful but chilling in each of her performances of the score's title theme. Wiseman sometimes overlays the full choir with Westerna's voice, even as counterpoint to each other, while the orchestra pounds away at the title theme in one of its grandiose statements. When all three of these recorded elements are merged, Lesbian Vampire Killers is nothing less than spectacular. Fortunately, these performers have some pretty monumental thematic material to chew on, and if you thought the instrumental handling in this score was creative, wait until you hear Wiseman take her stereotypical genre themes and manipulate them with skill throughout its entirety. There are two primary themes that dominate Lesbian Vampire Killers, though while the love theme for Jimmy and Lotte is concise enough in its development, the primary theme is extremely deceptive in how Wiseman employs its various parts. What may seem like a highly repetitive score in terms of its loyalty to this theme is actually one that is frightfully adept at taking the phrases within the title theme and juggling them in refreshing ways from start to finish. The most recognizable portion of this theme is its first four notes, the anchors from which Wiseman tethers the variants of the theme; this phrase, an obvious genre parody, is what reminds listeners of Sleepy Hollow, though the fourth note in Wiseman's progression is a half note higher than Elfman's.

The title theme of Lesbian Vampire Killers is a deceptive beast, because while all of its statements stem from the same opening four notes and contain similar architecture, Wiseman can send it off into two separate directions at will. The true identity of the theme's progression is best heard in Westerna's performances, the original four notes exposed as a series of extremely elegant three-note phrases. The repeated statements of the theme in "At the Olde Mircalla Cottage" serve as a good starting point for nailing down the extremely long theme in its full form. Wiseman, however, sometimes allows the theme to become entangled in the overbearing brass counterpoint (if you though John Barry's horn counterpoint in Out of Africa was awesome, wait until you get a load of this score), sending the theme off in the direction of the counterpoint rather than following the underlying strings carrying the actual tune. The prelude to the film, titled "Centuries Ago..." on album, offers two of these somewhat muddied (but still glorious) performances. The latter one poignantly follows the funniest line of the film, in which the narrator concludes the original battle with Carmilla, the Vampire Queen, by declaring, "And with that, he fucking lopped her head off." Rolling cymbals, deliberate timpani rhythms accompanied by deep piano thumps, and the kind of unified horn nobility that will knock your socks off combine to yield laughs in the film but chills on album. This version of the theme returns at 0:40 into "Vampires? Lesbian Vampires!," though without as much oomph. It eventually merges with the pronounced Westerna variation on the theme in the score's single greatest highlight; at 2:15 into "The Dawn of the Red Moon," as Carmilla is about to be resurrected in front of her writhing, orgasmic servants, Wiseman finally instructs the huge horns normally in counterpoint to compliment the actual melody rather than supplant it, yielding phenomenal resonance. Anyone should hope to be raised from the dead to such a bold announcement of symphonic and vocal beauty (well, maybe not Jesus Christ, but this kind of music sure would have made that one much more interesting). The original ensemble version of the title theme returns at 1:25 in "The Crypt of Carmilla" and in a somewhat whimsical light string performance to accompany the Queen's first kiss with a lover after being given new life (at the very start of "Whores of Fucking Hades, Prepare For Fucking Death!"). In the final cues, an intriguing adaptation of major key phrases in the theme gives the heroes hope; at 1:00 into "The Crypt of Carmilla" and three times in "Lesbian Vampire Killers," the final confrontation is scored with refreshing optimism from expansive horn and choir.

Despite the allure of the undeniably humongous performances of the title theme with domineering counterpoint, the solemn beauty of Westerna's many restatements of either the first four notes or the entirety of the melody are a major attraction. After her use as an introduction to the two full ensemble performances in "Centuries Ago..." (a role reprised early in "Vampires? Lesbian Vampires!"), the eerie cue "At the Olde Mircalla Cottage" is the first clue that something is really wrong with the seemingly incredible stroke of luck for the leading men. Similar treatment in "I Know Something Really Wrong is Happening Here, But is There Any Chance We Can Just Ignore It?" leads to a harmonically glorious, propulsive, multi-layered brass and timpani accompaniment of her voice. Higher, fantasy-oriented choral performances of the theme in "Full-On Lesbian Vampire Attack!" yield to a reprise of the original loveliness of Westerna's solo performances in the latter half of "The Dawn of the Red Moon." Despite the fact that many listeners claim Lesbian Vampire Killers to be too repetitive in its application of this theme, it is actually heard (or alluded to) in only a third of the cues in the score, so its lengthy beautiful statements, when they do arrive, seem like an appropriate payoff after the often rambunctious music in between. The love theme for Jimmy and Lotte is more tiring in its single-minded role, though given how sappy all of the interactions between the two really are, it's no wonder Wiseman was trying to overplay this card. This theme's early performances are often rudely interrupted by extended stingers to accompany the persistent vampires showing up, literally, at the front door, the melody cut short in "You're a Virgin?," "Full-On Lesbian Vampire Attack!," "Jimmy, I Love You," and "All Grown Up." When it is afforded the time to develop, it extends from the plucked strings of its comedic heart into the sappiness of yearning woodwind solos that sound faintly like Jerry Goldsmith's sort of fluff for similar situations in comedies. The feathery theme receives full treatment in the conclusive "Lesbian Vampire Killers It Is... Let's Ride!," an overly bright ending to an otherwise ridiculously morbid ambience for everything preceding. The only other firmly structured theme belongs to the vicar, introduced with menacing foreboding in the first minute of "Have You Been Hanging Out With Vicars?" (for the scene in the pub) and often taking the form of bursting chants and pipe organ thereafter (as late in "You're a Virgin?" and occupying the majority of the first half of "The Dawn of the Red Moon"). As the vicar confronts the vampires at Carmilla's crypt, the stylishly chanted female vocals overtake the organ to reflect his inability to defeat their greater numbers.

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There exist a few other meandering motifs that extend throughout Lesbian Vampire Killers, though none of them really congeal for a single purpose. A hopeful, lofty brass motif early in "Adv_nture" is reprised after Carmilla's first kiss in "Whores of Fucking Hades, Prepare For Fucking Death!" and at 4:35 into "Lesbian Vampire Killers." A pair of comedy waltzes grace the bumbling stupidity of the men, first in the latter half of "Adv_nture" (as they walk through the woods), with trepidation at the start of "I Know Something Really Wrong is Happening Here, But is There Any Chance We Can Just Ignore It?," and under dissonant string waves in "Give Me One Last Kiss." A funny, descending danger theme is introduced with zeal at 2:15 into "Vampires? Lesbian Vampires!" and carries over to the start of "Run You Bellends!" (albeit much slower). Singular rhythmic motifs, such as the determined cello idea early in "The Crypt of Carmilla" and the Kilar-like alternative early in "Carmilla, The Vampire Queen" are entertaining in their drive. Together, all of these less frequent motifs connect the large title theme outbursts and form a whole that is as consistent in harmonic appeal as any ambitious horror or fantasy score in recent times. Some of the individual passages will remind of Arsène Lupin, but the totality of Lesbian Vampire Killers is far more cohesive. That is, if you remove the adaptation of Jacques Offenbach's "Can-Can" from the wacky and enthusiastic "My aXe Girlfriend," the only outwardly silly comedy cue. The album presentation contains almost all of the score (with outrageous track titles to match the tone of the film), missing a short piano rendition of the love theme (as Jimmy and Lotte are tied up) and a brief (though impressive) chasing cue as Fletch and the vicar flee the vampires after their unsuccessful first attack. Interestingly, the performances in the film don't always match those on album, with a different key sometimes evident. The tracks on album are also slightly out of order; "At the Olde Mircalla Cottage" should be two or three places later. The only real detractions from the album, other than the fact that it only includes the hip end title song (and not the two or three songs heard over the opening titles and before the vampires attack, as well as the source pieces), are a few digital pops obvious in "The Crypt of Carmilla" and less prominent thereafter. These clicking sounds exist on both the CD and the lossless, downloaded digital copy originally intended for use in this review. Otherwise, Lesbian Vampire Killers has all the makings of an overachieving, underappreciated parody score that few people will ever have the pleasure of hearing. Those who criticize Wiseman for adapting genre stereotypes and potential temp-tracks are forgetting the definition of a parody score. This one happens to be so juicy that takes a lustful bite out of the best of the straight-laced competition of 2009. *****   Amazon.com Price Hunt: CD or Download




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 Track Listings: Total Time: 54:14


• 1. Centuries Ago... (3:13)
• 2. Adv_nture (2:03)
• 3. At the Olde Mircalla Cottage (1:47)
• 4. Have You Been Hanging Out With Vicars? (2:18)
• 5. I Know Something Really Wrong is Happening Here, But is There Any Chance We Can Just Ignore It? (2:45)
• 6. Vampires? Lesbian Vampires! (2:56)
• 7. Run You Bellends! (2:49)
• 8. You're a Virgin? (1:28)
• 9. Give Me One Last Kiss (1:09)
• 10. My Axe Girlfriend (1:07)
• 11. Full-On Lesbian Vampire Attack! (3:43)
• 12. The Dawn of the Red Moon (6:06)
• 13. Jimmy, I Love You (1:27)
• 14. All Grown Up (3:10)
• 15. The Crypt of Carmilla (2:05)
• 16. Carmilla, The Vampire Queen (3:22)
• 17. Whores of Fucking Hades, Prepare for Fucking Death! (2:29)
• 18. Lesbian Vampire Killers (5:34)
• 19. Lesbian Vampire Killers It Is... Let's Ride! (1:28)
• 20. Under the Moon of Love - performed by Showaddywaddy (3:13)




 Notes and Quotes:  


The insert includes notes from both the director and composer about the score, but unfortunately no outward nudity.





   
  All artwork and sound clips from Lesbian Vampire Killers are Copyright © 2009, Silva Screen Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 1/23/10 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2010-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.