The Original Punisher Soundtrack

Music Composed by Dennis Dreith (1989)

Released by Perseverance Records

Reviewed by Jon Minners

This is an interesting release.  Back in 1989, New World Pictures decided to create a movie based on an emerging comic book anti-hero, The Punisher, who made his debut in Marvel Comics’ Amazing Spiderman in 1979.  No Marvel movie ever did well until Blade, X-Men, Spiderman and Fantastic Four emerged on the scene in recent years.  In the past, Marvel lost out to DC Comics’ Batman and Superman at the box office.  Punisher was to be the force to put Marvel on the map in the movie world with Dolph Lundgren’s star power taking the lead of Frank Castle and film veteran Louis Gossett, Jr. taking a role as an ex-partner looking to help Castle avenge the death of his family. 

However, the release of Batman and the fact that New World went bankrupt, led to Punisher never being released to American audiences; finally released on video in 1991 and DVD in 1999.  Achieving great cult status for its mind-numbing violence and high body count, fans clamored for everything Punisher that wasn’t part of the disaster created last year, which tried to capitalize on the recent Marvel Comic movie success and failed, nowhere coming near to the quality the original film possessed.  So, six years after its DVD release; 15 years after it was created, the movie soundtrack has finally been released. 

“Resurrecting the score from the original masters was most gratifying,” said Dennis Dreith, composer.  “It’s really great to hear the score again after all these years in its’ full glory, especially since the only copy previously available was the mono home video release.  Now, with the release of the CD, the score can finally be heard the way we intended it.  I owe a debt of gratitude to Robin Esterhammer and Perseverance Records for bringing this score back to life.”

I liked it.  The CD definitely brought back some memories with its over the top comic book sound that has finds a way to remain as minimalistic as Punisher’s character is supposed to be.  It’s heroic and grand with a little twist of hurt that makes the Punisher character so great.  There is a sadness that fits the Punisher’s origin and that sound gets replayed in different ways throughout the CD, which also contains the infusion of some Japanese flavor involving Miss Tanaka and the Yakuza, the movie’s eventual enemy.  Each song is an adrenaline rush perfect for the violence surrounding the film.  I totally enjoyed listening to this music while performing some mundane tasks at work; almost made those tasks exciting.  Amazing what a soundtrack can do. 

However, the best reason to buy this CD is for the extras.  The liner notes are impressive, containing a brief history of the character, the movie and the score.  Every thought that went into the songs is in this booklet and if you needed more, there is an interview with the composer and director discussing the film at length; a great treat for the type of fan this was created for. 

“Connecting with Mark Goldblatt [director] to do the audio interview on this collector’s CD was a real added treat,” said Dreith

Fans of the Original Punisher movie remember the film fondly.  It has become a true cult classic and better than the big budget re-do released last year.  And for those that loved the movie, this soundtrack is definitely for you. 

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