I adore the score for Zombeavers and that sort of pisses me off. How can a micro-budgeted exploitation horror-comedy featuring archaic zombified beaver puppets boast such a fantastically imaginative and deftly-composed score, when so many higher-profile (and budgeted) films suffer from such widespread banality? It’s true a masterpiece can come from anywhere. There are no limitations to exonerate a filmmaker seeking a well-crafted, functional score for their movie, but Zombeavers? I can’t say I was expecting this.
Zombeavers is the consummate “kitchen-sink” score. Composers Jon and Al Kaplan have thrown just about everything they can into it, yet it’s surprisingly cohesive with an organic flow characteristic of a seasoned master. It’s functionally superior to almost anything I’ve seen this year and it’s eclectic palette makes it an absolute blast to listen. At the heart of the score is a groovy eighth-note ostinato pattern oscillating between an arpeggiated Cm and Bb chord. What’s brilliant is that the motif is never allowed to stagnate as it’s constantly shifting between rotating harmonies and texture. It’s batted around the score like a piece of rotten fruit nobody wants to touch. It pops up at opportune times as the score develops and grounds the surrounding ideas with impunity. It’s fresh, vibrant, ballsy, and badass.
So many modern film scores, wether they were recorded live with an orchestra or produced entirely using samples, sound as if they were composed on a computer. You can hear the tell-tale signs of its computer-aided construction through a parade of cut-and-paste passages, layers upon layers of loops which long out-stay their welcome, and sudden key changes devoid of organic modulation. I don’t know if Zombeavers was written on a computer or not (it probably was) but it doesn’t reek of the usual stink associated with other computer-composed scores. It sounds organic and acrobatic, as if each note is the inevitable answer to its predecessor. It’s musically schizophrenic and verbose without sounding pretentious.
The film itself really has no business being as good as it is. It’s a super-fun ride delivering everything you’d hope to experience from an absurd horror-comedy like this. The gore is great, there’s plenty of nudity, and the titular zombie beavers will titillate the most obstinate advocates of practical effects. The screenplay (penned by composers Jon and Al Kaplan along with Jordan Rubin) boasts some surprisingly sharp-witted jokes that are probably too good for a film like this (How many innuendos, puns, and beaver jokes can possibly fit into ninety-page script?). All of these qualities make for an absurdly enjoyable romp that easily superseded my expectations.
There's an especially savory nugget of comedy gold that is the end credits song entitled "Zombeavers" sung by Nick Amado while channeling his best Frankie Sinatra. It even has the courtesy of warning you about the spoilers contained in the lyrics mid-way through the song.
"Say goodbye to your golden retriever...Zom-beavers!...Zom-beavers!"
I’m so convinced film music fans will like this score that I’m going to give away five copies of the soundtrack CD courtesy of La-La Land Records. All you have to do is email me at: [email protected] and tell me you’d love to own this soundtrack. I’ll drop the names in a hat and pick out five random winners. Whoever wins will receive a copy of the soundtrack CD. After you’ve had a chance to listen to it a few times (and perhaps even watch the film as well, it’s on Netflix streaming) tweet me at @ScoreKeeperBMD and let me know what you think of it. You have until next Wednesday (May 27th, 2015) at midnight (CST) to get your emails to me.
If a low-budget exploitation film like Zombeavers can have a score this good, what’s everybody else’s excuse?