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Eight-Legged Freaks Soundtrack Review
by Richard Jack Smith

At the 91st Academy Awards, filmmaker John Ottman received a Best Film Editing Oscar for his work on Bohemian Rhapsody. Because rhythm represents one of the most vital elements in film construction, I believe that Ottman's recognition was not only necessary, but well overdue.  

In 1995, Ottman pulled double duty by editing and composing the musical score for The Usual Suspects. This was my first encounter with the work of this versatile artist. As a composer, he would display impressive orchestral powers on  IncognitoJack the Giant SlayerLake Placid and Eight Legged Freaks. The latter was a throwback to 1950s cheesy monster fare.  

Released in 2002, Eight Legged Freaks was directed by Ellory Elkayem and it met with partial box office success and mixed critical notices.   

This could be an Ottman classic. Ferocious instrumental colours ranging from horns to strings paint a madcap scene. With large arachnids on the loose, the orchestra works over time to match the fleeting mayhem. At times, it felt like Ottman might veer close to Elliot Goldenthal's screeching dissonance. Yet he reigns in the anarchy, making each gesture harmonic and fully realized. Although the pacing proves staggering, he shows enough patience to avoid a breathless onslaught.   

At its optimum level, the score sounds huge, although specific highlights are worth considering. For example, a beautiful violin performance at 1:30 into "Climactic Plan" lightens the fury in contrast to the madness which will soon follow.  

When he knuckles down and takes risks, magic can happen. As such, he's a daring composer willing to explore a theme up, down and around the musical scale. Listening to his monster mashup felt surreal and enticing. Because he boldly sets out and executes his plan, highlighting the script's offbeat quality, there's something theatrical about theme as fanfare. After all, a musical language driven by boundless passion ends up being completely irresistible. Consider the sleigh bells in "They Will Come" and how this adds an unpredictable flourish.  

On the downside, only "Spiders and Cycles" features mind numbing Rock N Roll which upsets this musical universe.   Finally, the instrumental variety from every horn blast to string flutter sounds crystal clear. Meanwhile, the recording quality of the Hollywood Studio Symphony surpasses all expectations.  

Creatively and dramatically, Eight Legged Freaks shows Ottman at his quirky, yet gifted best. Therefore, I give it four out of five stars.


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