Ennio Morricone has gotten some real humdingers to score in his more-than-prolific career, particularly when it comes to such crazy genre pictures as ORCA, HOLOCAUST 2000 and TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS. Yet while these movies might be inadvertently hilarious, Morricone has always played the most ungodly material with a straight face, no more so than with EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC.
One of this sequel’s many hilarious mistakes was turning its evil spirit into an African locust demon named Pazazu. Yet it’s this same tribal spirit that makes Ennio Morricone’s score for an otherwise woeful film so intriguing. With high-pitched strings mimicking the chirping of insect wings, Morricone turns his love for the female voice (as evinced in so many classic Spaghetti Western scores) into a malefic and transfixing instrument, her wailing, cackling and chanting jumping about like a witch in a drum circle coven.
Angelic choruses are also in force for the now-teenaged Reagan, her sweetness given a lyrical theme for strings, piano and the guitar. As darkly impressionistic as Morricone tries to be with his extended, hellraising rituals, his music also can’t help but be beautiful in the same moment. For if THE EXORCIST‘s use of modern classical music was about the terror of being possessed, then Morricone’s accomplishment with THE HERETIC‘s very cinematic soundtrack is showing evil’s dark enchantment, if not the emotional power that dispels it.
For a voice-centric composer like Morricone, it’s little wonder that so many of his compositions feel like songs. And few have the gonzo ’70’s progressive acid rock vibe down like “Magic and Ecstasy.” Thrashing electric guitar combines with children’s wordless dah-dah-dah vocals, ritualistic rhythm and the crack of a bullwhip to create one of the great movie horror anthems of all time. Though not in the movie itself, the piece would make THE HERETIC‘s trailer brilliantly enticing. Perhaps the devil made Morricone fill all of those seats for the opening weekend. And while they quickly emptied, Morricone’s heretical “Magic” is now once again available on CD thanks to Perseverance Records, with informative liner notes by horror score expect Randall Larson that do their best to keep it to the far more frightening music
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Article: Review of EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC soundtrack