Cinema Chillers: Music from Classsic Horror Films

Various Artists

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Cinema Chillers: Music from Classsic Horror Films Review

by arwulf arwulf

Cinema Chillers: Music from Classic Horror Films Then & Now is a Dutch import triple-CD anthology of mostly instrumental themes and incidental movements from soundtracks scored for 39 assorted scary movies. Most of this stuff was cooked up using synthesizers and electronic keyboards, causing some of it to register as little more than vaguely penumbral mood music. The inverted chronology begins in 2002 with music from The Ring (by far the longest track at eight minutes in length), and rolls backwards through such gross and wickedly unsettling blockbusters as Red Dragon, Hannibal, Blair Witch 2, Scream 3, and the nasty Child's Play 4: Bride of Chucky, in the form of "Living Dead Girl" from Rob Zombie's Hellbilly Deluxe, which as a trashy metal rap routine contrasts rudely with the rest of the tracks. The temporal regression continues through "Silence of the Lambs," "Nightmare on Elm Street," "Friday the 13th," "Halloween," "The Shining," "Alien" (one of the few sci fi flicks represented here), "The Amityville Horror," "The Omen," and "Suspiria," which at nearly seven minutes is the collection's second longest track. Settling back into earlier strata, one is struck by the minimalistic tubular bells used to usher in "The Exorcist," and the relatively subtle, un-scary, inverted melodies from "Carrie" and "Rosemary's Baby," which come across like easy listening when filtered through the synthesizer. The familiar episodic passages from Hitchcock's Psycho seem bracingly authentic by comparison. By the time we get down to the real "classics" -- and this is a most unpleasant example of how the word "classic" has come to be misapplied to anything that has increased profits -- there's no room for anything more than "Dracula," "Bride of Frankenstein," and "Nosferatu"; the two vampire scores were designed for theater organ and therefore almost hold water in a hackneyed sort of way, but the synthesizer makes the theme meant for Frankenstein's monster's bride sound almost like carousel music. To sum up: this is largely an extended recital for subdued synthesizer, and the repertoire focuses so broadly upon recent movie themes (the un-classics, if you will) that those who are at all aware of the historic tradition of music created in order to enhance frightening films are bound to come away feeling shortchanged. Dozens of truly interesting vintage scary film scores that predate the 1970s have been thrust aside in favor of themes from contemporary, often misogynistic gory slasher flicks designed to titillate and amuse bored, over-stimulated teenagers. The grand time-honored genre of music devised for horror and suspense films deserves something classier and more substantial than this.

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