Last week saw the release of the terrifying new horror film, DEAD AWAKE, which follows Kate Bowman (Jocelin Donahue), a straight-laced social worker, who is plagued into a world of supernatural terror while investigating a series of deaths where people died in their sleep. In preparation for the film’s release, we spoke with composer Marc Vanocur about his involvement and style used for creating a horror score as well as his love for the genre and his time working on the popular cult television show, “Tales From the Crypt.”
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Marc, thanks so much for speaking with us today! To start things off, how did you get involved with DEAD AWAKE?
Marc Vanocur: One of the producers of DEAD AWAKE, whom I’ve known for a long time, asked if I’d be interested in doing the post work on the color. Color correction is part of my background as well as post-production supervision, and I agreed. Since I’m also a musician, they asked me if I’d be interested in taking a stab at their score. I chatted with the director, who I didn’t know at the time, to find out what he wanted for the score. Within five minutes of talking with him, I knew I wanted to do the score and had a clear perspective of what he wanted.
NC: Are there any musical influences that helped you while making your scores?
MV: Oh yeah! I’ve been a film junkie since I was a kid and have been influenced by many. I enjoy anything by Bernard Herman and as far as drama goes, Thomas Newman of course. I mean, I get very connected to almost everything he writes! I’m also a huge fan of Gustavo Santaolalla and have a distinct love for his music. There are too many amazing contemporary composers; it’s hard to pick.
NC: What can you tell us about the score for DEAD AWAKE?
MV: DEAD AWAKE is a composite score in that it has elements of a synth/percussive component for the non-horror sequences, and then it switches to an orchestral horror score for the scary interactions with the night hag. It’s one of my first horror scores since I was supervising sound on “Tales From The Crypt” 25 years ago. I had a blast!
NC: Speaking of the cult classic, “Tales From The Crypt”, what was it like to work on it and what did you take away from that experience?
MV: In the early 90s I was just getting into the business. When I got out of college, I became very attracted to mixing and sound editing and went into audio post-production. We were just switching over to digital in those days, and that was an exciting transition for me. I started working at a place called Digital Sound and Picture and “Tales From The Crypt” was one of their series. I was added on as an editor but eventually signed on as an editing/sound supervisor, and that was a lot of fun! They had different directors take on each episode. The stories, at the time, were about twenty-three minutes long, and they could tell so much in that amount of time. Building a soundtrack for that was really my introduction to sound and editorial, and it was an excellent way to get started. It gave me the bug for “horror” which I never saw myself doing.
NC: What made you change your mind about working in the genre?
MV: I always had seen myself as a drama composer, but there’s something magical about working on a horror film. There are no boundaries, and you aren’t expected to write in a particular way. Creative tension is a lot of fun in music, and I learned a lot of that from working on “Tales From The Crypt”.
NC: Last but not least, what other projects do you have in the works?
MV: I’m working on multiple films at the moment; I’m completing my second horror score for Phillip Guzman, 200 HOURS, and I’m also working Director Carmine Cangialosi on the adventure/drama AMERICAN DRESSER. It’s like EASY RIDER meets CRAZY HEART.
DEAD AWAKE is now available to watch On Demand.