CS Score! Reviews Dracula 2000 and The Thin Red Line 4-CD Set
Welcome back, film score lovers! On this week’s CS Score! we’ll go over the release of Varèse Sarabande’s Dracula 2000 by Marco Beltrami and dive deeper into Hans Zimmer’s masterpiece, The Thin Red Line.
Before we get to ole Dracula, we want to debut a clip from the upcoming Ramy Seasons One and Two (Original Composition Soundtrack Album), featuring music by composers Dan Romer (Beasts of the Southern Wild, Skin) and Mike Tuccillo (Out of Omaha). The score to the comedy-drama series was released digitally by Lakeshore Records on July 3 and can be purchased by clicking the link below!
Listen to “Tame the Untamable”
Dracula 2000 by Marco Beltrami
Boy, who doesn’t love discovering a new soundtrack? Dracula 2000 arrived in theaters without much fanfare and grossed a ho-hum $47.1 million in the United States against a $54 million budget. This despite a stellar cast that included Gerald Butler, Christopher Plummer, Omar Epps, Sean Patrick Thomas, and Jennifer Esposito. Not to mention the involvement of horror maestro Wes Craven. Critics tore the pic to shreds with only 17% awarding it a positive review on Rotten Tomatoes.
Because of that, Marco Beltrami’s exciting score lay largely unheard for nearly two decades until Varèse Sarabande released it as part of its Little Box of Horrors 12-disc set. And now, the label has seen fit to provide the long-lost title as a standalone album available July 24.
While Beltrami doesn’t break any new ground with his work, he does deliver an exuberant sense of classical gothic fun. Take a listen to the opening track, “Lifeboat,” which begins with a dark and ominous underscore accompanied by the wailing vocals of Mamak Khadem and evolves into the thunderously exciting main theme replete with drums, powerful horns, and gothic choir. The whole soundtrack evokes some of Shirley Walker’s best work (namely Memoirs of an Invisible Man and even Batman: The Animated Series) with its powerful, dramatic brass and driving rhythms.
The next few tracks consist of typical horror ambiance — choir, dark piano chords, synthesizer — before the track “Mission: Impossible” explodes with a series of electronic beats more in line with Beltrami’s own Terminator 3 score.
Tellingly, Dracula 2000 doesn’t truly come alive until its sixth track, titled, “The Movable Feast/Come to Daddy,” which begins with electronic pulses before erupting into the type of gothic crescendo that would make Danny Elfman proud.
Other tracks like “Mary and Priest” lean on Khadem’s vocals (reminiscent of Lisa Gerrard’s work with Hans Zimmer on Gladiator) and occasionally pair the vocalist with lush violin, or ominous choir to rousing effect. The album’s best track, “At Home with the Creeps/Old Man in the C/Goodnight Moon” is a deliciously creepy bit that slowly builds to an exuberant finish full of wild percussions, choir, and some rather exciting orchestra.
“Tickle Me Elmo/Mary, Mary Quite Contrary/Mary & Drac Left Hangin’” is a lengthy piece that meanders about for its first half and eventually brings the entire soundtrack together with some exciting choir-driven action music. This new release also includes two additional versions of “The Sun Also Rises,” aka the main theme, and “Canned Heat.”
Again, while not groundbreaking, Beltrami’s work on Dracula 2000 sounds better than it has any right to, especially considering the hackneyed film it accompanied. Sure, it evokes memories of better scores and seems to borrow from the vocal influences of the time, but Dracula 2000 remains an exciting, even underappreciated gothic work.
The Thin Red Line by Hans Zimmer
The Thin Red Line remains one of the great scores of the last two decades. Ripe with powerful, sweeping themes and featuring one of the truly great tracks of our time in “Journey to the Line,” Zimmer’s work for Terrence Malick’s masterpiece is beyond astonishing.
La-La Land Records released a 4-CD package of The Thin Red Line in 2019, and we finally got our hands on the collection for a brief review. You can check out our unboxing photos in our last edition of CS Score. For this entry, we’ll take a deeper dive into the set.
The score to the film is presented over the first two CDs, which contain roughly two hours worth of music, including “Concerto for Beam (Extended Version)” by John Powell. Highlights of the first pair of discs include the tracks “Witt with Melanesians,” which introduces one of the main themes to the film; one that draws inspiration from the Melanesians track “God Yu Takem Laef Blong Mi.” “March Inland” features a quieter, though no less powerful, version of “Journey to the Line,” which serves as the main motif during the majority of the recollection sequences.
Another more sinister theme, mostly heard during the sequences featuring Nick Nolte’s Lt. Col. Tall, receives its first statement in the second half of track 3, “Witt in Brig/Tall and Quintard,” and pops up time and again between the more lyrical tracks. Zimmer also employs a more somber death theme in tracks such as “Keck’s Death”; and more dramatically in “Welsh Helps Tella.” More introspective music appears during “Bell’s Patrol.”
The first CD builds towards “Attack in the Bivouac (Long Version)” aka “Journey to the Line,” as its more commonly known, which remains one of Zimmer’s most stunning (and, ironically given the scene in which it’s used, inspiring) compositions. This music has popped up in any number of trailers and managed to lend power and grace to blockbusters like Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor.
Disc 2 is certainly quieter than Disc 1 as the film slows down to offer more character reflection. A majority of the music is a tad redundant and doesn’t offer much in the way of new material, but still features plenty of tracks to enjoy. “Airfield – Bell Flashback” is a quiet, somber, and heartbreaking cue comprised of rising and falling strings; while “Witt Killed” remains one of my all-time favorite Zimmer cues not only because of the context of the scene in which it is featured in the film, but also due to its stunning emotional core. Truly masterful stuff.
A number of alternate cues round out Disc 2, while Disc 3 provides the original motion picture soundtrack released back in 1999. A number of pieces not heard in the final film appear on this album, so it is essential in terms of gathering all the music crafted by Zimmer and co., though it feels a little cheap to force people to shell out $60 for a soundtrack they already own. In fact, it’s said that Zimmer wrote four hours of film score for The Thin Red Line. Why not include the music we didn’t get to hear?
Another disappointment in this collection lies in the fourth and final disc, which is comprised of Melanesian choir songs, only one of which was heard in the actual film. While the music is interesting, it most certainly won’t tide over fans yearning for more of Zimmer’s work.
Essentially, you’re paying $60 for two CDs and a spiffy making-of booklet with notes about the score and the film. If you don’t own the original soundtrack, then the addition of it in this set is only a bonus. However, it’s tough not to be disappointed by this set considering the material La-La Land had to work with. Though, the first two CDs are absolutely essential for every film music collector.