It almost feels like Twisted Nerve is a cliche, mainly due to its appearance in the hospital scenes of Kill Bill, Vol.1. Since Herrmann’s whistled theme accompanied Danyl Harrah’s nefarious nurse, it’s become a part of the pop culture lexicon without people really understanding where it came from, which is an obscure psychological thriller from the Boulting Brothers. Twisted Nerve as a soundtrack has had a relatively storied history; it was originally released as a two-fer with Les Bicyclettes de Belzise, a short film that played with Twisted Nerve, and further released both on LP and CD along with Herrmann’s soundtrack to Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black, but Stylotone’s new edition is brilliant.
It’s a wonderfully moody score, built around that infamous theme. The theme itself is brilliantly constructed, with both upbeat and gloomy sides playing out incredibly well. Herrmann plays with it constantly, pulling it apart and scoring little bits, using both keyboard surges and low brass to change the mood, and it’s hard to think of another movie that is based around so many variations of its theme. ‘Main Title’ is the version used in the Tarantino movie, and it has that great tonal journey that represents the schizophrenic nature of the film’s protagonist/antagonist.
Twisted Nerve isn’t an easy listen, but it’s a great example of not only the genius in Herrmann’s writing but also the economy. The record (coming on “blood splattered yellow haze”) sounds excellent, with very little surface noise and very good clarity. Take into account the extras, with a CD featuring the LP program and alternate takes, a 7" single with the Howard Blake pop and jazz versions of the theme, and downloads of the whole thing plus the recording sessions (you also get a huge UK quad poster and a certificate of authenticity signed by Norma Herrmann, and you have a must-buy for any serious soundtrack collector.
Twisted Nerve is out now on vinyl from Stylotone