Piranha 3DD – Original Motion Picture Score
Original Music By: Elia Cmiral
Duration: 44 min
Label: Lakeshore Records
This soundtrack for the horror comedy sequel to 2010’s Piranha 3D features original music by Czech composer Elia Cmiral. Elia is an accomplished composer, having studied composition at the Prague Music Conservatory and learned film scoring through the University of Southern California’s Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program. Cmiral scored his first American feature, Apartment Zero, back in the nineties and, to date, has written over forty scores, including for Stigmata, Wrong Turn, Tooth and Nail and Splitter, hence he’s obviously comfortable writing for the horror genre.
The terror unleashed into Lake Victoria in Piranha 3D has now moved into the nearby Big Wet Water Park, where no one is safe from the pesky flesh eating fish. Having not yet seen the 3DD sequel I can’t comment as to whether or not Cmiral’s score nicely matches what is going on, on screen, or not, however, from the titles of the score’s various cues I could well imagine that it does.
The composer has said that he wanted to give the film ‘an enjoyable, over-the-top feel’ and, judging by the score, I think he may have succeeded in regard to this aim.
A sense of urgency is set up very quickly by the soundtrack’s opening track ‘Return of the Piranhas’, with some Vangelis inspired keyboards and stringed orchestration, and continues on through ‘Piranhas in the Pool’ with its strident strings accompanied by its driving drums and guitar riffs.
In fact guitars feature fairly heavily throughout the score with ‘Barry’s Heroic Rescue’ featuring some hints of aggressive guitar in amongst the more classical type of electronic and orchestral arrangements.
There’s even a slight spaghetti western feel conjured up in ‘Sheriff’s Redemption’ with the use of voice and harps. This western feel is captured again in the final track, ‘Battle for the Water Park’, which features lots of moody strings and discordant keyboards, lending the listener a sense of prevailing dread.
As with most film scores featuring aggressive or fearsome water creatures there are shades of ‘Jaws’ to be heard within some of the string arrangements, (check out track six, ‘Eaten in Van’, and track 17, ‘School of Piranhas’ as examples of shrieking Psycho-lite string compositions), although Elia manages to avoid most of the obvious clichés. In fact Elia Cmiral flits between the classical orchestral arrangements and more modern, almost prog rock, compositions, making for an interesting and fairly fresh soundtrack.
From the more moody and dangerous sounding tracks such as ‘Goodman’s Laboratory’ and ‘Depths of the Lake’ (the latter, in particular, makes you feel like you’re swimming amongst rusting wrecks at the bottom of a lake with its industrial theme) to the more sensuous tracks like ‘Searching for the Cow’, (which features the harp again), the soundtrack never gets complacent and keeps the listener engaged.
Cmiral also manages to squeeze in a pleasing operatic aria in track four, ‘Trident Aria’, which helps to break up the menace and drops a chink of much needed aural hope into the mix.
I think Elia’s idea to ‘play it straight’ when scoring a movie like Piranha 3DD was probably a wise one and he’s created a decent action/horror film score that isn’t compromised by having to make musical sense of the comedy elements within the script. And, unlike some scores, his is eminently re-listenable, which can only be a good thing.
Piranha 3DD – Soundtrack (the songs)
Duration: 58 min
Label: Lakeshore Records
While Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), Paul Scheer (The League) and a partially devoured Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction) return to the fray to fight the flesh-eating fish frenzy that is Piranha 3DD, Dimension Films have gathered together lots of busty teens and well-muscled jocks getting deservedly munched on by those scaly predators of the deep, plus some new tunes to accompany the mayhem.
Again because I haven’t seen the film yet I can’t equate the songs with the action on screen so I’ll just present an overview of what’s on offer and let you know what I personally think of it as best I can.
Kicking off with the very funky, punchy party anthem ‘Got Me In A Trance’ by Marcus Latief Scott, the soundtrack starts on solid land legs. I can well imagine the camera tracking across boat after boat of partying ‘hard bodies’ as Marcus lets rip about a girl he basically wants to f**k.
Next up is the catchy, if rather vacuous, ‘Summer School’ by Romeo & Juliet band Twirl who seem to be reaching for an instantly recognisable anthem along the lines of Alice Cooper’s ‘School’s Out’, but have sadly missed the mark by several leagues.
In third place is Automatic Music Explosion with ‘C’mon I Can’t Wait’, which is a fairly energetic guitar and drum led instrumental that sounds a little overly familiar, but still manages to just about grab the attention.
The One & Only’s follow this with ‘Chemical Kings’, which sounds like a good name for a band, Oh, wait! And also the names of comic book characters… This track relies a bit too heavily on a mildly distorted voice track (I guess it saves using auto-tune!), but it’s still quite funky, in the old school use of the term (but then I am distinctly old school), with lots of controlled energy in the mix.
‘The Impatient, the Imperfect, the Impossible’ is All The Right Moves contribution to the soundtrack and is a fairly typical indie rock track in the same vein as Blink 182, the inclusion of which, in so many soundtracks aimed at the ‘youth’ market, makes this track’s inclusion here totally unremarkable.
Sarah Khula follows this with her electro-pop ‘Open Your Mind’, which has some quite nice and moody synth’ cords, but is ultimately a bit too repetitive for its own good.
The first of three tracks by indie electronic duo, The Limousines, is up next. ‘Very Busy People’ is a quirky, slightly retro piece, with fun lyrics and a catchy chorus – I guess all you really need from a rock/pop song!
Cellphish follow this up with ‘Before I Die’, which is a fast paced rock track with a nicely catchy brass riff, definitely one of the stand out tracks on the album.
The Limousines are then back with the tongue twister named ninth track: ‘Flaskaboozendancingshoes’, which features more of their brand of electro rock with a nice line in clipped sentences and interesting lyrics. This one features a kind of sub horn-like bass line, which is pretty cool.
‘Blast’ by Bobot Adrenaline is basically yet another indie rock track, with some of the vocals sounding like a rougher edged version of some of the songs by The Monkees – well at least to me they did!
Moros Eros’s ‘Quit, You’re Being Thoughtless’ is more of the same, but with a hint of U2 like guitar work spidering its way throughout the piece; I’m not sure that’s a good thing or not!
‘I’m Always Here’ by Jason Scheff is a more traditional sort of light rock from the REO Speedwagon school of rockin’. It’s ok; it just seems a bit dated nowadays.
This is neatly followed by a John Mobley track featuring Reina Williams, which has a kind of blaxploitation vibe going on in the background, or maybe that’s just my weird interpretation! Regardless, the song has a good rhythm running through it and to me is another of the stand out tracks.
Amber Pacific then gives us ‘The Good Life’, although there’s no sign of Tom or Barbara! This is pretty clichéd modern hard rock from the US, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad, just nothing special.
The Limousines are then back for a third and final time with ‘Internet Killed the Video Star’, which demonstrates their rather retro sense of humour. I’m wondering if one of the members of The Limousines is related to one of the film’s producers or something as that’s the only reason I can think of as to why they have been included three times here. They’re not bad or anything, I just don’t think they should have featured quite as much.
The penultimate track on the album is Robert Etoll’s fast paced ‘Head Banger’, which is basically a guitar-led instrumental. It’s good, if overly familiar.
Bobot Adrenaline have the honour of finishing off the album with a second track called ‘Viktors Misery’, which seemed to me to display shades of UK Ska music throughout its arrangements, although I could have been imagining that! Bobot make some interesting use of their drumsticks to mark time and there’s even a bit of Spanish and surf guitar thrown in for good measure, the former making good use of its tremolo effect.
Like so many compilation soundtrack albums Piranha 3DD tries hard to please too many kinds of people and therefore ends up not really pleasing anyone in particular. However, there’s some reasonable stuff on this CD and it’s worth a listen if you’ve the inclination.
Reviewer: Justin Richards
The original motion picture score of Dimension Film’s Piranha 3DD has recently been released by Lakeshore Records and should be available in most good music shops and online, even as you read this.