Do you remember that obscure film Who’s Out There? from back in 1986. It was one of those sleazy, creepy flicks released by Pentagram Home Video. According to the info found on Pentagram Home Video’s archived web page:
“There are many rumours about the production of the 1986 film ‘Who’s Out There’ but information is scarce. Released on VHS by Pentagram Home Video the film follows a soldier sent back from a future war to 1986 to prevent an alien bounty hunter from tracking and destroying his target. A relentless pursuer emanating a powerful telekinetic wave of hallucinogen that frighteningly alters reality for anyone within its range. The story unfolds over the course of one night, across the streets & through the underground bars & clubs of New York.” – Pentagram Home Video.
It was sort of like The Terminator-meets-The Keep-meets-The Hunger, or something to that affect. Besides all those neon-lit city street shots, the soundtrack was what I remembered the most. Recently Mondo reissued the soundtrack and I was able to grab a copy and relive the first time I watched that classic cult flick….but wait. There was no movie called Who’s Out There? from 1986. In fact, there’s no movie company called Pentagram Home Video. This is all just a figment of my imagination. Right? It’s just some strange, twisted dream. It has to be. Or maybe that evil telekinetic wave has penetrated the walls of my house! Maybe that alien bounty hunter is right outside my house! He’s here because of all those VHS copies of Pentagram Home Videos I never rewound when I returned them!
Well, not really.
Pentagram Home Video isn’t a movie company, it’s actually the name of a music project. Who’s Out There? is the name of its debut album that was in fact released on Death Waltz Originals just a couple of weeks ago. But the person behind Pentagram Home Video does an outstanding job of creating the feeling of listening to an actual score from some obscure little sci fi/horror flick from the 80s. Much like Slasher Film Festival Strategy, PHV likes to create worlds with these faux scores to films that only exist in the mind and imagination of the composer of said album. SFFS has done this beautifully on records like Crimson Throne and their newest, Psychic Shield. PHV is following suit and wonderfully. Who’s Out There? is this mix of eerie synths and minimalist dance beats. The songs are structured much like a score of some classic, creepy late night flick you’d come across while searching for some seedy T&A trash. The heavily edited softcore thing you come across on Cinemax isn’t cutting it, so you shift gears and land on the The Movie Channel and you find this creepy old 80s movie you think you might remember seeing as a kid. Vaguely familiar actors step in and out of the screen as their dead expressions are caught by nightclub mirror balls and strobe lights. Faces turn to hues of green, red, and purple as they walk down gritty, rain-soaked sidewalks with some ominous force following a few yards behind. Conversations are pointless and the dialogue cheaply written and delivered, but you stick around because there’s something alluring about the trashy celluloid that runs in front of you on your ancient tube TV.
And then there’s the score to this cult-y film classic.
The music pulsates and throbs along underneath the grimy exterior of the movie. It seems to pull you into the story. “Vision 1/The Ocean” sounds like it’s emanating from another dimension or from under ice, as “Opening Titles” makes this obscure piece of exploitative film seem much better than it deserves to be. Of course, this exploitative film only exists in your imagination, but the music on this album helps you suspend your disbelief and allows you to create scenes to get lost in. Most of these pieces are barely over a minute in length, but there’s a few that go on for longer. “The Pursuit” is over 7 1/2 minutes long and sounds like The xx scoring The Exorcist. There is a constant feel throughout this LP. It’s this electronic claustrophobia. It’s a melancholy madness.
I think what separates this LP from other like-minded efforts is the minimalist quality of the pieces. There’s something quite unique about Pentagram Home Video’s Who’s Out There? that keeps me dropping the needle on it. Nothing feels fussed over or overcooked here. Every beat and every synth engaging our minds has a purpose. Not too much and not too little. Nothing showy or cheesy. “A Powerful Hallucinogen” is one of my favorite pieces on this album. It’s a relentless excursion into the “Dark Passenger” in us all. By the end of it’s 4 minute run you feel the song is falling into absolute madness. A telling and beautiful piece. “End Credits” does feel like the end of a film. Gritty film running by the screen as a grainy sunset freeze frames with words slowly crawling from the bottom to the top of the screen.
It may not be a real soundtrack to a real movie, but sometimes those imagined pieces of art can be just as engaging. Very happy to have taken a chance on this one, and a great album for an overactive imagination to get lost in.