What do films such as The Howling, Gremlins, Gremlins 2: The New Batch and Twilight Zone: The Movie all have in common? The great horror director Joe Dante. Dante’s latest project, for which he executive produced, is Shout! Factory’s Camp Cold Brook starring Danielle Harris (Halloween 4) and Chad Michael Murray (House of Wax). The new horror tale was directed by Andy Palmer and follows a paranormal team as they set out to explore an abandoned summer camp where a mass murder had taken place decades previous. Contributing to the jumps and scares is the score by Chad Rehmann. Just like many of the other creatives on the film, Rehmann is no stranger to the horror genre, he previously scored the cult favorite The Funhouse Massacre. In the below interview, Rehmann reveals how he created the hauntingly good score. *Camp Cold Brook is now available everywhere digitally.
What would you say makes Camp Cold Brook different from some of the other recent horror films?
I think two of the reasons why this film works are Alex Carl’s script and Andy Palmer’s unique use of handheld cameras. Alex’s characters are smart, well developed, and over the course of the film their personalities really get fleshed out and deepen. Also, even though the found footage film has been done before, Andy found a really cool way to use camera gimbals to help tell the story. It gets rid of the shaky cam effect, but still allows the audience to see the story through a camera – and, in turn, makes some of the scares even greater as the audience feels locked into that perspective.
In a previous interview you mentioned that the original cut of Camp Cold Brook isn’t what the final ended up being. Did you end up modifying your score too with the new cut?
Yup! We were actually able to use about 99% of the score as it is, but modified, shifted, stripped, added, etc a tiny bit here and there as the new edit took place. No re-records were needed – thankfully!
Do you know how the film was different in the original cut?
The early edit actually began with the background story of the camp. The story is told so that the audience is caught up before the film timeline begins. It worked, but it was more of a linear narrative. The new cut, however, uses more flashback/discovery moments so that the audience learns about the back-story as the film progresses. I think it allows the film to build more by having the layers peeled back slowly – which is better for the audience.
Can you tell us something we might not know about the Camp Cold Brook score?
One of the more unusual things that I played around with in this film was this idea of using bugle calls that campers would hear throughout the day. My friend Perice Pope, a trumpet player in LA, came to my studio one day and we recorded some traditional bugle calls as well as some takes of him humming and buzzing through his mouthpiece. I then slowed the recordings down and heavily processed them. Almost all of the drones heard in the film are trumpet bugle calls slowed down.
You have said that this is your first film score that heavily relied on sounds and instruments that were specifically created for a production. Would you do it again?
It definitely requires more work, but I would absolutely do it again. For most of Andy’s projects, he and I start talking before production even starts – for Funhouse Massacre and Camp Cold Brook I was lucky enough to get the scripts while they were in pre-production – this allows me a lot of time to test out ideas and let them marinate for a bit before presenting him with anything. Most films have pretty tight post-production schedules; Andy’s films, however, tend to have a little bit of wiggle room built in for those on his team to experiment.
What are some of your favorite horror films scores? Why did those resonate with you?
Because I’m married to someone who is not a horror film fan and have three small children, watching horror films is not as regular as it used to be! At this point in my life, a majority of my screen time is now spent watching animated films. I think the last horror film I saw in a theatre was Jordan Peele’s Get Out that he made with Blumhouse (again, three small children = not a lot of free time), and I was a huge fan of what Michael Abels did with that score. I love the work that Blumhouse Productions does, especially because of the creative control that they give to their directors, and I am eager to collaborate with them one day! Michael Beltrami, also, is a personal favorite – the Scream franchise was huge when I was in high school/college!
You have worked with director Andy Palmer a few times, one film being The Funhouse Massacre. What was your favorite part of working on that film?
I think one of the reasons that Funhouse Massacre was such a joy to work on, was because the characters that Ben Begley and Renee Dorian created were just so damn cool! There was a taxidermist which allowed me to use banjos on the score, a cult leader which allowed me to use soaring voices and strings, a murderous chef which allowed me to use forks and knifes as percussion instruments, and the list goes on and on. Part of the inspiration for that score also, was Metallica’s S&M concert with the San Francisco Symphony. I remember playing some of the tracks for Andy and asking him to consider a metal meets orchestra score. He said “Let’s try it” and the rest is history!
Were you at all surprised by the large following that film garnered over time?
The response to that film was phenomenal! Even this past Halloween you could still find people on social media dressing up like the characters from the film. I think it resonated for those who are nostalgic for the old slasher films – and, Andy was able to get Robert Kurtzman to do all of the effects, which just added another coolness factor for those in love with the horror films from the 80s and 90s. It is a love letter to the old slasher films, doesn’t take itself that seriously, and is just so damn fun to watch with a group of people.
Do you know yet what your next collaboration with Andy will be?
I know he’s got a couple of projects that he’s attached to right now, a couple of thrillers and a sci-fi/horror film called Flatwood – but, lips are sealed on the details!
Want to learn more about Chad Rehmann and the Camp Cold Brook score? Look here, www.chadrehmann.com