Like so many of the more substantial budget movies these days THE HATEFUL EIGHT received its fair share of publicity and hype, the various medias being fed teasers and tasters by the press office for the production who themselves were going out of their way to alert the cinema going public to just how good the movie is, or at least in their opinion how good it is. THE HATEFUL EIGHT is the second western to be directed by the somewhat controversial and off beat filmmaker Quentin Tarantino (the first being DJANGO UNCHAINED) of course film music collectors are aware of the normal soundtrack process on a Tarantino movie, it rarely has what is referred to an original score. Many of the cues being selected by Tarantino himself and normally taken from a collection of Italian soundtracks or including popular songs which at times bare little or no association with the scenes they underlined and supported (that’s a personal opinion, by the way) THE HATEFUL EIGHT however is something of a departure for the director at least within the area of music. At long last Tarantino handed the musical reins for his production to composer Ennio Morricone who’s music had in the past featured on many Tarantino movies. As soon as Morricone was announced as the composer for the score the hype machine went into overdrive, some articles saying it was his first Spaghetti western score since Sergio Leones THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, well actually not true, I think I am right when I say OCCHIO ALLA PENA directed by Michel Lupo was his last Spaghetti or European western score which was during the early 1970’s, plus THE HATEFUL EIGHT is not a spaghetti western it’s a Hollywood western, yes ok it maybe influenced by Italian westerns but its certainly not Leone. So it’s a Hollywood western that has input from the spaghetti western genre or at least images and scenes that Tarantino probably recalled from watching spaghetti westerns and then given these his own take. The trailers of THE HATEFUL EIGHT for me personally just shout GRAND SILENCE, with snow covered landscapes and there almost serene and clinical clean appearance, Tarantino‘s snow covered sets however do not stay that way with the pure snow being spattered by the crimson of blood from the many violent encounters within his storyline, these being reflected in the title of one of the compositions from the score SANGUE E NEVE. Morricone himself was said to have stated that he was surprised at the amount of violence within the movie, but its Tarantino!!! DUSK TO DAWN, RESEVOIR DOGS, KILL BILL etc etc etc. Tarantino without violence, controversy, foul language or just over the top everything, I don’t think so somehow.
The score itself is certainly Morricone through and through, with elements of the Maestro’s unused music for THE THING and THE EXCORSIST ll THE HERETIC soundtracks being utilised within it, in fact I would go as far as to say that his music for THE THING acts as a foundation and inspiration for much of the original material that the composer has provided for the movie, is this a bad thing? Well not necessarily as it actually works, the low woodwind i.e. Oboe, acting as an ominous background that creates a dark and near guttural sound which conjures up an atmosphere and feeling of uneasiness. Which is something that I always seem to feel as I watch any Tarantino movie, not knowing what is going to happen or indeed as to what degree of violence will be occurring. Is it uneasiness or maybe its anticipation and excitement? In some ways there are a number of similarities between the central theme for THE HATEFUL 8 and Morricone’s underlying or background composition on the secondary theme for the TV movie/series, NOSTROMO the low woodwind being the most prominent feature and also an element that becomes influential upon the entire score, the use of woodwind within the score is also akin to the style employed by composer Woljeich Kilar in his DRACULA score. I would like to say that this is a wonderfully theme laden Spaghetti score or at least a soundtrack that has nuances and hints of past Morricone sagebrush saga works, however it is a somewhat one theme low key affair that in all honesty sounds more like a horror score than a western, every cue includes or has at its core the central theme so it is rather repetitive and by the end of the compact disc does tend to become tiring and monotonous. Although the composer does vary his approach to the theme slightly in the track, SEI CAVALLI which is a highly dramatic piece for percussion and brass with woodwind punctuating these and almost hissing strings creating a tense and powerful atmosphere. Maybe its just me but I was rather annoyed by the dialogue that was included, this is a step back in time I think returning to the days when soundtrack LP,s included dialogue excerpts as in ZORBA THE GREEK, CROMWELL and others when there was not enough music available to fill an album. For me the dialogue interrupts the flow of Morricone’s score, plus we have the inclusion of a few songs, which I have to admit I skipped over after the initial listen plus Tarantino’s use of the N***** word so freely is slightly disconcerting.
The track LA LETTRE DI LINCOLN is in my opinion one of the more tuneful contributions to the score, Morricone utilising a martial sounding trumpet solo which echoes the composers work on THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY in the cue THE CARRIAGE OF SPIRITS. The opening theme L’ULTIMA DILIGENZA DI RED ROCK is a slow burner, starting quietly and gradually building with woodwind and strings combining to create a sense of real fear and apprehension, brass joins the proceedings as does a male choral shout that intersperses the brass and string flourishes, it is a dramatic and also a very powerful piece that can only be described as Classic Morricone, and if you listen very closely and in your mind bring the tempo up there it is the CITTA VIOLENTA theme. The aforementioned SANGUE E NEVE too is a slightly less stress filled cue at the offset, with a chiming motif similar to FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, being underlined by those instantly recognisable sliding strings of Morricone, which together create an almost romantic sound until the string section take hold of the cue with brass in tow and begin to elevate the tension once again. This is in no way a negative review, it is just an honest one and one based upon my personal observations. I have been collection Ennio Morricone since 1967 and I am not boasting when I say I must have every Morricone soundtrack that has been released (and a few that have not), so like many other collectors out there I notice music from other scores or maybe different arrangements of tracks from other scores when he recycles them. THE HATEFUL 8, is a score I am glad he created because at the age of nearly 90 it displays this magnificent music smiths ability and talent when it comes to writing film music.