Jerry Goldsmith had a particular talent for playing characters in the process of losing their minds, drawing on the dark, string musings of such avant garde composers as Bela Bartok to pioneer his own Hollywood sound for psychosis. Using a chamber approach of devilish fiddles and strings for the TWILIGHT ZONE episode “The Invaders,” the composer further plumbed a snapping mind with the waltzing sexual symbolism that haunted his Oscar-nominated FREUD to the eerie, conspiratorial tones of assuming a new identity in SECONDS.
But when it comes to the pure, batshit enjoyment of a breakdown, then 1966s SHOCK TREATMENT gets the psycho ward ribbon of achievement for Goldsmith’s most inventively mad accomplishment. Here it’s for a SHOCK CORRIDOR-esque tale of an otherwise sane man putting himself into an asylum for personal gain. But he’ll get his just reward with satanic fiddles, chilling strings, eerily reverberating bell percussion, crashing pianos and the electric ooo-wee-ooo of a Theremin, an instrument seemingly invented to connote craziness. Yet what gives the score its class are the beautifully sinister orchestral melodies that fill this ersatz haunted house, a sound that’s utter Goldsmith, even in the midst of some of his most black-humored writing. Perhaps the best Goldsmith thriller score you never even knew existed, SHOCK TREATMENT stands as the composer’s gateway drug to the more supernatural and sci-fi horrors that lay ahead of him in the 70s with THE MEPHISTO WALTZ, ALIEN and THE OMEN.
Book ending this Intrada CD is Goldsmith’s far more pleasant soundtrack to 1964s post plane crash drama FATE IS THE HUNTER. Given the awful accident it investigates, Goldsmith’s score has a sweet, almost tropically romantic sway to it. Lush strings, harp and bells carry along Goldsmith’s central thematic idea, with even a bit of Irish jig rhythm for good measure. Of course you know a chorus is going to take over the melody at the end to take the HUNTER out on a high note, with its mystery explained and anxieties healed- a very far cry indeed for the craziness before it on an album that shows just how adept Jerry Goldsmith was at emotional extremes.
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Article: CD Review of SHOCK TREATMENT and FATE IS THE HUNTER soundtrack