Latest reviews of new albums:
  • Composed by Danny Elfman
  • Sony Classical / 2015 / 64m

R.L. Stine’s series of children’s books Goosebumps was turned into a popular tv show in the 1990s and at one point Tim Burton was developing a film version late in that decade; that fell through but it has now turned up on the big screen, starring Jack Black and directed by Rob Letterman.  The film is ripe territory for Danny Elfman and he seemed perfect composer casting – monsters, children in peril, dark humour.  He’s changed a lot as a composer over his career but from the opening bars of the album you know he’s gone right back to what most would still consider to be his signature style – a circus-like atmosphere (hints of his old favourite Nino Rota), a driving main theme, orchestra playing frantically, choir dipping in and out, even a bit of theremin – it’s a blast, which is good news because the theme’s all over the score.  A secondary theme is introduced next, in “Ferris Wheel”, which has a feeling of small-town charm not unlike what Jerry Goldsmith did a few times in Joe Dante films.  “Camcorder” is even lovelier, sweet and sincere.  There are several great action tracks, Elfman throwing in a gothic horror feel but the terror is generally of a somewhat comical nature.  Pick of the bunch is probably “They’re Here” late in the score, with the gothic feel pushed to the max thanks to the organ, the Goldenthalian brass trills and deep male choir.

For all the quality in a lot of his more “grown-up” stuff in the last few years, it’s great to hear Elfman do something like this again – it’s just so much fun and on a much higher level than any of the other music he’s done for kids’ movies over the last few years.  I love the way the album’s been produced.  I don’t know how many years ago I started imploring soundtrack producers to programme a proper album first and then put the rest of the score in the bonus section so everyone would be happy, but it’s finally happened – a 41-minute carefully-assembled sequence is all anyone needs, but the rest of the score fills out the album for those who want it.  At last!  And it’s classic, vintage Danny Elfman music, so much fun and I’m sure all the fans of his earlier Tim Burton scores will love it.

Rating: **** | |

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  1. Pepper Skyberry (Reply) on Saturday 31 October, 2015 at 23:54

    I’m going to go see this tonight 🙂 I will be keeping a careful ear out for the score! I agree that it’s a perfect project for Elfman; so many of his best scores are for fun Halloweeney projects like this.

  2. Pepper Skyberry (Reply) on Monday 2 November, 2015 at 14:02

    Movie was alright, score was great 🙂 I really appreciated the quiet moments, but the frenetic fun moments were classic Danny Elfman.