There are many things that make a movie what it is. It all starts with a story (according to what every How-To book on screenwriting tells us), there is the director and his crew, there are the actors, who bust their asses to bring a vision to life. Then comes the wonderful world of post-production. What is one result of that? The music. Soundtracks enhance the movie going experience. They can make us cry, they can pump us up, they can make us remember the 80′s. Whether it be a musical band or a composer, soundtracks help our favorite movies stay etched in our mind forever.
Christopher Young was born April 28, 1958. He started his musical as a jazz drummer before hearing the work of Bernard Herrmann, it was then he decided he wanted to become a film composer. Young has been going strong since 1982 scoring for a variety of different films in a variety of different genres. The subject of this particular column is his notable work in the world of horror. From 80′s horror to one of the better horror films or the last decade he has racked up a pretty impressive resume. See for yourself:
One word to describe Young’s score for Sinister and that is, sinister. Many have thought highly enough of this film to dub it one of the best horror films that 2012 produced, and quite frankly I agree. Select tracks like Portrait of Mr. Boogie are as haunting as anything I’ve ever heard, and it’s downplayed it’s done in a beautifully subtle way and that’s where this score works best. It creeps up on you. We get some truly haunting background vocals and noises in the background in a lot of the tracks, and while they are not exactly “Ave Satani”…it’s some of the best work in a horror film in recent memory.
Christopher Young has previously worked with Sam Raimi on Spider-Man 3, providing a score that was one of the better elements of that film. Raimi and Young reunited for Drag Me to Hell for a score that made the skin crawl just as much as Sinister did. In much of his work, there are a few cues in Drag Me to Hell that are almost touching, sort of like a lullaby before hitting you with the good sh*t…reminds me of his work in the first two Hellraiser films. My favorite piece in Drag Me to Hell is perhaps Young’s amazing use of the violin before hitting us with the epic dread filled moments, like that ending. Young and Raimi are a great team indeed, I say give him a buzz if Evil Dead 4 ends up happening Sam.
3. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE
Needless to say my favorite cue from this film is the brief moment when the iconic Freddy chant slowly comes in with Young’s score complimenting it so well. The concept of Nightmare on Elm Street is one that always inspired nightmares (pun intended) if you’re not safe in your own dreams where are you safe? It’s a great fear to exploit and a concept I guess you could say is only as good as the music behind it. There are dreamy moments in Young’s work here, the calm before the storm I guess you could say…then he understood that dream is slowly supposed to turn into a nightmare, and he delivered.
4. HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER 2
I was going back and forth on whether to focus on Young’s work for the original Hellraiser film or this sequel. I chose Hellbound because it won a Saturn award for Best Music, and in this case bigger was better. Hellbound was the grandiose version of the first film and Christopher Young composed accordingly, there were moments of chilling levity where he worked that lullaby like theme we discussed earlier before coming in with the all-out epic score that takes up most of this soundtrack. Dare I say there are certain cues in this film that remind me of the type of work Danny Elfman and James Newton Howard would go on to compose?
5. THE FLY II
The Fly II is an underrated horror sequel in my opinion, and Young’s work on this film is again nothing short of brilliant…he brought his A game. There are cues in this film that remind me of his work in Hellraiser, and well if it ain’t broke don’t fix it I suppose. Many composers spend a lifetime developing their own familiar sound and it works here, Young is one of the best at giving us horror scores that send chills up our spine, he can be subtle and he can be grand. He can move you and he can terrify you, Fly II is the perfect film to combine those two themes, and he did it well. Scores like this is what makes me say here’s to hoping Christopher Young returns to composing horrific work sooner rather than later.