Young composers have been increasingly turning to film music area over the last decade, a rather unsettling trend I feel. One might argue that it’s in fact a very healthy turn for the genre, injecting it with new and fresh ideas. While this is evident in some cases where new composers have indeed delivered outstanding results on a very promising premise for the future, I am afraid that the opposite situation is pretty much the case with the majority of cases, such talent and ability being rather questionable.
Such seems to be the situation here, with New Zealand-born and Australian-raised guitarist and composer, Cliff Bradley who came out of nowhere. Undead is his 3rd scoring effort. Essentially, and as mentioned in the rich and colourful booklet of this release, the budget for this painfully bad, mess of a movie was cut too short – false savings? Bradley therefore, had to rely on various sound libraries, all mentioned specifically in the composer’s notes. Added to this, help from the addition of several solo musicians was utilized, on instruments like the harp, flute, violin, trumpet, wind-chimes, guitar and a small choir ensemble.
As far as themes are concerned, everything is based on sharp and synchopated variations of the main theme, as heard in the opening titles of the movie, “Prologue-March of the Undead”. Coming out of a sneaky 5-note brass motif, blended with militaristic snare drums and percussion, the theme suggests an interesting idea that constantly resembles a march and different renditions of it densely appear throughout the whole disc, basically building the entire score. On the negative side though, it completely overshadows the supposed four other themes that Bradley mentions that he built his score on. On top of that, we find the self-proclaimed serious and ominous theme for the town of Berkeley,where the story takes place, a peaceful town under threat but which ultimately survives. Contrary to its premise, the theme is a comically-sounding motif with a distinctly sham sound that begins to sound
ridiculous after the first few seconds, especially if you consider what it is
supposed to represent.
Some other interesting, but short and undeveloped ideas try to save things but the score ultimately fails to sound professional and meaningful. It really is far too complex, vague and unconvincing – in short a mess.
How this score got the green light to proceed I cannot imagine Bradley might develop talent for composing good and meaningful film music, but this is not an auspicious beginning.