Total Time: (54:16)
Characterized by atonality, loud chorus, and blaring pipe organ, Don Davis' lesser know score of 1999 is the "House On Haunted Hill." Though the score is quite excellent, it hasn't had the mainstream success of the Matrix because of the film's status. This is really a shame because when you put this and the Matrix toe-to-toe, the Matrix just falls flat. I like this one MUCH better. Although this is atonally driven like the Matrix, House on Haunted hill has a lot more going for it in terms of thematic materiel, plus it is much more eclectic, incorporating atonality, chorus, classical, swing, and even rock. Comparing it to the Matrix once again, the atonality follows many of the same styles, but it seems much more harsh and malicious, almost like Goldenthal's Alien3, especially in the later tracks. Luckily, unlike most Varese releases, this is a nice long listen, clocking in at about fifty-five minutes as opposed to the usual half hour.
There's nothing really bad to say about this other than the fact that it doesn't have a huge thematic conclusion like the Matrix did and many may not like the absolutely FIERCE atonality. Overall, however, this was my own personal pick as best of 1999. Yes, even topping the new Star Wars and just slightly surpassing Goldsmith's 13th Warrior.
For me, the disc contains several highlights, but overall, I'd have to say that the last cue "The Beast with the Least" is my favorite. I get a huge grin on my face every time I hear that loud, dissonant, wailing chorus. Another highlight is probably the only track with a traditional, more gothic choir, "The Price Petard." I'd have to say that the low point of the album(as many others have said) is the track "Soiree a Saturation," which is basically a big collection of synth sound effects and samples of separate parts of the score. Though this track is the weakest part of the disc, it really doesn't hurt if very much since it does sort of fit in with the rest and basically gets lost in the torrent anyway.
I know that this would never have won the Oscar because it's not for everyone. It's not for most people!. I just think it's great though, and I think that if you're a fan of scary and/or atonal music, I suggest that you pick it up right away. Highly recommended!