Varèse Sarabande and Craft Recordings announce the first-ever vinyl release of Basil Poledouris’ thrilling score for the 1997 cult classic, Starship Troopers. This 2-LP Extended Edition includes 29 cues from the film, remastered by Chas Ferry and Melinda Hurley, a fold-out poster, plus new liner notes from director Paul Verhoeven and musician Zoë Poledouris, who reflects on her late father’s work.
The album comes housed in a gatefold jacket, featuring reimagined artwork by illustrator and graphic novelist, Malachi Ward, and it is set for release on August 4 and is available for pre-order.
Fans can also find a Varèse Sarabande Vinyl Club edition of the album (pressed on Blood & Bug Juice Marble vinyl and limited to 500 copies) exclusively at VareseSarabande.com.
Based on the 1959 novel by Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers is set in the 23rd century, when Earth is governed by the militarized United Citizen Federation. Equal parts science fiction and satire, the 1997 film lampoons right-wing nationalism – but cleverly packages it in an action-packed teen drama. The plot centers around teenager Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) and his friends, who join Earth’s military to fight an interstellar war against an alien species known as the Arachnids. Directed by Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct), Starship Troopers also stars Denise Richards, Neil Patrick Harris, Jake Busey, Dina Meyer, Michael Ironside, and Patrick Muldoon. Elevating the film’s action-packed scenes is a propulsive score by the Emmy Award-winning composer and conductor, Basil Poledouris, also notable for his scores for Lonesome Dove, RoboCop, The Hunt for Red October.
Composed over a six-month period and performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony (led by Poledouris), the grand score reflects the film’s authoritarian setting, echoing the precision of a military march. Verhoeven, who had collaborated with Poledouris for more than a decade at the time of production, recalled that the composer was particularly focused on percussion. “The only thing that Basil said in the beginning…was, ‘I need a lot of drums.’ And he got a lot of drums, we had whole tracks of drums! He worked with a specialist in percussion and Basil built the full Starship Troopers score over these drums – which, in some way, represented the dangerous Arachnids!”
Poledouris’ daughter, Zoë, adds that her father drew inspiration from Igor Stravinsky. “I remember him passionately talking about how the chaos of the alien bug swarms would be digitally rendered and choreographed like a sci-fi ballet of madness and carnage – perfect for a cacophonous, driving symphony-style score to be played by an extra-large orchestra.”
While many of the score’s recurring themes are centered around action-heavy military scenes, there are also several emotionally charged cues, as the characters face personal drama, including breakups and even death. Among the highlights are “Carmen’s Departure” and “Losing Carmen,” as well as “Dizzy’s Funeral,” the latter of which Verhoeven describes as “the most beautiful [music] [Poledouris] ever wrote.”
One of the soundtrack’s most memorable moments is the dramatic “Klandhathu Drop,” which keeps viewers on their toes as the troops invade the Arachnids’ planet of Klandhathu. Zoë Poledouris calls the cue, “One of the best examples where the marvelous sound effects dance beautifully with the score. The tragic, seemingly insurmountable challenges that face our heroes just don’t quit once they get going, and the music follows it all like an emotional spotlight.” Zoë, who is a film composer herself, also had a cameo in the film – performing her song “Into It” during a prom scene. She recalls that the industrial yet ethereal track, which closes the album, was “strange enough to be futuristic.”
Starship Troopers has enjoyed consistent critical acclaim since its initial release. The film has become an established cult favorite and often ranks highly in critics’ round-ups of best films from the 90s as well as being widely regarded as one of the best sci-fi films ever made. Paste proclaimed that “Verhoeven is at the top of his game” while The Atlantic called the film “an unsung masterpiece” in a detailed retrospective.