Composer Douglas Pipes has been presented with the International Film Music Critics Association Awards for Best Original Score for a Comedy by IFMCA members Jon Broxton, Craig Lysy, and Kaya Savas, for his score for Krampus.
This is Pipes’s first IFMCA win, from his third nomination. He was previously nominated for Breakthrough Film Composer of the Year following his debut mainstream score, Monster House, in 2006, and was nominated for Best Original Score for a Horror/Thriller Film for Trick ‘r Treat in 2009. The other nominees in the category this year were The Lady in the Van by George Fenton; La Rançon de la Gloire by Michel Legrand; The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Thomas Newman; and Spy by Theodore Shapiro.
Krampus is a Christmas-themed comedy horror based on various supernatural legends prevalent in German-speaking areas of Austria and Switzerland about an ‘anti-Santa Claus’, a terrifying monster who visits children’s homes over the festive period, and carries the naughty off to hell. Directed by Michael Dougherty, the film stars Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, and Emjay Anthony, as members of an American family who accidentally summon the demon to their home during an especially stressful holiday.
Pipes’s score is a wonderful blend of Tchaikovsky-inspired classical music, thunderous orchestral action and horror pieces, tender lyricism full of longing and regret, and adaptations of popular Christmas carols, including a delicious reworking of the classic “Carol of the Bells” given new lyrics to suit its contemporary setting, and the nature of the beast. IFMCA member Mihnea Manduteanu said the score was “a lot of fun” and that the “suspense was thick and palpable,” and IFMCA member Daniel Schweiger describes the score as “boisterously rampaging … packed with Christmas evil as Paganistic percussion, malefic melody and twisted choruses plunge the characters into a terrifying Christmas twilight zone,” while IFMCA member Jon Broxton said that Pipes “crafted a truly outstanding score which takes all the familiar seasonal stereotypes – carols, choirs, sleigh bells – and subverted them with a barrage of orchestral bravado, stylish suspense and horror passages, and a great big humorous twinkle in his eye.”
A Los Angeles native, Pipes began scoring student and indie films in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but put his career on hold to further hone his composition and orchestration skills, subsequently attending California State University Northridge, Kingston University in London, and IRCAM in Paris. While studying film scoring at UCLA, Pipes met aspiring filmmaker Gil Kenan, who asked him to score his award-winning short film, The Lark, which directly led to him making his mainstream feature debut on Kenan’s Oscar-nominated animated feature Monster House. In addition to Trick ‘r Treat and Krampus, Pipes’s other recent credits include the indie comedy Little Paradise (2014), and the Lifetime movies If There Be Thorns and Seeds of Yesterday (both 2015). As well as his film work, Pipes provides arrangements and orchestrations for the rock band The Airborne Toxic Event, and in 2014 was commissioned by the Dallas Chamber Symphony Orchestra to write a brand new score for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1927 silent film The Lodger.
Click here to watch “The Composers Speak”, a 15-minute interview with Pipes accepting his IFMCA Award and talking about the score.
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