Reviews - Soundtrack
Original Release Date: December 14, 1993
Number of Discs: 1
Label: Warner Brothers
1. Main Title
3. Ski Mask Vigilante
4. Phantasm's Graveyard Murder
5. First Love
6. Big Chase
7. Plea for Help
8. Birth of Batman
9. Phantasm and Joker Fight
10. Batman's Destiny
11. I Never Even Told You (performed by Tia Carrere)
Music composed by Shirley Walker
Album produced by Shirley Walker
Executive Album Producer: Michael Ostin
Executives in Charge of Music for Warner Bros.: Gary LeMel and Doug Frank
Review: Shirley Walker and Batman just go together. She
provides excellent music for the television series, so it made
absolute sense for her to score the movie - Batman: Mask of the
Phantasm. And like the show, she's able to capture the essence
of The Dark Knight and make him sound so epic, so iconic.
Much like the movie, the score dives deep into the mysterious nature
of Gotham; the theme for the movie's title protagonist, The
Phantasm, is eerie, and chilling. Through each track, we're taken
through the happy times of Bruce's early life, to his fight night as
a crime-fighter, to the tragic showdown at the abandoned World's
Fair exposition. The use of a choir adds for a stirring effect as
the punches are thrown and fists fly.
During the entire running time, we're introduced to each character's
distinct theme; Walker manages to capture each character perfect,
and can see the movie play out as the soundtrack progresses. There
are some obvious omissions in this soundtrack, like the great music
as Bruce is stuck on the grill of a truck being hurtled towards a
wall. But each track is so impressive, so engaging, that oversight
can be quickly forgotten.
The only weak spot in this soundtrack is that horrible love theme
sung by Tia Carrere (yup, the chick from Wayne's World) but that can
be easily skipped over. The cheesy music and awful lyrics are
completely forgettable. No wonder they made it the last track on the
disc and in the movie.
Overall, itís a great soundtrack on par with Elfman's and
Goldenthal's work. You can tell she is inspired by composers before
her, but Shirley Walker also makes this movie, this soundtrack,
sound completely unique. There's a heroic beauty to the entire
album, even as the plot gets mired in tragedy. This is truly one of
the best "Batman" soundtracks.
History on the 'Chant' in the Beginning
For those who want the "Latin" lyrics used in Mask of the Phantasm, there is
an amusing and fascinating anecdote. Shirley Walker tells the story.
"As you know, the music team is rushing to the finish line as a film is in its
final dub phase. Even the known orchestrators are not always given the credit
they so justly deserve for insuring the timely execution (so to speak) of the
score. I've become tired of fighting for credits for the support team that helps
pull me through the final throes of recording and mixing my scores.
The choir for Masks gave me the opportunity to rectify this terrible situation.
I made a chart by number of syllables of every music persons name backwards to
use in creating the language you hear. 'Oh Nahlim Mot!', the phrase the score
begins with, is Tom Milano, the music editor of most of my features, whom I
originally worked with doing the Flash TV series.
You get the idea. It was working so well, I realized that I would need to
include some of the film producers and executives at Warner Bros. After all,
they were paying for my little inside joke. People do like to be included in
these sorts of things. I had to lie to the Warner Bros. legal department person
who called to ask me what the language was and what was being said.
They certainly didn't want to be a party to me saying "screw Warner Bros." in
Danish. I told them it was an obscure nonsensical choral language that existed
only in out of print orchestration books.
I think I actually spent more time on my plot than I did on the score during the
week I was preparing the choral cues. It was quite fun to see the looks on
peoples faces, as they realized what they were hearing. Only two people had
deciphered the puzzle by the time we recorded the choir. It was very difficult
for the singers to sing the strange words. I'm sure they would
have had more fun doing it, had I been able to include them in the joke too.
While I was mixing the score, I had Bobby Fernandez (Zed-nahn-fur E-Bob) record
the choir accappella onto a separate DAT, ostensibly for my sample reel. The
look on Tom's face as he began to suspect what I had done was well worth the
whole deception. He finally turned to me and said "You didn't do what I think
you've done, did you?".
The rest is history. Everyone on the music team has a tape of the singing of
their names (we transferred to 1/4" tape and played it backwards; the old