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La Herencia Valdemar II by Arnau Bataller

01/05/2011. Contributed by Tomas L. Martin

Buy La Herencia Valdemar II: La Sombra Prohibida, an original soundtrack in the USA - or Buy La Herencia Valdemar II: La Sombra Prohibida, an original soundtrack in the UK

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La Herencia Valdemar II: La Sombra Prohibida, an original soundtrack by Arnau Bataller. pub: MovieScore Media B003FBL83Y. 54 minutes 18 tracks. Price: $26.60 (US), GBP22.92 (UK).

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Spanish horror is doing rather well of late, with the attention brought to it by Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and his producer role on the particularly good ‘The Orphanage’ bringing attention to a genre being produced by some excellent Spanish writers and directors. Spanish horror tends to be weirder and more suspense driven than many American representations, which are more about gore and shock value. Spanish horror films can often be a lot subtler and ultimately more disturbing as a result.

‘La Sombra Prohibida’ is a film based on Lovecraft’s Cthulu mythos. The sequel to ‘La Herencia Valdermar’, this film actually featured H.P. Lovecraft as a character, as well as the tentacle Cthulu. The film, translated as ‘The Shadow Prohibited’ in English, followed on with the same story as the original, in which a rich man found a book that let him bargain for everlasting life with the devil, in exchange for his wife. A kitschy, slightly campy horror, the film was released in 2010 to mixed reviews.

The soundtrack to ‘La Sombra Prohibida’ is quite listenable but never adventurous. The soaring sections wouldn’t be out of place in a film like ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’ and the more frantic pieces such as ‘The Monster’ are thrilling and I can see them being effective as backdrops to the action. There is some excellent brooding brass arrangements, which is particularly effective when teamed up with some interesting vocal work and insistent strings. When the percussion comes to the fore as it does on tracks like ‘Cthulu’ and ‘Santiago’s Madness’, the effect is inspiring.

Arnau Bataller has done a nice job in scoring this soundtrack, which always sounds every bit like the score to a Hollywood blockbuster. From the opening credits crashes through to the final pieces ‘Cthulu’ and ‘Lazaro’, the soundtrack is emphatically emotive and thrilling by turns. It conjures up a lot of images as you listen to it, albeit of a different kind of film to that which it is set. The sweeping orchestral movements and deep choral chants such as those found on ‘The Wheel Of Fortune’ are atmospheric and if I hadn’t known where the music came from I could easily place it to a work of fantasy such as ‘Lord Of The Rings’ or even ‘Harry Potter’. The scoring is good enough to be placed up there with the work of composers such as Howard Shore or Klaus Badelt, although it does lack a little of the inventiveness of someone like Hans Zimmer.

There are some shrieking horror-like moments but, overall, the feel is heroic and epic. Without seeing the film I can’t say whether it works with the events on screen, but just listening to it feels like Bataller could easily move to larger productions with ease. If you like modern classical soundtracks, this is definitely one to procure.

Tomas L. Martin

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