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Soundtrack review: Warlock (Jerry Goldsmith – 1989)

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Soundtrack review: Warlock (Jerry Goldsmith – 1989)


“Warlock” is a cult horror film from 1989. It spawned two sequels, a game and a comic book and still has a big of fan base today. It has a sort of Terminator twist to it, with the main protagonists, the wizard and the witch hunter, traveling through time in search of each other. Jerry Goldsmith wrote the score and he wasn’t happy about the original mixes. Back when the score first appeared he was unhappy with the mixes and asked for some sounds and effects to be removed from the score. Now, finally, Intrada has put together a proper release that contains all the effects and instruments used.

“The sentence” opens this release and it has a true sorcerer sound to it. The synth and the xylophone inserts add to the eerie atmosphere. There’s also a harmonica which brings some rays of sun in this otherwise dark and ominous theme. Jerry Goldsmith experimented with electronic music in this one and blended these sounds with his usual sweeping, melodic pieces. The result is interesting and rewarding.

After this warm introduction, “Ill wind” gets creepy and has a dark spell sound to it. The strings menace, attack, cut and there is no trace of light. I am enjoying the strange and always surprising atmosphere of “Warlock”. Many experimental scores today try to mimic this sound but are not quite so successful. I find it strange that I am enjoying this score so much because I am not usually a fan of Jerry’s music. Yet there’s something about the flow of this score that intrigues me and makes me want to go deeper. I am listening to “The ring” with its creepy sound effects and that metronome swinging eternally in the background and I actually embrace the darkness of the surroundings. I am too far gone, too deep inside to be able to escape so I might as well make this my home. Jerry Goldsmith’s music has captured under its wealthy and complex spell and I will explore every dark corner it exposes or tries to hide from me.

“Like a father” is alluring and quirky. It feels as if I’m moving towards an unavoidable destiny. I like the motif, I like the strange sound effects and I like how it throws me in “The trance” which is even more interesting and macabre. This one is a 6 minute swamp that you will grow to find comfortable. “Warlock” is smarter and more addictive than many of the horror scores you hear today. It doesn’t just give the illusion of frights, it actually creates an entire world around the listener and even if you might think that salvation is on its way, you better think again. This isn’t a sound you can evade or hope it changes at the next cue. This score is like a dark serpent slowly slithering around you and surrounding you.

At times the music turns carnival like, creepy carnival that is. “Growing pains” has some moments when a beautiful gothic orchestral melody just rises from the abyss trying to escape the evil. Some of the most beautiful moments of “Warlock” are in here. I think that’s the theme written for one of the main characters because the same motif recurs in a few more tracks.

“Warlock” is a very interesting and layered score which will surely get everyone’s attention. I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much especially since me relationship with Jerry’s music is still rocky. But this is one majestic and thick composition to which I will surely return. Anyone who has the original album should run and get this one.

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 31 / 72

Album excellence: 43%


Ill Wind

Time Warp

The Ring

Like A Father

Old Age

Growing Pains

The Weather Vane

The Salt Flats


Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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