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Ronald Stein: A Man Made Out of Music
by Jedediah Smith

A solitary man walks along a beach on a remote desert island in the Pacific. He is studying the effects of radiation from atomic tests on the plants and animals. Suddenly he hears the voice of someone else from his scientific group calling him, tempting him closer. Only when it’s too late does he see that the voice is coming from a giant crab monster. Mutated by the radiation, the crabs are not only gigantic but have gained psychic powers. The hapless scientist is torn apart. And while this happens, music plays: tight little violin figures evoke that the weird mental-powers of the crabs and long sustained notes from an organ that scream out in horror.

This is a scene from Attack of the Crab Monsters directed by Roger Corman with music by Ronald Stein. While the movie is generally dismissed as typical ’50s exploitation fare – or at best loved exactly because it’s bad – is the soundtrack music any better? The producers of a new boxed CD set of Ronald Stein’s movie scores think so, and they make a good case for his work. Mad, Mod & Macabre: The Ronald Stein Collection was released this year by Percepto Records, and it contains previously unavailable soundtracks from horror movies like Dementia 13, westerns like Gunslinger, and exploitation titles like Last Woman on Earth