Music is one of the key components to make a movie into something more than just a visual experience. What would the STAR WARS series be without the iconic work of John Williams? Would HALLOWEEN still be as memorable without the unsettling theme song that you will no doubt hear at some point during the season? Even look at the music of Goblin with DAWN OF THE DEAD, there are people out there who have never even seen the movie but know the goofy music that would play over the mall’s sound system. The soundtrack to a film at times can stick with you even longer than the film it came from. The original soundtrack to PHANTASM is one of the most under appreciated modern horror scores, and certainly deserves a second listen.
The music for PHANTASM was composed by the late Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave The soundtrack seems to take a lot inspiration from the previously mentioned works of Goblin: a heavy synthesizer precsence and thumping drums to drive home it’s atmosphere. One of the key differences with the works of Myrow and Seagrave versus that of Goblin is that while DAWN OF THE DEAD‘s music created an oppressive and unsettling atmosphere fitting a zombie outbreak PHANTASM‘s soundtrack succeeds in creating a similar tone but with a dreamier and almost surreal feel to it while using a lot of the same kinds of instruments. One of the main things that sticks throughout the entire soundtrack is the keyboard theme that starts with the film’s credits, a simple traveling keyboard riff that plays over some light cymbal splashes and then a solid beat with some howling synth for good measure. It creates a stunning blend that sounds alien yet familiar, not necessarily horror in the same way the HALLOWEEN theme creates a palpable sense of dread right from the beginning. It helps convey that feeling that something is off in the world, a place we are familiar with, something is happening around us but we can’t quite see what it is.
The soundtrack as a whole is a trip to listen to, almost enough to take you on your own journey or bring images to mind of an alien planet or the chilling halls of the moratorium. The way the composers alter the music to fit more calm andmore serene scenes as well as the action heavy sequences such as the hearse chase proves that Myrow and Seagrave were impeccable at their craft. One of the real big standouts of the soundtrack and is often chosen as a fan favorite, for good reason, is the super funky “Silver Sphere”. A disco track on a movie soundtrack mostly featuring unnerving music? Crazy enough to work and it completely does. You get to enjoy the familiar PHANTASM theme but paired with a grooving disco beat and slick guitar strumming. For anyone throwing a Halloween party this year it is highly recommended to add to the mix.