September 2001Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /Sept01/

Graeme REVELL Pitch Black. Bride of Chucky PROMO GRCD 01 [66:13]
(Available from Supercollector at



Looking up a list of Graeme Revell's credits I realise that I have seen rather more productions for which he has written the music than I realised. Eleven to date, and only once prior to reviewing the Red Planet (2000) and hearing Frank Herbert's Dune (2000) albums had I ever so much as noticed his contribution with anything approaching pleasure. That previous occasion was The Crow (1994), for which Revell wrote a striking score incorporating numerous ethnic instruments. Since then he has developed something of a niche scoring mid-budget, second-rate science fiction and horror movies. Pitch Black (2000) is typical of this sort of fare. An entertaining but nonsensical Alien franchise rip-off. The "music" is appalling. This "promo" is filled out with music from Bride of Chucky (1998). It is a little better.

Revell's music for Red Planet left much to be desired. His work on the Dune mini-series was better than the dreadful album suggested, but still remained perfunctory and far less than the production deserved. But both of those were masterworks in comparison to Revell's "score" for Pitch Black. When I saw the film Revell's work made me angry. This disc makes me more angry still. Why? Because of what it says about the current state of film, that any director, producer or film company can find the organised sound Revell delivered an acceptable audio accompaniment to a commercial motion picture, especially one making no attempt to disguise the fact it is following in the wake of Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Elliot Goldenthal... Angry that popular taste and film music have degenerated to such a level that this perfunctory sequenced noise can find its way into a multiplex and onto CD. Without exaggeration, it is the sort of work anyone familiar with a sequencing programme and a sampler could create in a few hours. It is the lowest common denominator; off-the-shelf atmospheric samples for the suspense sequences, pounding sequenced drum samples for the action scenes. With the film the "score" generated tension in the most obvious of ways; uncanny sounds and relentlessly pounding rhythms will do that. On album it is so devoid of musical content as to be simply pointless. It is not music. As composition it's child's play.

Bride of Chucky (1998) aka Child's Play 4 predates Pitch Black but is more of the same with a little snarling orchestral brass and what sounds like real strings, but again may be samples. It is more varied than Pitch Black, but away from the film almost as hard to endure. With Tomb Raider also to his "credit" it is rapidly becoming obvious Graeme Revell is the least deserving of his position of all current "name" film composers. Given the distinguished history of science fiction and horror film music, his lazy, utterly uninspired work for Pitch Black is nothing but a disgrace. That he continues to be paid to churn out this cacophonic pap is almost beyond belief. What is truly saddening is that there are many fine composers constantly being denied the opportunity to show they could do infinitely better.

Gary S. Dalkin

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