I am always mistified when it comes to films concerning Satan coming to reclaim the Earth. Firstly, why? What could he possibly do with a ball of rock and what's the point of enslaving the human race? Surely there is only a certain amount of pleasure can in doing that kind of thing (I'm guessing here...) Secondly, how come he is always defeated with a bit of a slugging match at the end? Well, to be fair, for all its faults, Omen III: The Final Conflict did set up for quite a low key second coming of Christ (as low key as these kind of affairs tend to be) which at least suggested a divine solution. However, End of Days just resolves everything with a bit of a slugging match in a church and Arnie saves the world, once again. Well, jolly good for him and us. I've always wondered who comes up with all the rules for Satan's return to Earth, script writers with a miniscule knowledge of theology presumably. Needless to say, as a film, End of Days was a load of old tosh and frankly did nothing for me at all. The Omen had far less graphic horror and action, but is far more thrilling.
The opening titles feature a boy soprano doing a Danny Elfman/Elliot Goldenthal solo effort, then build up of orchestra and choir, so far, so predicatable. However, director Peter Hyams evidently wanted a more grungy feel to his apocolyptic end of the millennium effort. We therefore end up with many of the more exciting sequences, such as Satan Walks the Streets featuring lashings of industrial percussion which all but drowns out any orchestra/chorus that happen to be sawing away in the background. It is a reasonably effective idea, even I can't bring myself to actually liking it too much. I suppose my bias toward orchestral scores means I'm much more at home with the parts where the synths enhance, rather than drown the orchesrta and hence the blending in more restrained action set pieces, notably Helicopter Pursuit, actually work quite well in an over the top, sub-Jerry Goldsmith kind of way. The finale couple of tracks of course turn the choir to light as Jericho (Arnie) defeats Satan - probably by boring him to death - and bring a bit of relief and resolution to the darkness.
Varese have actually come up trumps with an album that is just about the right length and even features a couple of bonus tracks. The End of Days remix isn't quite as predictably awful as I'd anticipated, but nothing to write home about. It is in fact the very techno orientated Alternate Main Title that makes for an interesting alternate, even if it's a little to overloaded with industrial noise for my tastes. It is certainly vastly inferior to the more predictably written final Main Title. Just goes to show that there's no pleasing some people - it's either too different or not original enough - and as such I apologise for my poor decisiveness on this issue! It isn't too much of a surprise to find a credit to Media Ventures on the packaging given the amount of sampling that is overlaid in Debney's score.
While it might be easy to dismiss this effort, I actually can't help but feel that quite a lot of effort has gone into a fairly collaborative effort between the composer and his synth artistes. Whether you like the results or not is a different matter and while I'm not exactly wild about it, I'd rather listen to Debney's concoction than some of the absolutely hideous horror scores that are cropping up these days. Debney's talent as a composer means that he's able to work the percussive ideas without it coming across as merely running on empty (talent wise). On the other hand, given the choice between this and The Omen or Young's recent Bless the Child, I'm afraid that I'd probably stick to the superior efforts of some horror pro's.
Read other recent reviews by Tom Daish: The Snow Files: The Film Music of Mark Snow
, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad