Film Music Review
The Sammy awards







Music composed and conducted by Lalo Schifrin.

21 Tracks (Playing Time = 61:30; 20 Score Tracks, Playing Time = 59:33)

Album produced by Nick Redman. Performed by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Prague. Additional electronic music by Ruy Folguera. “One Blade of Grass” written by Roy Bennet and Sid Tepper, performed by Pat Windsor Mitchell. Music engineered by Michael Matessino at Sharpline Arts, Glendale, CA. Music edited and mastered by Daniel Hersch at DigiPrep, Los Angeles, CA; and by Gustavo Borner at Igloo Music, Burbank, CA. Art direction by Theresa E. Schifrin.


Rating: ***1/2


ABOMINABLE marks the directorial debut of Ryan Schifrin. Ryan’s dad, the incomparable Lalo Schifrin provided the score. It marks the first horror film Schifrin has scored since THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979). Coincidentally this is the same orchestra that Schifrin used to re-record his score for THE AMITYVILLE HORROR several years ago. While many can agree that the film is a classic cheese fest, it is the score that many reviewers of the film have found need to laud.

The one thing that makes ABOMINABLE interesting from the start is that one hears the blend of Schifrin’s style with the kind of contemporary horror gestures found in many Hollywood scores. The difference, and what really sets this score above the rest in the genre, is that Schifrin makes his effects happen through orchestration and instrumentation more than synthetic reproduction. “Animal Mutilations” has that kind of classic Universal Horror score sound with high strings, clusters, and unsettling diminished ostinato patterns. The terror of the scene is intensified by the savagery of the orchestration and the perfect blend of dissonance and release. The score has moments of tragic beauty and gorgeous harmonic writing as well, on display in “ Preston’s Memories.” This track in particular could sell the CD on its own. It is a reminder of just how great a composer Schifrin is that these moments still seem fresh in his hands.

“Monster Vision” is in essence a study in various ostinato patterns which pass from one orchestral area to another and along the way get treated to a jazz-like interpretation before mutating into the horrific plodding idea that likely suggests the murderous Sasquatch of the film. His thematic idea is something straight out of Universal’s FRANKENSTEIN films. In “Escape Attempt” there is an almost Shostakovichian blend of string writing with an almost cartoonish macabre intensity that is a treat to listen to even if it accompanies some pretty horrid imagery. There are a couple of “extras.” One is “Girls Next Door” which is a bit of comic-styled scoring with a little piano part out of contemporary classical piano literature. The other is a brief cue followed by an alternate version of “Rampage.”

The other interesting thing about ABOMINABLE is that the genre writing is utilized in such a way that it becomes a part of the score as a whole. Too often, horror scores tend to suffer from displays of compositional technique for their own sake which may be great for an album or to display ability but often the music suffers. ABOMINABLE is a score the practically exhibits the expertise and experience of its composer in every bar and like many other horror film scores, supercedes its material. One can hope that this release might open the door to discovery for new listeners, but for Schifrin’s fans this will be a welcome addition to their collections.

As a sign that some of this all needs to be taken with a grain of salt is the inclusion of the 1960s pop song Pat Windsor Mitchell’s “One Blade of Grass.” It’s a fine song, but within the context of everything else it will illicit a chuckle for most listeners.


--Steven A. Kennedy , 16 June 2006

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