DIE MOMMIE DIE - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Dennis McCarthy
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Dragon’s Domain Records presents DIE, MOMMIE DIE!, featuring music composed by Dennis McCarthy (STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE, V: THE FINAL BATTLE, MACGYVER) for the 2003 comedy directed by Mark Rucker, written by Charles Busch, starring Charles Busch, Natasha Lyonne, Jason Priestley, Angela Paton, Frances Conroy and Philip Baker Hall.
DIE MOMMIE DIE! (2003) is a romantic comedy/murder mystery written by and starring female impersonator Charles Busch. Created as a parody/homage to 1950s and ‘60s women’s melodramas, the film is lightly humorous with plenty of dark comedy as it tells the story of fallen pop diva Angela Arden, who schemes to murder her inattentive and berating husband Sol in order to be with her young gigolo lover Tony, only to have his daughter Edith and their son Lance interfere with her carefully wrought plans.
The film’s musical score is the work of Dennis McCarthy, best known for scoring more than 250 episodes of STAR TREK across four iterations after the original series, THE NEXT GENERATION, VOYAGER, DEEP SPACE NINE and ENTERPRISE. During the 1980’s through the 2000’s, McCarthy was among the most durable and dependable TV composers in the business. From his experience scoring romantic suspense TV movies, McCarthy immediately understood the kind of musical treatment this film needed. McCarthy’s music budget for this film accommodated an orchestra of some 30 instruments; to that group he added a 15-player rhythm section to handle unique flavors and beats as needed. While the orchestral ensemble creates the tension, drama, and mood of the story, the rhythm section defines the period and maintains the rhythm, color, and groove throughout the music cues.
Dragon’s Domain Records, to be distributed by BuySoundtrax, presents the world premiere release of DIE, MOMMIE, DIE!, featuring music composed by Dennis McCarthy, mastered by James Nelson at Digital Outland. The booklet contains liner notes written by noted author Randall Larson, featuring the participation of the composer.
DIE, MOMMIE, DIE! is a limited edition of 500 units.
1. Why Not Me? (2:31)
Vocals by Ruth Williamson
2. Opening Credits (3:02)
3. Why Not Me? (Extended Alternate Version) (2:46)
Vocals by Ruth Williamson
4. Tony's Car/Back Home (0:54)
5. Daddy's Favorite Color (2:15)
6. I Hate My Mom (2:50)
7. A Life Sentence (2:56)
8. Mom and Lance Share Drinks (2:53)
9. The Poison and Family Dinner (3:40)
10. Death by Suppository (4:37)
11. Not to Be Trusted (2:28)
12. Shed Sex (2:15)
13. Memorial Service (1:53)
14. Sam's Steakhouse (1:17)
15. Mom and the Moving Men (0:50)
16. Stabbed and Back Home Again (1:38)
17. Murdering the Maid (2:01)
18. Shed Kiss and The Falling Body (2:48)
19. Tea Time and The LSD Trip (10:16)
20. The Truth Revealed (3:50)
21. Finale (6:04)
22. Why Not Me? (2:33)
Vocals by Todd Murray
23. Lance Rocks (0:38)
24. Motorcycle (0:30)
25. Elevator Muzak (0:31)
26. Car Source (0:23)
27. The Salt and Pepper Polka (0:35)
Vocals by Ruth Williamson
Total Time: 70:03
Die, Mommie, Die! (2003) *** 1/2
Dragon Domain DDR719
27 tracks - 70:03
There are certain larger-than-life character actors who are legendary on the stage, but rarely cross over to the silver screen—your Carol Channings and Ethel Mermans, for instance. Similarly, it would seem that Charles Busch’s sensibility and brand of humor might be too rarefied for feature films, which is ironic, since his works are usually homages to the golden age of the silver screen. He writes his plays as vehicles for himself, usually playing some grande dame or a tragic figure with a heart of gold. You’d think that a medium with room for the likes of John Waters would find space for Busch, but alas, only two of his plays have been made into movies: Psycho Beach Party, which was a send-up of the teenage summer beach flicks of the ’50s, and Die, Mommie, Die!, a loving recreation of the Douglas Sirk melodramas.
Busch played a small part in Psycho Beach Party (that of a female cop), but Die, Mommie, Die! saw him take on the leading role he wrote for himself on stage: Angela Arden, a fading lounge singer trapped in a loveless marriage. Besides the fact that Angela is played by a man, and all the delicious one-liners and quips thrown around by the cast, Die, Mommie, Die! captures all the tropes of these melodramas, right down to the exaggerated high-brow score by Dennis McCarthy.
McCarthy is mostly known for his genre TV work, particularly his contributions to the Star Trek series of the 1990s, including his Emmy-winning theme for Deep Space Nine. So, this comedy dressed as a serious melodrama was likely a breath of fresh air for the composer. The score actually opens with a cue that could underscore the Starship Enterprise flying through space, with optimism and purpose. But that happy feeling doesn’t last long, as we get a hint that not everything is what it seems, courtesy of some dissonant strands entering the idyllic sound world.
McCarthy incorporates two basic moods here: jazzy noir a la Dave Grusin, and full-on melodrama along the lines of Elmer Bernstein. Both idioms are executed in first-rate fashion, but excuse me if I enjoy the campy nostalgia of the latter a little bit more. Of course, the seriousness of the music is undercut by the comedy on screen, but also by track titles like “Death by Suppository” and “Tea Time and the LSD Trip.” I especially enjoyed the song “Why Not Me,” written by McCarthy and lyricist Jerry Patch, with the great theater actress Ruth Williamson providing the singing voice for Busch.
Dennis McCarthy may have leaned on his experiences scoring the original Dynasty series for the exaggerated, emotional sound of Die, Mommie, Die!, but I have a feeling he had an innate affection for these types of scores, much in the same way Busch loved the weepers that inspired him to write his plays. Busch’s latest work, The Confession of Lily Dare, recently played Off-Broadway and had this same sensibility. Hopefully, he’s fielding offers for the film version now. The Dragon’s Domain issue of Die, Mommie, Die! is limited to just 500 copies. —Cary Wong