Thursday, October 30, 2014
Tomita - Score For "LAST DAYS OF PLANET EARTH"
I don't know if you have had a chance to view the apocalyptic apocryphal film called PROPHECIES OF NOSTRADAMUS or CATASTROPHE 1999. I saw it when I was younger before it was literally taken out of circulation and all copies were destroyed or locked away in vaults. The version I saw back in the military was heavily edited and I recently got the opportunity to see and hear the original uncut film.
There was hardly any graphic violence in this film and it was pretty tame visuals but it was the most disturbing movie I have ever seen. It captured ITZ more than any other film of that era. Deadly four inch slugs, cannibal mutants and reflective skies. The film was supposed to be about the prophecies of Nostradamus but it was tapping into something primal in the human psyche. A few years back I blogged about the visionary sketches by Basil Wolverton depicting the apocalypse. It was almost as if somebody captured those horrific images in film. The story was disjointed and barely had anything resembling a plot but something deeper appeared to catch hold of you while you watched it. There are so many bizarre things in this film I could not begin to list them all here. Lunatic suicide cults, hippie pinko dopesmoking anarchists and good old fashioned cannibals. Children appear to begin developing all kinds of strange powers as the apocalypse approaches, almost as if long-dormant genes in the human race were being activated to help (some of) them survive.
The movie ends with two mutant ape children fighting over snake meat in a blasted wasteland barren of all life on a dead planet embalmed in radiation. Not a Disney classic for certain. In the edited versions, they use the "this was all a dream" escape clause at the end to lessen the impact of the finale.
I'm not the only one who found it very powerful and unsettling. Toho eventually banned the film in Japan, withdrew all prints from theatres and essentially denied the movie had ever existed. It seemed to upset people who had never found cause to complain about similar fare like THE LAST WAR. Some Japanese cinema goers claimed they vomited after leaving the theater and others said they had nightmares for years after viewing it. People complained it was just a bit too over-the-top and Toho Studios was pressured to repent and cast the movie into oblivion.
The most amazing part of the movie was the dreamlike memorable score by Tomita. I grew up listening to Tomita when I was younger, he was a big part of my lonely adolescence and teenage years. I used to listen to his pop update of HOLST's THE PLANETS over and over again. It was beautiful. Tomita managed to combine about four different styles including a groovy cosmic retro sixties beat that might have come from "Barbarella" for the score to LAST DAYS. It was truly inspired music - even heroic and optimistic - for something with such a morbid and nihilistic focus. It is as if Tomita was channeling Vault-Co three decades ago when he composed it.
About a week ago I added a link to the main theme from the movie after deciding it was going to be the official theme song for Vault-Co. You can find it here.