CD: Jennifer 8 (1992)

March 21, 2013 | By

Return toHome Soundtrack  Reviews / J to L


Rating: Excellent

Label: La-La Land Records / Released: February 28, 2012

Tracks & Album Length:  CD1: 17 tracks / (47:30) + CD2: 18 tracks / (39:17)


Special Notes: 24-page colour booklet with liner notes by Jeff Bond / 2-CD set limited to 2000 copies..


Composers: Christopher Young (replacement score) / Maurice Jarre (rejected score)




Jennifer 8 represents a specific phase in Christopher Young’s career where the composer was trying to find non-horror material to show he could handle other genres, and demonstrate his style was versatile in comedy, drama, and suspense films. Suspense tales were perhaps Young’s best ‘venue to temporarily stray away from horror, since he’d already proven he could score eerie scenes and disturbed characters with the full weight of an orchestra (Hellraiser), a brilliant fusion of avant garde and classical techniques (Hider in the House), or a blend of orchestra and electronics with an action bent (the underrated Bat 21).

Jennifer 8 represented a plum opportunity to build a delicate score with a triste romantic theme, repeated motifs for beautifully drawn main characters, and hinting at the malevolent characters director Bruce Robinson kept hidden from audiences as much as they were unseen by the film’s blind heroine.

Although it bears a slight resemblance to John Williams’ Presumed Innocent theme (which was heavily used in trailers of the early nineties), Young’s effort is filled with that delicate melancholy which has remained integral to Young’s signature sound, and his innate knack for grasping the deep rooted sadness of characters struggling with inner torment. Even with the accompaniment of strings, the main theme still comes off as a quiet chamber piece, and it’s one of the reasons Young’s scoring style is so dramatically effective and affecting to audiences: no matter what orchestral chaos or unsettling chords dominate whole cues, Young’s always able to cut tension and get to the root of a character’s emotional state by effortlessly gliding to a significant fragment or gentle theme quotation before returning to his orchestral carnage.

In Hider in the House (1989) – arguably his finest musical portrait of tragedy mutating to a nightmarish experience – it’s the contrast between mixed children’s chorals and amazing dissonance, whereas in Copycat (1995) he saves a full quotation of his main theme for just a trio of moments to ensure when we hear his simple and painful theme, it cuts through the film’s preposterous story and reminds audiences of the central character – a burnt out, alcoholic psychologist.

Unlike the aforementioned films, Jennifer 8 has a structured romance, and the tenderness of his main theme captures the awkwardness of a cop and a witness meeting minds and souls amid the elements of a grim, British-styled suspense-thriller. La-La Land’s CD features cues newly edited by Young to create a smoother listening experience, and certainly in breadth, it’s largely an improvement over the original Milan CD which featured the score’s main cues plus lengthy classical source cues.

In the LLL release, Young’s suspense cues are more kinetic (the synth bass really resonates), and woven into the score is a theme variation where Young reworks fragments into little motifs to trace fluctuating states of tenderness and longing. (“Cello for Helena” drifts from the main theme’s intro bars to a short but affecting pensive variation, also performed by piano.)

Unique to this 2-disc release is the inclusion of Maurice Jarre’s rejected score, which has a slightly legendary status, since the composer’s departure from the project enabled Young to score his first major studio picture (in spite of his brilliant The Fly II score in 1989, the film was a complete dud), and enjoy a career boost as Hollywood took note of his exquisite skills in more diverse genre efforts.

Jarre’s music doesn’t sound like a wholly wrong approach – parts of the abstract electronic elements are quite effective, and his main theme, when reduced to chamber arrangements and solo cello, is quite beautiful – but the score lacks the melancholy tone of Young’s style which matches the characters’ romance.

When it plays in its purest form (“Main Title”), Jarre’s own romantic theme is filled with the composer’s idiosyncratic melodic structure, and ends up sounding like a variant of his prior suspense film themes (Fatal Attraction), but what’s unique to his version of Jennifer 8 is a greater reliance on orchestral elements than in his prior scores. The migration / blending of electronic and classical instruments is flawless, and for once his tense cues aren’t a haphazard mess of synthetic clamor. (It’s a problem that makes a good chunk of No Way Out almost unlistenable.)

LLL’s set features lovely mastering of both original scores (the performances and orchestrations for Young’s contribution is superb), some alternate Jarre tracks, and extensive liner notes which trace the film’s production, Paramount’s hope of having an award-winning blockbuster (instead of what became the marginalized cult film on home video), and reasons the film went through two composers.

For many of the film’s fans, the original Milan CD probably became their first intro to Christopher Young’s brand of exquisite melancholy, and the popularity of his main theme and score (which, unsurprisingly to longtime fans, contains all of the delicate touches already present in prior horror scores) soon replaced Williams’ Presumed Innocent as the ‘new’ theme for trailer editors.



© 2013 Mark R. Hasan


External References:

IMDB: Christopher Young / Maurice JarreSoundtrack Album — Composers Filmographies: Christopher Young / Maurice Jarre


Select Merchants: — BSX — Intrada — SAE


Return toHome Soundtrack Reviews J to L

Tags: , ,

Category: Soundtrack Reviews

Comments are closed.