James Bernard, who composed the musical scores for the British horror and gothic movies produced by Hammer Films popular during the 1950s and ’60s, died July 12 of unreported causes in a London hospital. He was 75.
Bernard enjoyed a 50-year career in which he composed scores for more than 20 Hammer cult classics including “The Curse of Frankenstein” (1957), “Horror of Dracula” (1958) and “The Devil Rides Out” (1968).
He shared an Academy Award in 1951 with Paul Dehn for best motion picture story for “Seven Days to Noon.”
A native of India, Bernard was educated at Wellington College and at that time met his hero, the visiting composer Benjamin Britten. The composer took Bernard under his wing and encouraged him to study at the Royal College of Music.
Following a year of assisting Britten on the opera “Billy Budd,” Bernard wrote music for a number of plays and met conductor John Hollingsworth, who brought Bernard into the horror film business.
Bernard took part in a 1994 TV documentary, “Flesh and Blood: The Hammer Heritage of Horror.” In 1997 he was asked to compose new music for the 1922 vampire classic “Nosferatu,” fully restored and presented at the London Film Festival.
He most recently composed the score for 1998’s “Universal Horror,” a docu of Universal Studios’ horror films of the 1930s and ’40s.
He is survived by a sister.