Dark Shadows Soundtrack Reviews

Well looky here!  The Dark Shadows team are on the ball for this one – releasing both the Original Score by Danny Elfman and also a CD full of songs taken from the film. Naturally we will have to look at this in two parts.

Looking at the CD with the songs first I knew instantly this was going to be a pleasure as it right off the bat we get The Moody Blues “Knights In White Satin.” A song still as graceful today as the day it was first released.

Iggy Pop’s “I’m Sick of You” makes an early appearance as well which then leads into The Carpenter’s wonderfully psychedelic “Top of the World.”  Yes you guessed it folks – we are back in time for this soundtrack… and yes Alice Cooper is here too. “No More Mr. Nice Guy” is perhaps one of the most overused Cooper songs in history, but that doesn’t make it any less great. But then we also get his “Ballad of Dwight Fry” as well.
Also pulling double duty is Danny Elfman who has a couple of tracks inserted that appear in uncut form on the other soundtrack. Don’t be fooled by the end track by Johnny Depp as it is clearly Depp quoting in spoken word for about 10 seconds (IE: dialogue from the film). But it’s a well picked selection of music.

The Elfman score soundtrack is a whole different bag altogether.

Now the problem I have with Danny Elfman’s scores is how alike many of them sound. It goes without saying her has his own sound… but for once it would be nice not to head heavy percussion crescendos, spiralling strings, choral voices and ringing bells.

He does it very well – but for all I care, half of this could have aided any of the Batman films he scored. But to be fair there is always the track here of there where he either breaks conventions or is just much more subtle.  Take a listen to “Is it her” or “Lava Lamp” which are very quiet and sad little tunes and are unrecognizable from the rest of his work. Every now again he truly pays homage to the B-movie roots that he and Burton love so like in the shimmering “Hypno Music” and “Dumping the Body” track which is vintage horror mood music.

The main and end themes are fine but not a big enough stride away from what we have come to expect from Elfman and Burton’s work together. But there is perhaps a reason for this when you consider the success they have had together.

Steven Hurst

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