May 19, 2013
This Willard (2003) starring Crispin Clover and Laura Elena Harring is the remake of the 1971 version that starred Bruce Davison, Ernest Borgnine, Elsa Lanchester, and Sondra Locke with musical score by Alex North. The North score was never released and the only way to listen to it is to purchase the movie which is still available.
Shirley Walker (1945-2006), composer of the remake, who was known for her orchestral arranging talents and behind the scenes work certainly showed that maybe she should have been given more opportunities to compose but that is probably a story itself and left for another article.
While I was reading the John Takis notes before going to sleep I was so intrigued about the explanation of the orchestration I had to put it on first thing in the morning to listen to it. I was immediately impressed with what I heard. Not only did I hear the style of Herrmann (who better to learn from) but an arrangement which used 5 accordions and a bass accordion. As the track continues we are treated to creepy xylophone bars (like Herrmann) difficult triple tonguing trumpet phrases and all around one of a creepy tone we just know is going to scare us. All of this in just the first three minute!
The main title is repeated often throughout the remainder of the 51 minute score. The second track “Rats in the Basement” continues with the main title along with a hint of Dies Irae (Ben’s Theme) to provide an even more haunting effect. “Willard Checks Traps” is a short cue with shimmering strings followed by a repeat of the main title. “Demoted/Mr. Martin” clearly features the Dies Irae theme again. If you’re looking for a quiet track featuring a recorder and a major chord with a somewhat romantic oboe certainly not what you’d expect to hear if the previous tracks were any indication. The Socrates theme is the one exception in the score as it represents whatever love interest with Willard there might be in the film. “What Can We Do/That’s Not a Mouse” features some nifty brass passages that are nicely complemented with tremolo strings. A couple of the phrases are jazz like which did grab my attention. “Rats Chase Willard” is another track featuring the pounding pulsating relentless brass. The Ben theme is present along with slow tension building music. “End Credits” is a winding down of this roller coaster score with some quiet thought provoking music.
If you’re not into scary type music this is definitely one you can pass on as it won’t be your cup of tea. However, if you are into scary material you’ll find this to be one of the creepier ones you’ve ever heard. I’ve included an audio clip of the main title as a sampler.
As with many of the La-La Land releases this is a limited edition of 3000 units so while I anticipate stock for a time these recordings have a way of selling out. The John Takis notes and track analysis are on par with the best!
Total Duration: 00:50:13