Forgive my never-ending Invaders From Mars enthusiasm, but I just happened to re-read a paywalled post from last July and thought I’d re-post.

I’ll bet that among connoisseurs of classic film scores, a fair-sized portion of the current membership has never heard of Raoul Kraushaar. Even during his peak period Kraushaar was regarded as a journeyman. If you scan his Hollywood scores from the 1940s and ’50s, you’ll notice that he composed almost exclusively for low-budget westerns with an occasional comedy or fright flick — In Old Monterey, Shed No Tears, Timber Fury, Stagecoach Driver, Bride of the Gorilla, Kansas Territory, The Flaming Urge, Mohawk, etc.

And yet Kraushaar’s score for William Cameron MenziesInvaders From Mars (’53) is easily one of the spookiest and most haunting of that era, and indeed one of the most distinctive regardless of genre or budget or any other qualifier. Anyone who’s seen Invaders knows what I’m talking about. That eerie choir (mostly female sopranos) puts the chill in…the stuff of childhood nightmares and creep-outs.

How odd that Kraushaar — steadily employed in genre pictures, a respected composer as far as it went, born in Paris in ’08, died in Florida 93 years later — how odd that a fellow whom no one had ever pegged as equal in talent to Franz Waxman or Max Steiner or Bernard Herrmann — how odd that Kraushaar, no doubt hired by Menzies out of a certain respect but mostly, I’m guessing, because his quote was low enough to be accommodated by the meager Invaders From Mars budget…how odd that Kraushaar managed to crank out one of the greatest (or certainly among the most fascinating) scores for a scary popcorn movie ever written…and under rushed conditions, no doubt.

Byron Haskin and George Pal‘s The War of the Worlds, another 1953 space invader flick, was made for $2 million and used a much higher grade of talent all around. George Barnes‘ cinematography, for one example, was clearly a classier, more high-grade effort (more sharply focused, more richly colored) than John Seitz‘s unexceptional and rather “soft” capturings for Invaders From Mars.

It could also be argued that Kraushaar’s strangely unsettling score is more emotionally affecting than Leith StevensWar of the Worlds score. There’s nothing miscalculated or insufficient about Stevens’ music — it’s fine as far as it goes — but it’s not in the same spiritual league as the Krasuhaar. Just saying.

The best passage from Kraushaar’s Invaders music begins just after the 3:00 mark: