Sunday, January 8, 2012
The Sound of the Scare Part 3: Hellraiser
Clive Barker's "Hellraiser" is about an obsessive, sick romance- essentially it is a love story about Julia, a cold, sado-masochistic woman who falls in love with Frank, her husband Rory's brother and has a lurid, insane love affair that is abusive and twisted. She is addicted to him, and is willing to kill men to use their blood to bring Frank back to life. Kirsty discovers that her step-mother Julia is luring men to her new home and murdering them, and then stumbles upon the horrors of Hell itself when she learns the secret of Frank's resurrection. The score of "Hellraiser" was composed by Christopher Young.
Christopher Young is a musical force to be reckoned with in the Horror genre. He has composed a long list of movie scores that includes "Hellraiser," "Hellbound: Hellraiser II," "The Fly II," "The Dark Half," "Tales from the Hood," "Species," "Urban Legend," "The Grudge," "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," "The Grudge 2," "The Uninvited," "Drag Me to Hell" and "Priest."
According to Christopher Young, music is best used when it illustrates emotional moments of film or "spots" in a scene. Horror films tap into something that is important, our fear of the unknown and a movie's ability to induce a sense of fear that can be a positive experience for the audience.
His view is simplicity: make music simple whenever possible. The score of a horror film should be a luring sound, seducing the audience into watching the terror unfold before them. Contrary to the jump scares that many composers overuse to an abusive level, its not the loud blaring blasts of horns or screeching violins at the scary parts that scare us, but the smallest, subdued sounds in a quiet darkened room that scare people the most. The simplest, most direct sound produces the most fear response in us.
Clive Barker told Christopher Young to score Frank's resurrection with a waltz. The result is a haunting, beautiful melody that whisks you away. It contrasts beauty in sound with hideous visuals of a human body slowly building itself to fantastic effect. It is sensual, horrific and mocks the inadequacies of the frailty of human flesh in a way that no other song has ever managed to portray. Notice when Julia enters the attic to investigate, the only sound is a beating heart, until Frank grabs her leg, then the music returns, raising in volume as he reveals himself to her.
The "Hellraiser" soundtrack is one of the most heat-felt, beautiful orchestral Horror movie scores out there. The amount of emotions that are in Christopher Young's music lends a ponderous, melancholic weight and provides a growing feeling of dread, despair and terror as Kirsty's nightmares unfold on-screen. The music brings with it Julia's obsession with Frank and her yearning for his rough touch. The score manages to highlight some of the more subtler sado-masochistic themes of the movie that might not have been picked up by audiences. What's interesting to note is that the orchestra that performed the score did not get to watch the scene on a projector while they played, it was only described to them by Young. The emotions he put forth in the musical score, and the passion and imaginations of the musicians left us with a masterpiece, a quality of a Horror soundtrack that may never be reproduced.
Main title song of "Hellbound: Hellraiser II" is a celebration of Horror. Just listen to the choir and Grunke Orchestra!
Here is the rejected "Hellraiser" theme by the band Coil, who was originally slated to compose the score for "Hellraiser." Can you imagine just how different the movie would have turned out if they had gone ahead and done the score instead of Christopher Young? The emotions Young added to the movie would have been replaced by 1908's new wave experimental sinth-pop without any heart or soul. It would've utterly ruined the movie watching experience and detracted from the overall final product as opposed to adding to it, as Young's score did.