Ok, look, we all know Lalo Schifrin as the legendary scoring genius behind such films as Cool Hand Luke, Bullit, and The Amityville Horror, but can we talk about some of the incredible flops this guy has scored? Doctor Detroit, for instance. That had to be a personal favor to somebody. I just can’t see Lalo (or anyone) hearing “Dan Aykroyd as scientist turned pimp” and saying, “Yeah, I’d be about that.”
What about Bringing Down The House, the movie that finally paired Steve Martin with Queen Latifah? Does the Schif have a problem saying no? Isn’t he ever just like, “You know what? Fuck this. I wrote ‘Mission Impossible.’ Go find someone else to save your weak buddy comedy from complete and deafening silence.”? Lord knows he could probably get away with saying stuff like that.
Indeed the amount of pure crap Lalo has scored boggles the mind, and if I wasn’t supposed to review an individual piece of his work right now, I’d spend the rest of this cyber space tearing homeboy a new one over the more questionable career decisions he’s made (all three Rush Hours? Really?).
1983’s Sudden Impact was the fourth entry in Clint Eastwood’s famed Dirty Harry series and the only one to feature gruff but lovable Pat Hingle (who was clearly just biding his time before Brewster’s Millions and Maximum Overdrive). This film introduced Eastwood’s legendary catchphrase “Go ahead, make my day,” which has become a standard catchphrase for old people to spout off when they’re about to receive the check in a restaurant. That’s old Clint for ya – always revving seniors up with some kind of unmitigated craziness.
So how’s Lalo’s score? In seven words, tense, gripping, and peppered with slap bass. Yes, Schifrin made liberal use of funky string thwacking, predating the dippy “Seinfeld” theme by six years. It works in some places, but the main title is so lousy with the stuff it sounds like a rejected “Night Court” theme. The scratch box gets a serious workout on that one, too. Oh, the awkward musical period when white people were first discovering rap. It was a painful time. Remember “Buffalo Girls?” Yeah, I bet you wish you didn’t.
Schifrin peppers his taut, occasionally Kurtis Blow-ish Sudden Impact score with a pastiche of pleasing musical styles. A great example is “Remembering Terror,” a mini-masterpiece starting with stiff and creepy carnival pipes that segue into nails-on-chalkboard string work. Capping the piece off is some totally awesome (not to mention totally generic) heavy metal riff rockin’ a la Quiet Riot. It’s nice to see Carlos Cavazo get a nod from a contemporary of Dizzie Gillespie. I wonder how many Crüe records Lalo owns. He’s gotta be a Theater of Pain guy.
Sudden Impact is a respectable entry in the Lalo Schifrin oeuvre, on par at least with the composer’s “Ape Shuffle” from the Planet of the Apes TV series (don’t laugh – that song is actually amazing if you take the time to listen past the stupid monkey noises) and “This Side of Forever,” his duet with Roberta Flack. It’s most definitely in a higher class than that early nineties Beverly Hillbillies feature Schif scored, or 1981’s Caveman. Ringo Starr in a loincloth? No thanks. Lalo, baby, I hope you made a mint on that one.
Sudden Impact soundtrack is out now.