Wicked memories

You can play a neat game with these tracks by trying to remember in just what horror flick you heard them before. That’s a tough job, though. Some are almost unrecognizable when stripped out of the movie environment and left to hang on their own as pieces of music. Luckily, most of them are worthwhile experiences on their own. The slow, haunting progressions of the Bowling Green Philharmonic playing John Carpenter’s Halloween 1963 come complete with screams and terrified voices, a little too obvious to be a compelling beginning. But any nod to that cult classic is an acceptable place to start this CD. Taking away the monster on the prowl and the splatter imagery that follows him does give something back to the music, however. The absence of movie distractions brings out the light, orchestral drones sandwiched in the sci-fi electronic hissing of Michael Kamen’s The Dead Zone. It builds, sustains and falls in the dragged-out alarm whistle of strings, actually sounding beautiful and moving.

Choice Cuts chooses a few newer flicks as well. The themes from Crash (Howard Shore) and Urban Legend (Christopher Young) reveal that horror sound scapes don’t transform on trend the way pop music does. The other bizarre thought this CD brings on is that some pretty cheesy movies used some pretty accomplished, complex and stirring music.

Yet there is even more than that strange quality linking everything here, from Pino Donaggio’s creepy "Claustrophoby" (from Body Double) right up to the original Halloween Theme (the closing track).

If these 13 tracks do nothing else for you, they at least offer a lesson in widely heard music that is obscured because it’s normally hidden under the sounds of leaves crunching beneath the boots of ax murderers and the shrieks of helpless victims. You might think you’ve heard it all before, but not like this.

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