Home > Reviews > LAS BRUJAS DE ZUGARRAMURDI – Joan Valent


September 27, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

lasbrujasdezugarramurdiOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi – known in English as “Witching and Bitching” – is a bawdy horror-comedy directed by Álex de la Iglesia about two bumbling bank robbers (Mario Casas and Hugo Silva) who, after their latest botched crime, find themselves fleeing from both the police and their respective wives in the woods near the town of Zugarramurdi in northern Spain. However, unknown to the robbers, Zugarramurdi was the setting of the infamous Basque witch trials in the seventeenth century, and the sexy but cannibalistic descendants of those original witches still reside in the nearby “cuevas de las brujas”, hungry for human flesh…

The score for Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi is by composer Joan Valent, and it functions in much the same way as Debbie Wiseman’s score for the similarly-themed Lesbian Vampire Killers movie did a few years ago: it accentuates the comedy by being deadly serious. The opening cue, “Titulos”, is dark and dramatic, with an urgent rhythmic core for brass and strings, subtle cooing vocals, rollercoaster woodwinds, and a mysterious main theme underpinned by snare drum percussion and light glockenspiel hits to make sure the comedy element is not entirely ignored.

The seven unnamed score cues are generally of the major-key horror variety, with strong reliance on brass and percussion, string sustains, moments of tension and dissonance, and occasional orchestral explosions to keep the listener firmly on the edge of his or her seat. A mischievous performance of the main theme accompanied my pizzicato strings is a highlight of the 12-minute “Tema 1”, which goes on to include a rampaging action sequence accentuated by Latin chanting, staccato pianos and, later, an unexpectedly cool sequence for mixed percussion, with timpanis, snare drums, high hats, and various tapped metallic effects playing off each other.

More pizzicato effects, echoing off low-end brass clusters, make “Tema 2” a suspenseful delight, while “Tema 3” introduces a see-sawing four-note motif for brass, and a glassy music-box theme, both of which weaves their way through much of the rest of the score. “Tema 4” seems to be more seductive, more emotional than the others, with high strings playing up the supernatural and slightly erotic aspects of the story and the sexy but deadly witches at the center of it, while the rampaging “Tema 5” is a fast-paced chase sequence which sees multiple sections of the orchestra fading in and out over the top of a relentless, forward-thrusting percussive core. Everything comes to a head in the finale, “Tema 7”, which works through some intense moments of action and horror, all tumbling brass chords and frantic string writing – as well as a couple of variations on the main theme and the music box theme – before the chorally rich “Creditos” bring the score to a close with a gothic, ghostly sweep.

Unfortunately, the score for Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi is not available for purchase at this time, although Valent did make a promotional CD available for consideration by various awards bodies (successfully, as it turns out, as he was nominated for a Goya Award – the Spanish Oscars – for his work here). I hope one of the European specialty labels – MovieScore Media or Quartet – is able to secure the right to this soon, as I’m sure it would be a popular addition to many collections.

Track Listing:

  • Titulos (2:24)
  • Tema 1 (12:13)
  • Tema 2 (3:45)
  • Tema 3 (3:54)
  • Tema 4 (4:16)
  • Tema 5 (2:43)
  • Tema 6 (1:29)
  • Tema 7 (6:25)
  • Creditos (2:47)

Running Time: 39 minutes 56 seconds

Promo (2013)

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