Who Can Kill a Child?

Who Can Kill a Child?
Who Can Kill a Child?

The score for this 1974 Spanish horror movie is one that was certainly ahead of its time musically, composer Waldo De los Rios fashioned a multi- faceted score which contains many innovative and highly inventive moments. De Los Rios uses children’s voices to create an atmosphere that is wholly chilling in the same way in which Jerry Goldsmith utilized them in POLTERGEIST. Right from the offset the composer sets an uneasy and somewhat ominous and unsettling tone with a solo child’s voice that hums sweetly a simple but unnerving little ditty that has many affiliations with the central theme from Christopher Komeda’s ROSEMARYS BABY score. The cue is short lived but certainly commands ones attention, the lone voice being joined at the tracks conclusion by children laughing which creates an atmosphere that is s nerve-jangling and disconcerting. This theme does raise its head again during the work, and is most effective when performed on a barrel organ effect that is supported by an off key sounding music box which is underlined at times by lumbering and somewhat awkward sounding brass support. Track 2 is also short lived, and is a brief but again effective extended musical stab of sorts that is made up from strings with threatening and harsh sounding woods which are enhanced by subdued but effective use of brass. In fact the first three tracks on the compact disc are all short in their duration, but are perfect stage setters for the remainder of the score.

Track 4, NIGHT TALK is the love theme from the score and is delicately performed on harp and underlying strings which both act as a background to a keyboard performing the central theme. This is repeated and expanded upon in track number 5, De Los Rios giving the love theme composition a full work out with rich sounding strings, synthesiser, brass and percussion, it is a light airy and haunting piece which I suppose is written in a style that maybe could be mistaken for the style employed by composers, Stelvio Cipriani and Henry Mancini. The score for WHO CAN KILL A CHILD has no less than 54 tracks, but many of these are but seconds long, by this I mean some are under 30 seconds in length, nonetheless when combined all the elements of the score culminate into a work that is disquieting and quite harrowing. This is a work that is undoubtedly original, with many dark and edgy qualities and filled to brimming with a tense and brooding atmosphere that is not just entertaining but very interesting by this I mean that it is a score that has so many elements and components within its make up that each time one listens it is like listening to the work for the first time, because on each outing a new sound manages to seep through and grab the listeners ear, there are sounds that are just audible within the work also, such as whispers that are an important background and foundation to the score and although are at times just fleeting half second sounds all go to create a wonderfully tense soundtrack. 

The composer also wrote a number of fast paced almost manic sounding cues, where brass, strings, xylophone, booming and driving percussion and shrill and near shrieking woods create a tormenting and stressed atmosphere. Plus there are cues such as track number 29, SLOW DEATH FROM THE INTERIOR, which is a fusion of symphonic, chorale, solo voice which can I suppose be categorised as vexed shouts and synthetic sounds, listen to this in a dark room alone and see how long it is before you shut it off and turn the lights up. Waldo Del Los Rios was a composer, conductor and arranger of incredible talent but sadly overlooked as a composer of film music, so I am pleased that Quartet records (formaly singular) unearthed and released some of his film scores for collectors to savour. Because once heard I am confident the collectors will be wanting more of this highly innovative music-smiths wares. This double compact disc also contains music from another Spanish horror movie THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED, again De Los Rios, conjures up an atmosphere of mayhem and terror, the score is performed in the main by strings and brass with embellishment from woods and the occasional inclusion of a music box effect or delicate chimes being brought into the proceedings with brief but effecting female voice interludes. These elements combine to purvey perfectly a chilling and overwrought atmosphere and create a real unnerving mood. To say that either score is superior would be wrong, as each work stands on its own merits.

Track 29, END TITLE is an impressive piece and comes complete with a blood curdling scream which acts as an introduction to a rhythmic a sumptuous string led theme that evokes a feeling that is dramatic but at the same time romantic whilst listening to this somewhat upbeat and up-tempo piece I was reminded of the style of composers Michael J. Lewis and Les Baxter, in particular of the latter composers work on THE CRY OF THE BANSHEE. There is also a slightly more upbeat version of the theme Track number 30, THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED which is almost a pop/easy listening version of the piece, pleasant and rich sounding strings amble along backed by drums and harpsichord until its crescendo which is topped off by a mad sounding half scream half laugh, great stuff. This is a compact disc well worth getting, and one that will bring enjoyment and torment to its listener. Packaged wonderfully, with eye arresting art work, informative and in depth notes, sound quality is essentially good, although on the second score it can be a little dull at times with the last two cues sounding just a little distorted, but not to the degree that it spoils any of the listening enjoyment, but saying this I am of the opinion that Quartet worked hard to achieve this standard, as we all know master tapes are more or less tossed to one side and literally left to rot in dark and dank cellars. Let us be grateful for labels such as this unearthing gems for our delectation. This is a must have an essential purchase. recommended.

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