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Section Header
The Relic
1997 Promo

2013 La-La Land

Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
John Debney

Orchestrated by:
Brad Dechter
Frank Bennett
Rock Giovinazzo
Frank Macchia
Don Nemitz
Larry Rench
Victor Sagerquist
Evan N. Vidar

Labels and Dates:

La-La Land Records
(January 15th, 2013)

Also See:
I Know What You Did Last Summer
Eye of the Panther

Audio Clips:
1997 Promo:

1. The Relic (0:32):
WMA (209K)  MP3 (258K)
Real Audio (160K)

6. Exhibit Preview (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

7. Lights Out (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

14. Theme from the Relic (0:27):
WMA (179K)  MP3 (218K)
Real Audio (136K)

The 1997 album was a promotional release only, available initially through soundtrack specialty stores and long selling on the secondary market for about $50. The expanded 2013 La-La Land Records product is limited to 2,000 copies and available primarily through those same outlets for an initial price of $20.


The Relic
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Sales Rank: 436196

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Buy it... only if you seek a complete John Debney collection, for his mainstream debut in the horror genre is as pedestrian and underachieving as the film itself.

Avoid it... if you expect Debney to offer something beyond the usual, stock horror slashes and ensemble hits that define the genre's most tiresome cliches, occasionally borrowing shamelessly from Jerry Goldsmith and Bernard Herrmann along the way.

The Relic: (John Debney) When the MPAA classifies films with a rating, there's a category called "extreme gore" that earns the accompanying the film an automatic "R" rating. Films like The Relic are easy qualifiers in the "extreme gore" department, though with so many films in the 1980's and 1990's trying to take advantage of the same general premise of "scary monster chasing trapped humans," you have to wonder why every variant of that equation is so popular. The 1995 novel by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child took the same old monster formula and applied it to a museum environment, and with predictable turns left and right, Chicago's Museum of Natural History becomes the arena in which trapped humans are the prey for some nasty Brazilian monster that was formerly a colleague and now fancies the taste of human brain matter. The film proved several things. First, it showed that director Peter Hyams had lost the knack for the kind of truly stimulating suspense sequences that filled Outland and Capricorn One with greatness. Second, it definitely proved that Penelope Ann Miller and Tom Sizemore were not the heroes you'd want battling a monster if you were stuck in a building with them. And, finally, despite a lengthy and illustrious career for many years thereafter, The Relic told film score collectors that rising film scorer John Debney hadn't quite mastered the horror genre by 1997. The composer had made a living out of writing for Disney productions and was in transition to mainstream releases like Liar Liar and Sudden Death, both of which average works, while stunning listeners with a score for Cutthroat Island that far exceeded the quality of the film. Although anticipation for Debney and his official horror debut in The Relic was high, the composer fell back on predictable cliches and instrumental usage that begged for far more creativity than it would receive, shamelessly emulating Jerry Goldsmith's Alien more often than not. For films of The Relic's dubious quality, Debney often underachieved, and this entry is no different. With that in mind, the music for the movie alternates between boring and obnoxious, depending on how much aimless noise is being generated at any given moment. A standard orchestra with no solo standouts or unique instrumentation performs on a bleak canvas with surprisingly minimal imagination to be heard in the final mix, despite the composer's many attempts to utilize those orchestral instruments in creative ways.

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There are a handful of marginally clever motifs that Debney utilizes throughout The Relic, but none of them is given enough development or full enunciation to be considered as the overarching identity of the work. The "End Credits" cue motions through these ideas with monotonous pacing, following the "Lucky Bullet" conclusion in logically combining the score's main two identities. The actual primary theme is a very slight, three-note theme quoted by brass and the lowest registers of the ensemble that follows the beast, and its most interesting incarnations come on top of the militaristic confrontation cues in the score's latter half. This intentionally unpleasant idea camouflages itself well amongst dissonant ramblings because of its similarly distasteful progressions, making it rather difficult to latch onto. A motif for the sake of mystery is used in nearly every major cue in the film. This two-note, descending alternation is only barely effective as a tool for continuity. Additionally, Debney relies on a tingling and plucking string effect to represent the awful monster's offensive nature, and while the use of this technique is put to adequate employment here, it's somewhat of a cliche in and of itself. None of these elements really leaves an impression as strong as the simplistic bashing of the ensemble for the actual attack sequences. While utilizing some unconventional piano strikes and other percussion creativity, Debney ultimately relies heavily on standard orchestral slashes and hits, the kind of pedestrian, B-rate techniques that synthesizers have imitated for years. He also liberally quotes the bold and frenetic strokes of strings that Bernard Herrmann utilized in Psycho, but without the intelligent introduction or conveyance of those ideas. Everything in The Relic is provided at the wholesale level, whether you're forced to tolerate generic horror surprises or countless cues of lengthy, minimalistic voids. The score understandably never received a commercial release (its "End Credits" suite is really all anyone needed for a compilation of Debney's achievements), though it was the sixth of John Debney's original series of official promotional albums in the late 1990's. Within just two years of the 42-minute promo's distribution through soundtrack specialty outlets, it became a hot collectible, and, like the promo of I Know What You Did Last Summer, fetched over $100 per copy. In 2013, La-La Land afforded the score a wider album release, pressing over an hour of its length on a limited CD that will easily test the tolerance levels of most listeners. To think that fans actually paid such high sums of money for this mediocre horror venture on the promotional album for so long is far more genuinely terrifying that anything the music itself has to offer. ** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For John Debney reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.23 (in 49 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 2.97 (in 43,794 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.71 Stars
Smart Average: 2.81 Stars*
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   5 stars
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 Track Listings (1997 Promotional Album): Total Time: 42:26

• 1. The Relic (4:55)
• 2. Searching/First Attack (2:22)
• 3. Dark Hallway/The Jumper (1:25)
• 4. Grisly Discovery (1:55)
• 5. Tunnels (4:01)
• 6. Exhibit Preview (2:33)
• 7. Lights Out (2:45)
• 8. Stairway to Hell (1:07)
• 9. Patrons Arrive (1:15)
• 10. SWAT Team Attack (4:43)
• 11. Hormones (1:06)
• 12. Setting the Trap (2:34)
• 13. Face to Face (6:01)
• 14. Theme from the Relic (5:10)

 Track Listings (2013 La-La Land Album): Total Time: 65:24

• 1. The Ritual (3:51)
• 2. A Desperate Search (2:07)
• 3. Grim Discovery (1:30)
• 4. Kothoga/The Crates/The Incinerator/Ford Checks Out/Studying the Leaves (2:16)
• 5. Something in the Stairwell (1:35)
• 6. Through the Lab/Skyline/Lab Analysis (1:27)
• 7. Exhibit Preview (3:02)
• 8. Dark Signs/The Lair/Just a Maniac (3:20)
• 9. The Relic Restored/The Patrons Arrive/Big Beetle Surprise (2:37)
• 10. Search Dogs/Hormones (1:43)
• 11. The Scent/Contact/Margo Lost (2:34)
• 12. Shut It Down/Deadly Shadow/Leftovers/Guided Tour/Lights Out (8:28)
• 13. Electrical Work/Hammered Steel/The Callisto Effect (5:24)
• 14. Torches/The Devil's Desserts (1:59)
• 15. Swatted (3:23)
• 16. Tunnels (5:20)
• 17. Striking Back/Face to Face (8:40)
• 18. Lucky Bullet (0:55)
• 19. End Credits (4:59)

Bonus Track:
• 20. Lucky Bullet (Wild Alternate) (1:23)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert of the 1997 promo contains musings about childhood nightmares, a synopsis of the movie, a brief overview of the career of director Peter Hyams, and a list of some of Debney's other scores. That of the 2013 product features detailed information about the film and score.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Relic are Copyright © 1997, 2013, Promotional, La-La Land 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 11/5/99 and last updated 3/2/13. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1999-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.