As another late entry to the unparalleled creative cinematic unison known in Europe as “the Czech film miracle.”, Juraj Herz’s 1969 feature film The Cremator was one of a clutch of certified cinematic literary adaptations that used the apolitical subjects of fantasy and surrealist horror to evade the communist censors’ abortive measures; dodging the overzealous cutting and burning process which poetically echoed the films own macabre and fantastical screenplay. Unifying a cast and crew of some of the Czech New Wave’s leading lights, Herz’s macabre depiction of Ladislav Fuks’ fictional account of a local crematorium boss whose hallucinogenic burning obsession with the afterlife is ignited by the Tibetan Book Of The Dead and intensifying manipulative Nazi propaganda is undeniably one of the greatest underexposed European horror films of all time.

Drawing similarities with other stark monochrome thrillers such as Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, Herz’s comparatively untravelled classic also boasts a beguiling score and theme tune that remains one of the most memorable and spine-chilling melodic soundtracks by the country’s finest experimental soundtrack composer Zdeněk Liška (Malá Mořská Víla) providing the movement with one of its best loved signature scores. Featuring an ongoing part- nership with studio conductor František Belfín (Daisies) and soprano singer Vlasta Soumarová Mlejnková (Marketa Lazarová), Liška puts his radical con- crète and resampling techniques (see Ikarie XB1) to one side in favour of celestial choral and orchestral arrangements; menacing giallo-esque tension and recurring rhythmical motifs of Eastern bells and chimes illustrating Rudolf Hrušínský’s Kopfrkingl character’s demise into murderous infatuation and the momentary cameo shots of the hallucinogenic death figure played by Helena Anýzová (Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders/Daisies).

Description courtesy of Finders Keepers Records

Track Listing

  1. Merciful Nature
  2. Spalovač mrtvol
  3. Potala Tibet
  4. Gifted Zina
  5. Holy Pictures
  6. This Charming Lady
  7. Mr. Strauss Crosses The Road
  8. Mr. Dvorák And The Timetable Of Death
  9. Mili’s Carousel (Lovely Acrobatics)
  10. Waxworks / The Baths Of Franzensbad
  11. Drosophila Funebris
  12. How Unfortunate Are Those Who Die Unaware Of The Beauty Of Music / Lakmé’s Preparation
  13. Louis Marin
  14. Miss Dagmar’s Room
  15. Poor Miss Carska
  16. Mournful Cantor (Jewish Prayer)
  17. Kopfrkingl Salutes Death
  18. Casino On Rose Street
  19. Vison Of The Temple
  20. Lakmé’s Cremation
  21. The Throne In Lhasa Awaits
  22. H. Bosch
  23. Running Zina / The Stars Are Above Us
  24. I Shall Sit On The Throne