The Car – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Music by Leonard Rosenman
Intrada Special Collection #306 – 2015
I don’t get too excited for movie soundtracks for new films that come out because there’s not too many that separate themselves from one another. But getting the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack for The Car is an entirely different situation. I was stoked to dig my journalistic teeth into what is a genuine minor horror classic that boosts a score long overdue for attention.
Star Trek, Fantastic Voyage, Race With the Devil veteran Leonard Rosenman does a magnificent job of helping make you fear an automobile. Now The Car isn’t your average run-of-the-mill vehicle, instead it is a wicked looking a custom made Lincoln Continental Mark III, designed by George Barris (who made the famed Batmobile for the 1966 Batman TV series) that drives through a small Utah community, like hell on wells.
The Car was definitely influenced by Jaws, and is along with Joe Dante’s Piranha, one of the better pictures to follow the mold of Steven Spielberg’s ground-breaking blockbuster. Rosenman even uses a bit of the chugging orchestration in The Car, like John Williams did for the shark in Jaws.
The orchestral glee in which the woodwinds, drums and brass whip into a frenzy in “Ray’s Pursuit” and “Barrel Roll”, make me think of the musical cues “Out to Sea” and “One Barrel Chase” from the Great White Shark movie.
Rosenman references the famous medieval Dies Irae chant, probably most recognizable to most horror fans in Wendy Carlos opening credits music for The Shining, which came three years after The Car. By incorporating this famous melody within his orchestral theme, it gives The Car legitimate historic weight and assists in bringing spiritual believability to a driverless, demon possessed cruiser. One of the coolest things Rosenman does is how he uses the melody in different instrumental ways “Apparition – Revised No. 1”, “Apparition – Revised No. 2” and “Apparition – Revised No 3. ”
This soundtrack comes with some cool extras that include the three tracks above along with the school marching band tune seen in the movie “Semper Fidelis”, which is performed purposely in a way that make it sound unprofessional. There are also four versions of the Universal Promo for The Car.
There’s something about Rosenman’s composition that feels oh-so-right with Director Elliot Silverstein’s stark vision of the dry desert-like locale brilliantly photographed by cinematographer Gerald Hirschfeld.
One of the smartest things about The Car is that both cinematically and musically it’s done straight forward and taken seriously. Nothing silly or corny about the movie or it’s music. I don’t know why more people can’t seem to use this approach to get it right. It probably speaks volumes about the composer and skilled film personnel behind this underrated gem.
Like black death-dealing vehicle seen in the movie, I’d go after this soundtrack with relentless abandon.