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IHOP to Freddy Krueger, VCU Grad Scores Big

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He's baaack. Gordy Haab, a Hollywood composer and Virginia Commonwealth University music school alumnus, returns to Richmond for the opening of the horror mockumentary "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon" this weekend.

After composing music for more than 50 films, Haab adds to his credits a film that fuses "Nightmare on Elm Street" with "Best in Show."

"It's sort of a crapshoot," Haab says. But "Behind the Mask" was a winner, breaking out as a surprise hit on the film-festival circuit after two years in post-production limbo. To create the odd combination of genres, Haab sliced scary bits from film scores such as "Psycho" and "Halloween."

Haab attributes his growing success to a "series of well-placed coincidences." Recognizing his ambition and potential, VCU music professor Doug Richards pushed Haab to take his chances in Los Angeles. Shortly after he arrived there, a chance meeting with a "Star Trek" writer at a science fiction memorabilia yard sale resulted in a career-defining invitation.

"He took me to a weekly meeting of dozens of directors," Haab recalls. "They would gather in the back room of the International House of Pancakes and talk about their latest projects. I went every week for two years, and that's where I've gotten most of my work."

And in the weird way of Hollywood, that's how he got to make music for a movie starring Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund.

Haab returns this week in independent film glory to share his hard-won wisdom with the current crop of VCU undergraduates. Then there's the March 30 opening of "Behind the Mask" at Regal's Virginia Center Cinema 20. When he was a freshman, Haab worked there as a projectionist. S

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