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Dark Shadows by Danny Elfman

Dark Shadows

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Dark Shadows (Soundtrack) by Danny Elfman
Dark Shadows (Soundtrack) by Danny Elfman
Dark Shadows (Poster and Memorabilia)










Dark Shadows (Soundtrack) by Danny Elfman

Dark Shadows
Composed by Danny Elfman
Water Tower Music (2012)

Rating: 6/10

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“All the elements required for a standard TIM BURTON score are present and ultimately result in just another standard TIM BURTON soundscape.”

Shake Up the Eternal Trio
Review by Richard Buxton


It’s surely safe to now say that the TIM BURTON-JOHNNY DEPP collaborations are beginning to run on fumes as DARK SHADOWS brings the two together yet again. Naturally, such a combination can only mean one thing musically, and that is the return of DANNY ELFMAN. What was once a trio that inspired awe and intrigue has now arguably become a tired exercise through the motions. ELFMAN’S scores for BURTON films have generally been solid, but bar an exception or two have recently failed to ignite anything but murmurs of acknowledgement. Does DARK SHADOWS, a movie adaptation of the 60’s TV show, venture beyond the tried, tried, and retried formula? Or does a spark of originality lurk in the dark?

Initial impressions suggest that DARK SHADOWS is another competent, but ultimately formulaic ELFMAN score. Further listens only reassert such assumptions, as ELFMAN simply ticks all the boxes required for a gothically inspired score such as this. All the elements required for a standard TIM BURTON score are present and ultimately result in just another standard TIM BURTON soundscape. That’s not to say that DARK SHADOWS is without its own individual merits however.

ELFMAN’S main theme for DARK SHADOWS, first heard in “Dark Shadows - Prologue” (1) is perhaps the only true standout melodic sequence in the score. The churning ostinatos and creeping strings provide a strong horror backdrop with that all-important comedic element subtly hiding within the harmonies. The theme is utilized efficiently throughout, appearing in full force during “Widow’s Hill - Finale” (18) and again in the score’s final track “We Will End You” (21). The alternating marching of the brass in “We Will End You” stirs the endless gloom of the theme in what is a short, but satisfying rendition given the limited scope of the melody. “Shadows Reprise” (5) is perhaps the standout variation on the main theme, as ELFMAN does his best Zimmer impression in equipping the theme with a greater sense of kineticism and impetus through the use of shifting synths, propulsive electronic bass, and driving string ostinatos. This theme received similar treatment, minus the synthetic side, in “The End” (19), which may prove a more entertaining listen depending on your affection for the mixing of electronic and orchestral elements.

Aside from the main theme, DARK SHADOWS offers very little consistency in terms of thematic development. Instead the score provides a consistently gloomy approach that never really becomes anything other than sufficient. The likes of “Roger Departs” (12) and “Is It Her” (6) provide an insight into the calmer and more emotional side of the story through the use of somber woodwinds and strings.

The more frenetic moments of DARK SHADOWS certainly captivate one’s attention, not through any masterful thematic content, but through pure blood-pumping action and force. “The Angry Mob” (15), “House of Blood” (16), and the opening of “Final Confrontation” (17) cry out for attention with their ever-increasing levels of intensity but are ultimately forgettable. “Burn Baby Burn/In-Tombed” (13), a third of the way in, is an example of ELFMAN experiencing greater success in the more frenetic moments without going as far as fully referencing the main theme. The aforementioned string ostinatos introduce a potent edge without becoming overpowering and lend the piece a greater sense of identity. Otherwise, these moments of greater intensity only serve to highlight the score’s over-reliance on the main theme and the lack of ideas elsewhere.

The tracks “Hypno Music” (9), and “Lava Lamp” (14), are worth mentioning if only to reflect on how little they offer this soundtrack release. The grating synths of “Hypno Music” and the lack of direction beyond atmosphere of “Lava Lamp” make these tracks questionable in the score and only serve to bring down the rest of the music.

DARK SHADOWS can only be wholeheartedly recommended to those with an intense love for all things ELFMAN and BURTON. It certainly has its moments, but is ultimately evidence that the eternal trio is one in need of a shake-up.

Rating: 6/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Dark Shadows - Prologue 7:52  ****
2 Resurrection 2:55  ****
3 Vicki Enters Collinwood 3:15  **
4 Deadly Handshake 2:15  **
5 Shadows Reprise 1:08  *****
6 Is it Her 0:43  ***
7 Barnabas Comes Home 4:18  ***
8 Vicki's Nightmare 1:26  ****
9 Hypno Music 0:48  ***
10 Killing Mr. Hoffman 1:14  **
11 Dumping the Body 0:59  ***
12 Roger Departs 2:34  ***
13 Burn Baby Burn/In-Tombed 2:49  ****
14 Lava Lamp 2:17  **
15 The Angry Mob 4:40  ***
16 House of Blood 3:39  ***
17 Final Confrontation 2:21  ***
18 Widow's Hill - Finale 3:47  ****
19 The End 2:43  ****
20 More The End 1:55  **
21 We Will End You 1:10  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 53 minutes  


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