Whatever one may think of the films
of Brian De Palma, few would deny he knows the value of a fine music score,
soliciting great late career work from Bernard Herrmann for Sisters (1973)
and Obsession (1976) and one of John Williams' very best scores for The
Fury (1978). During this same period De Palma forged a collaboration with
composer Pino Donaggio which endured through Carrie (1976), Home Movies
(1979), Dressed to Kill (1980), Blow Out (1981), Body Double
(1984) and Raising Cain (1992).
Donaggio, a Venetian composer who
made his film scoring debut with Nicholas Roeg's Venice set masterpiece Don't
Look Now (1973), has written the music for over 130 film and TV projects.
Yet in English speaking territories he remains little known beyond his collaboration
with De Palma, the vast majority of his work being for Italian films, many of
them in the horror genre, including several with Dario Argento. Those who are
familiar with Donaggio's Don't Look Now - still the finest film he has
scored - will have some idea of what to expect here. The lovely, ineffably sad
main theme is a close cousin to that from the composer's debut feature, filled
with the same sense of mourning and predestined loss. With flute to the fore
in the more lyrical moments Blow Out is again in similar territory to
Don't Look Now, and also to Carrie, De Palma's superb setting
of Stephen King's first novel. Again like Don't Look Now music for much
of the rest of the score consists of dark, suspenseful atmospherics; and should
you think I am pushing the comparison too far, both movies are sophisticated
thrillers and love stories which climax with the tragic death of one of the
lovers, so it is perhaps inevitable that the same composer would bring similar
stylistic devices to each.
In the suspense, action category,
"Burke to Phone Booth / Burke Kills Hooker" is a particularly effective set-piece
of growing terror and desperation, while the brief, harp infused "Sally to Station"
particularly evokes Donaggio's music for an Autumnal Venice. "Burke Meets Sally
/ The Station" and the following confrontation music develops considerable power
from relentless piano and military snare, while the final action is underscored
with heartrending lyricism, not blood and thunder.
The bitingly ironic epilogue, the
music for which is entitled "Good Scream / End Credits" is in the film both
heartrending and chilling, the music alone a wonderfully dark romantic adagio
for strings and piano.
The album also contains two short
cues not used in the final cut and two source cues, a soft jazz-rock instrumental
and a disco number, the latter used for the opening film-within-a-film and something
of a parody of rock band Goblin's work for the films of Dario Argento.
Essential for De Palma and Donaggio
fans, and an outstanding thriller score with some unforgettable doomed romanticism
for everyone else.
Gary S Dalkin