Harry Manfredini ‎– House & House II (Original Motion Picture Scores)

3 out of 5

Label: Waxwork Records

Produced by: Harry Manfredini (?)

I’ve never seen any of the House films, but they’re described more as comedy horror than straight horror, especially the PG-13 rated sequel.  This is definitely apparent in that film’s score, taking up the second LP in this set from Waxwork, but I’m actually surprised that the first flick wasn’t straight up scares, as composer Harry Manfredini almost fully avoids all the light, prancey touches that often signal a horror movie’s “funny” moments on LP1, settling on a pretty moody and weird main theme that the score keeps circling around back on in surprising ways.

As a youngish something or other going through all those Blockbuster rentals that’d scared me (from the box art) at an earlier age, you quickly discover how much humor there is actually mixed in with lots of these things, and how that’s often cued with goofy music, just as whichever ideal relationship moments (surely to be messed up by a slasher or ghost later on) are scored by the most generic swooning of strings.  House tip-toes across these lighter elements, but there’s always an undertone of darkness, and Manfredini will twist it back into more menacing cues before it goes too far.  Only the song titles, which have some puns, are suggestive of whatever comedy is in the movie; the music is otherwise pretty immersive.

House II, though, besides porting over some of the main themes, doesn’t have this same hold over things, floating in some Western themes and going ahead and including the more jubilant bits that let you know that some goofball character is goofing it up on screen, and, yeah, I guess there’s a cowboy zombie and lots of puppets and there’s a track name that mentions a varmint.  So the score is partially more generic as a result, and the moments that aren’t feel too similar to House’s tracks to merit spending more time on LP2 than 1.

It’s definitely a nice looking (and sounding) set, with Ghoulish Gary Pullin doing a great job on the covers and interior, it’s just a case where less may have been more; isolate just the House score and it’s pretty phenomenal, but backed up by the more predictable House II and the listening experience as a whole is rather repetitive.