News Archive... AKA The Old Blog

Monday, May 01, 2006

A piece of my mind: 'The Howling'

The Howling - * * * *
Music Composed by Pino Donaggio
La-La Land Records (LLLCD 1037)

I’m sure that Donnagio has done fine work in all genres, but the largely uninitiated (like myself) will always know him best for his shamelessly cheesy horror scores of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. These scores tend to be hit or miss for me, but The Howling is by far my favorite of the few I’m familiar with. His signature cheesy synthesizers do play a significant role, but here Donnagio deftly integrates them into a score that largely triumphs as an unabashedly old-fashioned gothic throwback. Scored primarily for strings and organ (we think of it as a cliché, but how many horror scores actually feature a prominent role for organ?), The Howling may at times careen into gothic excess, but the over-the-top approach is perfect for Dante’s gaudy film and damned if it isn’t entertaining. As always, Lala Land gives the score a first class treatment, even going so far as to include the score’s brief synth stingers (sequenced, thoughtfully, at the album’s end where the majority of us can avoid them). - Paul Cote

This is the first of a slew of capsule reviews to be added to the site over the next few days. Yes, new reviews are coming...!