|The Howling Music by Pino Donaggio
La-La Land Records 2005
composed a standout score for THE HOWLING. From the beginning Donaggio establishes a feel
of an old monster movie using the orchestra & electronics to bring terror without
substituting melody. Sure there are a couple tracks that feel like 70s pop "Hunting
for Shadows," "Channel 6 Update News Theme" and "End Title" but
for the majority of the other cuts, THE HOWLING is classically scored.
"Sleaze/Karens Nightmare" features a dark, dreamy theme that is unforgettable. While listening to it, I immediately visualized Karen White (Dee Wallace Stone) in the XXX-rated movie theater with Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo). "The Howling" is the main theme of the movie and is built around this dark, dreamy repeating theme.
"Doctors Orders" and "Wolf at the Door" made me think of use of the organ in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. In fact when I was playing this soundtrack at work, my co-worker asked, "Is that PHANTOM OF THE OPERA?"
Donaggio uses strings in Bernard Herrmann fashion throughout the score and is especially comparable in tracks such as "Spectre/Escape From The Morgue," "Something Nasty in the Woods," "Wolf Bites Man!" "Wolfing Down Terry" and "Fur From the Madding Crowd" all have strings building to a plateau of terror. Its not by coincidence that you feel suspense in the film when these tracks play.
"Animal Magnetism" has a similar beautiful feel as Donaggios CARRIE theme.
"Transformation" pulsates and punctuates the incredible scene where Rob Bottins special make-up effects top even Rick Bakers AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON work. I cant help but mention and be reminded of this scene by the wonderful photos La-La Land has included on this CD. My feeling is that the reason why Bottins werewolves look the most spectacular is because they look like the wolf in the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Standing tall on two feet, Bottins werewolves have huge heads with long snouts, which are a nightmare turned physical reality.
It was pretty cool to hear the seven Bonus Tracks. The five Electronic Stingers are something I dont think Ive ever heard on a soundtrack before.
As always, La-La Land does an amazing job with the linear notes. The part that stood out was because Joe Dante didnt speak Italian and Pino Donaggio didnt speak English, they had to communicate with the help of actor/director Paul Bartel in Spanish. Thats a pretty crazy way to converse with each other, but it sure the heck worked.
You dont find scores like THE HOWLING today. It was a unique time for film music and horror films in general. You had talented filmmakers steeped on the classics of yesterday bringing in their energy to revitalize the genre. Joe Dantes vision, 19-year old Rob Bottins tremendous werewolf effects and Pino Donaggio made THE HOWLING the best werewolf film to date.