John Carpenter is one of the kings of horror. As well as directing some of the greatest movies ever made, Carpenter also puts his stamp on the accompanying soundtracks, too. It has made him an icon in both worlds, and has produced some incredibly memorable moments.
To celebrate his work, and with the recent Anthology release, which has seen Carpenter rerecord some of his own work, here are five essential themes from his career. There are just too many great pieces to mention everything, but these still manage to fill us with dread after all these years.
The quintessential tale of terror that inspired almost every slasher movie that followed wouldn’t be the same without its menacing theme. The haunting repetition of keys that slowly build through brooding strings and synths sends chills down your spine, filling you with dread for the arrival of Michael Myers.
The Fog (1984)
The wall of high register stabs provides a backdrop for Carpenters disjointed piano melody that cuts through the terror. It is as thick as the fog that permeates the movie itself, with eerie sound effects to boot. It stands the test of time as one the greatest John Carpenter compositions.
Carpenter’s kept his themes steeped in ’70s influenced nostalgia throughout most of his career. The haunting synths of this theme echo over a minimalistic piano lead that almost sounds out of tune, before reaching a thumping climax at it’s cadence.
In The Mouth Of Madness (1995)
This ‘90s theme from Carpenter saw him switch up his style, adding wailing guitars into the mix. This could almost be a Metallica track, a band who apparently Carpenter wanted to do the theme in the first place. They slowly give way to his classic style, putting THAT John Carpenter signature ambience on it, before dropping into Dave Davies shredding guitar solo at the end.
Escape From New York (1981)
This dark sci-fi ride needed something a little different Carpenter, and the glassy haze of the main title theme fit the movie perfectly. There are some hints of krautrock in amongst the classic synthwave, and gives the movie and even more dystopian feel.
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