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Section Header
Composed and Co-Produced by:
Danny Elfman

Co-Orchestrated and Co-Produced by:
Steve Bartek

Co-Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Shirley Walker

Choral Sequences Performed by:
Members of the L.A. Master Chorale

MCA Records

Release Date:
March 20th, 1990

Also See:
The Frighteners
Sleepy Hollow

Audio Clips:
1. Main Titles (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

5. Meat for the Beast (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

10. Rachel's Oratory (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

21. End Credits (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release. Sold new at online stores for an extreme discount of $5 in the mid-late 1990's due to overstock, a curious re-issue of the album on July 28th, 1998 by MCA has returned the product to a $15 value in the 2000s.


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Sales Rank: 247931

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Buy it... if you want to hear Danny Elfman's most adventurous and instrumentally diverse horror score to date.

Avoid it... if only fifteen minutes of thematic beauty and/or intrigue can't compensate for half an hour of brutal, though harmonious symphonic horror music.

Nightbreed: (Danny Elfman) Based on his novella titled "Cabal," horror writer Clive Barker teamed with horror director David Cronenberg to make Nightbreed, though the film's mortal mistake is the fact that Barker was directing his adaptation of his script and Cronenberg was in a lifeless acting role in front of the camera. To try to describe the plot of Nightbreed would do injustice to the metaphysical division in the film between the living and the undead, though it should suffice to say that Nightbreed is a significantly less gory and slightly more romantic variation on Barker's Hellraiser ideas that were translated to screen just a few years earlier. While the plot and acting of Nightbreed was certainly not destined to win any awards, the visual effects and make-up were, as usual, top notch... with monsters of all sorts existing in the nether regions between Hell and the land of the living. The music for Barker's universe was clearly defined with great success by Christopher Young for Hellraiser, though Danny Elfman's take on the Barker universe in Nightbreed was comparatively decent, if not even more interesting in its diversity of instrumentation. Elfman was in "sucker" mode in the late 1980's and early 1990's... a clear sucker for any project dripping with both tragedy and blood, and Nightbreed would extend this fascination to the martyr-related genre as well. One problem that Elfman was facing in his orchestral writing was the massive dominance of Batman in his early career, with every project thereafter (until Edward Scissorhands) serving up some small level of disappointment for Elfman's newfound fans by comparison to the music for Gotham. Compounding the problem was a mundane score for Darkman, a work that repeated many of the motifs from Batman with little infusion of style or individuality. While Nightbreed is no classic either, it is a rather unique entry in Elfman's career, for the composer rarely ventured into the large-scale horror before Sleepy Hollow finely tuned his skills there.

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Whereas Sleepy Hollow was a frightfully huge horror score, Elfman's The Frighteners was a far less creative and straight-laced attempt to scare an audience. By comparison, Nightbreed has much more humor and beauty in its ranks, with a core of themes and motifs that remain largely harmonic and tonal from start to finish. Instead of using standard dissonant slashes and orchestra hits for its horror, Elfman establishes propulsive rhythms and overbearing orchestrations to achieve the right atmosphere. In the process of doing that, he carries over many of the funky instrumental elements from his mid-1980's efforts, making Nightbreed a far more entertaining score for his fans than his other horror works. Utilizing a full choir and generous percussion section, Elfman's title theme rolls with elegance as it builds to its thematic fright, all the while we hear memorable plucking motifs for strings and the cascading four-note female choral effect from Scrooged. The title theme (also four notes) is cleverly constructed for easy reference throughout the score. By the "End Credits" cue, Elfman serves up performances of these themes and motifs that are downright beautiful in their harmonic mix, especially with the male and female choirs alternating performances in subtle fashion. One of the more intriguing elements of Nightbreed is that it exhibits a stylish usage of pan flutes, often echoing with success in the fog of mystery; it's a great usage that Elfman fans would not hear again. Other instrumental uses of note include a standard flute fluttering with great skill in "Carnival Underground," the monstrously brutal percussive display (especially for seemingly uncontrolled timpani) in "Meat for the Beast," and the rolling piano under the title theme in "Rachel's Oratory." While Nightbreed features bombastic horror exhibitions for most of its length, it has about fifteen minutes of truly beautiful writing by Elfman, often including a plucking harp, especially in the more somber character cues and the opening and closing credits. True Elfman fanatics may be bothered by the heavy borrowing in choral usage from Scrooged, however, as well as a needless country song at the end of the album. Still, an ever intriguing work. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Danny Elfman reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.2 (in 65 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.25 (in 118,836 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.19 Stars
Smart Average: 3.1 Stars*
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 46:38

• 1. Main Titles (2:40)
• 2. Dream (1:03)
• 3. Carnival Underground (3:23)
• 4. Into Midian (2:31)
• 5. Meat for the Beast (2:10)
• 6. Resurrection Suite (3:37)
• 7. Boone Transforms (0:56)
• 8. The Initiation (2:50)
• 9. Scalping Time (1:54)
• 10. Rachel's Oratory (1:04)
• 11. Party in the Past (0:51)
• 12. Poor Babette (1:41)
• 13. Uh-Oh... Decker! (1:39)
• 14. "Then Don't Say It!" (1:28)
• 15. Boone Gets a Taste (2:44)
• 16. Breed Love (1:02)
• 17. Mayhem Midian (1:43)
• 18. Baphomet's Chamber (2:01)
• 19. Farewell (0:59)
• 20. 2nd Chance (1:34)
• 21. End Credits (4:33)
• 22. Country Skin - performed by Michael Stanton (4:15)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Nightbreed are Copyright © 1990, MCA Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/22/98 and last updated 1/30/06. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1998-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.