Ooo! More music!
CD: Child's Play (1988)
Review Rating:   Excellent  
...back to Index
La-La Land Records
Catalog #:

LLLCD 1108  

...or start from scratch

October 28, 2009

Tracks / Album Length:

14 tracks / (64:53)


Composer: Joe Renzetti

Special Notes:

8-page colour booklet with liner notes by composer/writer Brian Satterwhite / Limited to 1200 copies

Comments :    

La-La Land Records’ latest CD of a vintage synth score brings back into circulation a long unavailable soundtrack by composer Joe Renzetti, a name better known to horror fans for Poltergeist III (which enjoyed LP and CD releases) as well as the first two Basket Case sequels, the infamous Frankenhooker, and the original Child’s Play.

Unlike the slight tongue-in-cheek quality of Poltergeist III, Child’s Play was scored with a straight face, and that makes the score a bit of a cross-over, since it embraces horror as well as action and suspense genres. Right from the title track we’re into a tense action mode, with a stalking atmosphere covered by murky synth chords and echo-tinged metallic percussion. Notes tend to ascend towards a drawn-out climax, and when the score isn’t evoking the atmosphere of a malevolent force at play, there’s moments of sustained tension, tonal ambivalence, and shades of synthetic dissonance that warp, shimmer, bleed, and bubble up from chilly depths.

The familiar approach would’ve been to base the score around a lullaby or gentle child’s theme that becomes more demented as the evil Chucky doll starts to maim and murder its way through a peaceful household, but Renzetti primarily went for base emotions – rage, fear – and explored them with dynamic and often abstract sounds. There are few signs of melody in the score, and yet it’s not a wall of sound design because Renzetti’s electronic palette is exceptionally large; had he used a full-sized orchestra, the results would’ve been far less terrifying, because the somewhat sterile quality of some sounds compliment the flat-out evil nature of the Chucky doll.

Even the disco source music in “Street Music” (unused in the film) sounds like unfinished rhythm and coarse vocal tracks instead of a banal source tune, and alongside the unused “Chucky’s Song” at the end of the CD, the score is almost bereft of any melody or warm harmonics. When the film’s theme actually plays over the end credits (“Goodbye Chucky”), it’s more of an up-tempo lament, and the most recognizable components used by Renzetti in the score are the twinkling notes and the main rhythm line, fleshed out and textured in stalking and attack cues.

“Good Night A.H.” for example is a beautiful cacophony of fat analogue percussion (bass, metal hits, crunched sequencer hits) and watery metallic pulses, which come in an initial onslaught, and then re-emerge in smaller regroupings. Renzetti also uses woodwind samples – flutes, clarinets, and exotic wooden flutes – and treats them with low frequency vibrations.

One of the reasons Tom Holland’s film was so successful was the primordial character of Chucky – he’s both a rotten creature as well as a youthful cluster of evil energy – and Renzetti’s music only aims to cover the growth of evil, and the fear within Chucky’s victims. It seems one-dimensional, but Renzetti creates a lengthy suites of rage and angst using a broad array of emulations, synth sounds, and rhythms, so at over an hour, Child’s Play is a gripping little album.

Brian Satterwhite’s liner notes cover the film’s contextual ties to the consumerism and late eighties fads, and he includes interview material from producer Don Mancini, director Tom Holland, and composer Renzetti. The only thing missing, though, is a broader portrait of the composer himself, since Renzetti’s movie career began with an Oscar win for The Buddy Holly Story in 1978, scoring the John Carpenter directed bio Elvis (1979), and a gradual move to dynamic synth scores for horror films before virtually disappearing from movies.

Even with the handful of cues that were edited into suites on the Poltergeist III album, it was evident Renzetti’s technique was more sophisticated than other contemporaries whose background shared a similar mix of film and popular music. The release of Child’s Play – augmented with almost 20 mins. of more music than the 1989 Milan CD & LP - certainly validates his stance as an underused talent within film, and La-La Land’s album will please Chucky fans, as well as admirers of vintage synth scores.


© 2009 Mark R. Hasan

_IMDB Bio _______DVD Review ___Composer Filmography___CD/LP/MP3 Release Historyy
_IMDB Detailed Entry______CLICK to read the DVD review!_____Composer Filmography/Discography at Soundtrack ________Additional Related Sites
Top of Page__ CD / LP Index "C"

Site designed for 1024 x 768 resolution, using 16M colours, and optimized for MS Explorer 6.0. KQEK Logo and All Original KQEK Art, Interviews, Profiles, and Reviews Copyright © 2001-Present by Mark R. Hasan. All Rights Reserved. Additional Review Content by Contributors 2001-Present used by Permission of Authors. Additional Art Copyrighted by Respective Owners. Reproduction of any Original KQEK Content Requires Written Permission from Copyright Holder and/or Author. Links to non-KQEK sites have been included for your convenience; KQEK is not responsible for their content nor their possible use of any pop-ups, cookies, or information gathering.