IAB’s Favorite Film Composers Vol.1 IAB’s Favorite Film Composers Vol.1
For your aural entertainment, IAB takes a rainy day as a que to revisit some of his favorite film composers IAB’s Favorite Film Composers Vol.1

Hi there. I decided to take a little moment to step outside the comic/review-weekly cycle for a change, and as one of my many film-related enthusiasms has always been the musical aspect of films – namely the film scores – I decided to go with that old, effective-proven lazy man’s route; making lists.

Nope – not really doing any TOP-lists or any of that thing that uses numericses.


Numbers. That was the word I was looking for. “1-5” and all that sort of thing.

None of that. I’m basically going to go through some of my favorite composers, and give my 2 cents worth of opinions  about their favorite works. With some carefully selected audio samples(“carefully selected” meaning “is it on YouTube or isn’t it?”) to go with those works. I’m sure there will be a lot of “well, why didn’t you pick THIS score – or THAT score?” in the comments, but this is my list and everyone is free to make their own one. Also – I’m not gonna make this overlong – so this will be the first one of several(I know; I have like 4 other article series going on already – but whaddya do? At least gives me some leeway to choose from) So here we go:



There’s not much to say about the late, great maestro – he was one of a kind. He did everything. Not afraid to go BIG, and not afraid to go lyrical. And also not afraid to experiment – combining peculiar electronic sounds with the good old-fashioned orchestra. And he is one of those guys who can make the entire orchestra sound like a percussion instrument. And he did EVERY genre; just look at the man’s filmography. It was a great loss, when he passed away.

Planet of the Apes (1968)

This might’ve been his first “experimental” score, using some very strange percussive and animalistic sounds. And the track “The Hunt” reflects terrifically the type of batshit crazy situation where Charlton Heston and his fellow astronauts find themselves.

Star Trek – The Motion Picture (1979)

I know – everybody expected me to pick his march-y “Star Trek”-theme, didn’t they? Well, it’s a great track for sure, but this slowly-building theme from when the Enterprise finally enters the V’ger cloud has always been my favorite.

First Blood (1982)

I doubt that “First Blood” would’ve been the action classic that it’s regarded nowadays without Goldsmith’s score. He really was the one that created the sound of Rambo – this first score is pure adrenaline. Makes you wanna run through the woods.

The ‘burbs (1989)

Goldsmith showed his most whimsical side when working with Joe Dante. He scored all in all 8 of Dante’s films – starting with “Gremlins”, all the way to 2003’s “Looney Tunes – Back in Action” which he didn’t actually finish completely because of his ailing health. My favorite of these collaborations is “The ‘ burbs” – it basically allowed Goldsmith to play with genres and even do a little bit of self-parody with using his “Patton”-theme whenever Bruce Dern’s character appears on screen.

The Shadow (1994)

“The Shadow” was a larger than life, pulpy movie – so it needed a larger than life, pulpy score. And Goldsmith delivered. There’s a pure adventurous spirit that comes across in this score – which I understand has been a fan-favorite everywhere – and it doesn’t take itself too seriously….just like the film.


MICHAEL KAMEN (1948-2003)

Kamen started as a ballet composed and an orchestral arranger for pop/rock groups/artists such as Pink Floyd, Queen, David Bowie etc. He started to get attention as a film composer in the early 80’s with scoring David Cronenberg’s “The Dead Zone”, Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” and co-composing the TV-miniseries “Edge of Darkness” with Eric Clapton. You can certainly hear the ballet-influences in Kamen’s work, as well as a vast knowledge of classical music, which he quotes occasionally. Kamen’s filmography.

Highlander (1986)

I know that when the music of “Highlander” is mentioned, 9 times out of 10 it’s the Queen songs that come up. But one should remember that there is a damn fine Kamen score backing things up there. The best track is without a doubt this lyrical piece, that plays as Sean Connery’s character is training the Highlander.

Lethal Weapon (1987)

Kamen scored all four “Lethal Weapon”-films with Eric Clapton and saxophone-player David Sanborn. It really is a unique combination for an action film; Clapton’s guitar basically underscoring the Riggs character and Sanborn’s sax for the Murtaugh parts. And all this is tied up with Kamen’s orchestral work. In this track, things finally explode into full action.

Die Hard (1988)

Besides “Lethal Weapon”, “Die Hard” was another Joel Silver-produced action-franchise that Kamen created the sound for. The “Die Hard” score is probably one of the most playful action film-scores; Kamen combines the original underscore with little nods to “Singing in the Rain”, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and several other classical works, as well as christmas songs. This 8+ minute track is a good example of all the different styles going on here.

Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves (1991)

I don’t think anything spells “High Adventure” as much as Kamen’s main title theme of “Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves”. Hell – the studio, Morgan Creek, liked it so much that it became their company logo theme ever since.

The Iron Giant (1999)

Underrated movie, underrated score. “The Iron Giant” is the only animated movie Kamen ever scored, but it one damn epic piece of work. To go for an “old-fashioned” sound, he recorder this with the Czech Philharmonic orchestra in Prague.



Best known for his Robert Zemeckis-collaborations(15th film together coming up next) as well as Marvel’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “The Avengers”, but there’s much much more to this man; he’s made action, drama, comedy, horror, children’s movies – you name it. I am particularly fond of his exceptional use of snare drums. Look up the Silvestri’s work.

Back To The Future (1985)

Silvestri’s second Zemeckis film(first being “Romancing the Stone”) was really when all the pieces finally clicked together, and magic happened. The BTTF theme is probably one of the most recognizable main themes in the last 30 years. This over 10 minute cue from the final action scene really cover most of the thematic work from this film.

Predator (1987)

Hard-hitting score for a hard-hitting action movie. The main theme is pretty well known, so I picked a later track from the score, which has a slightly different variation of it. Silvestri returned to the first sequel as well, and there is some pretty wild percussion stuff in that which I actually like even more that the cues in this first one.

The Quick And The Dead (1995)

Basically Silvestri’s third visit to the Western-genre – the previous ones being “Back To the Future 3” and “Young Guns 2” – but there’s something pastiche-like in his approach here. It’s a slightly heightened version of a traditional western score(love the whip cracks) – as is Sam Raimi’s film.

Mouse Hunt (1997)

The score for Gore Verbinski’s first(and still in my opinion the best) feature film just makes me in a good mood, when I put it on. The main title track almost forces you to hum along.

What Lies Beneath (2000)

Some horror for the last. For this Zemeckis film, Silvestri got to do a very Bernard Herrmann-esque score. And it really manages to raise the hairs on the back of your neck in places. I dig the hell out of this film itself, too.


To be continued….

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I Am Better

Coming from the frozen wastelands of Finnish tundra. Mr. Better seeks warmth from his television & home theater and all the wonders they provide. He occasionally dabbles in the arts of drawing and photography.

  • Mr Nick Nightly

    This is awesome. Film scores have never meant that much to me, I admit. I usually prefer either no music or some type of ambient or droning sound. Pop music can be used in brilliant ways as well. “Mean Streets” always comes to mind when I think of that.

    Anyway, I love your choices, here. The “Back to the Future” theme is fantastic and plays in my head constantly. I’d also include Lalo Schifrin and Ennio Morricone.

  • Thanks. Yeah, this is just the first part. Both Schifrin & Morricone will certainly be mentioned later on.

  • Mr Nick Nightly

    My lady used to work for a booking agency that had Schifrin as a client. She used to speak to him regularly, told him I was a fan, and he hooked her up with free shit for me.

  • Cool!

  • Mr Nick Nightly

    It was a nice surprise. She said he was a really nice guy.

  • I might go with Schifrin/Morricone/Herrmann for the next batch

  • Bop

    Ennio Morricone is my number one pick and Lalo Schifrin is definitely number 2.

  • Bop

    Looking forward to it.

  • Bop

    Fucking awesome, man. In an ideal world I would be making movie music and I would fucking beg Lalo Schifrin to give his input.

  • belly up ping pong Pee-Quad

    Ooh, I like to be continued! This is great! I love the way you divided it up and showcased their diversity. Very cool.

  • Thanks. Yeah this was just the first three that came to my mind. And I didn’t wanna make it an endless scroll down, so best to divide into parts. One can never have too many article series.

  • Tim R.R. Something

    I’ve said this before, but since we’re on the subject of compositions, John Williams did some of his first work for Lost in Space and those tracks really elevated that show https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ey0VhcxHWe4&list=PL4E1D42F67F349BB0&index=1

  • Stalkeye

    This is a cool new feature Kim! Goldsmith was a genius and one of my favorite scores came from of all things, a Fucking Trailer for Judge Dredd!

    And then there’s this!!

  • That Judge Dredd trailer track is a great one.
    I think my favorite “Total Recall” track is this one(although that’s an epic score all over)

  • Stalkeye

    My Schifin faves right hea, Buddy!

    ANNNNNND his contribution to one of my favorite cult films fromthe 80’s!

  • Stalkeye

    They’re all great especially the theme.

  • gorgarwilleatyou1

    Great article agree with the Morricone comments love his work it always elevates sometimes even the dullest movies. Amazed not a Vangelis mention love his work, 1492, Mission and Bladerunner of course. Also going a little alternative love Nick Caves works with Warren Ellis, they have written some great stuff. Finally Clint Mansell has also written some great atmospheric stuff.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Love this article IAB!!! Great stuff!!! ‘Burbs FTW is a great movie!!! I still remember seeing that in the theater nearly peeing my pants looking Brother Theodore and Henry Gibson do their thing. Rick Ducommun RIP.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Goldsmith got a well earned Oscar for The Omen. Where would that movie be without Ava Satani??

  • Tarmac492.1

    Schifrin is aces, baby!!

  • Tarmac492.1

    Even though the movie was a 4.4, Christophe Beck’s score for Tower Heist was stellar. It was the only thing kept me watching.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Kind of a long article!!! have fun!!!

  • True. I like how he played with that thematic idea in the sequels as well.

  • ErnestRister

    Some of my favorite Goldsmith works…starting with his score for a theme park attraction!


  • ErnestRister


    The first is Damian on a Fox Hunt, while he is stalked by two monks with killer daggers…


    The second is a solar alignment of stars recreating the Star of Bethlehem and announcing the Second Coming, while Damian has a very rough night…


  • ErnestRister

    Suburban Life in POLTERGEIST…


  • ErnestRister

    Madness and Glory of PATTON…


  • ErnestRister

    Joy of Youth and Dreams in RUDY…


  • ErnestRister

    Favorite Goldsmith Star Trek piece…


  • ErnestRister

    Michael Kamen — final film score…


  • ErnestRister

    And one that may play for the next 100 years…


  • Stalkeye

    Call me biased but dammit if Carpenter and Howarth didn’t kill with this excellent soundtrack!

  • ErnestRister

    Love Silvestri…

    Here he is paying tribute to Jerry Goldsmith’s score for CHINATOWN in a little movie released in 1988…

  • ErnestRister

    He excels in quiet moments…

  • Tarmac492.1

    Will there be room for Goblin? IAB getting annoyed with everyone asking him fucking questions about what composers he should write about!!!

  • Tarmac492.1

    Escape from New York Theme is amazing–blows Halloween out of New York Harbor, you ask me.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Brian May?? The aussie one?

  • Silvestri used to be great. Now for me he’s an has-been, his latest works have been quite disappointing.

  • I love this movie. Underrated and excellent.

  • Vangelis for the win!

  • Full Frontal Throttle


  • Full Frontal Throttle

    You and him then have something in common……..just kidding….

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    Love it brutha, concur

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    Really like this

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    Goldsmith is pure Gold

  • Bop

    This is my fave.

  • gorgarwilleatyou1

    By Crom ! Basil Poledouris come on people !!!!

  • Will be featured in an upcoming article

  • Tarmac492.1

    IAB gonna be writing to the end of time about composers!!!

  • Tarmac492.1

    Does Mike Post get a nod? He did some great TV work when that was about all TV had.

  • Tarmac492.1

    An Asimov Lives write up????

  • ErnestRister

    James Newton Howard! Max Steiner! Dimitri Tiomkin! Dance, writer, dance!

  • Tarmac492.1

    You lay them all out like that and he gives Williams a run for the money in recognizable themes. His horror movie work is stellar.

  • Tarmac492.1

    I didnt hear him say Howard Shore.

  • ErnestRister
  • ErnestRister

    Bruce Broughton!

  • I have 5 article series to pick from now – AND the comic. Gives me something to choose from, depending on the mood 🙂

  • Pul the string! Pul the string!!!

  • Stalkeye

    THe Good, The Bad and The Ugly along with JC’s The Thing? Shit, I can see why.

  • Bop

    My Name Is Nobody, Once Upon A Time In The West, The Good The Bad And The Ugly etc. Didn’t know he did stuff for The Thing. 🙂

  • Stalkeye


  • Bop

    Good synth bass. Would be awesome in a dance song now.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Robert O Ragland. I liked his score for Q

  • ErnestRister

    Not crazy about the score for Damian: Omen II…some disco influence going on there. The Final Conflict score is stunning. Also like InnerSpace.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Ry Cooder?

  • Tarmac492.1

    I love everything about Inner Space. Yes, Final Conflict score is fantastic!! So is Poltergeist, stating the obvious.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Whatever happened to THAT Gore Verbinski, who showed such promise until his success with the First Pirates?

  • Tarmac492.1

    Score for Predator is amazing. McTiernan directed back to back nearly flawless actioners, whose scores are both represented here. IAB Mainframe senses working overtime.

  • Tarmac492.1

    What about Bill Conti? Tough one I suspect. SOme great shit and then I kind of dont know what else he has done besides Rocky and Karate Kid?

  • Tarmac492.1

    Fucking hate being sick in the summer. Uggh.

  • Money.

  • Oh, man. That’s the worst. Sorry.

  • ErnestRister

    John Barry! Bernard Hermann! Paul Smith! *whip crack!*

  • Bop

    Go lie on the couch. Turn on the TV and watch some downloaded stuff. Time will fly.

  • Hermann is coming up. I did an article on Barry’s Bond-scores back in the other site, but as the idiot I am, I forgot to save it.

  • Good selection! Curious about part 2.

  • That’s like the “Blade Runner” them, but more sexy! Forbidden sexy!

  • Part 2 will happen organically

  • Abe

    Good article and it gave me some stuff to listen to during work too (after I was caught up on all the podcasts).

  • Stalkeye
  • I don’t disagree.

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    Love This-Love The Film

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    Just in the Nick of time!