Joe Loduca’s expanded and re-recorded score on vinyl from Mondo/Death Waltz, unboxed and reviewed
Lend an ear to SPINEMA: a column exploring all movie music, music related to movies, and movies related to music. Be they film scores on vinyl, documentaries on legendary musicians, or albums of original songs by horror directors, all shall be reviewed here. Batten down your headphones, because shit’s about to sound cinematic.
The Evil Dead has been treated to a refreshed, expanded score created by original composer Joe Loduca. Death Waltz/Mondo’s previously old out production of the score features all new artwork by original Evil Dead poster artist Graham Humphreys and has been re-released in new Convention variant editions which also include an outer slipcover designed after the Necronomicon:
- MondoCon — Tri-Color Swirl (Snot Green, Red Swirl & Pink Splatters)
- Beyond Fest — Green, Blue and Black splatter
Unboxing The Package
Pictured herein is the MondoCon edition of the album, which includes the full double album, “Necronomicon” outer sleeve, and insert booklet with liner notes.
The MondoCon variant is pictured below. Note that each side looks quite unique, even reverses of the same LP.
Detail views of the artwork by original poster artist Graham Humphreys (click to enlarge).
Inner and outer art are modeled after the Necronomicon.
“With limited resources, I scored EVIL DEAD for a string quintet augmented by piano, hand percussion, a synthesizer and a bit of guitar — anything I could get my hands on.
So when I was last approached to reissue the score, I asked myself this question: Knowing what I now know, how would I write for that ensemble today? I am happy that I did. Welcome to my nightmare: reimagined.”
— Joe LoDuca
When I heard Grindhouse Releasing was pairing The Evil Dead with a new score, my first thought was to wonder if it would be a transformative experiment like Giorgio Moroder’s Metropolis, Ben Burtt’s modernized update to Wings, or Universal’s Dracula (1931) getting fitted with a Philip Glass score featuring Kronos Quartet. Not that any of these examples are bad — quite the opposite — but each was a transmutational experience.
The reality is actually much more conservative than those examples. As he expresses in this quote above, original composer Joe LoDuca’s philosophy was to remake his own score, which was his debut work, now as a seasoned pro with nearly four decades of experience creating music for film and TV. “Today’s audience is more savvy”, he explains, “so I have to constantly re-examine what is scary”.
I haven’t had the opportunity to see The Evil Dead paired with the revised soundtrack, so my experience is based on the traditional viewings of the film, and this new standalone record.
The album is a sprawling and packed 2-LP. Strings are definitely the star component of the score, taking the forefront in nearly all tracks. Overall, this is a score that focuses more on setting moods than establishing melodies. Moodscapes of nervous and mournful energy.
Even the “Main Theme” does this for awhile before diving into a big finish. Throughout the soundtrack, frenzied spiccato and staccato punctuate the moody soundscapes, with terse bowstrokes and percussion bringing bursts of energy to highlight scares and action — “Automatic Writing”, “Panic”, and “Book Burning” being prime examples of this.
Mixed in are several action tracks with big chase-type feel. “Give Us Your Skin” is one such fast-moving action piece emphasized by big percussion. “Shelly Attacks” and “Two Against One” are also along the same lines.
Strong themes emerge as well, of course — the opening “A Nightmare Revisited” has more varied instrumentation and specific melodies. “We’re Gonna Taunt You” is another standout, with tinkling piano keys creating an off-kilter, haunting sensation.
At perhaps its most bombastic, “Burying Linda” opens with a huge wall of strings that gives way to an escalating melody and that terminates with a short but jarring percussive outburst of what I assume is a synthesizer — a very foreign, modern-sounding segment completely unlike the rest of the soundtrack.
My own favorite track is probably the doomful “The Vines”, which is a bit reminiscent of some of the more nerve-wracking parts of Wojciech Kilar’s Dracula (1992) score — but in much more sparse and gritty fashion. Just tremendous.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed the score. As a standalone album, I’m not sure how it would play to the uninitiated — this strikes me as more of a companion piece to the film than an independent entity. It’s certainly of huge interest to Evil Dead fans as a new way to enjoy an old favorite horror experience, and in that sense it’s incredible, and I look forward to viewing the film with the new score.
All package photography in this article was taken by the author.