Updated: Oct 20
If I'm remembering correctly, it was late summer in 1995 and I had just finished scoring "Cyberzone", a sci-fi feature produced by Roger Corman's New Horizons and directed by Fred Olen Ray, when the phone rang. It was Fred asking if I would be interested in scoring "Jack-O", a low-budget horror film that had been shot in Florida and directed by Steve Latshaw. I had previously scored a couple of films for Steve. Fred told me I would only have a week to do it and that there was very little money. Of course, I accepted.
The reels of 3/4" tape arrived a couple of days later and I set to work. There was no time to work out themes or any of the usual things I do to prepare. Plus, I was still new, as this was only my sixth feature, and was still figuring out how best to prepare a score under deadlines, orchestrating electronically, and everything else. I knew that there would also be no time to record and mix in the studio. That process usually takes a few days. This meant that I would have to record and mix the score myself in my tiny office/studio. I feverishly spent the next few days that I did have writing 50 minutes of score as best I could. The theme itself is just a Simple-Simon little motif. Almost childlike - like the "Mr. Jack will break your back" verse used in the film. I then recorded the music by running the few synths and samplers that I had through my 16 track board straight to DAT. It was all done so fast that there was little time for nuances and it shows. I FedEx'd the DAT overnight to LA and that was that. For years, I was somewhat embarrassed by the quality of the score - both in the writing and the mix.
"Jack-O" never seemed to disappear. It still pops up on "best of Halloween" movie lists. I've received a few emails over the years from people interested in the score. Recently, I was approached by a small film music label regarding releasing the score on vinyl. And then Rifftrax (Mystery Science Theater 3000 alumni) announced they are premiering their comic treatment theatrically on October 21.
I am currently restoring the "Jack-O" score - either as a stand alone release or as part of a compilation of horror scores. I haven't decided yet.
Other than festival screenings, I have never seen a film I scored in any sort of official theatrical release. All of the thirty something features I've composed for have gone straight to television, VHS, laser disc, DVD, Blu-ray, and streaming. A couple of them never saw the light of day. And of all of the films, this is the one getting all of the attention. Twenty-five years later, I'm embracing it and am looking forward to a good laugh - even at my own expense.