The Definitive Horror Music Collection
Musical Score By: Various Artists
Performed By: Various Artists
Distributed by: Silva Screen Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Iím sure I have stated my opinion about horror film soundtracks several times over the years, but let me just state it one more time for the record. Horror films often rely on their musical scores to set the tone and deliver the scares to their viewers. The right musical score will have you shaking in your boots before the visual scares ever appear on screen. This is why I was delighted to receive The Definitive Horror Music Collection, a four CD set featuring tracks from horror films spanning 90 years.
Each CD features a specific time period. CD number one profiles tracks from movies released from 2009-2001, CD number two features tracks from 1999 through 1984 and so on until you reach the last track on the fourth CD, Nosferatu, created in the year 1922. Decades of some of the best horror film musical scores created by John Carpenter, John Williams, Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, Christopher Young, Jerry Goldsmith, James Bernard, Mike Oldfield and more performed by orchestras such as The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Michigan Music Works, London Music Works, The Philharmonic Orchestra and more. I must confess that I listened to this collection backwards. That is to say that I popped the fourth CD into the player first and worked my way back from there. I was interested in hearing some of my old favorites before I checked out some of the newer stuff.
Some of the older scores found on CD4, like Bride of Frankenstein from Bride of Frankenstein and the Main Title/Finale of Dracula, relied on dramatic flare combined with elaborately composed darkly toned music to provide a sense of horror. Others like Ave Satan from The Omen provide creepiness through the use of a choir, offering drama and a sense of foreboding through the vocal delivery. But my favorite track on the fourth CD is Tubular Bells from The Exorcist. As a child, this score scared the crap out of me, sending chills up my spine through the use of a high pitched repetitive piano piece - bah bah bah badah bah bah bah bahdah. Now, as an adult, it still sends chills up my spine, but I can appreciate the subtlety employed by composer Mike Oldfield in this track. At first, this scary piano piece is the focal point of the track, but then Oldfield distracts you with some peaceful score, suggesting innocence. However, if you listen hard enough, you will notice that the chillingly repetitive piano piece is still there, lurking in the background just waiting for its chance to come out and get you.
CDs 2 and 3 featured tracks from films I grew up with like Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween (ThereĎs that spooky repetitive piano theme again!), Alien, Aliens, Poltergeist, Christine, Predator and more. Although I enjoy this track, I question the existence of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on CD2 as I thought this was a horror film compilation and the Theme featured on this CD is from the television show. I also questioned the absence of the theme from The Amityville Horror - thereís almost nothing scarier than the sound of children singing in high pitched voices as the music turns more and more sinister in tone. Also missing - Murder from Psycho. I mean, come on! That's a classic! Iím sure it would have been a terrific substitute for the Main Theme of Ghostbusters which I consider to be more of a comedy than a horror film.
Once we get to CD1, we begin to notice an interesting change in the music. There are more synthetic sounds incorporated into todayís horror film tracks. Again, I wondered about the presence of the Main Title from Dexter, a television show about a serial killer, and Suite from War of the Worlds, a movie that was more science fiction than horror. But who can deny the creepiness of Hello Zep from SAW, Vide Cor Meum from Hannibal or the End Titles of Drag Me to Hell.
All in all, despite the two notably missing tracks, The Definitive Horror Music Collection is a dream come true for all those who can appreciate a truly creepy horror film soundtrack. Featuring sixty tracks from some of the best horror films to ever hit the silver screen, this four CD compilation set is just what the horror film fan ordered!