Dramatic Underscoring is our regular column by Marcella Hemmeter reviewing soundtrack albums from movies current and forgotten. This edition covers 1983's Krull.
Pop Quiz: Who composed the score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)? If you guessed the correct answer in less than 2 seconds, high five. It took me a minute. Okay, maybe two. Recently a friend played me a clip of music on his phone to quiz me. I quickly recognized it as part of the score for Wrath of Khan and he asked who composed it. I didn’t know right away. I guess I’m not as big of a Trek fan as I thought. Anyway, as he played the short clip a couple of more times I sensed a familiarity. There was something about the horns and strings that made me think of Krull, a movie I LOVED as a kid. And I knew who composed that score. Giving my answer of James Horner, my friend was amazed. Yes! Soundtrack skills INTACT!
Krull (1983) is a fantasy/science fiction adventure film that joined a crowded field of sci-fi’s to try to lure in Star Wars fans or Conan fans, or both. Either way, there are more horses and swordplay than spaceships and lasers, though it has that, too. It starts off with a marriage meant to join two kingdoms. Just before the ceremony is complete, galactic baddies invade and kidnap Princess Lyssa. Prince Colwyn must find and rescue her with help from a wise old man, a band of thieves, and a bungling magician. It’s ambitious and fun. You’ve got futuristic bad guys and heroes riding Firemares (those are horses that run so fast they leave a trail of fire in their wake). They budgeted high with Krull and the results are visually stunning, if a bit dated, with some very cool design elements like the Glaive, a magical flying weapon, and a mountainous spaceship known as the Black Fortress which we first see during the opening sequence flying through space on its way to the planet Krull. Am I appealing to your childhood love of adventure movies yet?
If you know the Khan score, then give this one a listen. It’s pretty ridiculous how similar it is. Is it plagiarism if you steal from your own stuff? Full of fanfares and adventure cues along with a lush love theme and even some 80s synths, it is awesome. Horner had done Khan the previous year and you can tell he just went all out with Krull. Either that or he got lazy and couldn’t get the Khan score out of his head. The “Main Title” sets the exciting mood and I could listen to that again and again. Other favorite pieces include “Ride of the Firemares” (see above) and “Death of the Beast” which also happen to highlight some of my favorite scenes of the movie. It’s epic and sweeping and 80s adventure cheese at its finest, meant for pure entertainment so just go with it. The score has been reissued several times, as recently as this year, and it goes for a pretty penny from various online sellers.
Go on. Listen to the score. Watch the movie. Make it a Saturday afternoon in broad daylight to get the full childhood nostalgia effect. Better yet, make it a double feature and watch Wrath of Khan, too.