On New Year’s Eve, I met up with a pair of great friends and took in a showing of Quentin Tarantino‘s latest film, The Hateful Eight (check out our recent review by Adam Frazier), which I found to be a brazenly sinister and violent black comedy sneaked in on unsuspecting moviegoers beneath the sheepskin of a classic big sky western. Then we all made a short pilgrimage to a local tavern where we proceeded to ring in the new year and I learned that I knew all of the lyrics to Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual.”
Love the film or hate its evil guts, one of the undisputed highlights of Hateful Eight was the original score composed by the legendary Ennio Morricone – his first score for a western in four decades! Tarantino has long wanted to team with the famed Italian music man responsible for some of the most iconic film scores of our time (Morricone even wrote an original song, “Ancora Qui,” for Tarantino’s previous film, Django Unchained), and the director’s latest provided “Il Maestro” a magnificent playground full of amoral characters talking and shooting each other to death with which to work. Unfortunately, Morricone was not able to create a full score due to a rushed schedule, compelling Tarantino to fill in a few gaps by utilizing selections from other scores composed by Morricone.
The director has loaded his soundtracks with Morricone music in the past, but the cues he sampled typically came from a spaghetti western (such as The Big Gundown, which Tarantino borrowed extensively from for Inglourious Basterds) or crime drama. For The Hateful Eight, a snowbound tale of paranoia and deception focusing on a group of strangers with no reason to trust one another, the director made inventive use of music Morricone composed for John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi horror masterpiece The Thing, including a few pieces that Carpenter decided not to use in the finished film (though they made it into the television broadcast version, which can be found screening from time to time late night on cable).
Tarantino also scored an early sequence to the haunting strains of “Regan’s Theme,” a selection from Morricone’s beautiful and terrifying soundtrack from the notorious Exorcist II: The Heretic. You won’t find that piece or the music from The Thing on the official Hateful Eight soundtrack album, but thanks to the majesty of YouTube embeds, you can listen to them here below.
The Hateful Eight is now playing in wide release across the country. The official soundtrack is currently available on CD and MP3, and will be released later this month on vinyl. It’s my favorite soundtrack of the year, a real beaut.