American composer Alexander Taylor is a busy man, whether it is the recent Frightfest feature Isolation or the upcoming slasher Time’s Up or even the Paranormal Activity documentary coming to Paramount + this fall.
Bloody Flicks caught up with Alexander to talk all about his busy schedule.
What can you tell us about Isolation?
ISOLATION is a really rad anthology series of short films from around the world all centered on and shot during the beginning of the pandemic. I know it was definitely a challenge on the production side because the filmmakers couldn’t call in any favors, rent gear, or hold any casting calls. All the teams pretty much could only work with what and who they had around them when we all locked down. And based on what I’m hearing from the reviews, it seemed to work out well, which is really exciting. Every team safely rose to the occasion, and there was an overall feeling of approaching the pandemic-laden productions as creative opportunities rather than limitations.
As of today, I’ve only seen the segment I worked on with Andrew Kasch titled “5G”. Assuming there isn’t another lockdown, I’ll finally get to see the entire film at Screamfest!
How much did you know about your segment 5G?
I signed on immediately without seeing the project when I heard Andrew was directing. I was familiar with his work because he directed one of my favorite docs about Nightmare on Elm Street called “Never Sleep Again”. It was his team that actually tracked down Mark Patton, so I have him to thank for “Scream Queen” in a sense. I also really loved his work in “Tales of Halloween”. His segment “This Means War” was one of my favorites of the series, so I knew I wanted to work with him.
He gave me a general idea of what it would be about, how it focused on the paranoia and misinformation regarding the Bill Gates/5G scare. I ended up sketching out the main theme before I saw any footage based on that, and we both loved it. I used some radio and phone static samples as percussive bits throughout the score, which was a ton of fun. He was a dream to work with, and scoring the rest of the film was a welcome distraction from the pandemic despite being about the pandemic.
I saw our segment as a bit of comedic relief compared to the rest of the series, so the score reflects that. It’s a bit campy and experimental, and I’m really pumped for people to hear it.
The anthology recently screened as Frightfest over here in the UK, what has the feedback been like?
So far, the feedback has all been great! People are really responding to it, which is nice. You never know how something can go when it’s this topical, and unfortunately ongoing. I was a tad nervous that people would be too exhausted by the pandemic itself to want to watch a film about it. Thankfully, it seems to be a cathartic thing for everyone involved, from the filmmakers to the theater-goers.
How have you found the last year or so, has it hampered your composing work?
Yes and no. I was fortunate enough to stay busy during 2020, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t ruin some opportunities. I had a lot of steam going into 2020 with Scream, Queen!, Hunter’s Moon, and Dreamcatcher, and the pandemic kind of slowed down that momentum a tad. That’s the same case for everyone though, so I know I’m not alone in that grievance.Tons of projects were put on hold or terminated, releases were delayed, theatrical releases were cancelled. But all in all, I consider myself really lucky. All of my loved ones stayed healthy and were smart, so thankfully I didn’t lose anyone.
A lot of projects are finally coming out now and doing the festival circuit, and a bottleneck of gigs have been coming in, which is appreciated.
What can you tell us about the upcoming Paranormal Activity documentary?
Speaking as a fan, it’s one of the most comprehensive docs behind a franchise. I really mean it, if you love this series, then this doc is a must-see. Considering it started off as an ultra-low-budget indie production made for only $15,000 and has gone onto become a billion dollar juggernaut franchise, it’s really a “rags to riches” story. The scope of people interviewed is staggering, and the team behind it clearly loves Paranormal Activity.
Anthony Masi (producer) got me involved. He’s behind tons of behind-the-scenes docs about any big horror series you can think of: “Halloween: 25 Years of Terror”, “His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th“, “Still Screaming: The Ultimate Scary Movie Retrospective”, The Psycho Legacy”, and “The 50 Best Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen”. I’ve watched all of these, so I was really excited to work with Anthony. He is a walking encyclopedia of horror, and just all around an amazing person.
Joe Bandelli directed this, and he easily matches Anthony’s passion. Joe produced the Hell House, LLC series. The first one is easily one of my favorite recent found footage horror flicks too. If you haven’t seen that, I highly recommend checking it out. He knows his shit when it comes to found footage, and it shows in this doc.
I take it you are a fan of the PA series?
Oh yes, haha. Without a doubt. It’s one of those films that scares you more when you leave the theater. Like, I always imagine seeing myself sleeping in my bed from a bird’s eye view, just waiting for something to happen. I usually have to take a night to recover from those. Or watch something funny to detox before going to sleep.
In terms of upcoming soundtracks, I guess you are also looking forward to seeing what John Carpenter and co come up with for Halloween Kills?
Of course! I own nearly all of his work on vinyl, and I’m sure the streak will continue with this one. The work he does with Cody and Daniel is just phenomenal. What a killer team they have. John hasn’t lost a bit of his edge over the years, and you can hear that. I blast “The Shape Hunts Allyson” pretty frequently. It’s such a great new theme to introduce to his horror discography. If they play again, I hope they do that one live.
When can we expect the new slasher Time’s Up you worked on?
I actually have my first meeting with the director L.C. Holt this Thursday to discuss it! This is L.C.’s first outing as a director, but he should have a familiar face to the horror crowd. Or at least familiar eyes, haha. He played the Lamb-masked killer in You’re Next.
I haven’t started that score yet, but I can’t wait. The cast alone was reason enough to see this movie, and I hope the score lives up to the performances. Hannah Fierman (VHS,CREEPSHOW), Damian Maffei (The Strangers: Prey At Night, Wrong Turn, Haunt), Felissa Rose (Sleepwaway Camp), Dave Sheridan (Scary Movie), and Chaney Morrow (Haunt, Wrong Turn).
So Vam also sounds like a lot of fun, can we expect an amped up synth score for this?
Haha, yeah! Alice (Maio Mackay) is insanely talented, especially for her age. She’s not even 20 yet, and already has a couple great short films under her belt. I think So Vam will be another calling card for her.
She really responded to my score in Scream, Queen!, so the score sits nicely in that synth-styled score category. Kind of a dream-pop, shoe-gaze inspired score. I should be cutting tracks for an album release this week.