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Scream
  • Composed by Marco Beltrami
  • Varese Sarabande CD Club / 2011 / 63:28

Wes Craven’s Scream was an unexpected smash hit in 1996, revitalising the horror genre and inspiring a new generation of self-knowing teen slasher films.  Its USP was that the characters – being killed off one-by-one by a serial killer – knew all the horror movie cliches and tried to avoid them.  It’s a pretty witty, enjoyable film, but the 350 knock-offs it inspired aren’t, particularly.  The most famous person in it, Drew Barrymore, wasn’t in it for very long and various young actors got their big break; another who falls into that category is composer Marco Beltrami, who had scored three ultra-low-budget films and a couple of tv shows at the time but was given the gig on the basis of a demo he wrote for a scene early in the film.  

Ironically, he reveals in this album’s liner notes that he wasn’t and isn’t a fan of horror films and tries to avoid watching them – ironic because he has written music for a lot of them in the 15 years that followed Scream and, indeed, only Christopher Young is as likely to get a call when somebody’s looking for a composer for a film in this genre.  Beltrami has gone on to become one of Hollywood’s top composers – in lots of genres – writing innovative, interesting music for a wide range of films.  It is interesting now, in 2011, to go back to the score that launched it all for him, released as part of Varese Sarabande’s CD Club, the first release since a very brief album shared with music for the film’s first sequel, this time presenting his complete score for the film.

Marco Beltrami

Of the score’s different ideas, the most famous is the beautiful theme for Sidney, the character played by Neve Campbell.  It has a haunting nature, it works perfectly in the film and greatly helped to give the score a real identity of its own.  Apart from that theme, melody isn’t really at the fore, with the score alternating between fairly straightforward orchestral action music and some more rock-based elements.  Some of the action material is terrific, Beltrami skilfully masking the fact that budgetary restrictions meant he had a relatively small orchestra to work with and providing some very exciting music in what would become his signature action style in cues such as the very lengthy “The Cue from Hell” and “They’re Crazy”, which cover over twenty minutes between them near the front and end of the album respectively.

I’m not so convinced by the rock elements, which are a little limp in comparison and take up a reasonable chunk of the album’s running time.  It’s great to finally have a proper release of Scream after all this time, but in truth it is less likely to be considered one of Beltrami’s finest scores than it is to be considered one of his most important, based on the impact it had on the rest of his career.  There are certainly some wonderful aspects to it, it’s fascinating to hear the early development of ideas which would become trademarks of the composer, and indeed it’s impressive to hear the scale of music he was able to write on such a small budget.  ***

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  1. Shaun (Reply) on Saturday 2 July, 2011 at 12:40

    Could you have found a less greasy picture of Beltrami?

  2. Wenda (Reply) on Wednesday 23 July, 2014 at 05:00

    Sorry, but this is not a ‘witty and enjoyable film’, it’s a terrible, cliche ridden spoof, which was doing exactly the same thing that all those 1980s movies did before it came out in 1997. And the music is utterly forgettable. To think that you gave ‘Ghostbusters’ the same amount of stars as you gave this bilge astounds me. Ghostbusters is a classic and is loved by all generations, not just one. You need to understand that you are in the minority by not liking it. Anyway, back to the Scream soundtrack: I am quite evidently not a fan of this movie and as a matter of fact it’s dated very badly and doesn’t have an iota of the respect it got at the time of release thanks to the internet and the fact that people finally realized there were better films out there. End of.

  3. Dave (Reply) on Monday 30 May, 2016 at 19:40

    Somewhat down the line a bit, I know but I really enjoyed your review of this complete soundtrack release James. I think the score is brilliant. The opening “Cue from Hell” is truly a godsend. It was most definitely a major letdown when the initial release of Beltrami’s music for the first two films (Varese Sarabande’s original “Scream/Scream 2” soundtrack album) came out and that piece was missing from the lineup. So to be able to have the entire score available to us is truly a treasure. Like I said, it has been a few years since this particular release but I thought I would give my two cents anyway.

    P.S… One cue does still remain unreleased though…