Vinyl Review: Re-Animator Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Waxworks Edition)
Cult film soundtrack re-issues are apparently big business now. There are two CD-only labels who deal almost solely in them (La La Land and Intrada) and new vinyl-focused labels with an interest in old horror and sci-fi film scores seem to be popping up everyday. First it was Mondo Tees, then Death Waltz, now it’s Waxworks, who have come out the gate with the score to one of the most beloved cult classics of all-time, 1985 horror/comedy classic Re-Animator.
The score to Re-Animator certainly is an interesting one. Composed by Richard Band (brother of the B-movie mega-producer Charles Band), the score liberally “borrows” from several classic scores by the legendary Bernard Hermann, the most notable of which being Psycho.
Band and the film’s director/writer Brian Yunza have long claimed that the film’s credits were supposed to acknowledge Hermann as an inspiration for the score, and that the lack of such mention was an oversight or mistake. That’s admirable (if it’s true) but that doesn’t really excuse what Band did. That’s not how music works, That’s not how music rights work. If you’re going to lift a piece of music out of someone else’s work and put it in your own, that’s more than inspiration, that’s theft. I get that this was the mid-80s and laws involving such things were still nascent, but common decency and professional respect should have been reason enough for Band to at least ask the Hermann estate if his use of Hermann’s compositions was okay.
Legal and moral quandaries aside, the soundtrack to Re-Animator is quite nice, providing nice accompaniment to the film’s many skin-crawling moments. It’s a soundtrack that works well on building tension and suspense, more about creating a sense of menace or creepiness than helping to accentuate jump scares. It’s one of those scores that just makes you feel uneasy from the moment you start it until the moment it ends. That’s always the sign of a great horror movie score, but it’s probably not something you’d want to pop on the turntable and listen to after a long day of work. This isn’t “relaxing” music or background music. It’s music you listen to because you love the film.
And a lot of people love Re-Animator, so good on Waxworks for making this album easily available and not an ultra-limited edition piece. I bought mine the day it was released, not the day it was announced, and it was shipped out to me that day. No hassle with waiting for announcements, no worries about limited stock or re-releases. It’s like Waxworks understand that if they make a product easily available, they’ll get more money! What a novel concept!
That isn’t to say that Waxworks doesn’t understand that some people want a more limited variant, and to that end they’ve done something rather ingenious. Waxworks pressed two versions of the Re-Animator soundtrack; a standard bright-green one, and a limited version that glows in the dark. However, buyers don’t get to choose which one they get. When you place an order, it’s chosen randomly. I’m sure this infuriates some people out there who just want to buy the rarest version possible, but to me it’s a great way to discourage speculators and other people who just buy limited editions records to turn around and sell them for a crazy profit on eBay.
Both the glow-in-the-dark version and the regular edition have the same cover, a new piece of art made specifically for this release. It’s a great image, but I would have preferred just a straight-up reprinting of the original album’s cover, which was based on the film’s iconic poster. If you do prefer this new art though, you’re in luck; a poster of it comes included with the soundtrack.
I got the regular bright-green version with my order (dammit) and while it looks great, perfectly replicating the color of the re-animating solution from the film, the audio quality leaves a bit to be desired. This is a noisy record, not with pops or crackles mind you, but with an omnipresent rumble or hiss, an audible background noise that permeates every single track on both sides of the album. This could be tape hiss or some other problem from the original recording, but to me it sounds like some imperfections in the vinyl. It doesn’t make it unlistenable, it’s only really noticeable at the very quiet parts or between songs, but it’s still a bit of a bummer.
While this isn’t a perfect release, it’s certainly good enough that any fan of the original film and its score should enjoy it. It looks great, comes with an amazing poster, and it sounds good enough to get the job done. If Waxworks can get their audio issues taken care of, I’m sure they’ll be putting out even better releases in the future.