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Soundtrack review: Buffy, the vampire slayer (movie) (Carter Burwell -1991)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Buffy, the vampire slayer (movie) (Carter Burwell -1991)

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“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is a 1992 American comedy horror film about a Valley girl cheerleader named Buffy who learns that it is her fate to hunt vampires.The film starred Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland, Paul Reubens, Rutger Hauer, Luke Perry, and Hilary Swank. It was a moderate success at the box office,[3] but received mixed reception from critics. The film was taken in a different direction from the one its writer Joss Whedon intended, and five years later, he created the darker and acclaimed TV series of the same name.

This is the history in a nutshell. Before becoming one of the best TV shows ever, there was at attempt (laughable) at a movie. In retrospect I’m glad the movie didn’t work because this made Joss create the series. Carter Burwell wrote the score for the movie and it was the released as part of LLL record’s Buffy box set.

The score opens with “The dark ages” (also an episode title from the TV show) and that deep brass sound gives me the impression of something ancient being conjured; this is nothing more than an opening insert. Back in the early 90s Burwell was already writing dark ironic scores for Coen Brothers movies but there’s no trace of that sound in “Buffy”. This score is mostly electronic, bridging the 80s synth sound with the 90s action sound that was going to come. “Dark age reprised” is the first cue I love as it brings me 80s nostalgia. This mood would never grow old for me. As the score goes on I am more and more drawn to this velvety melodic sound that actually reminds me more of Mark Snow’s early music for “The X-Files”

A cue like “Buffy’s dream” is a dream for any 80s kid who adores the simple, eerie mood of the early synth. This cue alone is worth the release of the album and i am happy to have discovered it. Burwell’s short attempts at horror seem like unfinished tried as each cue is barely a minute long that’s why I can’t make of this score more than a nostalgic electronic texture. The more romantic Buffy cues stand out for me, like “Buffy and Merrick bonding”; there’s something innocently, teenage sweet in this piece.

The movie score for “Buffy the vampire slayer” is a nugget of 80s nostalgia for me; it’s short but I am happy the folks at LLL unearthed it and gave justice to the most forgettable part of the Buffy universe. There was a passage in the second half of “Pasadena floats / Lothos at Floatyard” that even made me think of “Twin Peaks”. Worth a listen.

Cue rating: 73 / 100

Highlights:
Buffy’s Dream
Buffy and Merrick Bonding
Pasadena Floats / Lothos at Floatyard

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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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