The adage may say “All good things to those who wait,” but in the case of the long-delayed release of Dennis Dreith’s soundtrack to The Punisher, “so-so things to those who wait” seems somewhat more appropriate.
Punisher is not to be confused with the 2004 semi-hit starring Thomas Jane; rather, it is the forgotten (and forgettable) 1989 adaptation of the comic book, starring Dolph Lundgren. Dreith and director Mark Goldblatt worked together over the course of a lengthy restoration process to finalize the recording (released, appropriately, on Perseverance Records). One wonders if their time could not have spent better elsewhere.
This is not to say that the score is awful, but the release does seem a little anti-climactic, buffering a forgotten film and utilizing styles that have come and gone. There is a lot going on in Dreith’s heavy score, to an overwhelming degree. Most scenes in the film had some sort of musical accompaniment. While a lot of the soundtrack threatens to dominate with electronic sounds, some of the more impressive tracks include a number involving strings, such as “Choose Your Weapons” and “Wake Up.” He also demonstrates Asian influence on numbers such as “Pain in the Neck” and “Path to Tanaka.” Other tracks, like “Welcome Home Dino,” “Suffer the Children,” and “The Funhouse,” seem a little more pedestrian.
One thing I do have to say in favor of Dreith. His score, a bombardment of noise, actually works to support the mentally anguished character of Frank Case (and, truth be told, presents more nuance than Lundgren could). Dreith’s complex instrumentation can be seen as a legitimate reflection of the chaos going on inside the head of the avenging hero at the heart of Punisher. Either way, let’s hope Dreith gets to work on something new soon.