Christopher Young

" The birth of Christopher Young "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the collector's edition

Even though Hellraiser wasn't the first horror score Christopher Young composed, it was still his first soundtrack that got him really noticed so to speak off. In fact, it was the one which proved that horror scores were no longer defined by a simple sting of the instrument, but that they could work through a massive symphonic play too. Hellraiser settled a new standard for horror scores for years to come, and Christopher Young has been its master ever since.

Naturally the symphonic aspect is but a part that feeds the gigantic powerplay of Young's writing, since it is not all big and thematic. The texture behind the Cenobites isn't a walk in the park either and Young dared to experiment further with his known creative sense. Yet what defines Hellraiser as a trilogy is the first track's sound. Listen to "Hellraiser" and you basically have the cornerstone of the trilogy's musical sound. Sinister strings, a touch of brass making it menacing, the basic feeling that it all is unnerving yet real.

This tone is all expanded in the second track "Resurrection" where the strings return but the brass goes even further in depicting the growing suspense and the horror of the birth of Frank. Yet if there is a definitive moment of Young's symphonic play it got to be found in "Hellbound Heart". It is a big track full of sinister strings, piano and a growing romantic darkish sense. It is really lovely, yet it contains a heavy weight that makes the waltz seductive as hell.

However from the symphonic, we creep towards the textural and "The Lament Configuration" creates the birth of the Cenobites, namely the spooky music for the horrific villains. In here Young creates a perfect balance between texture and music and it functions to scare and to hypnotize. It puts you on the edge of your seat, making you aware of a threat that awaits you whenever the music box is opened. Brilliant.

However, the more I hear Hellraiser at work, the more I spot James Horner in the middle. Considering Horner's music was written before Hellraiser we can call this a Horner influence for once. The pound of Brainstorm in "A Quick Death", the sinister music of Aliens in "In Love's Name", they all add a distinct Horner touch to the music. Also "Seduction and Pursuit" is a pompous brass delight that too carries Aliens in its fight. Yet Young is still all over the place.

"The Cenobites" is the opposite of exciting and scares in its textural environment. This through Young's creative use of sounds, atmosphere and a hypnotizing play. The sinister hypnotizing aspect of "The Rat Race Slice Quartet" isn't far away either while "Re-Resurrection" restates the symphonic play of the second track, only enlarged in the end with a big pompous brass statement that blows the symphonic aspect even a little higher.

The final act is for "Another Puzzle" where the composer returns to the sinister string work of the first track.

In truth Hellraiser is a brilliant trendsetter. You could say that what John Williams did for the science fiction is what Christopher Young did for horror music . He gave it a symphonic level that scares, unnerves, soothes and thrills our very heart and soul. It is the music that makes the movie better and a lot more scary, it is hellraisingly effective to be exact. Just like the movie it was another unique step in the horror genre, resulting in another seven films and six different composers. However it is enough to finish with the second in the series considering Young did the impossible thing for that one. He gave the sequel on top of a symphonic score a gothic edge, and created probably one of the finest horror scores ever written.


1. Hellraiser (1.47)
2. Resurrection (2.30) Excellent track
3. Hellbound Heart (5.02) Excellent track
4. The Lament Configuration (3.23)
5. Reunion (3.09)
6. A Quick Death (1.15)
7. Seduction and Pursuit (2.58) Excellent track
8. In Love's Name (2.57)
9. The Cenobites (4.08)
10. The Rat Race Slice Quartet (3.18)
11. Re-Resurrection (2.37) Excellent track
12. Uncle Frank (2.59)
13. Brought on by Night (2.20)
14. Another Puzzle (4.08)

Total Length: 42.36
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 39 votes - average 4.24/5)

Released by

Silva Screen TVPMCD809 (regular release 2003)

Conducted by

Paul Francis Witt

Orchestrations by

Christopher Young