FANGORIA'S TODD GILCHRIST LISTENS TO WAXWORK'S NEW 'CARRIE' SOUNDTRACK RELEASE
In his monthly column, "Let's Score Todd To Death," Fangoria's Todd Gilchrist includes a couple of paragraphs about Pino Donaggio's soundtrack for Brian De Palma's Carrie:
If you haven't yet wandered off from this Quentin Tarantino-OCD-party conversation crash course in film music's oddities and digressions, rest easy knowing that the last of this month's selections come from a real movie — and a bona fide classic at that. As always, Waxwork Records releases some of the best-produced soundtracks from the horror genre's top films, and its premier release of 2022 is Pino Donaggio's music for Brian De Palma's Carrie. Looking back at it, this score is essentially a dialectic between the romanticism of late '60s and early '70s horror composers like Morricone and Riz Ortolani and the emphatic suspense of the scores from '70s "prestige" (read: studio bankrolled) films like The Exorcist, The Omen and The Amityville Horror, where luminaries like Jerry Goldsmith and Lalo Schifrin offered their riffs on Bernard Herrman's music for the shower scene from Psycho. Some of it's too pretty for horror, and some of it's too simplistic for it (especially in 1976), but together it operates in the same referential way that De Palma's films do, for a simultaneously visceral and almost nostalgic effect.
Donaggio also composed a few goofier cues like "Calisthenics" or the halfhearted disco of "The Tuxedo Shop" that break up the sweet-scary rhythms of the rest of the score in a welcome way. Still, it's ones like "Carrie and Miss Collins" that so unforgettably underscore Carrie White's tragic, alienated journey, while "The Coronation / The Blood" is so vivid and operatic that you can see every swing of the camera as it follows that rope up to the rafters where a bucket of pig's blood waits to rain down on Carrie, unleashing the full intensity of her powers during the film's climax. Finally, some extra fake pop tune cues conclude the record. Versions of library music recorded deliberately as background or "source" music played not over the scene but inside them, whose AM-radio vibes manage to lull you into a state of calm and vulnerability that's unexpectedly, thrillingly broken by the brilliance of Donaggio's mastery of melody and mood. Of course, De Palma's film operates the exact same way, even before Carrie's hand juts out from beneath the rocks on her grave to grab Sue Snell; but the score for Carrie is a bit of an overshadowed classic, and like the other records listed here, revisiting or focusing more intensely on it offers multiple rewards.