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THE CREATURE WASN'T NICE
Bernstein-like spoof comedy music is a surprising little treat
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Songs written by
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 1984 Almi Films; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
The multi-talented Bruce Kimmel is well-known to many film music fans. The actor/writer/director/songwriter/producer is a regular at the messageboards, and of course his name appears on many albums, having produced recordings for Bay Cities, Varese Sarabande and others over the years. His second film as director (after The First Nudie Musical) was The Creature Wasn't Nice, a spoof of Alien and various classic 1950s science fiction films, which starred Leslie Nielson, Cindy Williams, Gerrit Graham, Patrick Macnee and Kimmel himself. As he notes in this album booklet, the film was taken away from the director during post production and re-edited by someone else (also retitled Spaceship, in an attempt to make people think it would be like Airplane), to disastrous results.
It wasn't like Airplane at all, despite the appearance of Nielson - though perhaps the situation wasn't helped by the score, provided by David Spear. He orchestrated for Elmer Bernstein for several years, but for whatever reason his own career as a composer never quite took off - but The Creature Wasn't Nice is so much like Bernstein's comedy scores, it probably just heightens the expectation that the film should be Airplane. With an incredibly straight face throughout, it follows the Bernstein route to the letter, and in a blind tasting I would swear Bernstein had composed it.
It doesn't quote from any of Bernstein's comedy scores - it just sounds like a previously-unheard one. With the uber-dramatic marches, the sweeping romance (occasionally) and the brassy, full-bodied action music, this is very familiar territory for those who know Airplane and Stripes and all the rest (and indeed it's also like the composer's science fiction scores from the same period - Saturn 3, Spacehunter et al - which I find to be completely, uproariously funny - and quite unintentionally so). It's really fun music, great to hear, and I'm sure any fan of those Bernstein scores would really like it.
Along with the score is a handful of original songs penned by Kimmel, the highlight of which is the hilarious "I Want to Eat Your Face". With its cheerful delivery and delightful orchestration, it's a true gem - and, as there are for the other songs, there's even a karaoke version in the bonus track section. Kimmel's liner notes are lengthy and fascinating, sound quality is crisp and clean, and this completely unexpected release - which was accompanied by a beautifully witty spoof marketing campaign by BSX Records - is certainly a welcome one.