If you've already visited my review of Eli Roth's indie horror
flick, then you know it's not necessarily a film for all tastes - not
even for all horror fans' tastes. (If you haven't seen my review, get
over there and read it, ya rat bastard.) I had a good time, me, thanks to Roth's devilishly anarchic approach, and many tips of the hat to his
cinematic inspirations made it feel like comfort food for
It's no surprise, then, that much of the movie's score echoes the
same sinister respect for the genre's musical maestros. One could even
say that co-contributor Angelo Badalamenti is one of those legends
himself, as his lush, sexy and menacing tunes have helped drive many of
David Lynch's most disturbing films (BLUE VELVET, LOST HIGHWAY,
MULHOLLAND DRIVE, and the underrated TWIN PEAKS movie are standouts).
He is joined by avant-garde composer Nathan Barr (formerly of
industrial band V.A.S.T.) for a slightly repetitive but always
effective ensemble of creepy, lurching soundscapes. Their combined
contributions make up the central chunk of this 32-track CD, grouped
more by theme and intensity than in the order they occur in the
Eschewing electronics in favor of interesting combinations of
traditional instruments, Barr makes extensive use of cello (a personal
fave of mine), often layering several tracks of this instrument at
once, or blending them with odd percussion to create eerie, creeping
rhythms. A horror devotee like Roth, he calls on many genre influences,
with nods to Ennio Morricone and Bernard Hermann ("Dennis Bites" is a
great example). Acoustic guitar and banjo combos provide the backwoods
local color without sinking into DELIVERANCE cliché, and stand up very
well as non-horrific pieces ("Lemonade" is a bright, fun bluegrass
ditty that is especially witty in light of the scene it accompanies in
the film). Of course, the darker themes begin to surface toward the
middle, and become downright bone-chilling: "The Reservoir/Leg Shaving"
will make you jump, even if you haven't seen the film.
Badalamenti's characteristic throbbing, fuck-me lounge riffs aren't
as prevalent here as in his Lynch work (with the exception of "Deputy
Winston," which is down-and-dirty fun), but his trademark slow bass
lines and big-room reverb are all too familiar. Of all his tracks, the
minimalist "Red Love" is the only one that misses the mark, sounding
too much like the composer ripping off his own synth love themes from
every Lynch score he's ever done. Strangely enough, some of his best
material is not included in the film - added instead at the end of the
CD as bonus tracks: "Hermit's Lair" and "Hunting with Bert" are both
simple but effective, incorporating percussion not normally heard in
the Badalamenti canon.
Outside source music is kept to a minimum, and the songs are
completely relevant to the content, unlike the average "Inspired by the
Motion Picture" bullshit from mega-media-conglomerates. Roth's choices
come from bands he actually likes: he obtained Scrappy Hamilton's
"Wastin' Time" (a very dancable blues-rock tune) after hearing the band
in North Carolina, where much of the film was shot, and recruited local
bluegrass pickers Happy Wednesday for a rendition of "Swing Low" after
sitting in on a few jam sessions with the band. The outrageously goofy
"Walkin', Workin', Lovin', Laughin'" is contributed by comedy team The
Turtlenecks (who you see getting beaten to a pulp with a guitar in the
film), and garage-punks Your Mom (love that name) round out the package
with the tight and menacing "Shitstorm."
My only letdown was the tragic omission of David Hess's "Wait for
the Rain" from LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, and "Volatile Velvet," performed
by none other than Hess's kids, Bo and Jesse, aka Noah's Rock Stars.
Why, Eli, why? How much could the royalties have cost?
As with all soundtrack CDs nowadays, there are the requisite
dialogue bites from the film, which I normally don't care much for. At
least these samples are funny... "I Made It" sums up the film's
occasional moments of outrageous, anarchic excess. The same could be
said for the album - a confident package of suspense and cool that,
just like Dennis, does a little mad monkey kung fu and bites you on the
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