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Dark Shadows
  • Composed by Danny Elfman
  • WaterTower Music / 2012 / 52:46

Tim Burton gets a rare chance to work with Johnny Depp in Dark Shadows, his new movie based on the 1960s tv show.  Depp plays Barnabas Collins, a vampire who spends 200 years in a coffin from the 1770s before being awoken.  Burton regular Danny Elfman is of course on board to provide the music.  His score opens with a lengthy prologue, which is amongst its highlights.  Sweet music gradually morphs into the killer main theme.  Or should that be the Kilar main theme?  For the second time in the last few years (after Wolfman), Elfman seems to draw inspiration from Wojciech’s Dracula score; fortunately, he very much makes it his own, and it seems particularly appropriate in this context anyway.  Its appearances are welcome throughout the album.

After that wonderful opening, things become a little more schizophrenic – there is impressive, slightly subdued dramatic music where Elfman plays it straight (and really delivers fine music) but this is mixed with lengthy sections where the composer camps it up, reflecting Depp’s onscreen antics.  The silly synth effect that opens “Shadows Reprise” (and appears frequently later on in the score) disconcertingly reminds me of the music that welcomes Angelos Epythemou to the stage in Shooting Stars (apologies to those who aren’t familiar with BBC light entertainment shows – mind you, I’m not familiar with 1960s American soaps, and nobody apologises to me).  The main theme is great when used in an action setting (it’s given a great outing in “The End?” – skipped in “More the End” – before making a triumphant return in “We Will End You”).  Even forgetting the aforementioned similar to Kilar, it’s nothing particularly new, but the very familiarity in its driving rhythms turns out to be something of a boon.  The serious sections of the score are very impressive (there’s a surprising amount of emotion running through certain sections – check out “Roger Departs”), and if it weren’t for the fact that it gets a little repetitive and that there’s always some little diversion into silliness just round every corner then it would be a fantastic album.  The end result is on the right side of good rather than being truly great; there are more than enough well-executed Elfmanisms to satisfy any fan of the composer, but I suspect the album needed a fair bit of tightening to appeal to more casual listeners.  *** 1/2 |

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  1. Luc Van der Eeken (Reply) on Saturday 19 May, 2012 at 12:16

    The Prologue is one the most impressive pieces of film scoring I’ve heard in a very long time…goosebumps! I am so looking forward to Frankenweenie!