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Supershark (Jeff Walton)

March 12, 2014


Jeff Walton, 2014, ScreamWorks Records
19 tracks, 35:50

A terribly cheesy (or even bad) film can still offer a surprisingly fun score. I don’t want to damn Jeff Walton’s work with faint praise, but his score is exactly that: surprisingly good fun.
Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

Originally released in 2011, “Supershark” tells the terrifying story of a giant primordial shark wreaking havoc on an unsuspecting beach community. It’s up to marine biologist Kat Carmichael (Sarah Lieving) and her reluctant team to destroy the horrible creature before its power can be harnessed by big business… Did I mention this shark can walk on land? And fly. Yes, it appears to be one of those “so bad it’s good” films that have become quite popular. “Sharknado” and “Big Ass Spider” come to mind. Director of this sharktastic cinematic experience is Fred Olen Ray, who’s got 134 directing credits to his name (if IMDb is to believed). Amongst those, such incredible titles as “Abner, The Invisible Dog”, “Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers” and who could forget “Mom, Can I Keep Her?”

For Texan composer Jeff Walton it provides an opportunity to have some fun with this ridiculous adventure. He too seems to have a string of b-movies to his name. I doubt that “Supershark” will catapult him to the a-list, but it is admirable of ScreamWorks Records to release a score album. One that is actually good fun!

What does it sound like?

It’s sounds like a low-budget b-movie, to be honest, but that’s not a bad thing. The album opens with “Rig Attack” which sees Jeff Walton unleashing pounding percussion and brass stabs right from the start. “Divers” introduces an unnerving electronic buzzing noise that is re-used many times throughout the score, presumably to signal imminent danger. This track also contains some nice brass effects (swells and pitch shifts) which also prove to be a key motif throughout the album. Racing strings and incessant brass chords complete this cue.

Other action cues are “On the Radar”, the pulsing “What is That?”, “Photo Shoot Disaster”, “Soldier Dinner”, “Special Prototype” and “Engage the Enemy”. All are marked by strident, often militaristic percussion, racing strings and “Matrix”-like brass swells. On some occasions the use of percussion and brass reminds me of Jerry Goldsmith, and on other occasions it reminds me of early James Horner scores such as “Wolfen”. Not literally, but I feel there is a similar vibe to it. Later cues, like “Kat’s Briefing” and “Preparation”, show a definite militaristic style.

The score also houses some pleasant, calmer cues such as the lovely “Help Wanted” and “Kat is Safe” (both arranged for strings, harp and piano). “Windsurfer Eats It / Quarantine” seems to mimic the gentle harp ostinato from the previously mentioned cues, but sounds a little more unnerving otherwise. “Water Sample” is a low-key affair for slow strings and incidental plucks on the harp; presumably to underscore a passing of time. “The Bracelet / No Fish” and “On the Beach” are similarly low-key and broody.

Is it any good?

As I wrote earlier, I don’t want to damn this release with faint praise, but it is surprisingly nice little score. It’s well written and orchestrated, nicely structured and coherent. It appears to be entirely sampled, but production values are good, though it may not quite have the finesse of some of Hollywood’s a-listers. Jeff Walton applies some interesting scoring techniques; some of which are more interesting than what we hear on mainstream film scores nowadays. Rather than conform to current scoring trends (you know what I mean), “Supershark” seems to have more in common with 80s orchestral horror scores. It may be sampled, Walton generally takes an orchestral approach and uses high-quality libraries that manage to make the score sound quite organic. And let’s not the forget the context… “Supershark” is a low-budget b-movie and the score reflects that. Look, it’s not gonna walk away with a boatload of awards, but this a fun, well-balanced score.

Rating [2,5/5]


1 Rig Attack (0:52)
2 Divers (3:37)
3 Help Wanted (1:48)
4 Windsurfer Eats It / Quarantine (2:01)
5 Shark Approaching( 0:57)
6 Something Big Came Out of the Sea (2:15)
7 On the Radar (3:10)
8 Water Sample (2:44)
9 1 Shark, 2 Girls (1:09)
10 The Bracelet / No Fish (2:54)
11 What Is That? (2:07)
12 Photo Shoot Disaster (1:06)
13 On the Beach (2:02)
14 Soldier Dinner (1:43)
15 Kat’s Briefing (1:00)
16 Preparation (0:47)
17 Special Prototype (0:40)
18 Engage the Enemy (3:07)
19 Kat Is Safe (1:59)

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