Review: Seed of Chucky
3.5 / 5 Stars
The 1970s and early 1980s were the Years of Pino Donaggio. With classic scores like Don\'t Look Now, Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Piranha, The Howling and Blow-Out, among others, he was the undisputed leader of horror/suspense music during that time. A master at creating a chilling and ominous, dark atmosphere, his work was often compared to Bernard Herrmann\'s. He seemed to shift gears in the 1980s, and turned his attention to scoring dramas and romantic films.
For the fifth outing of his demon-possessed doll Chucky, director/writer Don Mancini brought us Seed of Chucky. The film follows the doll-offspring of Chucky, Glen (or is it Glenda?), who travels to Hollywood to find his parents. Once he does, he resurrects father Chucky and mother Tiffany - and the scares and kills begin yet again. Mancini picked Donaggio to score the film, because of his earlier horror works.
Released by La-La Land Records, the score album packaging is filled with artwork from the film, technical details, and production notes by Donaggio and Mancini. Musically speaking, it has all of the elements that made his earlier works, like Piranha, so enjoyable. The rich and colourful themes, suspenseful and tense violin passages interrupted by shockingly hard and direct stabs, odd piano passages, and slow chord progressions laid upon the lower register of the string orchestra along with the piercing brass clusters are all present. With an addition of electric guitars, odd synthesizers and electronics along with a primarily female choir the score sounds surprisingly energetic, modern and edgy, almost mechanical in some parts.
Notable tracks include the opening "Main Title" where we immediately get in touch with the main theme, stripped down to a creepy 8-note motif presented here as an ostinato and making constant passes through various instruments. Everything is laid upon a dark and moody veil of electronics and synthesizers, while violent violin stabs, electric guitar riffs and humming female vocals off a small choir ensemble, a la Danny Elfman, contribute to this entertaining and memorable whole. Clear-cut performances and renditions of this main motif reoccur during the whole of the score which follows. In "Glen\'s Escape" we get a short and rare melodic burst from the orchestra fronted by vocals vividly recalling Elfman\'s use of choir and large orchestra, specifically for scores like The Nightmare before Christmas. In a relevant note, more subtle, darker and eerie child vocals open "The Sweetest Voice" up until the full orchestra and dark electronics take over.
A sexy and cool saxophone prevails in "Our Jennifer" where we get the sensual and torrid theme for Jennifer Tilly, who plays herself, as well as providing the voice for Tiffany. This piece, along with "Ordinary Dolls", both accompanied by short melodic orchestral passages easily make up for a couple of the stronger score\'s highlights.
In "How to Get a Head in Hollywood" we get a glimpse of comical yet scary action / chase music performed by a very fast and high guitar. A low electronic percussion and effects with gloomy synthesizers characterize cues like "Inquiring Minds" and "Intestinal Fortitude" and concluding, we get two dense and intense sum-ups of all the basic elements that make up the whole score in the long and crowning "Pride of Chucky," along with the ending "Five Years Later/Gotcha!" adding a slightly humorous approach to the film\'s, and score\'s ending. The only element which could easily be absent from this album so that it wouldn\'t deduct from its listening experience is the painfully mediocre and messy rap song that can be found at the end of the album.
This is Donaggio\'s first work to be performed by the fabulous London Symphony Orchestra, and it has a broad, large and clear sound, but at the same time an incisive and surprisingly modern character, mainly caused by the unusual mixing of the violent strings and brooding electronics that dominate the score. While Seed of Chucky is not a masterpiece in any way, it certainly is a wholly fresh and organic work, coming straight from a long-absent master of the genre.
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