One of horror’s greatest sequels has a soundtrack that’s theatrical, gorgeously orchestrated, and absolutely to die for.
Horror sequels frequently lose a lot of the grim and glorious magic that made the first installation such a treat to see. New actors and directions come in, writers struggle not to repeat the same premises as the original, and composers get swapped out. A change in composer, while not as easily noticed as a new director or a fresh star, can make or break a horror film. Certain sequels get lucky — Christopher Young’s more orchestral score for A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is a very good analog to Charles Bernstein’s entirely electric score for the original — but others suffer under “sequelitis” and a changing of the guard.
Luckily for us, Evil Dead II is not one of those unfortunate sequels. As with the original (and every Sam Raimi series Evil Dead installment, from the silver screen to the Ash Vs The Evil Dead television series), Joseph LoDuca remains the composer and helps to carry the cult film to new heights.
Where The Evil Dead’s soundtrack was more sparse and atmospheric, Evil Dead II’s score is far more lush and dramatic. Some of the old horror is lost, as to be expected with the shift in tone between the original and the sequel, but LoDuca takes on the shift in tone with a skill that’s sadly lacking from many modern horror composers. LoDuca goes from a heavy string and piano based score done on a shoestring budget to the less striking but far more ornate and expensive horns and drums that accentuate the sequel’s music and make it pop.
My favorite parts of the soundtrack, however, are the places where the instrumentation returns to that old style. The ominous chorus and electronics that make up “Ash’s Dream”, the strings of “Love Transforms” and “The Putrified Forest” that dance between atmospheric and haunting. The “Hush Little Baby” bells that peek throughout the soundtrack even manage to do what many a modern horror flick has tried and failed to accomplish: make something from childhood seem a little spooky.
With an entire orchestra behind him (an orchestra that I cannot find a name for anywhere, not even on IMDB), LoDuca’s already wonderfully crafted music finds a vibrancy and shine that, while not always as good as its predecessor, creates a wonderful backdrop to the humor-infused horror that is Evil Dead II.
I give this album, warts and all, a high recommendation —especially if you can get a copy of the Waxworks remaster.
Written by Kirby Kellogg, Morbidly Beautiful