Somtow Sucharitkul and Paul Spurrier’s film The Maestro: A Symphony of Terror is opening at the Laemmle Glendale on Friday. The first showing is at 10:15 p.m., with others scheduled over the course of the week at different times. The film has won 21 international awards so far.
“It’s basically Mr. Holland’s Opus meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” jokes Somtow Sucharitkul, the 68-year-old screenwriter, and star, of The Maestro. “I play the murderous, mad conductor. Some might call that typecasting.”
Classical music fans know Somtow as the pioneering composer of operas and symphonies, including Requiem: In Memoriam 9/11 — commissioned by the government of Thailand as a gift for the victims of the 9/11, as the artistic director of Opera Siam and as the founder, in 2010, of Thai youth orchestra the Siam Sinfonietta. The Sinfonietta has performed in Carnegie Hall and Bayreuth, and won Austria’s Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival in 2012.
Well before any of that happened, science fiction fans know him as the author of the Mallworld, Inquestor, and Aquila series. And in the horror genre he wrote Vampire Junction and a series of related novels and stories. His other horror books include the werewolf-Western novel Moon Dance, the zombie-American Civil War novel Darker Angels, and the collections Tagging the Moon: Fairy Tales of L.A. and The Pavilion of Frozen Women. In 1997, he wrote the juvenile vampire novel, The Vampire’s Beautiful Daughter. He also wrote and directed the cult horror film The Laughing Dead and co-wrote the Roger Corman-produced Bram Stoker’s Burial of the Rats (1995). He was even president of the Horror Writers Association from 1998 to 2000.
The Maestro tells the story of Arun, a composer and conductor who tried to make it in Europe but has ended up teaching high society children in Thailand. For years, he has been composing a magnum opus, The Tongues of Angels, and dreams of premiering it under his own baton. The Covid crisis allows him to create an imagined utopia for gifted young musicians in the middle of nowhere, far from the pestilence and corruption of the outside world … but things go horribly wrong.