Goregirl’s Favourite Composers of the 1990s: DANNY ELFMAN

Danny Elfman has had a long career in music. Elfman was formerly a member of the band Oingo Boingo (1976 to 1995) who were no strangers to film music. They scored the 1982 film Forbidden Zone directed by Danny’s brother Richard and their song Weird Science was used in the 1985 John Hughes’ film of the same name. These days Elfman is best known for his collaborations with Tim Burton; he has scored the majority of Burton’s films. The first film Elfman scored for the director was Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985) and he would score two more for Burton before the end of the 80s; Beetlejuice (1988) and Batman (1989). I think Danny Elfman’s music is the perfect accompaniment to Tim Burton’s whimsical films; I would definitely say Elfman shares Burton’s vision. Elfman composed for several popular films through the 80s and 90s not directed by Burton also. I especially dig Night Breed, Freeway, The Frighteners, To Die For and Dolores Claiborne (review pending). Elfman’s best known piece however is his iconic theme for The Simpsons. My two newest YouTube posts are both from Danny Elfman’s Music for a Darkened Theatre. To be honest, this is not a collection I enjoy listening to in its entirety. I tried throwing it on the other day while I was writing a review and felt compelled to fast forward through several tracks. It jumps from light and airy to noisy and abrasive from track to track. Elfman uses similar sounds in his scores and listening to some of these pieces back to back feels redundant. I am not telling you to avoid this collection, it has some great tracks on it, I simply get no joy from listening to it beginning to end. I think Elfman’s scores are the perfect companion for the images they accompany; not to mention tons of fun. Danny Elfman is still going strong and contributed to several commercially successful ventures through the 2000s; Spy Kids, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Chicago, Men in Black II and Terminator Salvation to name a few. Danny Elfman definitely has a uniquely distinct sound that adds a great deal of fantasy, quirkiness and whimsy to the images it compliments. Here is Danny Elfman’s 1990s composer resume…

1990 Nightbreed
1990 Dick Tracy
1990 Darkman
1990 Edward Scissorhands
1992 Article 99
1992 Batman Returns
1992 Batman (TV series)
1993 Sommersby
1993 The Nightmare Before Christmas
1994 Black Beauty
1995 Dolores Claiborne
1995 To Die For
1995 Dead Presidents
1996 Freeway
1996 Mission: Impossible
1996 The Frighteners
1996 Extreme Measures
1996 Mars Attacks!
1997 Men in Black
1997 Flubber
1997 Good Will Hunting
1998 A Simple Plan
1998 A Civil Action
1999 Instinct
1999 Anywhere But Here
1999 Sleepy Hollow

Music and Images from Tim Burton’s 1990 film Edward Scissorhands. Music by Danny Elfman. Edward Scissorhands Main Titles from Elfman’s collection Music For A Darkened Theatre.

Music and images from Tim Burton’s 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas. Music by Danny Elfman – Oveture and Christmas Eve Montage from Elfman’s Music for a Darkened Theatre.

This is one of the first slideshows I posted on my YouTube Channel. Music from the 1996 film Freeway Directed by Matthew Bright. Music composed by Danny Elfman. Featuring a slideshow of Juvenile Deliquent flicks.

5 Responses to “Goregirl’s Favourite Composers of the 1990s: DANNY ELFMAN”

  1. I thought Oingo Boingo(from when MTV was worth watching)was a good band and love Forbidden Zone. I enjoy a lot of Danny Elfman’s movie scores,although like you,l’m not sure I could listen to them all day. Within the context of the films,I like his work in Darkman, Edward Scissorhands,The Frighteners(very underrated movie I feel),Mars Attacks(As one who bought the original bubble gum cards,I found this movie rather entertaining)and Sleepy Hollow. His non-Burton scores are quite good,too. I like the Freeway soundtrack a lot as well!

    • Forbidden Zone is coo-coo! Danny Elfman is the devil! Someone sent me a video of the alphabet song just today…I completely forgot how nuts that film is. I should definitely seek it out again. We never got MTV here but god knows we had more than our share of video shows. Our MTV was MuchMusic which as far as I know is still around. I am kind of out of touch without cable. I love Mars Attacks too! I was kinda disappointed in Sleepy Hollow. I like Ricci, but she was a bad choice for that role, I would have liked a less comical light-hearted approach, but than again, it is pretty Burton-esque so i didn’t know what I was expecting.

  2. I agree with your album review. I’m glad I’m not the only one who can’t sit through it start to finish. Oingo Boingo might be something for you to look for, as they and Elfman are inseparable. (“Forbidden Zones”‘s soundtrack being credited to “the Knights of the Oingo Boingo.”) I think piece-for-piece “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” holds up the best; check it out on DVD if you can, as Elfman gets his own commentary track! That’s pretty awesome. “Edward Scissorhands”‘ score might work in the film, but it makes for a pretty forgettable soundtrack to sit and listen to.

    • I still have Pee-Wee on VHS! I am a total sucker for Pee-Wee…I mean really. I even liked Big Top Pee-Wee. I should go ahead and just buy it for my collection. I had the Beetlejuice soundtrack on vinyl which i thought was great…although I sold off my vinyl years ago and haven’t heard it in ages.

      • I’d kill for the Beetlejuice score. According to the liner notes, the Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure was a limited run album that I was lucky enough to stumble across. It has Elfman’s score for Rodney Dangerfield’s “Back to School” on it too for some reason.

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