Remarkably Wonderful Collection
Scott A. Johnson | 12/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For years, music companies have put out CD compilations of movie themes that promise to be the "ultimate" or "complete" set. And most of them are woefully disappointing. While they contain the themes to great movies, they're usually performed on synthesizers or are knockoffs that don't have near the power or beauty of the originals. So when a four-CD set called "The Definitive Horror Music Collection" landed in my mailbox, I was skeptical to say the least. I looked at the track listings and imagined another crappy set that sounded more like elevator music than a moving score. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, not only did the set include some great songs, but were played by some really impressive musicians.
To begin with, the four CDs play like a lesson in movie history with the earliest tracks going back to 1922's Nosferatu, continuing to 2009's Drag Me to Hell. By taking some of the most powerful music (not just themes) from eighty-seven years worth of horror films, this collection gives the reader a real education in influences and advances in the art of scoring a movie. The composer list reads like a who's who of music, with names like Danny Elfman, John Williams, Elmer Berstein, and Pino Donaggio.
It also doesn't go for the easy market by picking only the popular films. Some of the titles in this collection, I must admit, I'd either forgotten about or had never heard. The music from Duel and Taste the Blood of Dracula are a couple of wonderful surprises, as is the "Twisted Nerve Suite" and "Creation of the Female Monster" from Bride of Frankenstien. The collection does contain some of the old stand-bys that no collection should be without, like "Tubular Bells" and "Dance of the Witches" from The Witches of Eastwick, but it also contains surprises like John Carpenter's ultra-cheesy theme to They Live, the theme to Dexter, and a fully realized theme to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Also included is the theme to Ghostbusters, which, contrary to popular belief, is not the Ray Parker Jr. song.
What sets this collection apart from others, besides the incredible choice in music, is the caliber of musicians who play on it. The majority of the tracks are played by the City of Prauge Philharmonic Orchestra, which means the songs are played with all the beauty of emotion they deserve. Also featured on the collection is London Music Works, who do an excellent job of capturing the mood and feeling of each piece. Other artists on the collection include The Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra, The Philharmonia, Michigan Music Works, Gareth Williams, Nick Watson and Mark Ayres.
In all, the collection is nearly flawless, and I say "nearly" because also included is an instrumental version of "Bad to the Bone" from Christine, which doesn't sound right unless George Thorogood is playing it. Every other track in the collection is perfect, well excecuted, and well worth the listen."