Paul McCollough's score for the 1990 Tom Savini remake of Night of the Living Dead has, as label Strange Disc puts it, ‘an atmosphere of creepy supernatural darkness and a feeling of impacting doom.’ Much as Savini's film hews closely to the feel of the original 1968 George A. Romero classic, while updating the specifics for modern times, so does McCollough's musical work.
The score is frequently compared to the work of John Carpenter, and it certainly has that same minimal synth aspect. The specific score that it's most similar to is They Live, which was released just a couple of years before Savini's remake.
McCollough's work on Night of the Living Dead has that same Western influence, wherein the synthesisers occasionally sound like they're playing lonesome Ry Cooder guitar chords. It's felt most in the opening titles, but continues to crop up occasionally throughout the score. There's also some Alan Howarth in the slashing sounds of Pump Run.
That's not to say that McCollough is exclusively aping Carpenter - the majority of the music for Night of the Living Dead has a pervasive, sweeping dread, wherein tension is repeatedly ratched to the point of discontent through the use of long, droning or keening notes, on tracks like Talking Points.
The music is very much of its time, and while how much the listener enjoys it is definitely tied to their opinions and nostalgia for Savini's remake, the opening titles and epic stretch of Zombies Win! Zombies Win! manage to break free of the limitations of early '90s horror scoring.
Strange Disc's presentation looks amazing - the double LP set comes in a jacket with artwork by Nate Utesch, whose charcoal interpretations of the film's more iconic shots are breathtakingly gorgeous and creepy, almost surpassing the work he did earlier this year for Strange Disc's Ganja & Hess release. Information is minimal, and limited to the obi strip, but the pressing is loud and vibrant.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990) / COMPOSER: PAUL MCCOLLOUGH / LABEL: STRANGE DISC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW