Vinyl Review: Friday The 13th Soundtrack – Waxworks Edition
Say what you will about Friday the 13th. Call it exploitative, sexist trash. Decry it for being amateurish with shoddy acting and lousy writing, direction and cinematography. Dismiss it as a lame Halloween knock-off, an unoriginal rip-off of a superior film with nothing but a mean streak and some fairly impressive special effects going for it. Say pretty much anything negative you want about it, it’s probably true.
But don’t knock the score.
The score to the original Friday the 13th is one ofthe most iconic in film history, and easily the crowning cinematic achievement of composer Henry Manfredini. While it cribs from other film scores, most notably Psycho and Jaws, it does its best to carve out its own identity as well. The recurring theme of “ch ch ch, cha cha cha,” in actuality a stretched out vocal sample taken from Mrs. Vorheeves’ dialogue, adds a bizarre layer of music-concrete to the composition that, along with nearly non-stop sudden stops and starts, creates a piece of music that is nearly as unsettling and startling as the film from which it came.
Too bad it’s been nearly impossible to buy for almost the entirety of its existence.
Its difficult to remember this now, but the original Friday the 13th was a low budget flick. It may have been distributed by Paramount, but it was made independently on almost no money at all. To think that anyone at that time had any thoughts that a soundtrack release would be successful is a fantasy.
No, the actual score to Friday the 13th was not released at all until 2012, thanks to La La Land records. Of course, like all La La Land CDs, it was strictly a limited affair, so they sold out rather quick (you can still snag one for fairly affordable prices though if you scan eBay or Discogs though).
Now, if you’re wondering when the album was released proper on vinyl – the answer would be, well, never.
Yup. Friday the 13th, one of the most iconic, memorable and influential scores in horror movie history, never got a proper vinyl release. The closest it ever got was a 1983 LP that mashed together highlights from the first three films. That was it. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
Some 34 years (holy shit) after the film’s original release, the score to Friday the 13th has finally received a proper vinyl release, thanks to horror soundtrack re-issue label Waxworks Records. No doubt, they probably realized that this would be one of the most anticipated releases in the history of their label. Surely they would make sure that they didn’t drop the ball on it, right?
Eh, yeah about that.
Okay, first – what they got right. I like to start with positives, there’s too much negativity in the world. So, one thing that Waxworks got right with this release is…
Well you see they…
Okay. Let’s start with the cover.
I mean, I guess it’s fine. But in the entirety of iconic images associated with the Friday the 13th series, this is what they go with? A picture of an eye with some trees? It’s okay, but isn’t the original Friday the 13th poster on of the most recognizable in all of slasherdom?
Why not go with some variation of that? Or base it on some noteworthy scene from the film, the final decapitation or jump scare certainly come to mind. I suppose that they were trying to go with something more subtle with the cover they chose, but I think they went too far in that direction.
As for the sleeve in which the cover is pressed onto, it’s fine. Thick and sturdy, albeit not sturdy enough to prevent this.
Attention: every single record company, when you ship your records, ship then with the LP OUT OF THE SLEEVE SO IT DOESN’T DAMAGE IT. That’s some eBay 101 shit right there. Real amateur hour by Waxworks to not to realize that.
Sigh. Anyways, onto the LP itself. Waxworks pressed several different variants of this one, the most notable being an awesome blood-soaked edition with liquid “blood” in the actual record. It looks amazing. It looks incredible. It looks like the kind of thing most hardcore horror fans would gladly pay a premium price for. Of course, Waxworks decided they don’t want their money, and they only made 100 of them. One hundred that sold out within seconds of them going on sale.
Quick sidenote, the sale of this was a real clusterfuck. The influx of customers made the site crash several times, forcing the “launch” back by a few days. While the site was down, Waxworks announced that they would let people know via Twitter when the sale would be back on. But they somehow even managed to screw that up, with customers reporting on Twitter that by the time Waxworks sent out the tweet about the LP being back on sale, the blood-filled variant, along with most of the others, were already sold out (and, of course, on eBay).
To their credit (hey I found a positive thing) Waxworks did leave one color variant to be non-limited, meaning anyone can go t their website right now and buy it. It’s advertised as a murky green. In reality, it’s damn near pitch black.
See any green there? Me neither. I honestly thought they screwed up and sent me a black LP until I held it up to the light, and since I don’t have a light under my turntable, so that’s pretty pointless.
But that really doesn’t matter anyway. I’ve played this LP once and I’m never going to play it again – as it sounds bloody awful. The score to Friday the 13th is a quiet one, only punctuated by bombastic blasts of noise meant to startle and scare. Unfortunately, the Waxworks release a noisy affair, with countless pops and crackles that suck away any tense feeling the quiet parts may have built otherwise. Granted, vinyl is an imperfect, physical medium. All records have some problems, but in this case the imperfections and noise are both so great that their impossible to ignore. It’s a mess. And for the record (unintended pun I swear), it is the LP and not my turntable/stylus. I tested out some other new releases and none of them had as many problems.
And nothing on my turntable could explain how just godawful bad the final track, the acoustic ballad “Sail Away Tiny Sparrow” sounds on this LP. It’s pathetic. Downright unlistenable, with hiss, sibilance and distortion. It actually sounds like it was lifted from a third-generation audio tape. Pathetic. Rips of the track on YouTube sound better.
So to review, a legendary soundtrack to a beloved film is given a vinyl-only release by a label that botches the launch; creates a bunch of variants made only for eBay flippers; leaves a standard version that’s ugly as sin; ships it cheaply as to cause sleeve wear; gives it a (subjectively) ugly cover; and it, to make it all worse, it sounds like hot garbage. Good job Waxworks. You shit the bed from beginning to end. That takes skill.
If you like the music from Friday the 13th, do yourself a favor and buy the version that’s on iTunes, it’s nearly complete and it sounds just fine. Don’t buy this. In fact, don’t buy anything from Waxworks until they get their shit together and start putting out products that, A: people can actually buy without having to worry about their website exploding from the demand (seriously, how is that a thing still?) and B: don’t look and sound like a pile of hot garbage.