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The Music of ‘Mandy’: How Johann Johannsson Melded Horror With Heavy Metal

Mandy,” which opens Sept. 14, features the final film score by Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson, who died Feb. 9 in Berlin at the age of 48. Described in a Variety review as a “hallucinogenic mashup of Satanic-cult horror and revenge thriller [with] Nicolas Cage in full gonzo mode,” Panos Cosmatos’ film plays Johannsson’s music loud and upfront throughout.

“I wanted the film to have a rock-opera feel,” Cosmatos tells Variety. “I wanted it to be an audio-visual experience, like Ken Russell’s ‘Tommy,’ something like that.”

Cosmatos originally thought that the two-time Oscar-nominated composer (“The Theory of Everything,” “Sicario”) was “out of our reach,” but after a phone conversation with the composer discovered, “beyond his very beautiful, ethereal, mood-based soundscapes, he’d grown up a metal-head.” That, coupled with Johannsson’s professed admiration of Cosmatos’ earlier film “Beyond the Black Rainbow,” sealed the deal.

“He really understood the tone I wanted to achieve, the kinds of textures I wanted,” Cosmatos says. “Among the few touchstones I gave him, as an inspirational starting point, were the Queen soundtrack for ‘Flash Gordon,’ and the Van Halen album ‘Fair Warning,’” both released just prior to the film’s 1983 timeframe.

Yet Johannsson’s score resembles neither of those classics. Partly electronic, partly live players, it’s also heavily edited and processed for a dark, massive, industrial-metal sound that matches the grim, violent, sometimes insane milieu of the film. The score features guitarist Stephen O’Malley of the group Sunn O))) and was co-produced by top metal producer Randall Dunn.

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Article source: https://variety.com/2018/film/news/mandy-horror-movie-music-composer-johann-johannsson-heavy-metal-1202941577/

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