Alan Silvestri,
Van Helsing
(Decca, 2004)

Hunting and slaying monsters is boisterous work, and when you're on the job, you want a suitably bombastic soundtrack to reflect your every peril-fraught move.

Alan Silvestri's Van Helsing score fits the bill. Unlike the elegant fugues for organ, screeching violins and crashing discords of some classic horror films, Silvestri acknowledges that Van Helsing is less about fear and dramatic tension, more about action and grand effects. So don't listen for musical nuances here; prepare for smashing percussion, blaring brass, chanting choirs and volume, volume, volume.

From "Transylvania 1887" to the "Final Battle," the score covers peak moments like "Werewolf Trap," "Attacking Brides" and "Dracula's Nursery." (Soundtrack writers never win awards for the titles of their music, you'll notice.) Silvestri's music here is somewhat reminiscent of some of John Williams' movie compositions -- although, like the movie itself, the soundtrack isn't as memorable as Williams' familiar themes from the likes of Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. -- with a few hints of Danny Elfman, too.

You're not likely to find yourself humming "Useless Crucifix" as you drive to work, but Silvestri's music perfectly captures the atmosphere of the film ... which is, after all, the main function of a soundtrack. If you enjoy a bit of gothic bombast now and again, this one's for you.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 3 July 2004

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