Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oooh, scary! music - Part IV

As I mentioned last year, John Williams scored but a handful of horror films (and given his work in the genre, it's a genuine shame that he was never afforded the opportunity to revisit the genre): Dracula, Images, the first two Jaws films and The Fury.

A young man (Andrew Stevens) watches his father (Kirk Douglas) get gunned down. As it turns out, the father survived. The young man was spirited away to a facility to harness his gifts; he has the power of telekinesis and the father enlists a similarly-gifted girl (Amy Irving) to help track his son. Director Brian De Palma embues this story with a lot of style, but, really, it's all about the 'telekinesis as a weapon' set-pieces, even more so than Carrie. (To hell with The Devil's Rain; this film has the most incredible ending of, if not any motion picture, then certainly any 70s horror film. Suffice it to say that Williams, editor Paul Hirsch and the effects team earned their paychecks.)

The main theme, as introduced in the "Main Titles", is a beautiful dirge, wafting about with clairnet leading to strings and hair-raising horn work. The theme proves quite durable, becoming an action cue in "Through the Alley" and getting a creepy electronic reading in "The Train Wreck".

"For Gillian" introduces a motif for Irving's telepath, a peppy melody for strings and chimes that gets a drawn-out reading in the operatic (and undeniably Vertigo-esque, at times) "Gillian's Escape", which, itself, is capped off by a wonderfully melancholic variation on the main theme.

"Vision on the Stairs" is one of several beautifully hypnotic cues (others including "Gillian's Vision" and "Descent") that draw the listener in with dreamy winds, icy strings snd foreboding organ.

Amidst the sturm und drang, there are some moving pieces of music, like the oboe and string-laden "Remembering Robin" and "Hester's Theme", with its woodwinds and creepy string work that belies the theme's romantic intentions.

"Gillian's Power" (which I, seriously, would re-name "Childress Goes to Hell") is a hell of a finale, strings leading to horns and theremin and clattering horns and bells...honestly, I just can't explain it that well.

I should note that a great many of the cues I've mentioned come from the now-sold-out Varese CD Club release. However, the re-recording of the score is still available for reasonable prices. This release includes the source music from the "Death on the Carousel" scene, a carnival-esque version of the main theme that may not be for all tastes, "Gillian's Power" with synthesizer substituted for theremin and a concert rendition of the theme in "Epilogue". In any event, this is a score worth having.

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