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The Geek Life: Our Holiday Music
Scrooged and Die Hard Soundtracks
By Robert T. Trate
December 21, 2011
The Geek Life is a weekly look at what is going on in the Geek Culture. Movies, Comics, Books, Video Games, and TV Shows encompass more than just release dates and reviews. This week the Geek Life reviews some new Holiday music for Geeks.
Collecting a film’s soundtracks is a rewarding niche to a film aficionado’s obsession with the movies. More often than not modern soundtracks encompass “hit” songs by pop artists that mark the time and little else. Especially since these wanna be hit songs usually take up valuable space which could be better used for the film’s actual score. In the case of Scrooged, only a few tracks were dedicated to Danny Elfman’s music. The rest were filled with holiday songs and pop hits. Thankfully, the die hard film score fans of La-La Land Records saw to it that the work of Mr. Elfman got the treatment it so rightfully deserves. Along with the release of the complete Die Hard score, La-La Land Records gave film aficionados some incredible holiday music this year.
Film: Die Hard [Complete]
Composer: Michael Kamen
Original Release of Music:
Mania Grade: A
A film such as John McTiernan’s Die Hard is one that many people don’t think of as a holiday movie. To listen to the complete score, however, one will find not only holiday chords running strongly through the piece, but a western motif as well. This western homage fit perfectly into Bruce Willis’ John McClane. They are subtle and easily missed but with the yelling, screaming, and gunfire removed the score highlights this lone gunmen trying to save the day.
“The Battle/Freeing The Hostages” – track 8, disc 2
This is music that many people associate with the film. It possesses the dark undertones that John has to rise above. Here, Kamen also supplies a military drumbeat to help John keep pace with what he knows he has to do. It’s a great track from score. (Listen to it here)
“Bill Clay” – track 3, disc 2
There is a spider to the fly conversation that happens in this track and Kamen backs that up with this ominous tune. We know that Bill Clay is really Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) but does John? It’s unsettling and the music keeps it that way.
“I Had an Accident” – track 5, disc 2
There aren’t many soft moments in Die Hard, yet “I Had an Accident” gives the right feeling to Sgt. Powell’s (Reginald VelJohnson) admission to having killed a kid. It’s never too tragic but supplies the right mood for a moment that couldn’t be avoided.
“Let it Snow” – track 12, disc 2
Vaughn Monroe’s rendition of Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne’s holiday classic is for the true fan of the film who has always wanted to play that version at his/ her holiday party. It is a great send off for the film and another reminder that yes, this is indeed a Christmas movie.
“Christmas In Hollis” – track 21, disc 2
Yes, this is the original version by Run-D.M.C.”Christmas In Hollis” is as synonymous with the film as Bruce Willis. The nice little bonus to this track is that, after its completion, you get a taste of Roy Rogers’ music combined with Beethoven’s 9th.
The CD set is missing an essential piece of music and that very well may be because it was not originally written for Die Hard. At the end of the film when Karl (Alexander Gudunov) comes to from his body bag, the music builds to an incredible crescendo just before he is dropped by Sgt. Powell. That music is from James Horner’s Aliens score (first few minutes of the cue "Resolution and Hyperspace"). Outside of that omission and a piece from the film John Scott’s Man on Fire (1987)this is the release that Die Hard fans have been waiting for. Which has become apparent as the Soundtrack is now sold out (officially out of print) on La-La Land Record’s official site.
Composer: Danny Elfman
Original Release of Music:
Mania Grade: A
For all of Danny Elfman’s dark and twisted collaborations with Tim Burton he has actually written some of the finest holiday music in decades. Whether it is in his The Nightmare Before Christmas, Batman Returns or Edward Scissorhands, Elfman knows how to capture the spirit of Christmas. The three previously mentioned films are all collaboration with Tim Burton. Shockingly enough, however, his darkest Christmas score is from Richard Donner’s Scrooged. The modern telling of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ perfectly suits Elfman’s abilities to establish mood, character and that uneasiness this dark tale requires. Long has this score been confined to Elfman’s Music For A Darkened Theatre: Film & Television Music, Vol. 1. Now it can be heard in its entirety.
“The Big Freeze” – track 15
Any fan of Elfman will hear hints of Beetle Juice’s “that’s the lost souls room” tack. Though as it becomes familiar there is a hint of time ticking away. It quickly becomes very dark and a great reflection of what Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is going through internally (Listen to it here).
“Source Cues: Frisbee the Dog” - track 31
This collection features numerous bonus tracks, source cues and alternate tracks. Any fan of the film and or of Elfman will love “Frisbee the Dog”. It will instantly remind you of Elfman’s second film score, Peewee’s Big Adventure. This is easily one of the most memorable tracks on the disc (Listen to it here).
“Wild Cab Ride” – track 10
When Frank is taken on his wild cab ride into the past, Elfman provides a holiday melody mixed with pure insanity. There are chords here that inspire Jack Skellington’s Christmas Eve ride as well as the Dark Knight heading into Gotham.
The tracks listed on the Scrooged disc are brief. They are not the swirling epic renditions from Elfman’s Music For A Darkened Theatre: Film & Television Music, Vol. 1 CD. This is probably because of all the traditional holiday music and TV programs in the film. Each is a marvel and gem to re-discover. The film itself was released in 1988 and was clearly the groundwork for Elfman’s future holiday scores. A true fan will appreciate the subtle differences, where as the occasional fan will only hear Batman Returns, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and even Darkman.
In celebration of their next big release La-La Land Records is screening “a rare 35mm double-feature of Friday the 13th (1980) and Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) on Friday, January 13, 2012 at the historic Vista Theater in Los Angeles.
The evening will be hosted by La-La Land Records, Creature Features and ShockTillYouDrop.com, in celebration of the premiere soundtrack release of Friday the 13th Parts I-VI, A Limited Edition 6-CD Box Set, featuring composer Harry Manfredini’s acclaimed, never-before-officially-released Friday the 13th scores.
Between the films, a Q&A panel will be hosted by ShockTillYouDrop.com managing editor Ryan Turek. Special guests will include Friday the 13th and Friday the 13th Part 2’s Adrienne King, composer Harry Manfredini, and Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives actors Thom Mathews, David Kagen, Darcy DeMoss, Vinnie Guastaferro and Nancy McLoughlin. More guests to be announced!
The event will serve as the release party for the Friday the 13th Parts I-VI box set, available in a limited edition of 1300 units. The box set includes 6 CDs and a 40-page book, and will be available for $70. (CASH ONLY, sales tax included). The box set will also be sold at www.lalalandrecords.com starting Jan. 13, 2012. Special event-only merchandise, created for this screening, will also be on hand! Tickets available exclusively at creaturefeatures.com!” – La-La Lad Records
The Geek Life will be in attendance!
Robert Trate writes three weekly columns for Mania: the DVD Shopping Bag, the Toy Maniac, and The Geek Life. Follow Robert on Twitter for his for Geek ramblings, Cosplay photos and film criticisms.