Film scores

Soundtrack review: The devil’s hand (Anton Sanko – 1974)

“The devil’s hand” is a horror story set in an Amish like community. The small and isolated religious community is shaken by the birth of 6 girls on the 6th day of the 6th month. Sounds like a darker “The Village”. Composer Anton Sanko is no stranger to great horror music (he wrote one of the most remarkable scores of last year “Jessabelle”) and he took a rather unique approach to writing this score: he developed a new musical language for that community. He imagined what instruments they might have had access to and simulated them.

The horror brand provided by these twisted and tortured instruments is clear and powerful. The music is minimalistic and menacing. When it’s scary, “The devil’s hand” feels like a thousand rusty metal teeth gnawing at you. The music doesn’t try to be complex or to take too many turns. It knows what it has to do and it does it very well. This also makes me appreciate emotional piano gems like “Just like her” which keep the darkness but make it more appealing. Sometimes a quiet but poignant score like this is just what the doctor ordered.

Sharp, screeching moments like “Chicken Coop” give me chills. The furious strings sound as if they are trying to escape whatever dark spell has made them sound like that. The dark echoes I hear made me realize that even if the strings did escape that trap they would discover more restrictions. There’s a constant growling in the music which makes it even more effective.

I welcome once again the sweet piano in “By the lake”. This is a shot of melancholy, efficient like a cold and rainy day by a lake. I am so fond of cues like these… a quiet and melodic piano theme can do so much for me and the beginning of this one is just perfect. I can almost feel the wet drops of mist on my face. I’m sure something lurks in the shadows but I can’t turn away.

In some moments of the score I feel a blend of enjoyment and curiosity because of the way the instruments sound. “Victims” is a very good example of what this composer can do. There are no limits to the imagination and there are quite a few interesting sounds and sharp thrills in there. Add to that a ghostly female voice in the background and you can’t go wrong.

If you like straight up interesting horror scores do not miss this one. Anton Sanko proves that he is a master of this genre with another creepy and exciting composition that passes like a breeze. A sharp, dark and mysterious breeze which doesn’t try to be more than it is.

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 11 / 28

Album excellence: 40

Highlights:

Just Like Her

Chicken Coop

By The Lake

Victims

Boyfriend’s Destiny

Mary’s Lament

About the author

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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