Ray Van Horn, Jr. is a veteran entertainment journalist whose writing and live photography has been featured in Blabbermouth.net, Dee Snider’s House of Hair Online, Fangoria.com, Horror News.net, About.com Heavy Metal, MetalManiacs, New Noise, Music Dish, AMP, Hails & Horns, Unrestrained,Noisecreep, Impose, Pit, The Big Takeover.com, Rough Edge.com, Pitriff and others. His blog The Metal Minute won a “Best Personal Blog” award in 2009 from Metal Hammer magazine and he wrote and produced his own hard rock e-zine, Retaliate.

He has contributed essays to UK author Neil Daniels’ Iron Maiden and ZZ Top biographies. Ray’s fiction has been published in various periodicals and anthologies, including his flash fiction piece “Off the Record” for Akashic Books’ “Mondays Are Murder” noir series. His recent short stories “Before the Ball” and “Widow” were featured in subsequent editions of Alex S. Johnson’s Axes of Evil anthologies. Ray wrote serialized original superhero fiction for Cyber Age Adventures and five of those stories appear in the anthology Playing Solitaire. He was the winner of Quantum Muse’s fiction contest in 1999.

Ray is a former NHL game analyst for The Hockey Nut and one-time host of the forum “Comic Books” at ReadWave. He has done beat reporting, photography and lifestyle articles for Metromix, an affiliate of The Baltimore Sun, Carroll Magazine, The Northern News and The Emmitsburg Dispatch.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

30 Favorite Movie Soundtracks to Escape With and Write To

As a big fan of movies, I'm naturally a sucker for a good soundtrack or film score.  The last score to win me over in the theater was Thomas Newman's sleek and hip treatment of Daniel Craig's modern man James Bond for the largely brilliant Skyfall.  That one may one day edge itself onto a list of my all-time favorite scores the more I listen to it.

However, I have a heavy rotation of thirty soundtracks/scores that routinely jump off of my shelf, frequently while I'm writing, but sometimes just to provide a private sanctum that nothing else is permitted to invade.  I would include The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night and Prince's Sign 'o the Times on this list since they're two standout bodies of work from each respective artist, but especially in the latter case, the film was a live concert built around the music.  In the case of A Hard Day's Night, it's one of the first examples of the interactive mainstream music video and not quite what I consider a true film soundtrack.

So, without further elaboration, here are my thirty favorite film soundtracks (at this point, anyway), in no particular order:

1.   Star Wars (Episode IV:  A New Hope) - John Williams
2.   American Beauty original score - Thomas Newman
3.   The Graduate - Simon and Garfunkel
4.   Return of the Living Dead - v/a
5.   The Empire Strikes Back - John Williams
6.   Tron:  Legacy - Daft Punk
7:   The Virgin Suicides original score - Air
8.   Conan the Barbarian - Basil Poledouris
9.   Fast Times at Ridgemont High - v/a
10.  Heavy Metal the movie - v/a

11.  Repo Man - v/a
12.  Raiders of the Lost Ark - John Williams
13.  Shaft - Isaac Hayes
14.  Carrie (1976) - Pino Donaggio
15.  Halloween/Halloween II - John Carpenter/Alan Howarth (this is me cheating since they're essentially the same score, only with denser synths on the second film)
16.  Gladiator - Hans Zimmer
17.  The Thing (1982) - Ennio Morricone
18.  A Clockwork Orange - v/a
19.  Batman (1989) - Danny Elfman (I'm also keen on Prince's Batman film music)
20.  Trick or Treat - Fastway

21.  The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - Ennio Morricone
22.  The Crow - v/a
23.  Halloween III:  Season of the Witch - John Carpenter/Alan Howarth
24.  Spartacus (1960) - Alex North
25.  Purple Rain - Prince
26.  Pump up the Volume - v/a
27.  New Jack City - v/a
28.  A Fistful of Dollars - Ennio Morricone
29.  American Graffiti - v/a
30.  A Nightmare on Elm Street (1985) - Charles Bernstein

Special mention goes to the Dawn of the Dead (1978) incidental music album, which has everything else in the film not performed by Goblin and Dario Argento (originally released as Zombi).  A comprehensive gathering of all of that film's visceral music in one serving is grossly overdue, but this will have to suffice for now.  And of course, there's Saturday Night Fever, because we all have our guilty pleasures.

                  Listenin' to:  Heavy Metal the movie soundtrack

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