Distributed by WaterTower Music
As a die-hard “Dark Shadows” fan, I was absolutely ecstatic when news came that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp were going to adapt that beloved 60s soap into a big-budget feature film. Ohh, but what a pairing of talent to material! Could there be a better contemporary filmmaker than Burton to adapt the somber, romantic, and sometimes just plain weird tale of Barnabas Collins, the vampire out of time who searches for love while attempting to rein in his monstrous side? Could there be a better actor than Depp, with his history of playing strange misfits, to lay claim to the tragic role created by original actor Jonathan Frid? This, surely, would result in the greatest Gothic/horror/romance of all damn time!.
And then … the trailer. You’ve seen it by now, surely, the opening twenty seconds of which look spot-on perfect, with its lush cinematography, sweeping music and Depp, all decked out in period dress while rocking fangs and Nosferatu-fingers. And then, what the hell is this? Barnabas’ fish out of water status played for yuks? “Superfly” on the soundtrack? “Bang a Gong”? Barry fucking White?! Just what the hell is going on here?! Have they really taken a television show known for its horror and romance and turned it into a damned supernatural farce?!
While I’m still a bit wary of the film itself, it has to be said that composer Danny Elfman’s score for the film is everything I wanted it to be. Dark, haunting, gorgeous, and thrilling, it’s all you should desire in a horror score. And, hopefully, it does a better job of representing the film’s tone than the wacky marketing.
Fair Warning! A few of the track titles to be mentioned are of a spoilery nature so proceed at your own peril.
Featuring twenty-one tracks, Dark Shadows: Original Score is hands-down the soundtrack to beat this year (so far, anyway). Taken as a whole, it’s a fantastic listening experience, while each of the individual tracks are strong enough to be sampled by themselves. Fans of Elfman will no doubt catch moments that seem influenced by previous works, though the bulk of the album is undoubtedly fresh and original.
Take, for example, the melancholy “Vicky Enters Collinwood” or the short, creepy “Hypno Music”, each reminiscent of Elfman’s work on Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. Or “Deadly Handshake” and “More The End?”, which seem to pay homage to Bob Cobert’s theremin-infused music for the original show. Further tracks include the intense “The Angry Mob”, “Final Confrontation”, and “The End (Uncut)”, along with the darkly romantic “Is It Her?” and the foreboding “Killing Dr. Hoffman”.
The standout tracks, however, are “Dark Shadows Prologue” and “Shadows – Reprise”, a brief cutdown of the former piece. Both encompass everything there is to love about this album and provide what will hopefully be the driving theme behind the film.
If I have any issue with this score, it’s that Elfman doesn’t cover Bob Cobert’s original “Dark Shadows” opening theme, which is as much a part of the show as Barnabas himself. To hear Elfman tackle that piece would have been something spectacular, one would imagine. Ah, well.
For now, I’ll keep my breath held that the Burton/Depp film is going to stun and delight audiences, whether they’re familiar with the original soap or not. But, should the film ultimately turn out to be a failure, at least we’ll have another wonderful Danny Elfman score to add to our collections.
1. Dark Shadows Prologue (Uncut)
3. Vicki Enters Collinwood
4. Deadly Handshake
5. Shadows (Reprise)
6. Is It Her?
7. Barnabas Comes Home
8. Vicki’s Nightmare
9. Hypno Music
10. Killing Dr. Hoffman
11. Dumping the Body
12. Roger Departs
13. Burn Baby Burn / In-Tombed
14. Lava Lamp
15. The Angry Mob
16. House of Blood
17. Final Confrontation
18. Widows’ Hill (Finale)
19. The End? (Uncut)
20. More The End?
21. We Will End You!
4 1/2 out of 5