Pull up a carpet square, kids — it’s story time. Today I’d like to tell you a tale about one of the most frightening nightmares I’ve ever had. It’s a nightmare so chilling, so realistic, that I remember a great many details about it years after I dreamed it. And it involves one of the stars of this week’s film, Legend (1985) — Tim Curry.
Now, if you’ve seen the movie, you may be thinking that my nightmare involved getting impaled on one of the horns of Curry’s devil-like character, the Lord of Darkness. Or maybe that it involved Darkness kidnapping me and forcing me to kill puppies and kittens in addition to the unicorns he’s so bothered by in the movie. But the actual nightmare is far more disturbing than that.
Are you ready? Make sure you’re not reading this in the dark. In the nightmare Tim Curry tried to kill me.
First he tried to shoot me, then he tried to strangle me, and finally he tried to stab me. And he was a different Tim Curry each time: the Tim Curry from Clue tried to shoot me, the Tim Curry from Roseanne tried to strangle me, and the Tim Curry from The Worst Witch tried to stab me. He was persistent, too — every time I got away from him he’d chase me all over the house, screaming profanities with an evil glint in his eye. I kind of laugh about it now, but it was really traumatizing at the time, so much so that I couldn’t watch anything with Curry in it for months — except for Legend. Why? Because if you just look at the Lord of Darkness you really can’t tell that Curry is playing him. I know that’s totally fucked up, but as Sailor says to Lula in Wild at Heart, “The way your head works is God’s own private mystery.”
Directed by Ridley Scott, Legend stars Tom Cruise as Jack, a young forest dweller who’s in love with a young princess named Lili (also spelled “Lily,” depending on which reference source you’re looking at), played by Mia Sara. To show Lili how much he loves her, Jack takes her to see the mystical unicorns, unaware that the Lord of Darkness plans to kill the animals in order to plunge the world into eternal night, thereby allowing evil to take over. Lili’s naivete leads Darkness’s goblin henchmen right to the unicorns, and the world is thrown into chaos. Jack spends the rest of the film trying to save the unicorns — and Lili — from Darkness’s evil clutches with the help of fairies and other forest folk.
There are two different versions of Legend, with two different scores. The one released in Europe in ’85 was slightly longer and contained a score by Jerry Goldsmith; the shorter U.S. version, released in ’86 a month before Top Gun made Cruise a megastar, contained a score by German synth band Tangerine Dream and had a slightly different ending. (Test-screening audiences in the U.S. reportedly complained about Goldsmith’s score, but Scott liked it enough to keep it in the European cut of the film.) Growing up, the only version I was familiar with was the American one, which I loved. I still own my original VHS copy, but a couple years ago I decided to buy the DVD, which contains a director’s cut that’s much longer than either theatrical version, plus it uses Goldsmith’s score.
I think it’s because I grew up on the Tangerine Dream “version” of the film and soundtrack that I prefer it to Goldsmith’s. When watching the cut of Legend scored by the late composer (Planet of the Apes, Chinatown, The Omen, Basic Instinct), I can’t help but think it’s supposed to have a more serious tone, which just doesn’t work for me. The quirky quality of Tangerine Dream’s score is essential to Legend‘s offbeat vibe.
I still have my original cassette of the Tangerine Dream-anchored soundtrack album, which also contains vocal tracks by Jon Anderson of Yes and Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry. This version of the soundtrack seems to be out of print (the Goldsmith version is not), so that’s what you’re going to get below. By all means, if you’ve seen/heard both versions of Legend and have an opinion to post, or you just want to make fun of me and my wackadoo nightmares, the comments section awaits you.
Tangerine Dream – Prologue
Tangerine Dream – Opening
Tangerine Dream – Cottage
Tangerine Dream – Unicorn Theme
Tangerine Dream – Goblins
Tangerine Dream – Fairies
Tangerine Dream – Blue Room
Tangerine Dream – The Dance
Tangerine Dream – Darkness
Tangerine Dream – The Kitchen/Unicorn Theme (Reprise)
Jon Anderson – Loved by the Sun
Bryan Ferry – Is Your Love Strong Enough?