Tuesday, May 14, 2013

THE SOUND OF HORROR!


(This review originally appeared in The Phantom of the Movies’ VideoScope magazine.) 

POLTERGEIST (2-CD Set) Music composed and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith. 35 tracks, 2-hrs. 17-mins. Film Score Monthly Vol. 13 No. 18. $24.95

Jerry Goldsmith’s (1929-2004) debut score for a Stephen Spielberg production ranks among the composer’s most popular. It landed him one of the film’s trio of Oscar nominations. The 1982 spook tale of suburban sub-division dwellers whose perfect homes are built on a relocated cemetery was joined in theatres by blockbuster brethren that included Porky’s, E.T. and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.



For Goldsmith, it was a time of great inspirational output that stayed with him through the entire decade. Poltergeist was a collision of horror and science fiction constructed on a child-in-peril drama - in this case, a doe-eyed Heather O’Rourke. This was a prime compositional opportunity for Goldsmith who’d by then had written genre film score blockbusters such as Planet of the Apes and The Omen. A truncated and re-recorded vinyl presentation hit stores at the time of the movie’s release (MGM Records MG15408) and remained the go-to musical source until Rhino Movie Music’s 1997 CD (Rhino/TCM R2 72725) premiered the full score as recorded for the film.

For this deluxe 2-CD set, Film Score Monthly set its sites on a more authoritative rendering, returning anew to the three-track stereo mixes and handing re-mastering duties to the film’s original recording supervisor and frequent Goldsmith associate, Bruce Botnick. Long-time admirers of the composer will quickly sense gentle whiffs of beloved Goldsmith-isms from Planet of the Apes, Star Trek-The Motion Picture and even some fragmentary snuffles from The Boys from Brazil.



It is an overwhelmingly brilliant score with several exceptional cues. Amongst the standouts is the innocently engaging “Carol Ann’s Theme”, a delicately lush musical portrait of O’Rourke’s embattled character. “Escape From Suburbia” takes a momentary Bernard Herrmann-esque opening flourish before launching into a frenzied and stumbling musical interpretation of the fear-filled Freeling family’s getaway. For “No Complaints” Goldsmith underscores the ghosts’ appearance with such masterful expertise that this short cue of only 1-min. 5-secs. becomes a significant standout. The original scoring sessions comprise Disc 1 while Disc 2 presents the 1982 MGM album. It’s augmented with bonus material of alternate performances that largely replicate previously heard tracks.

Also included are five re-recorded LP album cues from the composer’s score for The Prize. The 28-pg. CD booklet contains an extensive essay written by the score’s restorationist, Mike Matessino, who also supplies the track-by-track analysis. Remarks from Bruce Botnick about the 1982 recording sessions and Steven Spileberg’s original 1982 album liner notes complete the impressive package. They may not have moved the bodies, but Jerry Goldsmith knew how to move his audience.

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