The Composers of Evil Dead: The Game Bring the Franchise’s Ghoulish Sounds to a New Generation
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Evil Dead is an extremely important franchise for me. One of my first introductions to horror was this macabre but comical world filled with iconic characters like Ash and disgusting demons called Deadites. While I was far too young to properly express my enthusiasm at the time, it’s safe to say that I owe much of my love of horror entertainment to Sam Raimi’s legendary series. Evil Dead 2, in particular, holds a very special place in my heart, especially when it comes to the score. I vividly remember the evocative balance of tense dread and dark melancholy demonstrated by the film’s score.
With the launch of Evil Dead: The Game just behind us, I recently had the opportunity to sit down with longtime Evil Dead composer Joseph LoDuca and Saber Interactive in-house composer Steve Molitz to discuss the haunting melodies of this upcoming asymmetrical multiplayer horror. Title. As an astute Evil Dead fan and music enthusiast, it was an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to discuss the recipe for a hard-hitting horror soundtrack, the team’s approach to bring the quintessential sounds of Evil Dead to a modern audience, the importance of this legacy franchise, and much more.
Reinventing decades of Deadite devotion
Much like Ash’s makeshift chainsaw hand, LoDuca has been horribly attached to Evil Dead music for some time. LoDuca was directly responsible for setting the ominous tone of the Evil Dead Expanded Universe, beginning with low-key sessions on the floor of Raimi’s parents’ lair during filming of the original film through 1984 and continuing to through the television series Ash vs. Evil Dead. Despite decades of devotion to this gore-laden franchise, LoDuca was brimming with genuine enthusiasm when I asked him what excited the legendary composer to return to the series with Evil Dead: The Game.
“You can’t kill this franchise. You just can’t,” laughed LoDuca. “To me, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.”
Seeing LoDuca’s face light up as he passionately shared his insights and experience with one of my favorite franchises was undeniably magical. “Even though I’ve done fantasy and action sitcoms and animated stuff, what’s great about horror is that there are no rules other than that you try to instill terror. And for Evil Dead, there are ways to reinvent it.” he said.
Although LoDuca has worked on dozens of scores for the likes of Spartacus, Xena: Warrior Princess, and The Librarians, and the release of several Evil Dead games over the past few decades, Evil Dead: The Game was LoDuca’s first foray. this composer in the musical composition of video games. . Together with Molitz, LoDuca was allowed to deploy their talents in a whole new medium by creating many of the main themes for Evil Dead: The Game, including the killer title track.
“I was lucky enough to be able to collaborate with Steve, and he was kind to me in how we divided up our responsibilities,” LoDuca joked. “It was good. It was really good.”
It was obvious that LoDuca genuinely appreciated Molitz’s expertise in the world of video game music. “I think even in the themes that I wrote, I tried to keep in mind that there is a certain level of clarity and excitement in a player, in terms of experiencing the music , and I wanted to dip my feet into that world.”
As someone with extensive professional experience composing music for a wide range of movies, shows, and other media, I wanted to know if video games allowed LoDuca to experiment in a way traditionally not possible with cinema or television.
“I think what I always admire about being a game composer is that you’re involved in inventing the world from the ground up in a way that as a TV composer and as a film composer, I can’t experiment. Everybody triggers and shoots, they edit it, and then comes the music time. That’s never the case, I don’t think with video games .
As soon as the game opens, the opening theme does a wonderful job of setting the unsettling tone of the whole experience. LoDuca and Molitz have managed to create fresh music that feels straight out of the Evil Dead universe. It’s also fun, with the duo reinventing the franchise’s haunting melodies.
Bringing the hellish tones of Evil Dead to a new audience
With an ensemble cast of the most iconic and horrifying characters from the Evil Dead mythos, in many ways, Evil Dead: The Game serves as an eclectic tribute to the series’ horrifying legacy. This is very exciting for a big fan of Ash and his Necronomicon-centric misadventures like me.
However, I reluctantly understand that many potential players have no knowledge of the franchise. I wanted to know what the team’s approach was when it came to bringing the classic sounds of Evil Dead to a modern audience with this new video game. Molitz had a lot to share about the game’s music design philosophy.
“When I first started working on the project, the development team used Joe’s music from Army of Darkness as a placeholder. It was my first introduction to see how the art style, environments, characters, and the gameplay interacted with the music,” Molitz began. . “I wasn’t thinking so much ‘how can I recycle this or repackage it?’ I was thinking more, ‘what are the qualities and nuances of these compositions that make me feel certain things about the Evil Dead universe?'”
As a fan of Evil Dead and the work of LoDuca, Molitz was careful to underline his respectful intentions with his renditions of the game’s music.
“The Evil Dead universe touches on so many different creative styles. You can be funny and quirky. You can be terrifying. Or you can be triumphant and heroic. It’s all in there. I just took inspiration from all the brilliant compositions from Joe and I took what they made me feel.”
Molitz pointed to the dynamic importance of Evil Dead as another major inspiration for his work, and it’s something you can absolutely feel while playing the game. Chaotic crescendos frequently align with over-the-top executions. and memorable moments of intense action. The in-match music of Evil Dead: The Game perfectly captures the unpredictability of the franchise.
While both LoDuca and Molitz emphasized their mission to provide compelling music to any gamer, regardless of their association with Evil Dead, the duo also understood the importance of honoring the franchise’s legacy. There’s a fine line between successfully paying homage and becoming oddly derivative of any beloved series, which Molitz was aware of.
“I was personally paying homage to Joe just because I love his work and his sound. You can hear two seconds of the music he did for Evil Dead and know right away what it is,” Molitz smiles. “That’s the biggest compliment I think you can give a musician. I was paying tribute emotionally because I was so thrilled to work on this. But when it came time to put pen to paper, I tried to go out of my own way and let the music come through.”
The keys to concocting a hard-hitting horror soundtrack
A well-paced score is essential to the effectiveness of any medium, but it’s imperative in the world of horror. The soundscape and tension relying entirely on the musical component of a scary movie or game can truly make or break the experience, and having someone like LoDuca on the project meant that that expertise was very present.
“It’s great when you have a theme to play on. I’m a sucker that way. Sam Raimi is also a sucker for melodies. But in the present day, not so much. That might sound old school , and we want to be scared of the overriding stuff. So you’ll find yourself in the realm of sound design a lot. And that combination of music and sound has the power to give you goosebumps,” LoDuca said.
The established composer was quick to point out that there is no single formula for creating evocative horror music. “It will depend on the story and direction of vision of the person you are trying to merge with,” he explained. “A lot of times with horror movies, I didn’t ask for an orchestra, but they gave me one because the rule was, we want to see popcorn fly, so you need the necessary to summon those kinds of forces. However, I’ve tried to sell the idea that a few instruments can be just as scary.”
It was refreshing to hear LoDuca talk about the raw and unpredictable nature of composing music for any project. His outspoken ideas brought an authentic humanity to the enigmatic air of Hollywood.
“I’ve done movies where there were very few melodic elements, and I’ve done horror movies where we’ve used music inspired by a 19th century orchestra. It all depends on how it all works together. Quite often you can write a piece of music, and somehow it syncs up with what’s happening on the screen. In a lot of ways, be really lucky, and it works remarkably for ages.
What to expect from the sounds of Evil Dead: The Game
After several interviews with the development team and over 50 hours of gameplay so far, it’s abundantly clear that Saber Interactive has succeeded in producing a game worthy of the franchise’s legacy. Evil Dead: The Game is packed with stunning visuals, powerful music, and heaps of juicy gore.
While the multiplayer-centric gameplay loop may be enough for some types of gamers, Evil Dead: The Game rightfully has the potential to convert skeptics and perhaps even spawn a whole new generation of Ash enthusiasts. With buckets of blood, a shipload of Easter eggs, and countless nods to the series, the team has unquestionably delivered a compelling multiplayer experience. If you’re a fan of the campy, visceral world of Evil Dead, this asymmetrical horror game is truly a meticulously crafted love letter.