Interviews / Reviews

Original Soundtrack Recording
Music By Richard Band

La La Land Records LLLCD 10
Date of issue: 2003

Evidently one of the comedy-horror films that I missed in the mid-80's (the era that brought us the cult classic, Gremlins, amongst others), Re-Animator is sort of Night of the Living Frankenstein, with much tongue in cheek, gore and dark humour. It doesn't honestly strike me as the kind of film that anyone would remember, although it probably falls under the perennial description of cult classic by virtue of being better than anyone would dare hope. To my surprise, it appears that Richard Band's score caused a (very!) minor controversy due to its Bernard Herrmann influence, or more specifically, the main theme which is largely based Psycho, with a hint of Jerry Goldsmith in Joe Dante mood and a dark comedy theme sandwiched in between. It works moderately well as part homage and part parody, although the mixing of the Herrmann motifs and Band's own tune could have been a little more inventive rather than simply inserting Band's tune in amongst the Herrmann ideas.

After a dissonant Prologue, the Main Title, rather unsurprisingly, introduces Band's quirky, pre-Danny Elfman melody which doesn't seem to appear without the Psycho motifs; something of a disappointment as it's a nifty tune. In the liner notes, Band comments that a tongue in cheek score was wanted, but for my money, the approach is fairly straight laced - not exactly terrifying, but the early tracks are quite creepy, particularly the surprisingly lengthy The Turning Point. Only when the main theme appears is the pretense of a serious horror score undermined, although the two ideas work quite happily alongside each other. The album is rounded out by an interesting interview with Band; I don't know if the album constitutes the entire score, but the length of the music at around 35 minutes seems just about right.

As mentioned, Band's score is comparable to Goldsmith's scores for Joe Dante in spirit and just as enjoyable as many, even if it doesn't match the deliciously sardonic heights of Gremlins, although the token Love Theme is similar to The Piper Dreams for The Omen. The inside notes (aside from an entirely redundant paragraph from Harry Knowles) have some interesting comments, about the only production fault is the mix which makes the orchestra sound like it's playing out of a box, neither a natural concert acoustic nor a clean, upfront, immediate sound. The Herrmann influence is both a help and a hindrance, mainly because Band's own music isn't nearly as good as Herrmann's. That is not meant as a slight on Band in any way, Psycho is a classic score by one of Hollywood's finest composers and Re-animator is a throwaway comedy horror, but even so, the result is that the most memorable parts of the score are Herrmann.