The Matrix [1999] unexpected success served as Don Davis’ arrival and gave the movie industry and many others a necessary awakening, though not his first film composition, proving to be the industry’s wake-up call regarding his arrival, that came from The Beast [1996]. However, for Davis the 1999 year would go on to show his varied abilities, as he completed two other scores, all for the Varese Sarabande label, next followed The Matrix, Universal Soldier: The Return and this mix bag of gothic elements along with other infused genres, for The House on Haunted Hill.

For those unaware, The House on Haunted Hill [1999], directed by William Malone, a remake of William Castle cult classic film of the same name from 1959, which starred the legendary actor Vincent Price and this time Geoffrey Rush starred as a character named Stephen H. Price. The remake attacked and criticized by horror fans and refused by critics, who affected the response to Davis’ work indirectly, this of course followed the backlash from the previous year involving director Gus Van Sant’s pitiful remake of Psycho. The plot originally had guests staying the night for $10,000 but in the redone version, the outrageous tally to $1 million, and instead of a house now an insane asylum hospital.

As stated the elements of gothic horror echo throughout the score, at times a feel of Christopher Young’s Hellraiser score drifts into but doesn’t overpower Davis’ work, in fact extending away from the gothic to choir, with references to rock and even jazz to rev up the haunted house qualities. Opening Main Title sets a powerful tone, which reoccurs a few times in the entire composition, the forceful onset of the pipe organ, captures everything very quickly as it dissolves and enters into the second track called Pencil Neck filled with lightning quick sweeping choirs of Latin vocals. House Humongous, the fourth track repeats many elements from the opening debut, incorporating the house as a centralize character as well as the sixth track Funky Old House. One might note the classic haunted house themes emerge subtle capturing some elegance and creepiness.

This soundtrack may not yield repeat plays, as many times the listening goes too far, trying to obtain the Igor Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring [1913] (music perhaps for a home of madness), and falter not in part to Davis rather the movie’s sound effects themselves. Since the main theme repeats through at least three of the opening 6-tracks the tone continues to layer in more other areas, all representing the building’s crushing desire to consume those venturing within itself.

If you seek a return to gothic influence and are ready to expand your musical listening horizons then by means purchase the soundtrack, however if you prefer a more gradual building musical to heighten crescendo pleasures then this isn’t for you. Don Davis fills the score with great powerful gothic themes which dance bizarrely for entertainment to one’s ear.

Track Listing:

1 – Main Title (2:29)

2 – Pencil Neck (1:05)

3 – Hans Verbosemann (1:47)

4 – House Humongous (1:20)

5 – Piano Quarter in G Minor, Op.25 (written by Johannes Brahms, arranged by Don Davis) (2:32)

6 – Funky Old House (1:52)

7 – No Exit (1:08)

8 – Gun Control (1:25)

9 – Surprise (1:20)

10 – Price Pestiferous (1:35)

11 – Misty Misogamy (1:53)

12 – Coagulatory Calamity (3:59)

13 – Melissa In Wonderland (3:45)

14 – Sorry Tulip (1:25)

15 – Struggling to Escape (1:47)

16 – Soirée À Saturation (3:18)

17 – One The House (1:34)

18 – Dead But Nice (2:05)

19 – Blackburn’s Surprise (0:48)

20 – Encountering Mr. Blackburn (2:03)

21 – The Price Petard (1:58)

22 – Epiphanic Evelyn (3:48)

23 – The Corpus Delecti Committee Meeting (2:26)

24 – Price in Perpetuity (2:55)

25 – The Beast With The Least (3:06)

Running Time: 54 minutes 18 seconds