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Sunday, April 01, 2007

CD REVIEW - Deadly Friend

Deadly Friend
Music by Charles Bernstein
Perseverance Records PRD-LCSE-018 (US)
22 Tracks 68:44 mins

Before even giving any attention to the score presented here, I have to say that this is just about the perfect soundtrack release, for not only do we have Charles Bernstein's score, properly presented for the first time, but also included is a more than 30-minute three-way telephone conversation between the composer, the film's director, Wes Craven, and the label's Robin Esterhammer; with the disc accompanied by an eight-page booklet, featuring Rudy Koppl's notes on the production and its music, with comments by the composer throughout, plus plenty of stills and artwork to boot.
The film itself dates from 1986 and reunited Craven and Bernstein, following their hugely successful first collaboration on the horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street (which incidentally is also touched upon in the audio interview). Its story can be seen as a kind of take on Frankenstein, where a young student and science prodigy transfers the chip from a robot into his young female friend in order to save her life, but a malfunction turns her into a killer.
Bernstein's score incorporates orchestra and electronics to good effect, but when the original soundtrack album release came out, the music was not properly represented, due to the problems of reuse fees for the orchestral element. Therefore that album, consisting of Bernstein's electrronic mock-ups, is now properly succeeded by the score as it was heard in the film.
The new album presentation gets underway with the "Main Title," which presents the two more human themes of the score, the first, a flowing string theme, with electronic undercurrents, and then the warm, innocent theme for the friendship between the film's two leads. This warmth continues through "Paul & Samantha," and then the sunny "BB's Happy Times." "Sam Moves" injects an element of sadness, before the proud electronics of "Paul The Genius."
The first sign of trouble in the score comes with the threatening electronics that open "Dark Possibilities," but the cue ends quite dreamily, before the flowing main theme returns for "Basketball Game." Things really kick off however with the menacing "Deadly Moment," with succeeding tracks building on that menace, before we're taken out of things temporarily with the weird, but inspired, robotic walker "BB's Chant," which sees vocal BBs errupting all over the place.
Much of what follows is either suspenseful, threatening or downright menacing, either orchestrally or electronically realised, or with both in tandem and, as the score comes to its conclusion, we get stabbing Psychoesque strings in "Lasting Effects" and eerie sampled voices in "Inner Workings," with the "End Credits" seeing a return, in more electronic mode, to the themes presented in the opening credits.
The musical selections conclude with a commercially orientated version of "BB's Chant," with suitably strange, spoken lyrics.
Fans of the genre, or the film in particular, will want to get their hands on a copy of this limited edition release, which is a wonderful souvenir to have. Would that all soundttack releases could be so lovingly realised.
Check out the label's website at


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