Collecting vinyl is an arduous task. And focusing in on horror soundtracks can often be very frustrating. The field is so wide and vast, it’s imperative to lock in on one artist or sub-genre when building your record collection. But how do you know what you’re even looking for? A lot of the best scores are long out of print. Many never before pressed. There are also a lot of re-issues and reprints, some of which are worth as much as the original releases. Blood on Black Wax comes as the perfect field guide, breaking down what’s available, what’s been released in the past, and why certain records should be sought out, even if the movie they are attached to is not worth revisiting or even watching. It’s an impassioned love letter to the craft of movie music, paying as much attention to the score as the individuals behind each scary note.
The first copies of Blood on Black Wax arrived on Record Store Day this past April 13. This exclusive release was limited to 1,300 copies worldwide and came signed by the authors and curators behind this beautiful tome. Coming in at 240 pages, the book serves two purposes. At first glance, it arrives as the perfect coffee table book, easy to pick up and flip through, with many vintage horror soundtrack covers to pour over and covet. But for the true horror enthusiast, it’s also a great read, with plenty of insight into this world of polyvinyl chloride souvenirs, offering detailed interviews from those who have contributed most to the genre.
The original release came with a blood red Prom Night 7-inch featuring never before released music from the 1980 slasher classic starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Nielsen. The title track ‘Prom Night” and ‘Love Me Till I Die’ are both included, along with a few of the disco infused instrumental cues, newly remastered from the original master tapes. This is definitely the version of the book you want to get your hands on. Though not many were printed, in an odd twist of fate, this year’s Record Store Day came during Star Wars Celebration and Cochella, with many vinyl collectors off doing other things. The exclusive RSD version is still easy to find in many record stores.
But the standard version is just as captivating, without the 45 to serve as background music while you flip through the pages. Though you will learn about the interesting history behind the Prom Night soundtrack itself, which has a pretty crazy backstory and is highly sought by collectors. Since the arrival of the book, the full ‘Prom Night’ soundtrack has been announced for June release. Along with Prom Night, Blood on Black Wax gleefully delves into the sorted and insane history behind the music for some of horror’s most classic scores.
The scope of the book is wide and all encompassing. While the great soundtracks are all accounted for, spanning John Carpenter’s Halloween, John Williams’ Jaws and the varied musical pieces included in The Exorcist, there are many obscure soundtrack titles analyzed, while the book also looks at some of the more experimental releases and even the rock and punk heavy soundtracks that were prominent in the 1980s.
While the book does spend quite a lot of time on the classics like Psycho and Goblin’s Suspiria, it also breaks down some of the more modern scores as well, with movies like Get Out and Hereditary going under the microscope and getting equal attention. Each capsule review comes with full-color artwork and an in-depth deep dive into the minds of these music masters. The long read is never boring, and it’s quite easy to lose an entire evening delving into the rich history included here.
For me, Blood on Black Wax serves as a perfect check list for my ever-expanding collection of soundtracks. It’s full of insightful essays on various musicians and the process behind some of the most iconic music cues in horror history. There are records to be sought out that you may not have known even existed, or may not have been fully aware of. This is an expansive, self-contained museum of musical madness, perfectly laid out for you to discover and explore, as curated by Aaron Lupton and Jeff Szpirglas. It’s a worthy trip into the darkness, put together by two individuals, both of whom work for Rue Morgue magazine, who are obviously very passionate about the cinematic experiences that fill these pages.
Older vinyl pressings are covered extensively in this coffee table must-have, but a spotlight also shines brightly on modern releases and reissues from Waxwork, Mondo and Lakeshore, covering all ground evenly, so old school horror fiends and blood thirsty newcomers will enjoy Blood on Black Wax at an even pace.
Lupton and Szpirglas are as interesting in dissecting the music as they are in showing off the artwork that accompanies these varied releases from the past couple of decades. And they even got famed horror artist Gary Pullin to create some original paintings for the cover, and inside the book itself. This is obviously a labor of love on the curators’ parts, and it shows with deep affection. The text is evenly broken down into 7 chapters, with each looking at a different sub-genre. The Rue Morgue team takes time to thoroughly break down the music behind most of the biggest franchises, including A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, The Omen and several others. You’ll learn quite a bit about these provocative soundscapes, most of which you’ve probably heard, even if you don’t realize it at the outset.
Interviews with the composers, like John Carpenter and The Amityville Horror‘s Lalo Schifrin, are layered throughout, giving great insight into the actual construction and reasoning behind some of the motifs and spooky sounds that were crafted, created and sometimes simply woven out of thin air. Many becoming signature themes that are forever locked in the subconscious. Chapters in the book include ‘Supernatural Horrors’, ‘Creature Features’, ‘Murder Maestros’, ‘Italian Horror’ and ‘Rock and Roll Nightmares’.
If you have even just a passing interest in horror soundtracks, or collect a vast array of various vinyl releases, the book is a great jumping off point for what you should seek out and buy. Many of these releases are no longer available, or are very expensive from second hand dealers. Which makes some of the information in the book even more valuable. It’s obvious that the guys behind this release love the medium, and everything that goes with it. Blood on Black Wax really is a must buy, and if your vinyl collection is large or small, this makes a perfect book end, and should rest on the shelf along with those other cuts of delicious terror waiting to spin in the darkness of night. Blood on Black Wax is available from Rue Morgue and is in stores now.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of MovieWeb.