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Secrets of a Psychopath
  • Composed by Scott Glasgow
  • Screamworks Records / 2015 / 52m

When cult director Bert I. Gordon made his last film Satan’s Princess in 1990 at the age of 68 I don’t suppose that many people would have thought that a quarter of a century later he would make another one, well into his nineties.  But here is Secrets of a Psychopath, a disturbing-sounding story of an incestuous brother and sister who use a dating website to lure unsuspecting victims to their house to kill them to satisfy the brother’s sexual perversions.

Most reviews I’ve managed to find of the film (and there aren’t that many!) highlight Scott Glasgow’s music as one of its most distinguished features.  Glasgow is no stranger to the psychological thriller (indeed, his last released score was the superb Riddle from 2013, one of his best) and from what was presumably a limited music budget (there are samples here but they’re very high quality) he has managed to craft another highly-impressive score, blending many classic elements of the genre together into a compelling and highly-listenable piece of music.

Scott Glasgow

Scott Glasgow

The score starts with a “Prelude” which has a subtle music box-type melody being barracked by dissonant accompaniment, from which a clever theme emerges – it starts surprisingly gently, gradually twists around and then a swirling piano melody takes over, innocent in appearance but seemingly turning like a screw.  Then in “Red Room” there’s a little nod to the master of these things, Jerry Goldsmith, with hints both of the chills of Poltergeist and the sparse starkness of The Omen.

I love the eerie strings of “Playtime Murder”, out-and-out horror music, getting deep down into the mind with the smallest hints of the music box lullaby now almost unrecognisably twisted.  But it’s not a score all about darkness – the choral cooing of “Marital Bliss” is both sweet and spooky, then another Goldsmithian touch with a romantic string melody along the lines of The Haunting.  In “Escape” all the shackles are released for a relentless piece of action/horror, both thrilling and macabre.

“Genine” is a clever, strong piece of music, a beautifully lilting melody playing over orchestral turbulence.  Following that is a sequence of cues in which Glasgow gradually draws a veil around the listener, enticingly attractive melodies but always with a shady undercurrent.  In “Georgette” the atmosphere gets decidedly uncomfortable, with a growing dissonance starting to take hold.  In “Abduction” the creepiness grows stronger still, the lengthy set-up now paying off.  Later, “The Photo Album” brings back the music box lullaby, again playing over some orchestral violence.  “Family Tragedy” has a haunting sadness to it, especially when the main theme is played on the piano.  The finale “Sororicide & Finalis” (spoiler!) is pretty gruesome, Glasgow using all sorts of techniques to delve into discomfort before the sad, harrowing conclusion.

Secrets of a Psychopath is an excellent score.  The composer bides his time and the impact of the big moments is therefore enhanced, the music the definition of what “psychological” scoring is meant to sound like.  It isn’t one to play on a nice summer’s day when the kids are bouncing around the garden and it isn’t one to play to a prospective partner on your first date, but it’s one of those darker horror scores that is so well-constructed, when your mood is right there’s a lot of reward on offer.  Scott Glasgow is a fine composer and the use of some samples can’t disguise his impressive orchestral technique.  Recommended.

Rating: **** | |

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  1. ANDRÉ (Reply) on Wednesday 4 November, 2015 at 08:34

    The three GLASGOW scores in my collection are impressive – ‘Hack’ ‘The Generation’ and ‘Lo’. The latter, a comedy/’horror’ about love and the demon, LO, utilizes CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS’ Dance Macabre in an exquisitely beautiful arrangement…while ‘Hack’ (this film borrows liberally from scenes depicted in other Horror movies) allows GLASGOW to parody the scores for ‘Interview with a Vampire…’Psycho’…’The Shining’ and others. So, I’m looking forward to his take on GOLDSMITH’S suspense-themes. Thanks for alerting us to this score James–and for warning us NOT to have it as background while chatting up someone you’ve just met…and invited home. South Africa is the ‘Murder Capital of the World’ and GLASGOW’S music could just be the catalyst for a sociopath to go on a gruesome, torturous killing-spree.

  2. ANDRÉ, Cape Town. (Reply) on Wednesday 4 November, 2015 at 08:41

    ‘The Generation’ should have read “The GENE Generation’. Apologies!