Chiller/Various Composers

October 30, 2006

 Chiller is 1989 release from Telarc consisting of some of the more appropriate classical music as well as hollywood scores for Halloween, along with some scary special effects designed to scare all of us for a moment or two especially the children in us. Even my heart skipped a beat when the screaming occured during the murder sequence of “Psycho”! Most of the died in the wool collectors will cringe at the additions of sound effects to some of the tracks but keep in mind this was not designed for them!

Likely because of the LP and Cassette releases (still going on in 89) the CD is divided into two sections. The first two tracks are devoted to a sound effect track from Michael Bishop (thunder, lightning, wolf howling, running, etc.) followed by the overture to “The Phantom of the Opera” featuring the scary playing of a full size organ. Then we get into some of the best horror tracks from the world of classical music. “Night on the Bald Mountain” from Moussorgsky (orchestrated by Rimsky-Korsakov) is based on a witches sabbath on St. John’s Night and the music certainly portrays it! Disney/Stokowski used it in Fantasia for good reason! Camille Saint-Saens offers his “Danse Macabre” which is based on a french poem and superstition about death appearing at midnight on Halloween. It has been used in such shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Jonathan Creek and is quite creepy with its violin and xylophone use. “March to the Scaffold” is another creepy track, part of the Symphonie Fantastique from Berlioz. It depicts the march to the scaffold and subsequent beheading with the guillotine. Unique orchestration on the part of Berlioz makes it even scarier! The classical portion also includes a selection from Damnation of Faust (Berlioz also) and the “Hall of the Mountain King” from Peer Gynt, written by Grieg and used in such films as Needful Things and M. The frantic pace of the theme is what makes it a little chilling and likely why it is included in this compilation of themes. The second section of the CD starts with The Bride of Frankenstein rearranged quite differently by Stephen Bernstein, includes 12,000 volt special effects as well as the overall creepiness in the (1935) Waxman score. In fact if you are familiar with the score from Franz it is certainly different enough for you to want to have it in your collection. It’s not necessarily better or worse just different. Psycho goes without saying as having some of the all time terror written tracks and the special effects of the screaming, shower running, and bathtub draining adds to the scariness! John Addison’s Sleuth is completely out of place on this CD if you want to play this for the halloween trick or treaters. It is really a nice melody but way too pleasant and upbeat to be included on this compilation. For those of you who are not aware Torn Curtain was the score that Addison replaced Herrmann, causing Bernard to pack his bags and head for London. Far better to have included the Herrmann theme to his rejected Torn Curtain! It would have been an ironic turn in replacing Addison! The Light from Poltergeist (Goldsmith) and Super Sleuth (Mancini) are welcome additions both offering mystery and creepiness but the final track Gounod’s “Funeral March of a Marionette” (Theme from Alfred Hitchcock Presents) also seems out of place for halloween night. But you can push a few buttons and at least for halloween program these tracks out and double up on the Psycho screaming cues as the kids will love it! As a regular listen however, there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the selections that were chosen.

As of this writing the Chiller release is now part of the mid-line series from Telarc and is available at only $9.99 retail, an excellent value. Just the opportunity to own a different reconstruction of Bride of Frankenstein material, even though it is only 6 minutes, is well worth the price of admission. Recommended.

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