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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Thriller > Soundtrack > Soylent Green/Demon Seed (Limited CD)

Soylent Green/Demon Seed Soundtracks (Limited Edition CD)


Sound: B+ (both)     Music for Soylent Green: B+     Demon Seed: B+



Two more examples of the original M-G-M Studio’s attempts to have another 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) are examined on the double feature, single CD soundtrack for Richard Fleischer’s Soylent Green (1973) and Donald Cammell’s Demon Seed (1977).  Both films are thinking Science Fiction genre works that succeed more often then they fail, but are also flawed film works.  Unbelievably, neither of these films ever had their fine soundtracks released, but they are here and in stereo for the first time.  Each film was issued monophonically in its theatrical release, a legacy that follows all home video versions, including the new Soylent Green DVD Warner Bros. just issued.


That is an important point for this music, because for a score recorded in 1973, Fred Myrow’s score has held up remarkably well on a sonic level.  The masters held up exceptionally well.  I always liked this music, but could never before here how rich, deep, layered, and detailed it was until this CD.  Previously, the only way to hear the score was on isolated FM analog tracks on the old letterboxed 12” MGM/UA LaserDisc, which was monophonic and only included the music used in the film.  This CD has just about all that, plus five works not used.  What it is missing is a cue used briefly when Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young is playing a counsel, stand-alone video game.  Since no such thing existed in 1973, they had to make up one, but still did not have electronic sound for it.  An orchestral arrangement was made to give the impression of a space wars game.  Even if they found it, it looks like there would have been no room on this single disc.


It was enough of a revelation to hear the music isolated many years ago from the film.  That is all the more reason, especially after watching the film probably several hundred times (including a long series of friends who had never seen it), that this CD was such a big surprise.  Just when I thought I was familiar with the score, it was like never having really heard the music, which is exceptionally recorded, engineered, produced, and detailed.  Warner missed a priceless opportunity to do a remix of the film in 5.1 or even Pro Logic, because the score is that amazing in both content and presentation.  The three track magnetic stereo masters endure well.


The only thing that dates it is the Muzak and laid-back Soft Rock/Lite Jazz-style of the times, yet even that works from an era of Civil unrest and the beginnings of pro-Environmental movements.  It is a product of its time, ahead of that time, which is more obvious in the electronic and experimental sections of the score.  With some orchestrations by Gerald Fried (see his Limited Horror CD set elsewhere on this site), and director Richard Fleischer’s son Mark Fleischer even contributed a few pieces for the film, you get a complete, well-rounded work that does a great job of backing up the film’s narrative.  That includes the murder thriller, the personal experiences of certain characters, what has happened to the society, and the dark foreboding of something ugly about to happen.


If you have sent he film, you know some of it is unintentionally funny, while other parts date oddly, but it is really a decent film and it would play even better if the music score were presented in stereo with the film.  This CD proves that, which is a great treat stand-alone.  The same can be said for Demon Seed, composed by Jerry Fielding.  This is a more electronic score, but a very effective one both dramatically and musically.


Fielding is best known for his theme song to TV’s original The Bionic Woman from 1976, but that turns out to be atypical of the kinds of music he was stretching out to do in his later composing years.  Demon Seed is the most realized and fullest-length of what he pulled off.  Some of it has dated because the sounds and the music have become somewhat more commonplace since 1977, including Electronica music of all places.  It is very effective in this electronic variant of the woman trapped in the “old, dark house”, something that had already occurred in the classic black and white episode of TV’s The Avengers entitled The House That Jack Built, where the house is fully automated and a death trap.  It just lacks the omnipresent self-aware computer being that Proteus is in this film.


There are a few unused music cues in this section as well. All of which are just as good as the rest of the score.  Combined with the previous score, this CD is packed with great, for-real movie music like we rarely hear today.  It also covers two underrated gems from the latter half of the last golden age of cinematic Science Fiction before Fantasy/Space Opera Star Wars brought that great period to an end.  Many even confuse Star Wars for real Science Fiction, which it is not.  This double score disc is a strong reminder of that, but get it while you can.  It can be ordered exclusively at www.filmscoremonthly.com and only 3,000 copies have been pressed.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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