hateful_eight-soundtrackFrom Pulp Fiction to Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino chose to score his films with pre-existing soundtracks, along the way creating an interesting playlist of themes and tunes to tastefully reflect each film. For the first time in his career, the director opted to go with an original score The Hateful Eight, commissioning music from legendary Italian composer Ennio Morricone. 

Known for his collaborations with director Sergio Leone, the 87 year-old Morricone literally created the sound of Spaghetti Westerns with his scores for films like the Dollars Trilogy (including the immortally famous whistle and howling music from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), A Pistol for Ringo, Navajo Joe, and Death Rides a Horse amongst countless others.

Though Morricone had previously contributed a single track, “Ancora Qui,” to Tarantino’s Django Unchained, and Tarantino had become known for recycling Morricone’s older themes, The Hateful Eight this gave the director and composer a chance to officially collaborate on an entire film.

tarantino_morricone“This material deserves an original score,” Tarantino told fellow director Christopher Nolan during a recent interview at the DGA. “I’ve never thought that way before. I didn’t ever want to trust a composer with the soul of my movie.” Thankfully for us, he did. When the pair met up in Rome, Morricone was shocked to find out that the film had for the most part finished shooting and didn’t have time to write a full score for the film. The compromise reached was that he’d compose 25 minutes of original music for the film and use older cues from John Carpenter’s The Thing, which The Hateful Eight shares both subtle and obvious thematic kinship with.

Morricone’s original compositions for H8 are electrifying, but you won’t find any of the re-used cues from The Thing on the soundtrack release. Analyzing the music from The Thing, it’s brilliant to see Morricone write in forms and styles that use repetition and imitation to build tension, given the subject matter of both films. Below is a breakdown of Morricone’s older cues inserted into the new film:

Eternity / The Thing: This minimalist synthesizer cue introduces a simple melodic idea, built upon for five and a half minutes, and ending in a massive wall of unsettling synthesized chimes, organ and oscillating beeps. The track is essentially a canon, a musical form where various voices imitate each other after a given period of time. Think, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” only – far more monstrous.

Despair / The Thing: The most interesting musical choice in the score is this cue, which is heard deep into H8, but relatively early in Carpenter’s The Thing.

Bestiality / The Thing: This terrifying and jaunty cue appears twice in The Hateful Eight. Again, Morricone uses his technical knowledge as a master composer and writes this piece in an interesting music styling called a fugue. Fugues are built upon using imitation of a subject and two or more voices that enter on specific beats of time and pitches. Minimalist in nature, the main melody is heard through strings over and over with eventual punches of color added by a piano and brass.

Regan’s Theme from The Exorcist II: The Heretic: Though not from The Thing, this cue heard early in the film features frequent Morricone collaborator, soprano Edda Dell’orso, providing a beautiful and haunting melodic line that is instantly striking.

EDV