Chilling, majestic, powerful by Shawn Watson (March 30, 2004)
Chris Young has done some awesome scores in his career. Most of these come in rare limited editions (Urban Legend is rarest yet) so they're quite hard to come by. Much like this set. If you see it in a store...buy it.
His score to the first Hellraiser movie combines magical amounts of mystery, horror and intrigue that reflects the black magic nature of the film. The evil atmosphere is laid on so thick in the music that some tracks are actually bone-chilling. I love Young's approach to the film. Instead of a synth-sound (common with 80's horror movies) he opts for a huge orchestra of brass and strings and menacing piano cues, giving it more integrity that other horror scores of the time. Some of it sounds like his score to Hard Rain (which is also very cool) and some of it sounds like a warped, demonic music box.
The Hellraiser II score, while larger and more operatic, lacks the mystery and dark seduction of the first. It's a more conventional approach and Young gets a bit to carried away in making it overblown and bombastic. Some tracks, like 'Hall of Mirrors' and 'Chemical Entertainment', are just seven minutes of noises that stimulate in no way. The Hellraiser theme isn't used as dynamically as the first and it seems to take a backseat to constant crescendos and blasting orchestra.
Hellraiser III takes an action-based approach. Though composed by Randy Miller it definitely sounds like Chris Young as all the instruments are the same. I'm glad he respected Young's material enough to emulate it. Scoring a horror film with action cues is quite original, especially as high quality as this. But none of the tracks for this threequel are particularly great and the Hellraiser theme is sparsely used among the pounding action cues.
As the sequels multiplied the uniqueness of the scores diminished. Don't get me wrong, there is some classic stuff in here that is well worth the five stars. It's just disappointing this couldn't be kept up throughout the three movies. This box set is limited to 3000 copies and comes in a cool fold out box that resembles the Lamont Configuration and is shaped like a crucifix. It's definitely one to get if you're a fan of Chris Young.